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, 19 April 2013


Live location TV news is a very complex and hard to perfect broadcast. It's however, not too much for the viewer to expect to see a smooth and coordinated production. That is why a location producer and support staff are vital. It is not a pretty sight, when the reporters and camera crews are 'left' on their own.

Picture this: Reporter A and B (sharing one camera on location), alternate in giving the live commentary, and also share the task of sourcing for people to interview.

Reporter A tries to persuade, nay beg potential guests to come to the 'mobile set' for a quick chat, as the camera is rolling. Some agree to be interviewed, but some seem least interested. The rejection beamed live to viewers.

Reporter B then walks into the live shot and engages Reporter A. Amazingly, Reporter B asks Reporter A a question, but Reporter A is busy scouting the area for a 'prized' interviewee.

So the question literally hangs in the air, on air. Then Reporter A bolts out of the live shot and leaves Reporter B to fly solo in the narration.

And before long, Reporter A is back, with a guest in tow. Microphones clumsily change hands, as Reporter B physically 'wipes' out of the camera view.

I'm all for creativity and spontaneity, in energised walk and talk, live presentations. But at some point, all these movements become tiring to the eye.

TV has a big element of showbiz and showmanship. But visual 'chaos' adds little value to the overall delivery.

That's why the location producer(s), could perhaps have played a more prominent role here, to ease the burden placed on the 'awesome' Reporters A and B, and lessen the viewing pain for the audience.

And also, the chances of one hearing, "President Uhuru Kibatta" or "Mwai Kinyatta" could have drastically diminished.

Thursday, 18 April 2013


The in-coming government has grand ideas about how to move Kenya forward. But what does it all mean to the blind photographer, recently featured in one of the local news channels? That kind of nexus is what the media should endeavour to probe, as opposed to mere reportage of isolated 'great stories' of the day.

Undoubtedly, that blind photography story was so inspiring. It depicted the enduring quest for survival, in spite of all manner of challenges facing humanity. And to many viewers perhaps, it served to indicate how their day to day predicaments pale, when compared to the burden faced by other Kenyans.

And thus, my worry that there is a missed opportunity here, to challenge those in authority to tailor make policies, and make them more responsive to the needs of people like Richard Rono. And yes. Much more can be done.

I have had the privilege of doing a blind photography TV feature, only that it was in the United Kingdom. Before you dismiss this as an unfair comparison of what goes on in the developed world and a Third World country, hear me out.

The subjects in my story had a similar visual impairment afflicting Rono. But Brian Negus (pictured above) is entirely doing his photography as a hobby.

And yet he has government sanctioned access to gadgets that not only make his pass-time practical, but also equipment and technology that makes his life without proper vision, very much bearable. But as for Rono, his photography is his main means of earning a livelihood.

He subsequently makes a passionate appeal for assistance, stressing that transportation is his main challenge. But who is he addressing in particular? A central Government or area Governor perchance, let alone well-wishers?

This is why I strongly believe that the right social welfare policies could alleviate the plight of the likes of Rono.

His life too can be made a little more bearable, though not exactly like that of Negus, just yet. And therein lies my challenge to the Kenyan media. If possible, try and look at the bigger picture, when covering such stories.

NB: The blind photography story that I'm making reference to, was a collaborative effort with my great colleagues, Ady Nugroho and Sadia Hasanzada.

Friday, 12 April 2013


Is the Kenyan electoral process a winner takes all? No. There's a high premium attached to competitive politics. A strong Opposition will make the government of the elected President to be more accountable. But the country's laws could force the main election losers to take the high road to political oblivion. Cue in the politics of reincarnation.

Following their election defeat, there is genuine concern that the former Prime Minister and former Vice President could be destined for political obscurity, despite the coalition they lead, very much constituting the Official Opposition.

But is that good or bad for Kenya?

Below is a sample of the opinions going round on the social media ground.

Friday, 5 April 2013


A Kenyan news channel has a 'Fact Check' segment, which aims to enlighten the public about what is factual in the coverage of topical issues. But, as bare as the facts might appear to be, they often need to be interpreted well. That's why it's safer for journalists to resist the urge to appear as sagacious 'Mr. Know-It-Alls' with the power to make value judgement.

You see, the veracity of what is presented as 'facts' is not always that easy to establish. That's why news outlets are required to cross-check with multiple sources, to ascertain the 'facts' of a story.

And on the same breath, it is highly recommended that the input of people with relevant expertise be copiously factored in, for the analysis to be balanced, fair and truthful.

A case in point is the raging debate about whether Kenya, as opined by the out-going President Mwai Kibaki, is a unitary state. The verdict, from the aforementioned segment, was that Kibaki was wrong.

And this was conclusively premised on a definition from an 'unknown' dictionary!!

Just like I had been contemplating, the country's Attorney General was to later state that Kenya's political system defies known descriptions, and its hybrid of devolved and national governance is a yet to be properly defined constitutional creation.

The subsequent 'Fact Check' mercifully had the input of an expert. But still, volunteering to either call it black or white, and ignoring the very possible grey areas, is swimming in dangerous waters.

Fact: Facts are sacred.

Fact: There's no guarantee that facts will always be interpreted in the right or proper context.

Fact: Inaccuracies can be made to look dashing, when clothed as facts.