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!