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, 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!