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.




Friday, 29 June 2012


A new touch in news presentation in Kenya, has finally seen the entry of touchscreen monitors, to spice up the delivery of broadcast news. Yes. It is a milestone by K24. But woe unto them if they think they have reached the promised land of news broadcast innovation.

For starters, a number of other Kenyan stations have been toying with the same idea, especially in preparation of their coverage for the coming General Election, and so it's just a matter of time before other stations follow suit.

Then again, such is the copy-cat syndrome locally, that even the stations that had not considered having a touchscreen monitor in their news set, will not require much persuasion to place an order.

The good thing though is that the likes of Citizen TV, will now think twice before trying to simulate a touchscreen effect in their video wall presentations. The relaunch by K24 seems very much centred around this supposed 'new' technology and therein lies the danger. 

Just like some people always wonder, why there is so much hype around the Thika Super Highway, given that it cannot even be compared to decades-old roads, in more developed countries, that excitement could appear misplaced.

The news set, in my opinion, looks too flashy and very much like what you often encounter in a discotheque, with all the dazzling/blinding lighting. Make no mistake. It is a very big improvement on the part of K24, but I insist that for news, content will forever remain king, no matter how hard a station tries to work on the look and feel.

So, other than trying to fit in all manner of numerical or financial details in that 'wonder screen,' why not isolate a few important ones to focus on? Just like a good director of a play would advise, make more use of the entire stage.

That is what makes the touchscreen presentation by DSTV's Super Sport team look so professional and is easy to follow and understand. Get over the 'high' of fingers dancing on the screen and concentrate on the content.

Don't over-do it though, because it looks contrived. What value is added for example, by the sports anchor literally trying to place a football team's players in their individual positions, instead of interpreting how effective the chosen system is likely to be? 

Like the folks of Super Sport, keep it simple and more informative, and move away from the showing off trap. And beware of an over reliance on the touchscreen in studio presentations or discussions.

It was no joy to watch the morning show host struggling to turn newspaper pages on the monitor, as she went about reviewing the contents. What would have happened had the touchscreen malfunctioned entirely, or if God-forbid, she was unable to properly operate it then?

And just to re-emphasise the point, concentrate on the content. I instantly forgot about marvels of K24's touchscreen monitor, when the morning show host and her guest discussed a story in the paper they were reviewing, which was painfully so stale. Hours had since passed after the US Supreme Court ruled on this subject.

But to be fair, K24 has made major strides in modernising their news presentations, and what I'm pointing out could very well be dismissed as teething problems. Compared to this news set of Kenya's national broadcaster:

...K24 indeed has raised the bar. And here is a toast to their progress!!

Friday, 22 June 2012


It is unusual. It is commendable. It should be done more often. The Kenyan media has risen above the usual reportage of news and events to take a strong stand on a very important subject. Members of Parliament have been told to their face that they are betraying Kenyans.

The MPs may argue all they want, about how good their intentions are in amending aspects of election related legislation. But what the average Kenyan is likely to conclude is that their motives are sinister, dishonourable and abhorable.

And the local press appears determined to show that this time, the despicable selfish acts by politicians have not gone unnoticed and have to be pointed out, in the spirit of putting the public's interest first.

Below is a sample of the anger stirred by the latest misbehaviour by Kenyan MPs, from social media.

Friday, 15 June 2012


Breaking News. Immediately you see this textual message flashing across your TV screen, that is where your eyes will shift focus to and you brain will swiftly lock on to. But for television stations in Kenya, there is still a strong belief that one can continue to concentrate on the normal programming, as they take note of the lower third breaking news information.

So, like it happened soon after last Sunday's tragic helicopter crash, the audience was supposed to quickly note the 'very serious' news development below their screen and then dart back to the goings-on in the gospel show live broadcast, on Citizen TV.

And if you were tuned into KTN, then one was to similarly take note of the the fact that a Cabinet minister was being feared dead, after an early morning plane crash, before or while continuing to enjoy the hilarious comic relief infused in yet another gospel show.

But if you were watching NTV at that moment, then the news that the country's Internal Security minister and his Assistant were believed to have been aboard a plane that has just crashed, should have been taken in stride, as you take in the spiritual message contained in the song being played, in still, another gospel show.

And if that air crash had happened on a Saturday, then it is safe to assume that the Breaking News would have been splashed on the TV screen, as the stations relayed cartoons or some children's programmes.

The point I'm trying to make is that some types of Breaking News need to be broadcast in a proper context, which reflects the needed seriousness.

Yes. I know how long it can take before a graphics team or studio crew is assembled, let alone the time needed to get an anchor or news presenter to be 'summoned' from their homes.

All I'm asking is that for such a Breaking News scenario, what is currently on air should not be at so much variance with the immediate context and accompanying emotions of the day's biggest news story.

Most local stations after all, did interrupt their normal programming later, to focus on that breaking news, almost ad infinitum.

So why not disengage from the day's normal transmission schedule, a little bit earlier, if the context of the current programme is not right for the Breaking News being splashed?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Just how hard is it to craft newspaper headlines that make sense? And just what kind of quality checks is a Kenyan newspaper subjected to, at the pre-production stage? If the now common howlers are anything to go by, then a lot more needs to be done, to reverse the worrying trend.

Whichever way I look at it, a heading like, 'Five burnt death in Zambia crash,' is either a non-English sentence/phrase or pure balderdash! And it is hard to imagine that such trash can escaped the 'keen' eye of the Revise Editor.

Strange as it looks, maybe through poetic license, the term, 'Ethio-Kenya' above can be excused, never mind the visual assault that it can potentially subject one to. 

Ensuring the chosen words fit the desired or allocated space, during the layout stage of a newspaper production, I'm aware, needs a bit of creativity. 

And as long as the crafted headline makes sense at the very minimum, I will generally tend towards keeping my peace. 

In the above example, the positioning of the comma looks awkward. I think the editor should have gone with, 'Six MPs are partyless now, declares registrar.' (Does partyless need a hyphen?)

Or better still, 'Six MPs are partlyless, registrar now declares.'

See. It's not that hard.