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 June 2013


It's probably one of the most difficult issues to cover in the media. An 'impending' demise of a great personality. How do you reconcile the need to reflect the reality on the ground with the right amount of sensitivity, and the often taboo realm of contemplating anyone's death?

News editors know any attempt to seek a balanced coverage still runs the risk of upsetting societal expectations.

But it's generally acceptable to focus on a public figure, even in their distressing times.

The trick is to properly manage the tone and steer the coverage away from speculations and other prophet of doom tendencies.

However, as I gaze into the clear skies of Johannesburg, I hope whatever ending that eventually comes to pass, will not be the beginning of sadness, but the continuation of happiness from the enduring gift of one man's great sacrifices for humanity.

Friday, 21 June 2013


Kenyan TV stations have decreed that all mornings are the same for everyone. So, a similar content will be on offer across the channels. From a recap of the previous day's news, to a newspaper review segment, followed by some interviews or discussions. Is the entire audience that homogeneous? The discontent with the content of TV morning shows is on different levels.

The setting is most of the time studio-based, with a pinch of razzmatazz to create the illusion of technological sophistication. But be warned, artificialness is indirectly proportional to visual appeal.

Attempts are made to focus on engaging topics. But there is either too much talking that induces sleeping tendencies, at a time when the staying awake barrier is supposed to have been overcome, ahead of a presumably productive day.

Or, the pretentiousness that permeates the presentation styles, buoyed by self-centred banter, leaves a sugarless aftertaste, from the early morning viewing experience.

Once in a while, there are flashes of brilliance in capturing real issues that reasonably resonate with the struggles of the majority, and celebrating the resilience of unbroken spirits.

But how hard is it to not only think outside the box, but to completely forget there once was a box, and instead opt for the path less trodden, when it comes to selecting a unique programme format?

I refuse to mourn the death of creativity in Kenyan TV stations.

I agree to rejoice at the birth of refreshing programming ideas

Wednesday, 12 June 2013


The realm of investigative journalism requires a not so common combination of passion and professionalism, and a healthy dose of risk tolerance. That is why media practitioners devoted to uncovering hidden truths for the public good, need to be applauded. But where does one insert 'too' before frisky and risky?

A recent expose in one of the 'not so popular' Kenyan TV stations, though thoroughly engaging, pointed to some often ignored but probably important ethical considerations.

- If journalists illustrate the ease of purchasing hard drugs by actually posing as clients and getting the narcotics, can they in turn be charged with possessing the proscribed substances?

- Is it sufficient to merely point out drug peddlers and the availability of hard drugs, without passing the information to authorities and capturing their response, to balance the story by featuring the side of law enforcers?

- Is it safe for a journalist to lie to or trick sellers of hard drugs into availing the substance, only to expose them on TV? Is it sane for the journalist to blatantly showcase how the subterfuge was achieved?

Random thoughts maybe, but worth some sober reflection don't you think?

Friday, 7 June 2013


An outstanding performance caught the eye of the President of Kenya. This resulted in a massive change of fortunes for the young man, courtesy of the President's generosity. But a subsequent TV news fallacy seemed to suggest that any fine dramatist, could have similarly elicited the same response, from Uhuru Kenyatta.

The TV news item sets off by depicting how a gifted young dramatist was denied the opportunity to showcase his talent to the Head of State. In all fairness, that 'cruel' omission was irregular, given that the boy was part of a  presentation that had won big in the National Schools and Drama Festival.

This, it appears, and going by traditional practice, should have resulted in a direct ticket to perform before Kenya's President. But for some unexplained reasons, that invite didn't come from the organizers of the state function.

But the reporter weaved the story to also 'insinuate' that had the aforementioned boy been allowed to perform before the President, he could possibly have been the beneficiary of Uhuru's reward.

And this is based on the self-made assessment that the boy was a better performer, when it comes to matters of the stage, when he compares himself with the star performer, who charmed the President's heart and pockets.

If this is not a flight of fancy, then I don't know what is. But it's definitely a TV news fallacy, because there's no way to prove that the President would have been predisposed to be equally, or more impressed by any other performer, to the point of bequeathing the same financial reward.