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.




Wednesday, 26 February 2014


Kenyan media outlets often feel the need to rebrand or relaunch. If there's value addition, then the audience is bound to appreciate the changes. But is it really necessary to drastically change the way news is delivered? Opinions should never be disguised as factual news elements, in the name of a new horizon in news delivery. Go back to basics and give us pure news.

It has now become acceptable to start a news bulletin with a lengthy introduction of studio guest, complete with their profiles and career high points. Have news headlines gone that down the rundown pecking order?

Journalism as a function, is primarily designed to hep disseminate information, in an objective a manner as possible, and to allow the audience to draw its own conclusions.

And whereas interpretation is always welcome in news delivery, it should not be taken to the level of forcing the audience to partake of the news, through the eyes and at times 'no brainer' minds of a pre-selected panel.

There's certainly no harm in getting analysts to help the audience understand issues. But a news bulletin anchored on analysis, at the expense of the day's news, tends to deplete the available attention span.

Think about the agony of the sports fan, waiting for a segment that has been inconveniently placed towards the end of the news.

It also beats logic, for media house to be so agreeable to hosting the same news sources or guests, in spite of the fact that the same 'attention seekers' have already made appearances in one or two other stations, and 'exhaustively' generated more than enough noise about the same subject.

To make matters worse, these, so called opinion shapers and custodians of expert views, have been known to mostly generate heated but not enlightening debates.

But such is the extent of the local media's gullibility, that falsehoods and inaccuracies will be readily circulated without any serious or even professional interrogation.

So, it's only days later that the audience gets to learn about simple truths, like the real status of the man that is fighting hard to continue answering to the title of 'Embu County Governor'.

Again, I say. Newsrooms should go back to the basics. Give us a hefty serving of pure news, spiced with analytical condiments, not blase analysis.

Monday, 17 February 2014


His brand of social protests in Kenya, captured the imagination of both friend and fiend. Many are the times he has mobilised support and engaged the authorities in very creative and sometimes chaotic demonstrations. But then he's human...with a limited risk tolerance...and a family. The media jumped on the story of his quitting activism, but could have done better.

For a high profile activist to call it a day, seemingly indicates either giving up on agitating for a common good, or selfishly re-evaluating the direct impact to one's loved ones, and whether one is prepared to seek social justice at the expense of one's family's well-being.

The coverage of this story in the press should thus not be limited to the reasons given by the now ex-activist. His fears needed to be interrogated further because they raise pertinent questions that could be directed to a psychologist and/or security or intelligence expert.

This would give the news story depth and perhaps more clarity about the resolve of the 'famed' activist to 'retire' at his prime. The reaction in social media platforms, as sampled below, shows just why this can be so useful.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


Is there a time the Kenyan media's one hand does not know what the other is doing, just like the way the same media likes to label, especially the country's government? How else do you explain a reporter painstakingly upholding ethical standards in protecting somebody's identity, only to robustly reveal who they are, in the same news story?

This glaring contradiction and assault on acceptable media standards, has been brought to my attention, by an equally distressed observer.

A recent TV news report (as posted online above), about a witness withdrawing from the International Criminal Court case against Kenya's deputy President, simply defies logical thinking.

After blurring the image of the recanting ICC witness throughout, very private details of the same person are then extensively revealed to the whole world, when his affidavit is prominently displayed.

So the report hides the face of the witness, then goes ahead and makes known his full name, address and even the location of his physical residence.

This to me, is what ought to be described as Draconian!

Friday, 7 February 2014


Unlike editorial errors in print media, incorrect texts that are broadcast can be amended almost immediately, while the news item is still on air. Unfortunately, most TV stations in Kenya appear to be allergic to rapidly rectifying such mistakes. So a blunder irritatingly lingers on the screen for eons.

This illustration of editorial incompetence has become an almost permanent feature of the story tag graphics, or lower third sections of local TV news bulletins.

So, from the above screen shot, it is perfectly in order for prisons to suffer physical injury, alongside other mortal beings, because according to the editor, 'Two warders, one prison...' got injured, '...in Kamiti prison chaos.'

And that is what was being repeatedly flashed on air, as if once or twice was not enough for the news production crew to notice and make amendments. But the news producer/editor in this channel, did at least refer to security officers, who work in prisons, as warders.

For this other station, the officers manning prisons are wardens. And, going by this flawed logic, those gallant men and women, who help protect wildlife, could be called 'game warders.'

Furthermore, abbreviating long titles of some news sources is admittedly not an easy task. And every media outlet does have an in-house style guide on how to render shortened titles.

But even in the interest of attaining brevity and economy of the lower third space, the communication aspect must never be sacrificed.

All I can see from, 'Ass. Commn Minister-Tanzania' in the above captioning, is that someone important might have inadvertently been referred to as an ass!!