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, 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!