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.




Wednesday, 22 February 2012


In about a week's time, the 2011 examination results for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education will be released. If the past is anything to go by, there should be a number of administrative errors just waiting to come out of the Kenya National Examination Council's closet.

And predictably as well, the reactionary local media will ferociously put KNEC on the spot, for once again failing in its own homework, even as it oversees the grading of students and schools, based on their performance in the secondary school leaving exams.

Here is a thought though. Why shouldn't the scrutiny and media attention start prior to the release of the exams?

For starters, the Minister of Education can be asked or tasked with giving an assurance that the results and rankings he is schedule to release in the coming days, have been certified as being free from errors, human, computer, or otherwise.

That every mix-up in ranking of schools or individuals has been rectified.

That all the averages add up, that all A-grades are deserved and all failures have been appropriately earned.

That all cases of cheating and other malpractices have been validly identified, cross-checked and the fate of the culprits justifiably sealed.

That the KNEC website will be able to handle the expected surge in traffic, when the results are released, ad nauseam.

Or will this deny the media a revered opportunity to revel in the misfortunes of KNEC?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


The line between Social Media and Traditional Media is gradually being obliterated. Not because these two are almost becoming one and the same thing, but by virtue of the fact that social media elements are being assimilated into traditional media platforms and vice versa.

Initially, major media outlets had been suspiciously looking at the growing influence of social media networks, perhaps hoping this would be another time-bound fad.

But the phenomenal uptake of social media and the massive incorporation of its elements in every day life has meant that any credible media outlet, ignoring the need to embrace this new dynamic in news consumption, would be doing so at its own peril.

At first, the main media house plunged head on into the social media terrain, hoping to capitalise on any inherent advantages and probably not giving much thought into the possible dangers posed by this action.

But upon realisation that it is just not goodness that oozes from the social media juice, many a traditional media outlet had a rethink and naturally sought to come up with formal rules to guide the use of social media elements.

Futility of Social Media Policy

And off late, there has consequently been a flurry of social media guidelines being crafted and serious attempts to enforce a company approved online interaction policy.

This I believe is necessary, but only to the extent of ensuring there is some form standardised approaches that are close to a media company's overall ideals or values.

But I think it will be an exercise in futility for a media house to imagine that its social media guidelines will fully restrict, especially its journalists, from straying into uncomfortable territories that could 'embarrass' the company.

This is mainly because there is no escaping an ever present possibility of conflict, first because it is difficult for journalists to differentiate between their professional and personal lives, as far as the use of social media is concerned

And secondly, Internet-based interactions demand such a high degree of openness and transparency that  a traditional media house would cringe at, given the sometimes deep and even clandestine dalliance with external forces and pressure from funders, state agencies, politicians or commercial entities.

So yes. No policy can fully police social media.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


If you remember the lion story, (or the song about it), there's my side, your side and then the truth. Interrogating this truth is a key function of the media. And that is why a balance of opposing views is such a major pillar of journalism. So is Jeff Koinange on a political mission?

Well, according to seasoned journalist Sarah Elderkin, the host of K24's Capital Talk appears particularly 'hell-bent' on creating the impression that Prime Minster Raila Odinga had a hand in the International Criminal Court cases against Kenyans.

In a newspaper article, she asserts that Jeff is using his TV show to deliberately paint Raila in negative light, and even suggests the host could be manipulating his guests, in order to achieve his 'sinister objectives.'

Irrespective of who between Sarah and Jeff is on the wrong side of the truth or fairness, this in my opinion, is a very welcome discussion and quite refreshing.

I would love to see more critical analysis of TV programmes or even news bulletins in national newspapers, and similarly, incisive review of newspaper stories in the electronic media.

The way Sarah delves into the very details of Jeff's interview with Miguna Miguna for example, is outstandingly beautiful, whether she could be out to defend Raila's honour notwithstanding.

Narrowing down the focus to individual questions and their responses brings out possible undertones that probably were not so apparent, when viewing that particular episode on TV.

I would love to see Jeff Koinange inviting Sarah Elderkin on the bench, for a verbal sparring session, informed by whether or not Capital Talk has a hidden political agenda.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


Kenya's recently appointed acting Finance minister is hardly a week-old in his new docket. The reaction to his elevation has however got more to do with a statement he made a couple of years ago. He urged Kenyans faced with food shortages, to start looking at rats in a more stomach-oriented way.

Practical as the advice was, and the fact that the rodents are indeed a delicacy in other parts of the world, swallowing that message alone, proved a bit difficult.

And because the same man is in charge of the country's Treasury, the social media especially, has been quick to make the link between the 'man of rats of yore' and the 'moneyman of now.'

The sample of comments below says it all.