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, 27 September 2012


Children. Media. This combination presents a challenging proposition to journalists. Thrown in trauma and matters get really dicey. That is why one news reporter was recently navigating through very choppy waters, when she elected to tell the Tana River tragedy from the perspective of child victims.

Whereas thinking out of the box is often something that should be applauded, using minors to depict a very complex web of deadly violence was, to some extent, pushing the barriers towards intolerable territory.

One kid was actually being quoted saying something close to, 'then they started killing each other.' How, pray tell, is a child expected to accurately process such mentally disturbing scenarios, before even relaying the same to a journalist?

This is where I think, the best interests of the children caught up in the Tana River violence, override whatever novel and noble intentions of the news reporter.

And because children enjoy absolute privacy, then it is in their interest that their identity is protected and their trauma is not exacerbated by undue media exposure, which essentially makes them relive their horrifying experience.

After the news crews pack up and go, these kids have to continue with their life, the misery notwithstanding, and it's really unfair to only look at them as subjects of a good TV report.

Thursday, 20 September 2012


If asked what I can remember about the latest by-elections in Kenya, my answer will not be anywhere near the details of who or which party won, which parliamentary or civic seat. It will entirely have to do with one elderly man and his simple desire from the whole electoral process. Shoes.

Courtesy of a most refreshing television report by NTV Kenya's Pamela Asigi, the monotonous coverage of the mini-polls by Kenyan media outlets, did not leave an ever-lasting obnoxious after-taste.

Just check out the sampled reactions below, for a confirmation of the sterling job that Pamela did.

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Surveillance video footage, as captured by CCTV cameras, is increasingly being used by Kenyan TV stations, to illustrate crime reports. But there is need to get over the excitement of seeing the criminals at work and basing entire news stories on this factor. Why the element of surprise and yet the CCTV cameras were designed to do exactly that?

Such is the weaknesses of such news stories that opportunities to probe the 'captured crime' further, are painfully allowed to pass, which reduces the news to mere visual entertainment.

Take for instance, the Citizen TV story, about how a major supermarket chain was losing a colossal amount to 'thieving Kenyans' masquerading as customers.

The management availed CCTV footage, which the reporter used to 'great' effect, describing with military precision, how the rapacious 'clients' were going about with their diabolic activities.

What was lacking though, after one sifted through all the descriptive narration, was some bit of much needed interpretation of the situation, apart from quantifying the loss the supermarket was making.

For such a reputable chain store, one would want to believe that all the products on the shelves are barcoded or that at least the pricey items are electronically tagged. Moreover, it would also be safe to expect that sensors have been placed at the entrance of the supermarket chain in question. These would in turn easily set of an alarm, should any item leave the premise, without passing through the cash tills.

And if all these 'basic' security measures were missing, then that is where the news story was, given that the supermarket involved is not your ordinary corner-shop. But this 'obscure' angle, never seemed to have warranted any attention from the TV reporter.

Yet another similar crime story was featured by another Kenyan channel, Kiss TV. Granted, the footage had some dramatic ending. But in terms of asking hard questions, it fell into the same trap.

The pattern of 'suspected' criminals staging daring thefts, most probably in the full knowledge that CCTV cameras are in operation, raises pertinent issues that journalists need to help address, even as they strive to give some professional depth to their stories.

Instead of being as reactionary as the owners of businesses that have fallen victim to 'smooth operators' in the crime underworld, the reporters should especially, in my opinion, start making this often over-looked point.

It's all well and good to invest in CCTV cameras. But it makes a whole world of a difference, if a deliberate effort is made to ensure somebody is monitoring the footage, as it is being recorded, so that any 'captured' suspicion is promptly interrogated or apprehended, in real time!!!

Thursday, 6 September 2012


It's in the public interest, especially for Kenyans to realise just how low one of the country's renown female athlete has sunk. But in highlighting her plight, the media should not abandon ethical considerations like upholding her right to privacy, as an ailing person. The press should help Conjestina Achieng' get help but please, don't ridicule or make a mockery of her condition.

It was disturbing to watch one channel over-emphasise Conjestina's most recent case of mental instability, despite it having already been established, courtesy of another local TV channel.

Was it that necessary to air the 'extended' clips of the one time champion pugilist, primarily to showcase the fact that she's incoherent in her speech and actions?

Is this not being insensitive to the thousands of others afflicted by the same condition and debasing an already dire situation faced by Conjestina? The media should not add to the already heavy burden of those caring for or struggling to get support for mental health patients.

I honestly hope that journalists will back off and probably just concentrate on assisting Conjestina to get all the help that she requires, whilst safeguarding her inalienable rights as a human being.

And just like it one day dawned on the Kenyan media that it no longer served any useful purpose to give copious coverage to politician Stanley Matiba, after his health became an issue, Conjestina should now be allowed to recuperate with dignity and privacy.