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, 30 December 2015


The media's classical role is to inform, educate and entertain. But in the Kenyan situation, it's not surprising to encounter a media that regularly misinforms, confuses and corrupts public morals. So you might come across expletives in a family paper, diversity and celebrating mice!

One can argue that an advertiser is largely responsible for the brief to the newspaper publisher, in terms of form and content (plus the attendant cost).

And some actually present finished material, as opposed to having designers from the newspaper actualising the concept in the brief.

But I strongly want to believe that some editorial control is still wielded by the newspaper, otherwise a lot of offensive content could easily reach the masses.

So, to the average reader out there, coming across the advert in the page above, with the phrase:
...what would be the intended meaning? Mice are celebrated? It's better to celebrate the mice in diversity? The venue being advertised is the best place to celebrate mice...in diversity?

The confusion is annoying, yet somewhat bearable.

But for a supposed family paper, (or am I mistaken here?) to even contemplate publishing the 'F-word' in all its inglorious suffocation, is crossing the ethical line.

A liberal world view is all good.

And prudes can be a tad slow in keeping with the 'trendy' alignment with moral decadence.

Still, any publication meant for public consumption should uphold certain ethical standards, in tandem with obtaining average decency levels.

After all, even the terms and conditions of use for the publication's website forbids content that is

'... sexist, or demeaning to either sex, abusive, sexually explicit, pornographic, of a disturbing nature...'

Stop the double standards and let your standards stand out!

Thank you for your continued support. Each visitor to this blog, feedback or any links from it are greatly appreciated. And as we confidently march into the 8th year of regular posts, it's my hope that we'll continue sharing and critiquing media content in a healthy, responsible and progressive manner.
Have a very fulfilling 2016!

Thursday, 17 December 2015


One million followers. The most engaged media brand on Twitter in the East African region. This particular feat had to be sounded off from the mountain top. But a little historical context of how it all began could offer intriguing insights. And such a success should be measured in terms of your own online real estate, not your brand piggyback riding on another popular platform. 

Fact is, five years ago, Twitter was a very neglected social media platform in this particular channel.

Actually, my main point when called upon to address the big editorial meetings, was the need for the newsroom staff to open Twitter accounts and especially how this would be useful in breaking news scenarios.

Okay. A disclaimer first. I was the pioneer Online Editor of the channel in question, (a disastrous one perhaps?). 

Now that we have that out of the way, I would like to disassociate myself with any impression that I'm writing this out of bitterness, (the bile is just for emphasis).

Very strangely, there was resistance to officially use Twitter on air, from very high places.

I vividly recall the day I was on reporting duties, and I asked the video editor to put my Twitter handle, alongside my name, as he rendered my piece to camera.

In my excitement, I told the boss to watch my story on air, with the hope of being among the first TV journalist in Kenya to have a Twitter handle on air, and eventually turning this into a common practise in the newsroom.

But that was not to be. My then overall boss, in a rare panic mode, ordered me to remove my Twitter handle on the story (hardly five minutes prior to it going on air).

So I always marvel at the way Kenyan broadcasting stations and even mainstream print outlets, nowadays freely display Twitter handles of their institutions and even individual journalists. And there's plenty of hashtag this or that.

Why was this a difficult thing to do five years ago, and yet internationally, this had been an approved trend, even much earlier? Or it's just the usual fear of change? (Or was the problem me taking the credit?).

So now the same TV station feels very proud to have registered a supposed highest number of Twitter followers regionally.

This could as well be a fallacy, because all the accounts in this mega count are not verified. A single follower could be operating several Twitter accounts, using different handles.

But what I find most unusual, is the objective given to the channel's digital team, to get people away from their Internet-enabled mobile phones and directing their attention to the content airing on TV.

I'm of the opinion that the reverse should be the sequence of events: get those watching TV to go online for more related content or latest updates, especially given that most stories airing on local TV have already done the rounds on the Internet.

This mentality, partly explains why many Kenyan media outlets have found it hard to maintain truly dynamic websites, laden with compelling content to sustain the interest of their online communities.

In any case, isn't it a bit foolhardy for a media outlet to boast about how well its brand is doing on another external platform?

It's similar to boasting how one's rented house is magnificent, while at the same time identifying who the landlord is.

Again, your brand's worth as a media outlet on the Internet, should be measured from the performance of your very own online real estate!


It seems the futility and vanity of mainstream media riding on their external social media presence is still not apparent to everyone.

Behold! Wading through the social media wilderness can lead to the promised land of likes and followers.

But a day will come when it becomes apparent that the online audiences of these local mainstream media have been willingly delivered to global competitors.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015


It's the festive season again. When the pure Christmas spirit chokes under commercial impurities. The ingenuity of sellers goes into overdrive. As the vulnerability of buyers soars. Advertisements may not be innocent attempts to drive sales. And the media must strive not to facilitate the duping of consumers.

The advertisement above, appearing in Kenya's leading Sunday paper, looks legitimate from a casual glance.

Nearly all sales are often branded 'biggest' so that lie is harmless for now.

But one would expect some other 'falsehoods' to be at least cleverly disguised.

If you can't see what I'm talking about, look closely at all the products being advertised above. They are from one brand or manufacturer, right?

Wrong! The logo on one of the product is for a well known brand. But the description with the 20% price reduction alludes to a product of a different brand.

It's hard to believe this is an innocent mistake.

Actually, it's perhaps easier to be convinced this was an act of industrial sabotage, where one manufacturer intercepts a rival client's brief, and using its mole in the ad-agency, commits a nefarious product placement.

Quite a yarn admittedly.

The media then, ought to be more careful not to unwittingly propagate misleading information, embedded in published advertisements.

Unless...the media is part of a conspiracy against consumers.

Friday, 4 December 2015


A headline sells a newspaper article. Similarly, the front page headline can be the difference between high and average newspaper sales. So great care is taken to craft the most appealing headlines, to grab a reader's attention. But a headline must not contradict details in the body of its own article.

It's obviously very unprofessional for a newspaper to publish one story containing two sets of facts.

What should the reader of Kenya's leading daily believe?

'Nigeria says mobile firm MUST pay $5.2bn fine'


'...the Nigerian Communications Commission... had agreed to reduce the fine to $3.4bn...'

Perhaps the story had developed. But even so, it's strange that the body of the published article is updated, (from the second paragraph), but the headline remains stale.

Or is it that a $5bn figure is more attention-grabbing than $3b?

Most probably, this is another instance of sloppy sub-editing, symptomatic of the cosmetic editorial refinement, regularly administered to Kenyan newspaper copy.

And if such contradictory facts are carelessly thrown around within a single story, what does that say about the believability and indeed credibility of a newspaper publisher?

The road to major mistakes in the media is littered with little inaccuracies!

Thursday, 26 November 2015


The Kenyan president makes an address to the nation, broadcast live in all major channels, during which changes in his administration are announced. The event ends less than half an hour to prime time news bulletins. Then, newscasts lead with a lengthy recap of the presidential briefing. This double dose of identical information is a cue for the audience to doze off.

Is the news significant? Oh yes, very important. Must it be re-aired in its original format and the content of the presidential address regurgitated on an ' as is where is' basis, so soon after the live broadcast?

Yes...in the land of dead journalistic analysis and media allergies to interpretative value addition on information being conveyed.

But that's not to say you lose focus on the fact that TV is a visual medium.

So having a news presenter on a prolonged solo talking spree makes it hard to distinguish between facts and personal opinion.

It is hard to imagine that within one hour, local channels weren't able to line up analysts or experts to interrogate the Cabinet reshuffle, despite big hints that major changes were in the offing.

And if all fails, even in-house 'editorial authorities' can be roped in to broaden the discussion, as opposed to the tiring studio monologues.

It's important for a news story to be taken forward. And the media can be proactive in seeking to raise and find answers to the 'so what' question.

That 'lazy' newsroom pattern of waiting for reactions a day after, ought to be discarded.

That's why it was so refreshing to see one of the channels airing a Cabinet Secretary nominee's initial thoughts, shortly afterwards.

Those visuals came from Europe...

...And you want the audience to think it's impossible to get a relevant comment from the neighbourhood?

Friday, 20 November 2015


When terrorists strike, human suffering is amplified and individual pain is multiplied. A responsible media helps to confront terror, without unwittingly advancing the terrorists' agenda. This aspect often eludes Kenyan media, in their coverage of terror attacks. Media terrorism should also be condemned.

The siege in a hotel in the Malian capital, was beamed across the world. But the sense of terror being experienced by the hostages was not diluted by the absence of phone calls from the media to some of the victims, a la Westgate.

And as was demonstrated during, and in the aftermath of the terror strikes, in the French capital, loss of lives can be reported, without necessarily showing dead bodies, a la Garissa or Mandera attacks.

Perhaps based on valid reasons, Kenyans and the local media have become distrusting of the government and its security agencies, hence the demands to see bodies of terrorists 'allegedly' killed.

But hardly any doubts or disbelief greeted the announcement that the mastermind of the Paris attacks had been eliminated.

Lack of crucial intelligence, or failure to act on prior warnings, are also not charges being levelled against the French government, like the local media would have easily done.

The international media does have its own shortcomings, in the coverage of terror attacks.

There are frequent accusations of belittling tragedies involving African or less developed countries, and appearing to place more value in the lives of citizens from developed nations.

This perceived discrimination is not helped by 'skewed reports' as depicted below.

Notice the undertones of suspected profiling of hostages, to determine who is to be rescued.

If there's one important lesson to be eternally emphasised, it's that terrorism is a universal threat.

Thursday, 12 November 2015


Proofreading skills are proving to be in a state of neglect in the Kenyan press. The frequency of editorial errors on textual and semantic levels, is far too high. One is tempted to think the draft copy is starved of adequate revision and overfed with false confidence, during sub-editing. All that is required could just be a second glance by the first eye, or a first glance by a second eye.

Such is the nature of some irritating errors. Nothing complex. Just really simple omissions that ruin the reading experience and distort the information being conveyed.

Even in the wildest of imaginations, there's no way the entire European Union can:

"...pledge $3.8 to help curb migration."

Less than 4 American dollars! That headline in the country's leading daily, does not even begin to add up.

But what is more worrying is that the 'Intro' of the story clearly states the amount is in the region of billions.

Undoubtedly, many eyes must have noticed that headline, during the production process, yet hardly any seemed to have taken note of the major anomaly.

The first eye of the headline drafter ought to have spotted something was amiss at first glance, and not miss the error at second glance.

The second eye should have raised a red flag at first glance, or flag it off for correction at second glance.

That is how newspaper sub-editing ought to be alive to eye-opening glances.

Thursday, 5 November 2015


The pattern is familiar. First corruption accusations. Followed by denials and blame games. Then aggrieved politicians and the media keep the graft allegations alive. And the government puts up a defence. Kenyans then get caught up in different quadrants of this vicious cycle. That's why this devoured devolution or devolved devouring will only be ended by the power of the ballot.

We may make all the noise we want, cry for change and pursue the high and mighty in all platforms, peacefully or confrontationally. But ultimately it counts for nothing, if lessons are never learnt about the direct link between the leadership we elect and the fate of our country.

Politicians will come seeking votes, and you bet there will be the mention of the importance of having sufficient numbers of elected party or coalition representatives, for a government to conduct its business effectively.

I just hope Kenyans will now be able to distinguish between effectively and suffocatingly.

Thursday, 29 October 2015


That editorial blunders abound in Kenyan mainstream newspapers is indisputable. English language deficiencies are regularly on display. But at times, one wonders if some mistakes actually emanate from acts of sabotage, by those tasked with cleaning copy, before publication. How else can one explain mistakes in an article correcting other mistakes?

The situation is difficult to understand, because the author of the article is one of the most accomplished senior journalists in the country.

And he is widely renowned for smoking out poorly written newspaper articles.

His grasp of the inner workings of global languages is authoritative and impeccable.

He can convincingly argue that the Indo-European question mark symbol, is etymologically linked to the mid-14th century fish hook, found in the Great Lakes region.

It is thus very surprising that this particular veteran can make careless spelling mistakes.

And more so, in a newspaper article deeply entrenched in his characteristic didactic role.

Drawing from his long experience in the industry, he had once again embarked on enlightening readers, writers and editors alike, on proper deployment of English language elements, to express intended meanings.

But unbelievably, this is what assaults the eyes:
...But note that the word aircract has no plural form. Except in the pages of one notorious Nairobi newspaper, there are no such things as aircracts. Aircract remain aircract (without an "s" at the end)...
All I can say is:

I Accuse the Press!

Friday, 23 October 2015


The Kenyan media can sometimes deploy very strange editorial logic. Even news elements inherently dangerous in the long term, are milked for short-term glory. And misguidedly, fleeting audience approval is thought to translate to news product loyalty. It's no surprise that media sees logic in curbing incitement through coverage of inciters.

You castigate hate speech by propagating hate speech.

You are wary of inciting statements, but choose to expose inciters, by giving them a platform to further spread their incitement.

You stress the importance of national values but drive the agenda of tribal politics.

You promote issues-based politics but refuse to ignore personal interests of politicians.

You decry the inability of the state to combat terror threats but you publicly share sensitive security details.

You disseminate copious negative news about the country and question why tourists numbers are falling.

You condemn corruption but condone underhand dealings that bring you business.

You highlight the widening gap between the poor and the rich but entrench huge salary disparities in your workforce.

You advocate for meritocracy but make merry, when brilliant talent wilts as mediocrity thrives, within your ranks.

You hunger for exclusive stories and starve the audience of incisive news.

Just like it's being bravely suggested above, there is need for serious introspection by practitioners in the local media industry.

Hopefully one day we will realise that the joy of winning a competition of staring at the sun, comes with the agony of turning blind.

Thursday, 15 October 2015


The biggest continental journalism awards came calling in the Kenyan capital. It was yet another chance to fete Africa's finest and reward professional excellence. The overall winner was the toast of the night. But one outstanding entry had the misfortune of having a number of factors working against it. This is how success of Kenyan journalists can become a curse.

It was a compelling television story, well researched and laden with powerful visuals. The narration carried the pain of a people's prolonged suffering, and the victims' agony was unmistakable in their cry for help.

The story has dominated reviews and discussions locally, and even the country's Head of State, the chief guest during the awards ceremony, initiated the process of availing help for the highlighted community, in medical distress, (as reported by the reporter).

Having also been present at the awards, and therefore having a clue about all the entries that emerged victorious, I honestly feel the story in question had what it takes to clinch the overall title.

But that befitting top honour was denied, I think, either because:
- The awards were being held in Kenya and it could have been awkward for a Kenyan entry to win. 
- There was a Kenyan among the panel of judges, hence inviting some speculation of a covert influence. 
- Kenyan entries have won the overall title more times than any other country in Africa. 
- The previous year's overall winner was from Kenya. 
- Or, this criticism of the awards is by a Kenyan (a previous category winner notwithstanding).

Yes. The 2015 overall winning story was ingeniously and meticulously planned, and even prophetic about the going-ons in Burkina Faso.

But to me, it was more like the judges were applauding how the story was crafted, more than the substance and delivery of the entry.

Oh, well, you win some and sometimes, the loss is never beyond deserving winners.

Friday, 9 October 2015


It's highly regrettable that a section of Kenyan children have been found indulging in 'adult' misbehaviour. And the media has been quick to jump on such stories, riding on their potential to shock and jolt the nation's conscience. But not every news story adds value to this issue. A sober approach is needed to smoke out the underage drinkers.

So, a media house gets word that pupils of a certain school have been more than quenching their thirst for knowledge, by imbibing fermented beverages of the illicit type.

A TV news crew is dispatched to the school, (or as is reported, 'pays a courtesy call'), interviews are conducted and material gathered used to assemble a ' Drunk in Class' news story.

It's perhaps hoped the emotional hook will align the morality compass in the audience, to point to the falling societal standards of raising children.

But the substance collected during the news gathering process needs to support the weight of the final content being broadcast.

It's one thing to say children attend school in a 'drunken stupor' but it will require more than the claims of school authorities and 'blurred' interviews of pupils to make the story fully convincing.

Talking heads only, and not even a local social worker or a medics's expert diagnosis, waters down the potency of the story.

And ethically, you don't violate the privacy of minors, by pin-pointing pupils in class, whom the audience is supposed to believe are inebriated.

That is not a sober approach to smoke out underage drinkers!

Thursday, 1 October 2015


That facts are sacred is never in question in the business of news. Politicians, however, have been known to be sacrilegious, when handling facts. And unfortunately, this is what the Kenyan media thrives on, to push their news products. But, it is more worrying if news editors desecrate facts.

West Africa. Burkina Faso. Cote d'Ivoire/Ivory Coast. Abidjan. Ouagadougou. A foreign media outlet can barely be excused for mixing up these hard facts, in the form of African countries and cities.

An African media house simply ought not to not know that Ouagadougou is not the Ivorian capital.

You see, the media prides itself in its watchdog role, which makes it safe to assume there is an inbuilt fact-checking mechanism, not entirely infallible, but generally reliable.

So, once in a while, (although it's more like regularly for local media), mistakes do happen and apologies are subsequently published.

But the different levels of gatekeeping, are primarily designed to ensure factual errors are not part of what is published in the public's interest.

It is thus puzzling that a reputable, (hey, biggest in the region), Kenyan newspaper can allow such a 'little' monumental error to appear on the front page of its premier publication.

If your vision is to be the 'Media of Africa for Africa' then you better know the continent real good!

Thursday, 24 September 2015


One often gets the feeling there's too much emphasis being put on literacy skills in the practise of journalism, at the expense of equally important numeracy competencies. And as Kenya seeks a way out of the teachers pay dispute, a lot of confusing figures are being thrown around. So, a literacy wise and numeracy foolish media can easily spread misinterpretations. 

The casual manner in which unqualified figures are often published, even with larger than life clues of something not adding up, is really worrying.

A simple cross-checking with the relevant available resources, can prevent glaring errors from being propagated.

For example, attendance figures quoted in the Mombasa International Agricultural Fair 'filler' story, are ridiculous.

The population of Mombasa city, nay the entire county, is nowhere near 2 million.

It's hard to imagine, where the fabulous figure of 6.4 million people, said to have attended the show came from.

That 'a team of newspaper editors' can fail to see such inconsistencies, points to a rather careless approach to editorial fact-checking.

Further scrutiny of the article reveals more confusions. Is the 6.4 million the 2015 attendance, as per the heading, or membership, as alluded to in the first sentence in the story?

Curiously, the last line of the news brief states that:
"Attendance was 55,000, a slight increase of six per cent from 52,000 people."
How can a brief 'mini article' be loaded with so many numerical deficiencies?

It is no wonder the local media has been unable to sufficiently interrogate figures being bandied, as the government and Kenyan teachers stalemate persists.

The media can't elect to be wise in literacy, and select to be foolish in numeracy.

Thursday, 17 September 2015


There's activism and advocacy. There's patriotism and public service. Then there's journalism. But within journalism can be found all the aforementioned elements. The distinction is that these are not expressed in their raw form. They are editorially refined, to best project the public interest. That's why there could be a thin line between suffering for, and serving Kenya.

If a media outlet decides to embark on an investigative piece touching on core national security matters, it thus becomes critical to serve public interest by telling the story, without setting up the country for untold suffering.

I strongly believe it's the duty of the press to uncover shortcomings of the government and state agencies, to make them more accountable and true to their mandate and responsibilities to citizens.

But I equally expect some conscious effort to balance that sacrosanct watchdog role of the media, with the need to preserve the entity being exposed, especially if it's what we collectively call our country.

You see, it borders on being pointless, if the media reduces itself to just being a trophy hunter, uncovering scoop after scoop of the dirtiest secrets of state and society.

Okay. So in the process, there could be some real positive changes and measures taken to address issues raised.

But in the larger scheme of things, those desired changes still need a state and society in which they can manifest themselves in, and importantly, for the difference they make to be appreciated.

In other words, you can't meaningfully change the state of affairs in a state, by compromising the state's very own existence.

So, we've seen the deplorable working and living conditions of policemen, in practically a war zone.

The government can be shamed into swinging into action (to improve the situation and/or deal with the source of the unauthorised disclosure to the media).

But more dreadful, the country's enemies can exploit the weaknesses highlighted in the expose, to further their deadly intentions.

The investigative piece could serve NGOs well, as they solicit for donor funding, to facilitate their often self-rewarding interventions.

However, the media must be alive to the fact that the government needs to be engaged fairly, for it to respond effectively to matters of public interest.

After all, many Kenyan journalists have been serving and suffering, in the course of discharging their professional duties, and yet the media is often too quick to expose the plight of other people.

Indeed, if you serve activism without patriotism, it is journalism that will suffer.

Thursday, 10 September 2015


Interesting times lie ahead for Kenyan media. Major players are experiencing serious challenges. Very regrettably, this has led to job cuts. Media houses should perhaps rethink their business models. And the prospects of a devolved media now look so enticing. Audiences will soon start commanding news coverage at their community level, not begging for visibility in national channels.

The perception has for a long time been that perceived important events ought to attract coverage by the big media players, a.k.a., Nairobi-based outlets.

So, one of the counties signs two major agreements with a delegation from a foreign country, and yet this hardly made news. And the county's communications department feels aggrieved.

Well, whether there are valid reasons as to why the developments were not covered, or if at all they merited coverage, is debatable.

But in the very near future, that could as well become a non-issue.

You see, the big media players (read Nairobi-based) have been pursuing expansion plans that spectacularly fly into headwinds, predictably perhaps, leaving no option but to wind up many such still-born ventures.

The advent of digital broadcasting, especially, has led to stiff competition, as new players, not necessarily Nairobi-based, begin to crowd the audience market.

And just like it happened in more developed countries, the way to go for the now vulnerable Nairobi-based media players, will not be trying to be everything for everybody.

Instead, it might make more sense for national media houses to have affiliate regional stations, or for them to acquire a stake in small but niche-rich outlets.

On a different note, I couldn't help but 'appreciate' the sense of self-worth of the author of the article above.

Maybe he needs to prove it by persuading his county to consider the idea of having a community media station.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015


Gears driving the assembly line of fresh media professionals keep turning. Which could in turn mean competition for established journalists. New exciting talent should however, not be seen as a threat, but should be allowed to flourish. Unfortunately, not all progress in newsrooms is celebrated. Those still able to shine, will hopefully be the antidote for the newsroom progress poison.

Some new talents are usually snapped up, especially after exemplary internship stints, while others fade away, but not just because of their inadequacies.

Indeed, those showing so much promise can be overlooked, and more opportunities availed to the ones who extend other favours, to those calling the shots, (pun very much intended).

But this is meant to be a very uplifting post about a bright talent, in one of the Kenyan TV news stations, whose progress I've keenly been following.

She pleasantly surprised me by holding a very engaging live interview, with so much confidence and such professional command, to rival any seasoned veteran.

It was a welcomed departure from the 'Ambush-Gotcha-Guillotine' type of TV interviews that many news presenters mistakenly believe is the way to handle their interviewees.

While others first arm themselves with damning evidence, as if on a mission to destroy interviewees, she disarmed her guests by just being calm, graceful and humble, which allowed them to freely share the required information.

It was a joy to watch her steer the interview, and sensibly interrogate her interviewees, covering much ground within the limited time.

Well, that is not entirely true. The choice of location for the interview almost ruined the experience.

It's terrible being struck with full light beams of oncoming traffic, while driving. But it's equally unsettling and visually bruising, to have bright lights coming straight at you from the telly.

But I'm tempted to think that's how bright the future is, for this fast-rising journalist. And I'm so glad I played a very tiny role in training her.

Shine on girl!

Thursday, 27 August 2015


If a TV station uses material from a secondary source, it's good professional practise to give on air credit, even when use of the material does not come with a 'must courtesy' clause. Unauthorised usage can attract a lawsuit. But care should be taken not to give undue credit, for clips from YouTube.

Most broadcasting houses have subscribed to various news agencies or wire service, because it's more cost-effective to source, especially video footage from them, than deploying crews to gather the same material from far-flung areas.

Local TV channels have also increasingly been getting their material from YouTube, due to the abundance, availability and ease of accessing desired footage.

But what if the video is uploaded to YouTube from a primary source, with or without authorisation, and then a TV channel downloads the same material and uses it in its broadcast. Who should be credited?

Is it the primary source, in this case 'Sky Sport' or YouTube?

It seems pretty naive for this channel to 'Courtesy YouTube' for the clip.

And 'Sky Sport' retains the right to make matters ugly for the TV station, if broadcasting rights have been infringed.

Friday, 21 August 2015


Two eyes. One brain. Eye-brain coordination is a useful element, when polishing news stories before publication. The eyes spot the error and the brain makes the correction. But a scatterbrain editor might miss out on obvious signals from the eyes. And the result could be an editorial aberration.

Execution and manipulation of English can be a challenge. But for those to whom impeccable language skills are a key professional requirement, more is expected.

And at times, what's needed, is eye-brain coordination, (known as attention to details).

The 'mini sub-headline' above states:
60 million litres of water from Mzima Springs IS wasted daily.
Notice the sub-editing embarrassment that follows.

And do try to ignore the painful repetition of the same facts, at such close proximity.

The first paragraph reads:
At least 60 million litres of treated water from Mzima Springs in Taita Taveta ARE wasted daily yet county residents do not have access to clean water.
So what prompted the change from IS to ARE?

In other words, do you say '60 million litres of water is wasted' or '60 million litres of water are wasted'?

I guess the editor thought the best response to that question is to be noncommittal and use both, which amounts to being a...... let's say it together.....SCATTERBRAIN!

Thursday, 13 August 2015


The Kenyan media yearns to associate itself with issues based politics. The intention is to steer coverage of politics and national discourse away from personalities. But the same media finds it hard to consistently stick to issues based coverage. It's no wonder the Ugandan sugar import issue is being mainly covered from the point of view of politicians. 

Granted, politicians are meant to carry the views of those they represent, because ultimately, the power is meant to reside with the people.

And their will must be expressed, even if it means bringing to the fore opposing views from the political divide.

But a responsible media must never abdicate it's agenda setting role.

In the controversy surrounding the importation of Ugandan sugar into Kenya, I for example, would have wished the Kenyan media to have their own main story, independently researched, as the lead.

The input of industry experts, sugar factories representatives and importantly, sugar-cane farmers, could have been sought.

And then a related story, anchored by what the government and opposition members are saying, would be the secondary focus, (and they can attack one another ad infinitum).

Admittedly, such an editorial approach, though high in public interest, could be low on commercial interest, a.k.a. newspaper sales.

Below are some of the initial reactions from social media, on the Kenya-Uganda sugar deal.

Thursday, 6 August 2015


Talk is cheap. And Kenyan TV talk shows are close to cheapening engagement with target and non-intended audiences. Formats are getting increasingly unimaginative and too draining to sustain the already straining viewer attention. When was a decree issued for news presenters to have their own shows?

It's all good to be versatile and capable of discharging multiple roles in a broadcast station. It does make you look useful to the Human Resources honchos, and could expand your legions of 'adoring' fans.

And hopefully, interviewing skills can get some much needed polishing.

But a TV talk show will need much more than your presence or your name dominating its title, for it to resonate with the viewers and remain relevant past the first season.

- A solid creative team with liquid ideas is very necessary. Topics might be finite but not delivery styles.

- It won't hurt to have the backing of an experienced production crew.

- It will stink to lift programme formats from both local and international channels, with cosmetic customisation.

- A programme will sink if nobody thinks about product differentiation, in this era of market segmentation and audience fragmentation.

Copy that news presenters cum talk show hosts.

Thursday, 30 July 2015


What or who exactly is the government? Has it got three arms? Yes. Does it exercise power on behalf of the people being governed? Maybe. Is it a person? No! So its strange that a Kenyan mainstream newspaper would confidently publish a story suggesting a Nominated MP can be equated to 'the government' or that he speaks as government.

It's widely believed that the said politician can wield influence by virtue of being the Chairman of the party that sponsored the sitting President.

But he wasn't elected by the people to parliament. You guessed it...he is a nominated Member of Parliament.

Is that enough to earn executive powers to represent the government, and its three arms?

Apparently so, if this particular story is to be cited as an authority on matters central governance.

From the article's headline, one gets the impression the story is anchored on the views of one person.

And indeed it is.

Right from the crucially important first paragraph is where things start to go wrong.

The Intro, ably supported by the second paragraph, partly states that:

 'The Government has come out to strongly defend its institutions and agencies...'

But it's not clear yet, how this ties to the name indicated in the headline.

It's made to appear as if there was a central entity that had the capacity to speak as government, much in the same light as the president talks of 'my government' in his speeches.

But as more details get revealed, the lofty expectation of an authoritative voice being quoted, comes crashing down to the level of a Nominated Member of Parliament.

He so happened to have spoken to the paper, 'after a series of meeting' if you can understand what that means.

So maybe the nominated legislator was delivering an agreed upon government position. But from the way the article is crafted, it seem like:
Either by design or editorial default, the story content is delivering way more than its lightweight headline.
And just who is the 'Johnston Sakaja' being referred to in the article, and could he be related to Johnson Sakaja?