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, 25 February 2016


I am not a wolf. News about corruption allegations has recently dominated both mainstream Kenyan media outlets and social media platforms. Any other story hardly has a chance to standout. And yet I can't stop thinking about an investigative feature of the little boy with HIV, who has been made to feel as if he is a wolf. That's how low social stigma can descend to.

In a masterfully pieced expose, Stigma Academy, the despicable practice of discriminating against people living with HIV, is brought to the fore.

The administration of a school shamelessly refuses to enrol a 12-year-old boy, after learning he has HIV. The pretext is that there's no admission vacancy, but the institution readily offers a chance to another decoy child, fronted by the news crew.

The audience is let in on the intention to prove there is discrimination, so it's clear everything is staged.

But then the sequence begins to be more gripping, when the boy's mother expresses the pain of seeing her son being denied the chance to get a decent education, on the basis of his HIV status.

And the depressing level of human hatred sinks several notches, when the young boy concretises his battle with social stigma.
"I am not a wolf." 
These words should forever haunt the perpetrators of stigma. And may they also provoke concerned authorities to do more in their effort to eradicate all forms of discrimination against people living with HIV.

After all, the boy is indeed not a wolf. He's just as human as you and I.

The real wolf is the source of the stigma.

Thursday, 18 February 2016


It takes considerable effort to come up with original or compelling television news features. It's even more difficult for new reporters. At times they try so hard, thinking they are on to something special, unaware that similar stories have already been done. But there's no good reason to glorify and unwittingly celebrate an illegality, in the name of a TV news feature.

So, this newbie reporter (cum weather girl), spins a delightful 'Coins to Rings' piece about a craftsman, who fashions beautiful rings from an every day metallic by-product.

Granted, the process is very ingenious and innovative.

And the end result is brilliant works of art.

The entire concept though, revolves around turning, what is referred to as 'worthless coins' into 'precious rings' and earning the craftsman a tidy sum.

The report alludes to the purchase of coins, as raw materials, which are then skilfully transformed into rings, in a process that probably involves heating, heavy hitting, cutting, and filing.

However, it is worth noting that coins, just like notes, are part of a country's legal tender.

The blacksmith/jeweller definitely tampers with, and actually defaces the coins, during the production of the rings.

If I recollect properly, he did mention using Kenyan currency coins at some point, which is legally problematic.

The Central Bank of Kenya Act, Cap 491, Section 369 states:
Any person who melts down, break up, defaces by stamping thereon any name, word or mark, or uses otherwise than as currency any coin current for the time being in Kenya is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding eight thousand shillings or to imprisonment for six months  or to both.
Whether the TV feature is self-incriminating, on the part of the featured craftsman breaking the law, is perhaps debatable.

What is certain is that there's hardly any justifiable reason to propagate an illegality, disguised as an interesting TV news feature.

Friday, 12 February 2016


Any action, write-up or utterance that is said to be 'politically correct' is a good thing. Good because it's cognisant of the need to be sensitive to any group of people in society, who are disadvantaged. It follows then that if the description is 'politically incorrect' the content is offensive by design or default. Two columns in rival Kenyan newspapers go with these two monikers. What gives? 

If the intention is to be politically correct, then the content could be assumed to be leaning towards delivering painful truths without directly upsetting sensibilities of the disadvantaged.

However, if one associates the column with being politically incorrect, then the content creator cares very little, if he or she offends or upsets the disadvantaged, is biased, unfair or even misleading.

But that is as far as the meaning derived from the dictionary is concerned.

In reality, the content in the cited newspaper columns could have everything, very little, or nothing to do with being politically correct or incorrect.

Throw in satire, which creatively seeks to ridicule societal shortcomings, and matters get even more complicated.

From pin-point satire to pen-point martyrdom

That's perhaps why freedom of expression alarm bells go off, if columnists, writers or even bloggers'  pin-point satire, appears on course to turn them into pen-point martyrs, courtesy of state agencies.

So, in summary:

- Columnists have a license to provoke, disgust or offend, right?

- And it doesn't matter if they are right or wrong, or take a wrong turn, right?

- If what is left after reading the articles is not an alright feeling, then there's nothing more left to write, right?

- You didn't get the point of this blog post, right?

In that case, maybe politically correct and politically incorrect are not both correct. (insert satire).

Thursday, 4 February 2016


Editorial functions defaulting. It's tempting to think that by default, Kenyan media outlets deviate from basic journalism principles. And one element that is increasingly becoming common, is a scarcity of elementary reasoning. The nature of errors that frequently litter broadcasts and publications is astounding. 

Viral infections featured in the press, usually are the type that leave a trail of deaths in their wake. Think small pox, rabies, influenza, HIV, or Ebola.

But turning to the now raging Zika virus, just how many people have died, to warrant the tag 'deadly' in the headline above?

The TV news story above, clearly mentions the exact number of housing units that Kenya requires yearly, from no less an authority than the relevant Cabinet Secretary.

But the lower third text indicates a ridiculously low figure of 50,000.

A sports story appearing in a newspaper published on February 3rd 2016, gives the next three matches of an English Premier League team.

But the provided dates are either grossly backdated or fast-forwarded! September?

And still on non-spot on sport stories, the indicated sum involved in global football players' transfers, ridiculously implies the Kenyan shilling is almost as strong as the US dollar. And what exactly is meant by 'Word transfers' in the article's heading?

It's often good, when writers and editors of newspaper articles get to be interpretative, other than just conveying dry news. Somethings however, will forever remain relative, and any value judgement is preposterous.

So, as depicted above, is it possible to determine that grandchildren can be universally said to be, 'beautiful' without the audience even having the benefit of visual aids?

Then the clincher!

Some shockingly missing quotation marks, gives readers little option than to think a very central figure in Christianity was involved in a modern day heinous act, against His followers, somewhere in Kenya's coastal region.

Indeed, these are deeds of defaulting editorial functions, where the Kenyan media appears set to churn out errors by default.