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, 28 March 2013


Behold! The past and future tense shall become one. And the present tense will not be happy. This flight of fancy became a reality, courtesy of an 'ingenuous' page-one story, in a leading Kenyan daily. The headline-story mismatch rears its ugly head yet again.

The headline alludes to an event that supposedly has already happened, that is, 'Governors sworn in...' A reader's expectations therefore, is to find details in the body of the story, about how the swearing in of the governors 'went down' or rather an account of the swearing in ceremony.

But alas! What does the first paragraph state: 'All governors-elect and their deputies will be sworn into office today...' So which is which?

Was there a swearing in ceremony, or was there going to be a swearing in ceremony? And while at it, are the said governors and governors-elect one and the same thing?

This, dear class, is another classic example of a headline-story disconnect.

Friday, 22 March 2013


Congratulations to all former Kenyan journalists, who have successfully transitioned to the world of politics. Journalism after all is about serving the public's interests and this ties in very well, after being elected or nominated to political office. Yes. Even a scribe can make a good senator.

Kenya's political sphere has for long been dotted by lawyers, economists, doctors, engineers, diplomats, civil servants or people from the business or private sector. But welcome change is now in the air.

And going by the online response sampled below, the nomination to the Senate of a particular former journalist was extra special.

Friday, 15 March 2013


In the just concluded General Election, should the Kenyan media have put more emphasis on a peaceful process or a just one? Ideally, both would have been equally desirable. But, it appears, peace got more media attention. Tough luck for those citing injustices in the electoral process.

But injustices, thankfully, can now be pursued in the corridors of justice. But as for peace, there's no telling what could happen if that is no longer obtainable. With hindsight, though, Kenyans have a pretty ugly idea of what that could entail.

So, should the local press be demonised for putting a higher premium on peace campaigns and deliberately shielding their audience from potentially destabilising statements from politicians?

Isn't it so much better that even after the announcement of the election results, those aggrieved have an opportunity to seek credible legal redress, as opposed to their supporters pouring out in the streets and causing mayhem?

It is easy, especially for those, who never experienced first-hand, the effects of the flawed 2007 presidential election in Kenya, to castigate the local media's collective decision to trod on the safe path of 'patriotic journalism.'

Granted, it might be true, as argued by Michela Wrong that:
The Kenyan media's self-restraint reveals a society terrified by its own capacity of violence
But I applaud this decision because even in the face of disagreements about the poll results, the country is holding together. Kenyans are taking this electoral dispute in their stride, the polarising public discourse notwithstanding.

Moreover, it's hard to believe that Wrong missed the irony of the CORD team claiming it was being denied media coverage. She laments that:
Television broadcasts of Odinga's announcement that he would challenge the outcome of the election before the Supreme Court switched to Uhuru's acceptance speech before the Q. and A. with Odinga had even begun.
But none other than the owner of Kenya's most popular media outlet, sits in the coalition's top political organ and was present at this very same media briefing.

Is the so defined preoccupation with peace an illusion? Nicholas Benequista postulates that:
Kenyan media cannot forever remain a polite space where differences are swept under the rug to be replaced by a consensually agreed (rather than imposed) agenda of nationalistic propaganda.
This, in my opinion, is debatable. I would rather the media elects to have divisive or inciting elements kept away from public domain, than e.g., 'irresponsibly' broadcast people being attacked after being pulled out of a public transport vehicle, like it happened during the 2007/2008 post election violence.

The Kenyan media should not be unduly faulted for proactively seeking to foster peace, because being reactionary and desperately calling for peace, when the country is already burning, is no longer tenable.

On this account, the local media's self-censorship, can be directly linked to the country's self-preservation.

Friday, 8 March 2013


Kenyans held the nation together, before the March 4th General Election and during the polls. They must continue holding it together, after the announcement of the presidential election results. May the winner be sore enough to appreciate the loser's worthiness and may the loser be hearty enough to recognise the winner's opportunity to serve Kenyans. 

Emotions and political posturing might blur the bigger picture of national interests but sobriety must be allowed to reign, in order to refocus the competitive politics on the greater good of uniting the country.

The local and international media must not be 'misused' to cultivate a morbid climate of anxiety, however high the political stakes climb.

Supporters of opposing camps should not be easily swayed or inflamed towards considering loss of life and destruction of property, as viable options of making a political point.

And may the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission remain fair, accurate and impartial, to the very end, so that the next Kenyan president is universally acceptable.