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, 29 April 2015


Two eyes one brain. That's all viewers of broadcast news have, to appreciate the visual elements. The field of view is 180 degrees. But it places an awful lot of strain on the eyes, if a TV news screen has many areas of focus. There could be added value from the presentation style, but at times, this is reduced to visual torture, delivered in multi-screens.

Already, Kenyan TV station managers have conspired to divert attention from the news content to the deliverer of the news.

So there is always a walking, talking, smiling and sashaying centre piece, oozing raw sex appeal, often disguised as sophisticated news presenters (seldom anchors).

Then you throw in screens behind to further add to the futile competition for attention with the centre piece, possibly laden with supposed relevant pictures or computer graphics.

But it's simply mind-boggling trying to understand the complex reasoning that necessitated having the exact same elements repeated in two windows/screens.

It could also be a novel way of trying to expand the coverage of an issue, by having multiple angles, as highlighted by a battalion of news presenters and TV reporters, all squeezed into the safe areas of a TV monitor.

Some find this engaging. But I see it as too much work for my slow brain, tasked with picking up all these visuals, and trying so hard to have an enriched sense of the day's main news.

Insisting on delivering the news via a 'mass choir' of presenters, equally delivers the same killer punch to my 'besieged' eye-brain co-ordination inadequacies.

This also poses auditory discomforts, when the sopranos and bass 'representers'...voila...go into interlocution mode at the same time, al a off key!

La la...la la la... la la...lalalalala.

Thursday, 23 April 2015


Sources can either be direct providers of news, or indirect providers of information that can lead to big news, or even misleading news. And yet this is a gamble, almost all news organisations have to continue taking. The end result can be embarrassment, or even legal suits, arising out of publishing inaccurate information. So, sourcing resources, should not just lead to saucy stories.

Confirmation of key facts has never stopped being an important pillar of journalism.

However, the decision to publish or broadcast a story is often not determined by the availability of conclusive facts.

The juicy details of a story, (well aligned with driving up newspaper sales perhaps?), at times can't wait for comprehensive due diligence, given the fickle nature of news.

That's why a right of reply must always be accorded to those adversely mentioned.

But one could rightly expect that a person mentioned in a story, should be contacted, before the story is published, to either confirm the details or give their own side.

The only problem then is that, a whole complement of obstacles could arise, ranging from court injunctions, non-cooperative news sources, decoys, to even the killing of stories.

This is often after the intervention of internal higher forces in the managerial or editorial chain of command, acting on pressure/inducement from external 'sources' with vested interests

So you either choose to publish and be damned, or hold the damnation and have no news for your target audience.

There is though, a small time-tested principle advocating for the use of multiple sources, to corroborate details of a story, before going to press.

To go ahead and publish the fact that a story was based on a single 'reliable' source... is self-incriminating, and counter-indicative of the credibility of a news organisation.

Now that is a 'source' of concern!.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


TV news relays the reality of a day's major occurrences, but often relies on a lot of visual manipulations and technical illusions. So the audience gets to see orderliness on their TV screen, although a news presenter could be surrounded by all manner of chaos. A recent discussion on the no right turns agony on Nairobi's roads, shattered this perception, with wrong turns in the TV studio.

A guest had been invited to a live newscast, to analyse the effectiveness of new changes meant to decongest the main road networks in the Kenyan capital.

It may seem like a straightforward arrangement in the studio set, with TV cameras calibrated to get various angles of the guest and news presenter, to be picked by a vision mixer, as instructed by the director.

But of course there are other people in the gallery, some tasked with managing lighting, sound, graphics, autocue, etc, and all seeking to ensure there's a flawless news delivery.

Expectedly, there's bound to be lots of movements and conversations off camera, which the audience at home never gets to see or hear.

Never...well...maybe not.

Like in this instance, in one of the major local news channels, a hand suddenly appeared, as the studio guest was making his point.

And in the following few seconds, as captured in the short video clip above, the local, (global perhaps?) audience was treated to a rare instance of the reality that never gets projected, during TV news presentation.

There was a glass and bottle of water behind the studio guest, and these items were perhaps giving the camera operator(s) a hard time, in framing some shots, (or somebody got really thirsty).

So off with the annoying glass and bottle. But oh no...not in front of the whole world!

Obviously, there was a breakdown in communication, in the gallery.

But that's not a good enough reason to interfere with the 'perfect' world of TV news presentation!

Thursday, 9 April 2015


The Kenyan government has been heavily criticised for what some say was a lethargic response to the horrific terror attacks in Garissa University College. An editorial in a leading local newspaper was particularly stinging, while castigating the late and inadequate response by state agents. But behold, truth be told, that editorial was belated.

Granted, a more timely and well coordinated rescue mission, moments after the terrorists stormed the institution, could have saved many lives and lessen the amount of anguish across the country.

Better still, preventive measures hinged on compiling and acting on prior intelligence and a visible security on the ground, could probably have thwarted the planning and execution of the despicable and highly diabolical mayhem.

And in the aftermath of the senseless bloodletting, the leadership could have better steered the country from the forefront, in mourning the departed and consoling the bereaved, be it from the government or opposition ranks, while assuring there's sufficient public safety.

These appear to be points validly raised in that rare font-page editorial.

But in pointing out these shortcomings, is the local media beyond reproach, in its coverage of the Garissa massacre?

Not a single local newspaper felt the need to publish a special edition, and yet the terrorists struck in the early morning hours on that 'cursed' Thursday.

Does it mean the publishers weighed between the gravity of the news and the potential earnings, and found costs involved surpassed the need to inform the country?

It took more than five days for the second deadliest terror attack in Kenya to merit that front page editorial.

Does it mean the publisher was incapable of being alive to the pain being experienced from the very onset, to feel obliged to accord the tragedy such a powerful editorial lamentation?

May families, friends, colleagues and relatives find strength to endure the loss of their loved ones.

May the injured and traumatised get quick healing.

May the government be more responsive to the needs of citizens.

May the media provide responsible coverage that relieves the psychological burden of the affected, without forcing the survivors to relive their pain.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015


So, a Kenyan TV station gives a platform to a controversial 'pastor'. Then the same station goes ahead and criticises the views of the same 'pseudo-preacher' in their own newscast. This is simply sacrificing editorial probity at the altar of TV ratings, camouflaged as public interest.

Among the people aggrieved by the appearance of the man of cloth (of the seed planting variety), in a family programme, was a staff member of the said TV station.

So, supposing he was asked to report on that 'rogue miracle worker' would he have been objective enough to question his employer for giving the 'tithe farmer' a national TV platform?

The news presenters didn't hesitate to express their disgust after the news story, but chose to only castigate the 'three-figure extortionist' for unapologetically leading a gullible flock astray.

But isn't it pretentious for the TV station to want to join those condemning the assertions of a 'non-heaven bound free-range swindler', yet it's they themselves who facilitated the dubious broadcast?

Interestingly, the same station had hoped to steal the thunder (and lightning probably), from a rival station, which had aired the original expose, by being the first to bring the 'fisher of women's anatomy' to their studios, only to have a last minute cancellation.

Comedy ceases to be funny if the laughter ends up frying our value system!