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, 30 August 2013


An out of court settlement from the custodians of a fare and just Kenyan society, is raising some rather unseating queries. Is letting bygones be bygones the new benchmark of justice? As long as one can raise sufficient dirt against one's accuser, it seems, one can eventually have one's way.

This has perhaps been clearly demonstrated, in the controversial manner in which Kenya's Registrar of the Judiciary has managed to fend off accusations of professional impropriety raised by none other than the Judiciary Service Commission.

Thankfully, the local media has picked up the significant implications of the apparent push and pull in judicial circles, and more so, the factors that could have led to the curious out of court settlement, in a case involving the top most echelons of the Judiciary.

And the social media scene was also buzzing with this issue, as sampled below.

Friday, 23 August 2013


News features on Kenyan television stations play a very important role of ensuring human interest stories do not get entirely boxed out of the available airtime, by hard news. But a recent feature of the 'Tortoise Man' had one glaring omission. It should have carried a disclaimer: This TV feature hasn't been independently verified!

The entire piece was crafted around the 'noble' initiative of a man who has been volunteering to help tortoises cross the road. It is hard to question the authenticity of the man's passion to help the vulnerable animals.

But it is easy to ask what measures the reporter had taken to ascertain the man's 'claims' of having been helping tortoises cross the road for more than FIVE decades.

There was nobody else interviewed to corroborate this bit of information or any evidence shown, to support the accuracy of this 'claim' and its presentation as a factual testimony.

This in my book, amounts to 'authorial irresponsibility' because the reporter should have considered this issue at the shooting if not scripting stage.

Why should the audience believe the 'Tortoise Man' has been helping the creatures cross the road for 55 years and counting, without the barest of proof, save for his innocent demeanor?

Is this another indication of just how deeply, the culture of journalists thoroughly probing the information received from news makers, has been eroded?

I am tempted to conclude so.

Thursday, 15 August 2013


Am I missing something, in my endeavour to pinpoint cases of 'grammarcide' in Kenya's various media outlets? The consistency of the local press in churning out these subverted literary gems, could perhaps be suggesting the butcher of English language, as known formally, is the way to go.

Probably, in a twisted, long-short, non-certain and lackadaisical way, the various forms of language rules abuse, which seem to escape the 'keen' eyes of editors, could in the end enrich the same language being defiled.

In the example above, could the person who crafted the headline, have been inspired to create a 'new expression' that conveys a 'deeper meaning' by association?

You see, starting with 'Why do some women men away...........,' presupposes a certain character trait in men, that is so well known to be associated with the male version of  homo sapien that instead of trying to use so many words to explain it, you just say, 'men away' and the meaning is clearer and more direct.

And when you ask, 'Why do some women men away away from their families?' anybody can see the 'clever' juxtapositioning of women, men and families, right?

Come to think of it, don't you just marvel at the way the words 'women' and 'men' have been ingeniously placed next to each other, without the need of a conjunction or any other 'obtrusive' syntactic element?

Or even more incredibility, isn't there a 'fascinating' indication of the existence of a breed of women, who also happen to be men?

Applause! Applause! Time for me to man away!

Friday, 9 August 2013


The fascination with everything western, it appears, might take a while to wear out. How else do you explain the strange 'coincidence' of Kenya's leading newspapers having identical headlines? Did the editors think any mention of America's Federal Bureau of Investigation in their splash, would automatically attract readers?

A newspaper headline can very well determine how many copies are snapped up at the market place. And so editorial managers spend considerable time and energy to craft the most appealing splash.

And here, differentiation with what the competition has to offer, bolsters a paper's unique selling proposition.

So mush so that, some unconfirmed reports suggest editors could go to the extent of calling each other, before putting their respective papers to bed, just to be sure their product has a 'secure' chance of pushing sales.

It's just like the way nobody wants to appear at a party, only to realize they are wearing the same outfit as their friend, or anybody else for that matter. So the way great effort is made to stand out, is similar to the drive by the print media to appear unique, in as much as they could be carrying the same content.

But, going back to the identical headlines, what prompted all the major Kenyan newspapers to prominently state that foreign investigators have been called in, to probe the massive fire that disrupted operations at the country's main international airport?

If you ask me, it was either another 'shameless' reflex action that points to an unhealthy fascination with the West, or maybe the result of watching too many movies:


Thursday, 1 August 2013


It's common for retail outlets to have a return or refund policy, in case customers are unhappy with their purchases. Likewise, Kenyan newspaper publishers should be compelled to have a refund policy. That would probably motivate editorial gatekeepers to be keener on pushing out a flawless news product. 

If one purchases a newspaper, it is like any other investment. And if one feels it falls short of the expected quality, then getting stuck with the faulty product is really being shortchanged.

So one, I dare posit, should be allowed to return the offending newspaper, of course within a reasonable period of time, and sensible condition of the paper.

This line of thinking has been prompted by a recent purchase of a daily, from the stable of the largest media house in East and Central Africa. The paper was remarkably 'substandard' and annoyingly mediocre.

The copious serving of atrocious grammatical errors left a nausea-inducing syntactic aftertaste, despite a renowned columnist penning a timely reminder, in the same edition.

Just what exactly was the above paragraph, for example, purposed to achieve? It starts off with a quote, then meanders into an incoherent non-sensical quandary.

The lead story for this particular daily was about Mutula Kilonzo Jnr winning the Makueni senatorial by-election with a very wide margin.

So, why should the paper have another story, suggesting the outcome of the poll was yet to be determined? And is it really necessary for the same quotes to be used in different but related stories?

The same paper on more than one occasion utilised some rather unusual, if not non-existent English words. Can the editors care to explain what meaning, 'nt' below is supposed to convey?

This 'invention' of new words could astonishingly also be found in an internal advertisement, from non-other than the newspaper publishers!

Or is 'refleted' a valid English word, dear sub-editor? And while at it, how can a book that has been released, be set for another release?

It's indeed a big shame to have even spelling missteps on the 'hallowed' page dedicated to literary discourse.

And it's utterly shocking the way this 'special' paper carelessly handled a story sent in by one reader.

One line in this article appears to be terribly misplaced, and looks like it could have more naturally be at the very beginning.

Then the clincher! The article just ends mid-sentence, (or is it mid-word?)

To be fair, this newspaper did have some great readings, like, "Sam Kahiga: Artist in every genre", and the very moving, "The triumph and tragedy of Francis Kadenge". 

Also standing out was, "Is it the end, or a second life for Kenya media". This article made a direct reference to me, (yes me!)

Being stranded amid an orgy of raging violence ranks as my most terrifying moment professionally. But I digress.

The author however, left out, what I think should have been obvious details in his 'great' analysis.

There was no mention of the People, (in its initial format as a weekly paper) the Star (which folded and is not related to what is published in the current market), or even the defunct Leader, which turns the above argument on its head.

And these observations, from one particularly 'gifted' daily, in terms of its array of errors, I strongly feel, makes a strong point for Kenyan newspaper publishers to consider introducing a refund or return policy for those irked/dissatisfied after purchasing news publications.