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, 30 December 2016


The phenomenal reduction in the number of students scoring As, in Kenya's secondary education exam, has triggered an animated debate. In previous years, it appears, the number of authentic high scores was gravely exaggerated. A direct link can now be made with professional incompetences going forward. Newsrooms too, are not immune to the powers of a fraudulent A.

In the example above, it is clear that if this is a product of a previous A in English, then there's need to be worried.

And on the same note, an earlier A in Geography, giving rise to the scenario below, is a case for concern.

Clearly, not all countries bearing the 'Guinea' tag in their name are to be found in Africa.

An earlier awarded Grade A in History would also need to be recalled, instead of someone misinforming the audience about the political past of Mozambique, and how the key actors still inform the current conflict there.

In as much as creativity is encouraged in the media, you should not create your own facts, especially if they are at variance with well-established empirical truths.

Once again, do accept my sincere gratitude for making time to visit this site, comment, or share the content. Let's keep doing that in the coming year.
Happy 2017!!!

Thursday, 22 December 2016


The media in Kenya often succeeds in alerting the public about huge amounts of taxpayers' money either being misappropriated or brazenly looted. But the press sometimes fails the accuracy test, when breaking down mind-boggling sums involved. It boggles the mind too, how media negligence begets simple errors, through failure to execute due editorial diligence.

So, in the above article, these are the key facts highlighted below the main headline:

- A bridge

- 14 months project

- Delays

- 2 years later, project is still underway

- Frustration

- Cost of bridge?

- Sh350!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Spare a thought for the reader's frustration.

Don't spare the rod for the sub-editor!

Thursday, 15 December 2016


Many students improve their language skills by regularly reading newspapers. And this has led some Kenyan print media outlets to seek financial support to facilitate the delivery of newspapers to schools for free. Such a noble scheme could be jeopardised by the same media houses' penchant to kill grammar. How do you does!

Well, all editors of English publications in this part of the world, arguably, are not native speakers of the queen's language.

So, should such reckless editorial eyesores be excused?

I doesn't think so!

Doesn't you?

Again, we are constantly being reminded that language is dynamic.

But caution nevertheless, is prudent, for those inclined to be inventive in their language use.

Of what use is it to gain the crown of innovative language use and lose the sole purpose of communication?

Thursday, 8 December 2016


Social media is not a respecter of the rules of mainstream media. Codes of conduct have been crafted to regulate sharing of online content. But it seems controlled discourse is not as interesting as disorderly conversations. The situation becomes more dire, when traditional media abandon editorial processes in their social media posts. Some tweets can only be posted by twits!

Where does one begin, in trying to ascertain the source of such fantastic errors?

I've previously argued this could be a reflection of a serious deficiency of experienced journalists in newsrooms.

I've also toyed with the idea that some mistakes could be deliberate, or acts of sabotage, used to settle internal scores.

I'm losing my mind now over this vexatious issue, so don't be alarmed if I conclude there could be some element of lunacy, in these frequent goofs, gaffes, bloopers and blunders.

This post was inspired by material supplied by a source.

Thursday, 1 December 2016


That the Kenyan economy is bleeding jobs in the thousands is hardly disputable. That tens of thousands of families could be in distress after the retrenchment of breadwinners is an almost certainty. And a section of the local media did well to highlight this grave issue. But why paint this gloomy picture about affected sectors and leave out the media industry? Kenyan media has two faces!

- Fact: Many journalists have been sacked in the last two or more years.

Question: Are they immune to the shock and desperation that often go hand in hand with job losses?

- Fact: The media has done a good job of capturing stories of economic hardships resulting from lost means of earning a livelihood.

Question: Can the media be cognisant of the sufferings of former employees, and accord them the same coverage as those dismissed by other companies?

- Fact: Reducing profits and shrinking revenues have forced many companies to reduce their workforce, and there's ample coverage of this in the media.

Question: Isn't it hypocritical of the local media to identify with the plight of retrenched workers and not appear to be pained by the tribulations of those it renders jobless?

- Fact: Analysis of various industries in Kenya show many companies are operating in difficult or challenging environments, leading to the shedding of jobs.

Question: Can data be compiled to show which local media houses are in distress and how many journalists have been laid off, and the findings published in the media?

- Fact: Stories abound in the media of how some enterprises in Kenya are doing away with experienced but highly paid employees to manage costs, and hiring fresh talent on contract.

Question: Is it possible to see a critique of the popular practise in the local media of recruiting fresh graduates and underpaying them, while overworking them, after sacking experienced hands?

Another Question: Don't you now agree that Kenyan media has two faces?

Thursday, 24 November 2016


To communicate, one needs to first understand what they want to say, in order to effectively convey the same to their interlocutor. But some Kenyan TV news outlets, it seems, share information they have little understanding of. This can be anchored on dubious linguistic competency, like not being able to differentiate between woes and woos. Wow! 

Given the nauseating frequency of such errors lingering on screen undetected, there's need to activate a rapid response editorial squad, before a newscast.

Its specific mandate will be but not limited to:

- ridding content of both textual and contextual irrelevancies, before it's aired

- evacuating editorial errors from the broadcast at first sighting

- identifying repeat offenders in the news production team for reacquaintance with operating procedures

These measures ought to be already deployed, or expressly provided for in the various editorial policies that guide operations in Kenyan broadcast stations.

Indeed, some TV news woes, it appears, are self-inflicted.

Woe unto a broadcast news channel that woos the audience without addressing its editorial woes.

Thursday, 17 November 2016


For over 60 minutes, the prime time news dragged on. And as is characteristic of Kenyan TV broadcasting stations, the newscast is laden with all manner of stories, analysis, and the now customary studio discussion. But something so obviously wrong kept scrolling across the screen throughout the bulletin.  The Jubilee link could be malicious, in this howler of a TV news crawler.

No need far any accuracy tutorial. This was a total editorial fail.

And one that is potentially costly...if the aggrieved party seeks legal redress.

The information in the ticker suggests a rather curious political affiliation for the former Vice President of Kenya.

Hopefully at no risk of being enjoined in any ensuing lawsuit, let me enlighten you on the full text of this messed up ticker, which ingloriously states:
"Kalonzo: If I don't get nominated for Jubilee Muthama will be to blame"
The channel might have some association with Jubilee, but again, hopefully, not to the extent of involuntarily co-opting major figures in the opposition, into that side of the country's political divide.

I don't want to ask if the TV station knows something, we don't know!!

Friday, 11 November 2016


Some mistakes in the media are innocent, inadvertent or even involuntary. But it's beginning to look like some other errors are either deliberate, or emanating from acts of internal sabotage. The name of the main subject of a women empowerment TV news feature was that of a very prominent man in the Kenyan public service. The apology afterwards failed to undo the damage.

A very inspiring feature was thus ruined by such an easily rectifiable on air blunder.

Again I ask, why is it that nobody in the studio gallery, during this particular news broadcast, could have noticed this error fast enough?

Was it that impossible to make an immediate correction, or at least stop the wrong caption from going on air repeatedly?

The news anchor issuing an apology for the obvious mistake at the end of the clip, is a tad too late and effectively inconsequential.

The first time the name tag mixup goes out, it's perhaps excusable and even attributable to human fallibility, given the 'immense' broadcast newsroom pressures.

But that for the entire duration of the 7-min plus feature, the mistake was never apparently spotted, is a big indictment of the news production crew's level of alertness, and a statement about the station's editorial inadequacy.

The belated attempt to assuage viewers, is indeed a useless anatomy of a failed apology.

Thursday, 3 November 2016


It is becoming difficult to get a clear understanding of important issues in Kenya, based on media coverage. The public's watchdog turns into a ferocious attack dog, only to end up looking like a lap dog. The audience get's confused in the process, especially when information is packaged haphazardly.

I very much want to believe the editor of the above article is aware the message being sent out is that it's DESIRABLE to have:
"...an accounting system which is vulnerable to manipulation."
Or alternatively, the said ministry is being EXONERATED from any financial mischief because it:
"...lacks the capacity to run an accounting system which is vulnerable to manipulation."

Is there still a place for dependable media accuracy, which begets factual coverage that responsibly pushes credible information to the citizenry?

A big story suddenly starts sucking in those adversely mentioned.

The media outlet that unearthed the supposed scandal is also hard pressed for alleged non-disclosure of self-incriminating facts.

And evidently, this has not escaped the scrutiny of the public, as depicted below.

Thursday, 27 October 2016


A distraught family is mourning the loss of a loved one, after a terror attack in northeastern Kenya. A crew from a local media house is filming and asking questions about the victim. A composed family friend shares the information requested. But the mother of the victim can still be heard wailing. An insensitive media yet again puts a news story above the privacy needs of a grieving family.

What informs the urgency to cover such stories, and why can't the affected families be spared the media glare, so soon after learning about the death of one of their own?

It is utterly cruel for the journalists to not even have the courtesy to stop rolling their camera, until the victim's mother is emotionally stable.

Moreover, any kind of discussion about the victim in her earshot, is bound to augment the trauma being experienced by the grieving mother.

Couldn't the interview be conducted away from the distressed mother?

In any case, it is highly probable that whatever the family friend is saying to the reporter, does not register much with a viewer, because it is just not human to ignore the sounds of a weeping mother.

For me, it's as if the reporter here was trying to downplay the pain of the victim's mother, in trying to get details about the final moments of the victim.

Just as Joe Hight so accurately observes in the Colorado Springs Gazette:
"Most victims or victims' relatives face a wall of grief in the aftermath of a death or disaster....They don't see into the past or future; they see the present and feel the pain of the moment"
Fellow scribes, follow this principle and desist from blatantly violating the grieving space.

Thursday, 20 October 2016


Time moves in a straight line, even if this is in a cyclic manner like a clock or the changing seasons. The past is behind, the future is in front, and the present is somewhere in the middle. This linear arrangement should always hold true. But a bold Kenyan media outlet wants us to believe in twisted timelines.

For any engagement with the audience to be meaningful, the information distributed by the media must be logical.

In the above newspaper article, either:

- the examination is set to last from November 7 to September 4 the following year

- or it begins November and miraculously ends in September of the same year.

Using this standard, one can throw a stone today, and kill a bird yesterday!

Thursday, 13 October 2016


Not everyone subscribes to spirituality and matters of faith are hardly homogeneous. It is, however, good practise to respect other people's beliefs. And humanity subverting divinity can either be permissible or intolerable. That's why the media ought to tread carefully with religious references. Creativity should not override civility.

For the above sports article in a Kenyan daily, it perhaps was a well-exploited opportunity to string together a clever and catchy headline.

It's indeed ingenious to notice that a football player goes by the name 'Jesus' and another's name could easily fit into 'Messiah' plus how these fit into a win and lose situations.

But failure to resist the temptation to craft a headline with Biblical connotations, runs the risk of upsetting puritanical sensibilities.

One can therefore argue that the headline in question is in bad taste.

Some of the headlines in the sports pages especially, are true gems, delightfully formulated and designed to impress even the most cynical of readers.

Blast away in your creativity but try not to blaspheme!

Friday, 7 October 2016


Artistic creativity is abundantly noticeable on Kenyan roads. Public service vehicles keep raising the aesthetics bar. And the extras on the ride itself could only have been imagined by passengers of yesteryears. Keeping up with technology is key but one can encounter a technological misnomer on wheels.

You would not be shocked to find pay TV channels on inbuilt screens, inside the elaborately designed public service vehicles.

At your home, such content is usually accessed via a satellite dish, often mounted on the roof for clearer reception.

When being installed, the technician usually twists and turns the dish until a strong and stable signal is detected, after which the dish is firmly secured.

So, you can appreciate my confusion and amazement, on seeing what looked like a satellite dish on top of a highly mobile public service vehicle.

I would have given anything and a half of something else, to have a peek inside, to figure out how the stability of the TV reception is not compromised by the constant movement of the vehicle.

It does for know, look like a technological misnomer on wheels.

The other plausible explanation is that it's all a gimmick to attract the paying public's attention.

Now that would not be a matatu misnomer!

Thursday, 29 September 2016


Unusual news stories are popular with the audience. They provide an avenue to come close to a strange experience, or phenomenon. The media regularly latches onto this affinity for oddity, and can even regale the audience with tales that prove 'gods are still alive'. 

But solid evidence is required, before the extra-ordinary is validated as factual.

The reporting of such a phenomenon, though, is not the same as proving its existence.

Unless...attribution is missing, which then places the burden of the resultant editorial fallacy on the media outlet.

Notice the quotation marks around the words...

'...incurs wrath of a shrine'

It's a safe way for the paper to disassociate itself from any unproven claims.

However, the article further expressly states:

'This proved that gods are still alive and potent...'

Isn't this a direct endorsement, which in other words, equates to the newspaper rendering the information factual.

Kenyan media houses, continue to tolerate such stories because like aforementioned, they seem to excite audiences, no matter how shallow, outrageous or even debased they may be.

I'm worried though, by careless journalistic omissions, which like in the above example, negate the importance of properly attributing frivolous and spurious assertions.

Real reportage is not necessarily about the reality!

Thursday, 22 September 2016


In a TV studio, news presenters or program hosts use an earpiece to get cues or instructions from the director. In a talkback system, the presenter can also communicate with the producer or director. This equipment is placed on or in the ear. And if it also has the presenter's microphone, it should extend to near the mouth. But in 'smellavision' the nose too, gets some of the action. 

Is the presenter above speaking through the nose for some exotic sound effects of the nasal resonance type?

Or does it have anything to do with having a nose for news?

Or maybe...it's to nose around issues?

Enough of being nosy now.

Suffice it to say that with television, hardly any detail is missed by the audience, and therefore, great effort should be made to ensure there's minimal distraction from what is being said.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016


A big product launch. Potential market traction. Sustained social media endorsements. Sponsored tweets to promote functionalities. All details are in order. Unless the 'inconvenient truth' was part of the online marketing strategy.

Mistakes do happen. But so do corrections.

If less than a half as much energy spent on complex undertakings, like coordinating a huge product launch, was spent on simple things like proof-reading the text in the branding board, chances of ruining that first impression would be greatly eliminated.

All it takes is a resolve to make amends, whenever an error goes out inadvertently, and not to assume your target audience won't notice.

The confidence in the product being launched could be eroded by neglect to address even typographical errors, leave alone weightier elements like accuracy or fidelity to known facts.

This particular 'inconvenient truth' posted on social media, hit me between the eyes on Tuesday, and given the calibre of the marketing team behind the product launch, I expected it would be promptly rectified.

Wednesday as I write this, the 'inconvenient truth' is still accessible on the 'hyping hashtag' for the product and there's no formal acknowledgment of the spelling misadventure.

You want to know the truth?

I can't deal with wishing away an inconvenient truth!

NB: Spotted on another associated social media timeline:

May the promised convenience be with you!

Thursday, 8 September 2016


Time or space are valuable factors, when putting together a news product. The selection of almost every word has to be justified in a newspaper or magazine layout, and even audio or video components are many a times edited ruthlessly, to fit a particular duration. So, it's quite surprising to see a paragraph repeated in an article. Is this notable intelligence or editorial negligence?

Assuming this was a deliberate decision by the publishers of this Kenyan daily, what could have been the main compelling reason for repeating the same information?

Emphasis- I don't think so!

Editorial negligence- Eureka!

What's more, one can get an excuse to conclude there could be an attempt to advance an agenda, which deviates from the expected neutrality in reporting such a story.

Why the repetition of this particular detail that is seemingly favourable to the central subject, in such a short article?

Notice also, the calamitous patchwork of a 'he-said, she said' reportage, evident in this story.

The repeated paragraph alluded to earlier, is actually attributed to two different people.

Is it Kamlesh Pattni?

Or is it Mukesh Vaya?

Who is saying:
"...the protracted dispute between UHDL and CBK was settled in 2008 through a negotiated settlement..."?
I say this he said he says sayings don't say much! You know what I'm saying?

Friday, 2 September 2016


That operations of Kenyan media houses have had to be re-evaluated, mainly due to technological disruption of hitherto working business models, is hardly disputable. And as revenues dwindle, managing of costs becomes critical. Converged newsrooms are now becoming the norm, but more needs to be done in confronting divergent realities.

It's foolhardy for a media house to send out conflicting information to its audience, and it raises serious questions about whether its internal communication channels are properly aligned.

Indeed, communication or information sharing are key elements of a media enterprise, as it engages with its audiences on various platforms.

But often overlooked perhaps, is the value of clear communication and information sharing within a media house itself.

So, for example, a media outlet sends out alerts on its social media account, about an upcoming live TV coverage of an event, with exact details about timing and expected content (and a bonus typo).

But when one checks the channel at the indicated time...yes...there's live coverage...but of a different event!

I'm sure there's a perfect reason, (with a financial twist, you bet), for the change in the transmission schedule.

But, before the conflicting information was sent out, somebody ought to have done some simple cross-checking.

Communicate internally...to effectively communicate externally!

Thursday, 25 August 2016


The sheer lunacy of some newspaper editors in Kenya can seriously erode one's capacity to remain sane. Upholding simple professional standards can seem like such a complex undertaking. The heading of an article, being at variance with the first line of the article, should be easy to spot. But not all editors, apparently, can execute this routine task.

Probably, the person crafting the heading is not the same person who wrote the article, or even subbed it.

But that's no excuse for publishing editorial nonsense!

According to this article, appearing in the country's leading daily:

- West Ham is a football team in the English Premier League.

- The manager of West Ham is Slaven Bilic

- The club is keen to sign Manchester City striker Wilfried Bony.

But what does the heading of the article say:
"West Ham could make move for City's Bilic"
In other words:

West Ham is interested in signing its current manager, (from City?), according to the same manager!

This newspaper perhaps also needs to sign sharper copy editors.

Thursday, 18 August 2016


Interpretive journalism is a celebrated departure from the numbing run of the mill reportage. It helps scribes to tackle the 'so what' aspect of news coverage. But in so doing, the default path must not be one that is paved with negativity. The almost impulsive criticism of government especially, could be justifiable, but it often repaints good news into a masterpiece of bad news.

But such is the unfortunate nature of Kenyan media outlets. In the pursuit of an elusive and almost mythical objectivity, positive news portrayal is often misconstrued to imply being too close to the establishment.

This provides a fertile ground for contradictions in the local press.

For example, if the government downsizes its workforce, due to economic constraints, the focus almost inevitably will turn to the plight of the affected people, and how they are staring bleakly into an uncertain future.

(It does make you wonder why such stories are never found to be relevant, when media houses declare their own employees to be redundant).

And so you expect the same media to applaud the state, in those 'rare' instances, when there's recruitment.

But no. You are probably more likely to encounter such a depressing beginning of an article:
"The public wage bill is expected to rise significantly due to a plan to hire about 600 senior civil servant in addition to 7, 000 teachers."
Of what gain is it to repaint good news into a masterpiece of bad news?

Wednesday, 10 August 2016


Long sentences in broadcast news can make the audience discern a script being read. The preferred perception is to make the stories sound more conversational, and short sentences are a big help here. Windy sentences can also yield editorial nonsense, where language mastery is a concern. If the nonsense is displayed on screen, the result is an editorial nightmare.

Trying to load as much information as possible in a single sentence might appear smart, but it requires an acceptable level of alertness.

To begin with, the strap depicted above is way too busy, for a viewer to comfortably read, never mind the elements of repetition.

And since the medium is TV,  the viewer is also listening to the voice of the anchor/reporter, while engaging the eyes to process the video element.

The required coordination of sensory organs is greatly jeopardised by the eyesore of a top line, in the lower third story tag, which sates:
"Court denies man charged with chopping wife's hands denied bail"
Oh dear! It almost appears as if the words were being randomly strung together, hoping the resultant sentence would communicate the desired meaning.

But evidently, even with editorial licence, news packaging is a precise undertaking not best left to chance.

Thursday, 4 August 2016


Finally. The beginning of what could raise the bar a little bit, when interrogating the workings of the Kenyan media and the coverage of topical issues. A lonely voice in the urban jungle had bemoaned the inadequacies of media scholars appearing on local TV,  in adding value to debates. And the topics don't often come hotter than the presidential ambitions of one politician.

The supposed findings of an opinion poll raised all shades of a social and mainstream media storm, by suggesting it was time for the opposition maverick to throw in the political towel, according to the 'measured' perceptions.

It had been intimated that my previous criticism of a frequent panelist in a media review show, was an affront to hard-fought gender-based accomplishments.

I suppose the fact that I'm now celebrating the addition of a more refined intellectual input, from a 'representative' of the male order, further adds to that injury.

But really, the cold fact is that I'm basing my observations from nothing more than the articulation of issues on national TV, without a care whether the brain output is male or female.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this particular debate, especially when such terms as 'Socratic' were being carelessly thrown around.

That is the extra dimension a scholar is supposed to provide, so that studio discussions are enriched by meaningful comparative analogies and wider contextualization of emerging scenarios, for a broader global outlook.

But unlike the postulation of the good professor, in tearing apart the now controversial opinion poll, I hope no one argues I started this post with a sinister ending in mind!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016


Personal grief is a private affair, even for a public figure. The pain of losing a loved one is no less for those in the public eye. But most importantly, anyone experiencing such a tragic loss deserves to mourn in dignity. The media shouldn't pry into this private space, beyond the confines of ethical coverage. Using such a a sad occasion for commercial gain is in very bad taste.

A case in point is the way a section of the Kenyan media sought to shamelessly drive traffic to its site using its report on the funeral of the father of a popular local gospel singer.

From the way the link was posted on social media, it appears like the target audience is not expected to empathise with the artiste.

Instead, the audience is being enticed to click on the link, with a collection of photos taken at the funeral.

From the link, which insensitively starts with:
'Check out the photos...'
... the dominant tone almost makes it seem like it was a joyous event, hence the voyeurism bait.

And the exploitative nature of the media wickedly shines through.

In a civilized society, the pain of a distressed mourner should never be trivialized!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016


The content in Kenyan TV stations is generally believed to be formulaic, unimaginative and predictable. The many talking heads in particularly simplistic talk shows, steers the broadcasting infamy towards toxic viewing levels. But amid the noise masquerading as useful information, some gems do stand out. It's a pity if they are not accorded a befitting recognition.

A good example is a recent brilliant attempt to enlighten the audience on the likely scenarios in reforming Kenya's electoral process, with respect to practical timelines.

The show was amazingly informative and the panelist were well versed in the topic at hand, with the added bonus of an actual involvement in the electoral process, be it on the administrative front or in direct elective politics.

The chosen topic was immensely timely, given that the next national elections in Kenya are slightly more than a year away.

There has been a clamour for an overhaul of the institution charged with conducting the polls, but a sober reminder of the diminishing time to implement the desired changes, is a useful addition to the political discourse.

Again, it's a pity that this weighty discussion was in a morning programme, in one of the local channels, hardly the appropriate time to engage a greater portion of the general public.

In such situations, station managers ought to have the wisdom to edit a stand-alone news item for use in later news bulletins, with appropriate updates, and further analyses or reactions.

The entire discussion can also be re-broadcast later or even on a different day.

Unless this channel has decreed that only entertainment-based programs will be re-aired, to generate maximum interest in the public, despite the minimal public interest.