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 November 2013


That mistakes in Kenyan newspapers come in high frequency, is hardly debatable. Even a committed media critic can drift towards apathy. But then a gem of a howler vigorously awakens the need to deconstruct and dish out some disgust discourse. If a paper's target is smart readers, then it better confine itself to smart mistakes.

The above story, appearing in a national paper, ranks among the worst articles I have ever had the (dis)pleasure of analysing. Right from the crafting of the headline, some not so well-meaning force seems to yearn for a fist to face encounter with the sub/revise-editor.

"Kibwana tells Makueni diaspora investment"...what?....to do what?.....what?......TO DO WHAT? Suspense is good, but not when it borders the bizarre.

And just what entity is 'Makueni diaspora investment' anyway? Maybe there's clarification within the body of the story. Maybe not!

The all important first paragraph takes the confusion to dizzying heights. There's truly an exceptional effort to annihilate the English language, if it's not a deliberate act of editorial sabotage.
Governor Kivutha Kibwana has told on Saturday met Makueni residents in the disapora to invest back home. 
That such gibberish got published, is a wonder to behold. So Kibwana, it has been established, is a Governor. Everyone knows of which county, right? And there's more serving of literary disasters.
Kibwana was addressing the residents in in New Jersey, US on Saturday.
In the same illogical pattern, does the double 'in' translate to an 'out'?

No doubt I'm out now, on the double!

Friday, 22 November 2013


Three years ago, I had the opportunity of being listened to by the CEO of a leading media house in Kenya. I tried to impress on him the need to venture into Internet service provision, to bundle it with TV content. Well, not much came out of the meeting. But the country's largest mobile service operator is now diversifying into TV content provision.

I had been especially concerned by the possibility of mobile service providers venturing into streaming television content and leveraging on their wide subscriber bases.

My argument then was that to remain competitive, the media firm had to invest in Internet-based real time audience participation and feedback platforms, now even more relevant with the switch to digital TV.

Even then, it was clear that the audience was getting more assertive in choosing what to watch and when to view, whichever content.

In the discussion, I pointed out the usefulness of venturing, (like in more developed countries), into the realm of video on demand, pay per view and red button capabilities. 

More certainly had to be done, than simply uploading content on Youtube, or a media company's websites and linking the same to social media networks, to widen access and open new revenue streams.

From broadcasting to narrowcasting

Indeed, it's increasingly becoming imperative for media houses to open up interactive channels that would enable listeners, viewers and readers to customize content to suit individual tastes or needs.

In other words, broadcasting to a mass audience has gradually been giving way to 'narrowcasting' to a segmented audience. So enabling the audience to choose what suits who, in what format and which time, has been a game changer.

Subsequently, a mobile telephony enterprise, already boasting millions of subscribers plus a successful money transfer platform, and already reaping profits from data services, will have a competitive advantage, when it seeks out the traditional TV audiences.

It is highly probable that soon, Kenyans might stop tuning into TV stations, to catch their favourite programmes at 'dictated times', because the same could be downloaded on demand, even if an amount is to be charged for accessing premium content.

And that is why the audience is now king and the content is queen!

Friday, 15 November 2013


Don't worry so much if your husband goes astray. You're the Mercedes Benz, and the mistress is an inferior ride. So let the man have his way, because he will still come back to you. That is what was spewing out of a Nairobi-based FM station. When will radio presenters realise they also operate in the realm of radio journalism?

The captains of the local media industry are on record acknowledging the need to equip every radio person behind a microphone linked to an audience, with media ethics and basic journalism principles.

If that is achieved, then the case for self-regulation for the media will be cemented even further. But to continue having 'rogue' musicians, comedians, DJs and 'sales people' on air, will sustain the negative perceptions about the media industry.

Granted, the great revenue generation speared-headed by the radio 'sales people' on air, is crucial in keeping radio stations afloat. But at what or whose expense, should also be taken into consideration.

Somebody needs to keep track of what is acceptable ethical standards, and especially ensure the media, does not lead astray young people with impressionable minds.

That's why everybody is in agreement about the need for media regulation. How that is to be realised is the bone of contention.

But if nobody cares about what is in the best interest of the public, because the focus is on profits, then the media will eventually degenerate into a destructive force upon the very society it's meant to serve.

Is anybody listening?

Thursday, 7 November 2013


It seems there'll always be a truthful truth and a not so truthful truth, as far as the Kenyan media is concerned. To those in the industry, this 'misnomer' can easily be explained by the underlying slant, when it comes to press coverage. But is this being fair to the trusting and even spending intended readers?

If for example, somebody purchases a newspaper with the above headline, there is a very high likelihood of them expecting what is stated in the splash to be a truthful representation of 'sacred' facts. But what if they first take a glance at another newspaper's headline and spot something else like:

The same story is given prominence, but in not so certain terms, as the earlier one. I can bet at this time, some doubt would have begun to form in the mind of the newspaper buyer. Improbable as it may sound, at this point, the 'truth' is clearly beginning to assume another form.

Perhaps to get a clearer picture, the newspaper purchaser decides to have a third opinion. And a look at yet another paper's coverage of the same story, incredibly appears to stretch the 'truth' in another direction.

Let's narrow down the different facets of this 'true' story:

1. Drama as MPs seal Ngilu fate
2. MPs put Ngilu on the spot over illegal jobs
3. MP's ask Uhuru to sack Ngilu over irregular appointments

Tough choice indeed for the readers. Just which paper should be trusted as a bearer of  the most 'truthful' interpretation?

Well, perhaps that is for the readers to figure out, from the presented facts. And in any case, this multiplicity of views is not necessarily harmful, is it?.

But one thing is for sure, 'truth' can be damn confusing. And that is the truth.