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, 30 January 2013


It's all well for a media house to bask in the glory of an exclusive story. And my, one Kenyan news channel has just 'achieved' this fleeting 'high' of journalism. But, given the sensitivity of the subject matter, the exclusive interview could easily pass for a media inquest cross-examination, or even a police interrogation.

The questions were in rapid-fire mode. And the short responses only served to hasten the pace of the interview, because the reporter was gallantly unrelenting.

Inevitably perhaps, the line of questioning started approaching the legally unsafe waters. Unsafe, in my not so legal mind, because the interviewee has pending court cases, and an official inquiry, whose main substance is what the reporter was prodding him to state his position on.

With due consideration of the role of the media in seeking to unearth the truth, its fidelity to public interest, and that the reporter did intimate that what went on air is what was legally safe, I still feel this interview prejudiced efforts to unravel the mystery behind this alleged police impersonator.

One can also argue that this particular case was now being politicised, especially given that the interviewee told a national television audience that he was willing to make damning revelations.

This, before making known his desire to only pass the information to high-ranking government officials, like Kenya's Prime minister. And, there's no prize for guessing how this story developed, less that 24 hours later.

The 'fake' cop's request was one of the talking points of the Prime minister's address, at a political rally. One can even argue that it has now become an election campaign issue, going by the way the Prime minister used it as an entry point, for his pledge to bring changes to the 'tainted' police force.

Obviously, my observations come with no guaranteed veracity.

But suffice it to say that two people are now very happy. The alleged police imposter, because his plea has been heard by the Prime minister. Whether he gets to have his wish fulfilled as promised, is besides the point, because his point has been made.

And yes. The reporter will be pleased with himself, for setting the agenda for none-other than the country's Prime minister, now confirmed as one of the presidential candidates, in Kenya's approaching General Election.

Or could we remotely contemplate, albeit wildly, the possibility of this entire turn of events, having been orchestrated? Only if it's a movie script!!!

Friday, 25 January 2013


The interview was going relatively well. The anchor was trying her best to wear a serious face, to camouflage her youthful looks. And the guest was equally trying to project the demeanour of a seasoned politician, despite his obvious 'greenness.' Then an intruder darted into the live set of the news broadcast.

I can state with near certainty that this entrance was not part of the instructions given by the News Director. And the Vision Mixer most probably didn't intend that shot to go on air.

It definitely looks like on this night, there was a mix-up resulting from some sort of miscommunication, in this particular studio gallery. However, irrespective of who was responsible for the error, the consequences are grave.

This is largely because the viewer has been conditioned to see 'flawless' production executions, which sometimes even perpetuate a perception of visual magic, (think virtual sets).

And therein lies the challenge of sustaining high TV production standards. The viewer must not be allowed to awaken from this 'mesmerised' state of mind, when watching a live news broadcast.

But the kind of off-screen commotion that goes on during such a broadcast, is such that all the personnel involved need to be accorded a hero's status and utmost professional respect.

Let's appreciate that the job is not easy. The pressure often zooms past the cracking point. Yet everyone, especially the anchors, are expected to always keep a cool head, as they meander through all manner of unforeseen challenges or technical hitches.

And as for the above live studio intruder, let's just say it was nature's way of granting him his 5-seconds of television fame.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


A headline sells a newspaper story. And the front-page one can be directly linked to how many copies a paper sells. So, some headlines are made to promise so much, yet deliver so little in terms of content, as long as they generate sales. Granted, this is unethical. But to have a headline entirely disconnect with its supposed story, is almost unpardonable.

The above headline is catchy and has a very active verb that denotes a heightened emotional component and a strong hint of some simmering conflict.

It practically summarises what the story below it should be about. So one would expect to get more details about:

'Konza society members' 

Which 'herdsmen' they are not pleased with

And the reason why the 'Konza society members' are 'angered'

Let's see how many of these details have been delivered.

Not even one! This is legendary. Alas!! The story is about a doctor's strike!!!

How such substandard sub-editing can go through all the gate-keepers in a national newspaper, and the paper then allowed to hit the stands, is a most undesirable journalism 'stunt.'

Thursday, 10 January 2013


That Kenyan Members of Parliament would even consider being accorded a state funeral is diabolically preposterous. Add a hefty send-off package, throw in diplomatic passports and armed bodyguards, and you definitely enter the realm of nefarious avarice and truly cross the obese line between need and greed.

Don't even start with the argument that we get the leaders we deserve. Kenyans' gullibility to the wily ways of politicians in campaign periods, is a sure cause for concern.

But, in all fairness, this kind of behaviour from elected leaders, is beyond many voters' tolerance levels.

Sample the rage depicted below.

Friday, 4 January 2013


That it's a most daring undertaking is not in doubt. For how can someone pose as a high ranking police officer undetected for so long? But when it comes to whether the suspect should face trial for his 'alleged' misdeeds, that is debatable, according to one Kenyan TV station.

How does one even begin to interrogate this 'humongous' journalism faux pas?

Seemingly, the person who crafted this feedback question that is supposed to 'harvest' reactions from the channel's audience, is aware that somebody was impersonating a police officer.

However, it appears he or she is not sure whether anybody found perpetrating such a crime should be answerable or better still, be 'held responsible for his actions.'

And this question, if I can needlessly remind you, is posed after the news item has been broadcast, detailing how this person went to the extent of sacking his supposed junior police officers and even attending a top security meeting.

The onus thus, is thrust to the viewers, to debate and possibly arrive at a 'reasonable' conclusion, courtesy of the not so scientific poll results, to be given at 'the tail end' of the bulletin.

There was a debate alright. But some members of the audience were not so enthralled by the framing of the feedback question.


Many Kenyans look up to the local media to offer guidance and help them make informed choices. If an alleged serious crime is clothed in so many shades of grey, what is being said about the rule of law and the country's criminal justice system?