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 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!