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 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!