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.




Thursday, 1 March 2012


"He said, she said" isn't journalism. Throwing your reporting at the page and hoping that the reader figures it all out isn't journalism. Journalism demands judgement - decisions whether a story is newsworthy, and judgements about the truth of information included within that story.

These words by Robert Niles ring so true. And a good way to test this profound journalistic wisdom is by applying it to the much hyped 'Justice for Cherono,' feature, recently screened by a local television station.

The content and treatment of this story appears to have irked many critics, some of whom questioned the inability of the reporter to fulfil their heightened sense of expectation, which was fuelled by the heavy promotion the feature had  received.

The debates even went to the level of people questioning the manner of dressing of the said reporter, especially when she was interviewing the mother of a rape victim.

But sticking to the core details of the feature, which was delivered in two parts, a number of other salient sores stick out. The first has to do with the re-enactment story-telling technique.

Established standards of media practise require that whenever the details of a story are acted out, then that needs to be clearly identified as such, even if they are rendered in black and white to sublimely indicate they are not real.

Rules for Re-enactment

So other than just dramatising the sequence of events surrounding the sexual assault of the girl, those parts of the story should have been clearly carried an on-screen re-enactments label. I wouldn't be surprised if some souls out there remain solidly convinced that a television crew was present, as the girl was being assaulted.

But more importantly for me, I expected the story to provide new insights, fresh revelations or at least something out of the ordinary to make this feature to be more compelling to watch.

Instead, it was flat and unlike Niles's wise counsel, the story was thrown to our screens, hoping that we figure it out. And that is not Journalism.

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