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 March 2014


At what point is it safe for the media to generalise that a particular view is a reflection of a wider belief or standpoint? Apparently, for the Kenyan press, all it takes is to interview one person and then assume the views are from multiple sources. This amounts to peddling blatant lies and manufactured truths.

According to the headline of this particular story, from one of the national paper, doctors have spoken in one voice and advised that care should be taken, before administering a World Health Organisation tetanus vaccine to women.

Given that doctors are highly trained professionals, this report naturally sends alarm bells ringing, especially because a sub-heading continues to state that the vaccination campaign seeks to prevent women or girls from getting pregnant.

This message is prominently displayed and underscored, with the attribution suggesting more than one doctor, if not an organised grouping of medics, holds the same view.

But shockingly, further down the article, it becomes clear that the writer only spoke to ONE doctor!

How then, could the newspaper editor conclude from this single interview, that the resultant stance on the tetanus vaccine issue, is representative of the thinking of many doctors?

Isn't it easy to conclude that this article has a hidden agenda of backing up similar claims raised by the Catholic Church head in Kenya, who was the first to reject the WHO vaccination campaign?

No doubt this amounts to a gross misrepresentation of facts, deliberately designed to sway opinion against the campaign to administer the tetanus jabs.

Even if it eventually turns out that WHO had an ulterior motive of 'preventing pregnancies' the reader needs to be allowed to arrive at such a conclusion using supportive and compelling evidence presented in the article.

Not by propagation of misguided perceptions. Again. The media is not a platform for circulating blatant lies and manufactured truths!

Thursday, 20 March 2014


The use of English language by Kenyan newspapers is many a times so wanting, it almost feels like editors are beyond any grammatical help. But there are times, when their grasp of syntactic tenets and semantic elements shines through. And thanks to one newspaper headline, I'm now more familiar with subjunctive verbs.

On coming across the above headline construction, I admittedly, thought it was erroneous at first. I mean, the rules of singular and plural verb forms immediately point to some grammatical discordance, right?

Well, not exactly in this case. It is tempting though, to conclude at first glance, that the correct construction should have been, 'I wish my mother was here...'

But here, the subject 'I' in this headline, is just not referring to something in the past tense, and subsequently the case for using the verb 'was' to comply with grammatical rules.

As I was so ably informed by Lynne Gaertner-Johnston, in her phenomenal blog, what is being expressed here is something that's contrary to fact.

This means the person is directly implying his mother is not alive. Had 'was' been employed here, instead of 'were', then this meaning would be lost.

And it could also misleadingly suggest the mother was not there, only on that particular occasion.

On that note:

 'Even if I were an English language guru, I would know better than to generally condemn the competence of Kenyan newspaper editors.' 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014


What informed the transformation of  TV news in Kenya? Some say the shift is detrimental to sensible news delivery. Others argue the changes have energized, hitherto, stiff presentation styles and widened the appeal. That's the position being vigorously defended by one of Kenya's finest broadcasting managers.

It had been laboriously pointed out here, that local TV stations needed to urgently desists from adulterating news bulletins with nebulous content, which essentially confined the day's main news to the periphery.

Then the stars conspired and conjured an unusually illuminating confrontation on social media.

One tweet led to another, and before one could say, 'Tweef', a fully-fledged battle of wits and media mastery had ensued. And it's all captured below.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


The English language can play cruel mind games, especially for media practitioners. One may set out to innocently state something, only to end up being guilty of implying other non-intended things. The only way to avoid sounding ridiculous, like lumping schools and principals together, is to be extra keen.

Notice how the editor of this leading Kenyan daily, inadvertently perhaps, ended up putting a lot of nonsense on the paper's front page.
"Mary Hill Girls, Sacho and other principals share inside story of their winning formula."
This in essence, means the principals of schools were the ones sharing their winning formula. But for those in the know, there is no principal going by the name 'Mary Hill Girls' or 'Sacho'. These are obviously schools.

So the right order of words in that ' weird newspaper' sentence should have been:
"Principals of Mary Hill Girls, Sacho and other schools share inside story of their winning formula."
Clearly, design considerations in newspaper layouts, must never result in the sacrifice of communication aspects, to the point of entirely changing the intended meaning, (if at all there was any meaningful 'meaning' in the above example).

But unlike the variations of meaning in language, a mathematically calculated element, can hardly be expected to be open to diverse interpretations.

That's why I can confidently say the distance between the Kenyan capital, Nairobi and the Japanese mega city of Tokyo, cannot and will never be less than that between the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, and any other corner of that country.

Keep the Khartoum-Darfur distance to yourself, Mr newspaper editor!