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.




Tuesday, 23 September 2014


Media outlets in Kenya like publishing or broadcasting 'wonderful' news. A feel good story helps to reduce the impact from heavy bombardment of negative news. But alas! Local TV news channels can also re-invent known inventions! Behold the 'inventor' of the aeroplane from South Sudan!

Inventors are known to have played a major role in transforming the world and greatly enhancing the quality of life. Take flying for instance, so much convenience has rarely taken to the skies.

It apparently is not common knowledge, however, that the aeroplane was 'successfully' invented in the early years of the 20th century.

If the lower third tag of this TV story is to be believed, the Wright Brothers had nothing to do with the invention of the first airplane flight, right?


The closest that the story comes to an invention, is either the TV station's decision to 're-invent' historical facts, or its spirited attempt to alter the meaning of 'invent' from:

"...to design or create something such as a machine or process that did not exist before."

Now let's drink to that. So, will it be whiskey or whisky?

Yet again, another local TV station felt it was proper to use the two terms interchangeably, when referring to a made in Scotland drink.

Let's toast to media mediocrity!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014


Long format TV features are gaining popularity in Kenyan broadcast stations. They accord adequate time for reporters to thoroughly interrogate topical issues. This came out in a well executed story on the encroachment of the Mau forest complex. But the coverage was ruined by the subtle media agenda in the Mau, courtesy of a tragic tribal trajectory.

The reporter did well in capturing nearly all the possible angles, and incorporating a multiplicity of views. This element was so exhaustive factored in that the feature ran the risk of losing focus on what it intended to highlight as the key concerns.

But for me, what one interviewee said stood out. He was convinced that it was perfectly in order for members of his community, (read tribe), to lay claim to swathes of the crucial Mau water catchment, given that other communities (tribes) were being 'allowed' by the state to plunder the forest.

The Mau Tragedy can't get more tragic!

If the water tower is destroyed, the serious consequences will not only affect particular communities/tribes. The impact of such a catastrophe will even cross the country's boundaries, and be felt by millions regionally.

And this is why the media needs to be cautious. This issue has already been heavily politicised. It should not be further trivialised by whipping up ethnic undertones.

My observations may be far-fetched. But I got the feeling that the TV station inadvertently perhaps, ended up giving prominence to partisan sentiments, with subtle hints of the editorial slant.

Yes. The media mirrors evils obtaining in the society.

No. The media must not always reflect the rot back to the society and deepen schisms.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


Journalists are known to go to great lengths to get details of a news story. This means, travelling to the other side of the world, or risking lives and limbs, is but an occupational hazard. It's therefore baffling, to see Kenyan media being so reluctant to get relevant facts of a story within their reach. A legislator's absence in Parliament, continues to be amplified by absentee journalism.

This particular issue of a Member of Parliament seemingly 'not keen' on fulfilling the duties that come with winning an elective seat, has been in the public domain for months.

The local media, it appears, is only content with re-establishing this basic fact, and the possible consequences of skipping parliamentary sessions continuously.

The press has nevertheless been tracking the development of this story, perhaps it being a matter of great public interest, with the latest update being the petition by the affected constituents, seeking to have the parliamentary seat declared vacant.



For scribes' sake...

Isn't there a 'brave' journalist or editor, with a nose for news to smell one missing element in this story?

What does the Member of Parliament involved have to say about this issue? Has anyone tried to contact him? Could he have valid or justifiable reasons for skipping parliamentary sittings?

Is he okay?

Thursday, 4 September 2014


The English language can play a nasty game on a newspaper editor. One can stitch words together, which on the surface seem to yield a sensible sentence, but which on close examination, amount to a semantic calamity. Such was the case of the millions of refugees, half of whom were displaced.

Refugees. Displaced. Can one be a refugee without being displaced? Or alternatively, can one be displaced, without fitting the description of a refugee? The headline above, seems to suggest there's a distinction between being displaced and being a refugee.

And yet looking through a number of online dictionaries, one notices an almost similar description, meaning-wise.

A refugee is someone who has been forced to leave their country due to war, persecution or natural disaster. A displaced person on the other hand, is one who is forced to leave their home because of war, persecution or natural disaster.

The only difference it seems, is that a refugee is forced to leave their country, while a displaced person is essentially forced to leave their home, not necessarily their country.

Ok, that distinction is now clearer. But still, the article's headline reads:

'Syrian refugees top three million, half of them displaced, says UN.'

Now, say with me slowly:

Syrian refugees are three million. They have all been uprooted from their country. Half of them though, are displaced, meaning out of the 3 million forced to leave their country, 1.5 million have only been forced to leave their homes, but not their country.

Spot the contradictory nonsense?