If you feel a news story does not measure up to expected journalistic standards, bring it to the Journalism Dry Cleaner. Through our collective wisdom, we will strip it of all offensive dirt.




Saturday, 26 November 2011


Confirmation. A very important piece of detail that every serious news establishment should try to get, before publishing or broadcasting, especially potentially controversial issues. Stories from the newsroom have an uncanny way of at times finding their way to courtrooms and confirming facts could be a legal lifesaver. But confirming the obvious is over-stretching it.

A television news item, for example, shows images (at times graphic ones) of a shootout between suspected criminals and the police. There are a couple of bodies, firearms and spent cartridges being alluded to or shown directly.

Then you hear the reporter saying something like, 'The police have confirmed the incident..."

Is it that the images just splashed and the reporter's account of the incident are not to be believed initially, or is it that for them to be believable, somebody in 'authority' has to confirm them first?

Using that annoying statement of 'Confirming the incident,' even for a print story, adds no value whatsoever in the overall reportage, not unless perhaps there was a denial of what is being reported, in the same story.

So if the Kenya police, for example, deny there was a grenade explosion  somewhere, in the on going war on Al Shabaab, and the reverse is true, it would be perfectly alright to mention the Kenya Defence Forces, as having confirmed the incident.

Why then confirm that which has not been denied in the first place, like what is witnessed in many a Kenyan news story? I just don't get it.

Perhaps it is a hangover from our political past, when information meant for public consumption, had to be dispensed with all protocol observed, lest one found oneself on the foul side of the dictatorial divide.

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