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, 25 July 2013


In a move that has largely been welcomed, one Kenyan TV station has taken a decisive step of exposing traffic offenders. But does it just begin and end with shaming and naming the road hogs? Doesn't this steer the initiative into hogwash territory?

There's no doubt the road carnage in the country is a serious concern and acting before accidents happen is a big plus. However, in my not so perfect understanding, more needs to be done, to ensure there's sanity on Kenyan roads.

For starters, as has been pointed out in other fora, the viewers need to see more concerted efforts to co-opt the authorities in nabbing the 'alleged' offenders and ensuring they either have their day in court or even having instant fines imposed on them.

Failure to deliver this 'vital' addition reduces the value of this noble media venture into a 'fleeting shock therapy' session, if not merely propping up its 'pseudo-entertainment' elements.

After all, for how long have we encountered shenanigans on our roads, opting to only silently or animatedly direct morbid curses towards the road hogs, even when such irksome actions have resulted in the loss of lives?

Crowd-sourcing shameless road hogs

There's also the elusive sustainability factor to consider. Many are the times big projects are launched by local media outlets, with elevated exuberance, only for them to soon start fading, before they eventually fold, after running out of steam.

I like the idea though, of inviting members of the public to send in pictures or video clips of 'unroadworthy drivers' causing mayhem on the roads.

The crowd-sourcing platform not only facilitates the acquisition of more relevant content, but it also invites the public to actively participate and possibly co-own the initiative.

So, the belaboured point here, is the need to have some follow-ups, after the exposes.

This happily never ending story needs to capture the ugly fate of the road hogs, to effectively deter like-minded traffic offenders.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


The Executive. The Media. Are they sworn enemies or just sore partners? Do they check each other's excesses? Or is their agenda set to actually check out and perhaps cheque in? A recent meeting between Kenya's president and various media editors, offered some clues.

It appears their is genuine mutual suspicion between the presidency and the press.

But, there is also a strong feeling that both the government and the media need each other.

Both are alive to the fact that they can use their respective position to either enhance and add value to their interaction, or covertly subvert each other's interests.

And, given an opportunity, journalists can momentarily deviate from the path of professionalism and pursue the route of platitudes, in the remote hope of reaping favours, good standing or simple recognition, from those in power.

The government similarly, can deliberately extend a friendly hand to the media, to indirectly influence or solicit a favourable coverage.

Caught in between this ambivalent relationship is the public, which ironically is supposed to be the main beneficiary of a vibrant media and a robust government.

How then is the Kenyan public supposed to perceive the 'historic' meeting between the country's top leadership and the media? Should it be jealous that the attention has shifted away from it, and subsequently jeopardising the public interest?

Or is this a sign of an elevated strategy to keep the priority firmly locked on due deliverables to the public, since both the state and the media are 'joining' hands?

Either way, it is my belief that the import of the meeting between the editors and the country's leaders, will be measured, not by what each side stands to directly gain, but by how much it translates into uplifting the welfare of Kenyans.

Monday, 8 July 2013


The wave of popularity that had swept lawyer Kethi Kilonzo from a stellar performance at Kenya's Supreme Court, spat her on the cruel shores of politics. And here, her attempts to play dirty became her Waterloo. The media now has to play a key role in unpackaging this fraud.

The news elements of this closely followed story, should not solely be about the verdict that discredited Kethi's eligibility to contest for the senatorial seat, formerly held by her late father.

There are various factors that could suitably answer the 'So What' question, which the Kenyan media, I hope, will dedicate a fair amount of coverage, to fully bring to light all the implications of Kethi's fiasco.

Big clues can already be mined from social media reactions, as sampled below.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013


It takes great courage for one to admit one's mistakes. And mistakes abound in the media industry world over. That's why it's admirable for one newspaper to encourage its readers to point out its editorial mishaps. This, can be an effective pre-emptive strategy-cum-apology.

The South African daily fully acknowledges that despite it's best efforts, it's potentially susceptible to errors, human, mechanical, technologically, or otherwise.

A similarly gesture, I think, would be highly recommendable for the Kenyan press, which on a good, (or is it bad?) day, can be riddled with all manner of mistakes and the not so uncommon retractions.

This should not be interpreted as an admission of editorial incompetence, but rather, a noble realization of the reader's capacity to notice inaccuracies and ultimately improve the publication.