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.




Friday, 29 May 2015


Media was driven by trained personnel. Then came new media, which emphasised free flow of information. Traditional media struggled to remain relevant to a digital audience.  Engagement became a conversation and media became social. So why expect only the truth? There are more interesting variants of information like rumours, gossip, speculation, and if need be, apologies!

If social media mimics society, then surely, you shouldn't just expect distribution of fact-checked, panel-beaten information, presented in a straight jacket of truth, ethics and integrity.

One hears something, probably truthful, but likely to be false. Instinctively, it seems, the urge to share becomes too overwhelming.

Simplistic satisfaction could be derived from being the first to break/forward the news/misinformation, or just anticipating adulation and validation among peers, (why....because).

Also, being perceived to be in the know appears to be highly valued, (as demonstrated by the number of followers on social media), which secures a prime spotlight, among hunters, gatherers and distributors of 'raw' information.

The truth shall set you free.

But which truth? (Yes there's more than one):

- That which is peddled by purported believers, hinged on selective application of scriptures.

- What the government wants you to believe, based on preservation of national security, public order and other ex patre considerations.

- Tainted/painted truth in the form of  propaganda

- That which is built on empirical/verifiable evidence... but hurts terribly.

- A convenient white lie, not far from the truth.

- Being economical with the truth is in the best interest of those concerned.

The options were limited in the days of trusted mainstream media.

But with social media, anything and everything, from anybody who is somebody or nobody, can and will be shared at lightning speed, with careless abandon.

Laws and regulations will come and pass but verily verily I say unto you, the man that taketh the Internet from the masses, will haul us back to the dark ages, and pretend to control information flow.

Friday, 22 May 2015


Product differentiation. Market segmentation. Audience fragmentation. Useful terms for a media business. This model requires monitoring the competition, to identify unique selling points. So, three Kenyan newspapers having an identical picture in their front page, on the same day, could be an editorial coincidence, pictorial conspiracy or just a copycat tendency.

There has been fervent discussion already on this 'different similarity' with some people quickly seeing a compromised media, while others highlighting the 'universal' press appeal of the persona captured in the photo.

But the strengths and weaknesses of such arguments are not my concern here.

It's the valued mark of pride across the Kenyan media landscape, built on a firm foundation of churning out cloned content, delivered in almost the same style.

It's as if the audience has all along been homogenised from the analogue days of yore, to the post- digital migration yonder.

So all the main news broadcasts across different channels and platforms have to be aired during one prime time hour/top of the hour.

Morning/breakfast shows on TV have similar content structures revolving around stale news, studio guests, live music, DJs and presenters wiggling to music.

Newspaper pullouts are almost identical, whether the material is generated in-house or lifted from the Internet.

Radio shows formats use the same template.

Digital/online departments are regurgitating similar content/shovelware, and social media engagements have been reduced to a tired conversation that everyone gets invited to participate in.

The same quasi-analysts and pseudo-celebrities hop from one media outlet to another, in a nauseating circuit.

TV programme formats are so similar that presenters can host shows in 'rival' stations, like they are being welcomed home.

Oh, yes. Blogs too have exponentially sprouted locally, and are doing a good job of circulating the same gossip, falsehoods and innuendo, in their respective spheres of effluent.

So, there's really no cause for alarm, if one picture dominates the front pages of the major Kenyan dailies, in one day, is there?

Thursday, 14 May 2015


Issue-based politics. That's a favourite media catchphrase, often thrown around during election campaigns. But personalities in political circles, do drive the Kenyan media agenda, after all. That's why a serious graft allegation can be packaged as a clash between rival politicians. It's a growing media menace of personalised public interests.

Prominence, no doubt, is a strong determiner of newsworthiness. But should the personalities involved be accorded premium attention, and the weighty matters at hand pushed to the periphery?

A healthy balance would be a more sensible approach, although given a choice, I would prefer the media to consistently dwell more on issues afflicting the nation, than reducing their coverage into personality contests or political duels.

But a press that puts a premium on commercial interests would readily justify having supposedly feuding top politicians in the headlines.

So politician A dares politician B one day. Then politician B responds to the threats by politician A the following day.

And this sickening developing story continues...possibly drawing sustenance from the sustained media coverage.

Is it any wonder then that the Kenyan corruption dragon has been regularly slaying those seeking to put out the fire in its belly?

The direction the press will take has become predictable and it's no longer hard to discern if the local media is getting too involved in proxy wars, without keeping a professional distance from the players/politicians involved.

The way to public interest is far away from personalising issues!

Friday, 8 May 2015


Live broadcasting can be very challenging. The coming together of creative ideas, editorial supervision, financial controls, as well as technical capabilities, is at the centre of such an elaborate TV production. And this was clearly demonstrated along the Nile, during a seven-day live broadcast journey.

The prior planning had been meticulous, and already, there were amazing features awaiting to be aired.

The only elements required were the live links. Did I just say only?

The locations required had to be scouted and authorisation sought in advance from relevant government departments and property owners.

Then the technical support crew had to set up their equipment, and ensure everything was working.

This is daunting, if it entails changing locations, and considering the need for reliable power supply, especially in remote areas.

Then the editorial team has to brainstorm and craft the content, which in turn has to be achievable, production wise.

So grand ideas easily get discarded, if the camera angles are not able bring out the desired sequence of visuals.

Then there is the establishing of a live link, which could mean a signal crossing continents, followed by audio and video level checks.

Here, it's instructive to note that, no matter the zeal of the location crew, if the material being sent out to the broadcasting centre does not meet set technical specifications, then it simply will not be transmitted.

Professionalism rarely gets compromised, no matter who is giving the orders.

And as for the on air talent, numerous rehearsals are part of the routine. And when it's showtime, there's constant thinking on the feet, as they balance between recalling their talking points, while implementing instructions from the director, (without the luxury of an Autocue).

Behind the scenes, there could be numerous activities, with a number of people constantly ensuring the broadcast is smooth.

All manner of challenges do arise, but with such teamwork, the audience would hardly realize something had gone wrong.

Such was the experience, in an amazing live broadcasting journey along various points of the River Nile, in Egypt, of which I was very privileged to have been part of.