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.




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.