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.




Monday, 30 April 2012


Monday, 23 April 2012


It's not unusual for people to be named after famous personalities. And parents often bequeath their children with not one, but the full name of someone they fancy. But as a Kenyan, coming across a foreign TV reporter named, 'Daniel Arap Moi,' more than amazes.

I don't know the exact circumstances that led to the Press TV reporter, now filing stories from Mali, to acquire the full name of Kenya's former president. But I bet that story would be of interest to many people in the East African country.

Already, there obviously appears to be a twist in that untold story. Normally, parents give their child the name of a person associated with positive attributes or a doer of great deeds. And if of age, a person can also independently choose to adopt the name of somebody they regard highly.

So how is it that one would want to be referred to, using the full name of Kenya's former President Moi, whose leadership is widely believed to have been a dictatorial one? I will definitely be surprised if presently,  I hear a person answering to the name Idi Amin Dada, Pol Pot, Jean Bedel Bokassa or Caligula.

The reverse would be true on coming across somebody named Gandhi, Lumumba, Mandela, Booker T. Washington, or Florence Nightingale. And as for the Jamaican dancehall artiste called Kibaki, (Kenya's current President), that is just amusing, if not hilarious.

It is a bit ironic then, to hear the Press TV reporter signing off with pride, as if fully convinced former president Moi's 24-year 'misrule' was admirable and worth immortalising.

What's in a name you ask? Well, it depends on the 'excess baggage' on that particular name.

Sunday, 15 April 2012


Dear this. Dear that. Oh Dear. Is there no end in sight for the continued over usage of this epistolary beginning for newspaper articles, blogs, tweets, status updates, or even quirky television news reports?
'Dear Kenyan artist dont ask me to buy ur music 'to support local' talent. Make something that calls to me, I will buy it!'
Granted. It is an exceptionally great way of pouring out one's stream of consciousness or train of thought, and projecting it to a particular person, often somebody in authority, as immortalised in a song by Pink:
Dear Mr. President,Come take a walk with me.Let's pretend we're just two people andYou're not better than me.I'd like to ask you some questions if we can speak honestly.
In a make-believe kind of way, one can also grants oneself an audience with somebody, who in reality, might practically be impossible to address in person. Hence the many letters to the President, Pope, King, Empress, Santa or Lady Gaga.

Such is the power of the epistolary format. And such is the pity that this portent stylistic devise is gradually becoming a literary nuisance and textual irritant, thanks to an overkill in its use.

Dear humanity, don't turn the beauty of the epistolary into a knock-kneed and hackneyed eyesore.


Saturday, 7 April 2012


The horror. The injustice. The violation of human rights. The suspect and the not so gentlemanly officers. These words can't even describe a news clip first screened by one Kenyan TV station, before the others followed suit, given the high profile reaction it elicited. Simply playing the raw footage in a prime time bulletin was bold but extreme. Unless the news was rated PG.

Screening the graphic violence meted on a hapless youth by the security agents in its entirety, passed the acceptable threshold in my opinion. Yes it probably was necessary to capture the gruesomeness of the assault. But playing the clip ad nauseum, made it revolting.

And then there was the part of the uncensored 'uncouth' language.' These officers were audibly and repeatedly referring to the young man's privates and yet the editor let this pass. Or has the utterance of certain words, long considered obscene, suddenly become acceptable in public?

Great effort, albeit inadequate in some instances, was made to digitally cover the man's modesty, given that the officers were determined to unleash their whipping frenzy on bare skin, preferably on the posterior end of his anatomy.

So why wasn't the same ethical editing consideration made for the unpalatable reference to the man's privates? True to the offensive word being unprintable, the sub-title left it blank.

But for anyone who understands Kiswahili, this was a wasted effort because the same word was being loudly thrown about with careless abandon in the news clip. If there were any kids watching this piece of news, then they have the TV to blame for a lewd addition to their everyday parlance.

The footage was delivered without any voice over to give it proper context. This perhaps was designed to bring out the full extent of the despicable conduct of government security agents. But with hindsight, this decision appears to have been ill-advised.

It turns out the incident actually happened three years ago!