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.

REAL TIME VISITORS

LIVE STATS

BLOG GUESTS

Friday, 13 October 2017

MEDIA MARIONETTES AND UNSEEN PUPPET MASTERS

It almost seems like media outlets in Kenya have collectively conspired to be passive purveyors of election-related information. The press is often times now as clueless about key developments in this prolonged electioneering period, as the audience it intends to enlighten. The local media are thus behaving like marionettes, at the mercy of unseen puppet masters.


It's unusual for the same media described as being vibrant, to leave viewers, listeners and readers unsure about where the country is headed politically and legally, even after interrogating all manner of analysts.

Anticipatory aspects of news gathering and processing have been neutered and most of what is left is reactive coverage.

Clauses in Kenya's constitution appear alien in many a local newsroom, and not many journalists are astute enough to navigate through relevant statutes.

This leaves the media at the mercy of those touted as analysts or experts, but which then also leaves the door wide open for inherent biases, prejudices and partisanship that cloud the understanding of issues.


If the media can't arrive at their own underlying positions, backed by solid research, with which to test or counter-check with credible authorities, then it will be hard to know if they are being led astray, to serve extraneous purposes.

And there are plenty of nefarious puppet masters, well capable of manipulating 'media marionettes' to advance an agenda that's far removed from the public's interest.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

MEDIA MISEDUCATION

To inform, educate and entertain, is what a trainee journalist is bound to come across as the main functions of the media. There are also agenda setting and watchdog roles, among others. The media in Kenya at times appears to be blind to these important responsibilities. That's why the audience often encounters a lot of misinformation, excess entertainment and media miseducation.


Facts are stubborn. But some other types of facts have another layer of stubbornness: Historical facts!

This makes it quite foolhardy for a newspaper to publish glaring historical inaccuracies, like in the  article above.

The day Kenya gained its independence from British colonialists is well-documented, including the top dignitaries in attendance.


It should be a well-known fact that the Queen of England was represented by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip.

And it seems geographical facts also present a challenge for the press, in this part of the world.


From Mount Kenya, a river is described as flowing:

North, then east, before settling, "in a south-west direction until it disappears into the massive Lorian Swamp in Isiolo."

Well, for international readers, this might not make much sense.

And for many locals, they might have no hint of a clue either, about the meanderings of this particular river.

But for area residents and those familiar with the geographical set-up of this region...the given description makes a lot of nonsense!

Yes, the river can flow north, and turn east.

However, there's no way it can then flow south-west.

That means it would be flowing almost in the opposite direction of the Lorian Swamp, where it's meant to end up disappearing.

And you would still expect Hargeisa to be somewhere in the semi-autonomous Somaliland, right?


How it was being referenced with Dadaab, in Kenya's Garissa County, will for now remain a mystery.




Thursday, 28 September 2017

DEAD END HEADLINES

Newspapers aspire to be above impeccable, when it comes to how they deploy information in their chosen language. And yet there are many instances that the same papers abandon conventional language rules. Those who craft headlines especially, often get away with blatant disregard of grammatical requirements. And this can lead to a dead end.
 

The headline writer is hard pressed to make the optimal use of newspaper space.

Brevity then carries a premium value.

And so it's no surprise to see headlines lacking grammatical elements like articles, which are deemed to have the undesirable effect of making the top lines lose their punch.

However, the underlying need of the headlines to communicate in a meaningful manner, remains ever important.

That's why the headline for the above newspaper article looks absurd.

Goes to show one should never underestimate the power of the diminutive form of the verb 'to be'.

Is that clear?



Thursday, 21 September 2017

PARTISAN COVERAGE OR PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATION?

Kenya's 2017 electioneering period continues. The date for the repeat presidential poll has been revised. This comes hot on the heels of the country's highest court giving full details of its decision to annul the initial presidential election. The local media coverage though, suggests the press is partisan on these political and judicial developments.


It's often stated that facts are sacred. And yet it has not escaped the notice of many that in some instances, the press appears undecided as to what exactly is factual.

The audience is thus confronted with variations in coverage, which raises suspicion about the media's accuracy and credibility, especially if a single event is accorded almost contradictory interpretations.

Granted, and as it has previously been pointed out here, product differentiation works better for competing newspapers, which means not putting the same content in front of the buying reader.

However, one would expect legal matters, especially pronouncements by high ranking judicial officers, would be reported with little or no variances.

Unless, marketing...nay...political allegiance also informs the coverage by the Kenyan media.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

OF TYPOS, SMALL ERRORS AND BIG TERROR

Putting together a newspaper is not an easy task, That's why a competent team is tasked with producing the publication. A lot of machinery and automation is involved. But humans retain control of these processes. Which perhaps explains the frequent typos, errors and editorial terrors in Kenyan dailies.


The shocking part though is that some of the mistakes are so elementary.

In the example above, it appears the paper's gatekeepers are not familiar with the correct spelling of the relevant day of the week.

And the fact that there's a team supposed to ensure high standards, before the paper is published, suggests that attention to details is not one of the strong points here.


A reader can rightfully question whether the publisher should be trusted with handling facts, if spelling of common words is a challenge.

Yes. Even a small error can be a big terror!

Monday, 4 September 2017

SCREAMING HEADLINES, LAUGHABLE SUBSTANCE, CRYING SHAME

The next chapter of Kenya's political transition is about to be written, with the announcement of the date for a fresh presidential election, after the Supreme Court invalidated the previous one. The focus once again is on the electoral commission. And the local media too, will be closely watched. Screaming headlines with laughable substance continue to be of concern.


At first glance, the front page story of the above publication shouts at potential readers/buyers that internal changes are in the offing at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries and Commission.

And this, the paper proclaims prominently, is on the authority of the IEBC chairman.


Quite a juicy story one would think.

But on turning to the article, there is no reference to the IEBC chairman as promised in the headline, with regards to the 'purge' at the electoral body.

The suggested changes are actually attributed to the opposition coalition!

 A paragraph in the article also seems to contradict the headline.

 The senior official that the IEBC chairman allegedly wants to exit the polls body, is the very same one that the same story says will lead the re-organization.

 Was this a ploy to sell the paper?

Was it a deliberate act to mislead readers?

Is this even ethical or legally acceptable?

This needless name-dropping should be dropped.



Wednesday, 30 August 2017

ELECTION PETITION AND PARTITIONED MEDIA COVERAGE

Kenyans are awaiting the verdict from the Supreme Court, after a marathon of court hearings. There are two main political sides in the presidential election petition. It thus looks mighty suspicious, when a section of the press chooses to give prominence to one side, without openly having declared any allegiance, beforehand.


The placing of the story above could easily create the impression that the selected party is the one that matters the most.

The content for the other side in this dispute can only be accessed by turning the page, in this particular publication.


And whereas the headline of the 'preferred' article has proper attribution, the other one is kept vague, almost as if it's taboo to make a direct reference to the petitioning side.

Notice too, the picture selection in one story depicts a lawyer engrossed in arguing the case, wheres in the other, we see senior opposition politicians concentrating more on their phones.

Gladly though, this apparent bias was note elevateldy reversed in the rival daily, as is 'normally' the case.

Articles of both sides in this dispute are placed next each other, (try and ignore which side comes first).


The treatment of this important story by the press perhaps would potentially affect how a particular media outlet is treated by the side that emerges victorious.

My lords and ladyships, it is my humble submission though, that it's in the public's interest for the press to accord balanced coverage in this electoral dispute.

Friday, 25 August 2017

THE HIGH FIGURE OF DEFINITIONS OF FIGURE: GO FIGURE!

English can be a strange language undoubtedly. And that's probably one reason why the media in Kenya often makes a mess out of communicating even simple information. Sometimes though, what the local press publishes can deceptively look wrong.


It appears, for example, that I can't figure out some of the numerous meanings of the word figure.

At first glance, I was so sure the headline for the above article:
"Clan factors to figure in contest for speaker"
 ...was not making sense. The correct version, I immediately thought, should have been:
" Clan factors to feature in contest for speaker" 
I now know the figure of various definitions of figure is quite high.

It can be a noun, verb and even figure of speech.

Go figure!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

POLICE BRUTALITY PREVALENCE AND MEDIA AMBIVALENCE

In a shocking violent act, during the protests that followed Kenya's General Election, a six- month-old infant is believed to have been clobbered by anti-riot police. The parents' pain is unimaginable, after the demise of their little one. The local electronic media extensively covered this prevalence of police brutality. It appears though that there was some ambivalence in how the story was treated by a section of the print media.


How else can one explain the front page teaser of such an evocative story, in the country's leading daily? The heading 'mildly' states:
'Infant caught up in police raid dies'.
It's as if the police are being absolved from blame. One can even conclude the tragedy was accidental.

Notice the difference with the main story, tucked in the inside pages.


The impression is that this was a deliberate act and the riot police are directly responsible for the infant's death.

Why didn't the front page teaser read something close to:
'Infant beaten up by riot police dies'?
One can almost detect something sinister, here.

Whether it's fear by the paper to represent the entire truth, or tactically seeking to distance itself from prominently apportioning blame, it's clear in this instance that this sad story, is being handled subjectively.

Friday, 11 August 2017

KENYA ELECTION: MEDIA HITS, MISHITS AND MISFITS

It's been a grueling last few days in Kenya, in yet another competitive General Election. The actual polling day was remarkably smooth, with only a few challenges. Then came the tallying of votes and all manner of electoral malpractice allegations started to be thrown around. The media had a difficult task of verifying information. But in the end, a winner was officially declared.


Covering the election as a journalist is not an easy affair. The pressure to deliver timely and factual content is almost unbearable.

Many local newsrooms were on a long-haul mode, interspersing live updates from main studios, with live links to reporters scattered across Kenya.

All manner of political analysts and pseudo-experts were also accorded acres of space and copious airtime to either showcase their grasp of issues, or 'regale' the audience with their ignorance.

And not many people were satisfied with the media coverage.

I, too, had many a cue cringe moments, especially when rookie TV reporters had their on-screen moment of fame, (or is it infamy?), or when the calibre of questions being fielded at pressers came off as a tad elementary.

In all fairness though, the media did not utterly disappoint.

There's always room for improvement, but there were positives to build on. And that's my point!



Thursday, 3 August 2017

DITCH FORMALITIES, CUE POLITICAL STAGE NAME

It's only a matter of days now before Kenya's General Election. The country has nevertheless almost perpetually been in an electioneering mode, ever since the last polls. The newsroom frenzy of election campaigns coverage has seen the media and politicians form an unwilling alliance. Is it surprising then that a newspaper can deem it fit to ditch formalities and just refer a prominent politician by his political stage name?

Is it a case of too much familiarity?

Maybe it is yet another attempt to try and match the style and lingo of millennials.

Or is the shortened version of the name more convenient for the available space for the headline?

Whichever the case may be, it is a tad distressing for a national paper to assume any potential reader, will understand who the person they are referring to is, be they locals or foreigners.

One is even tempted to think that at this rate, we'll soon start seeing the media having no qualms about using popular nicknames like Rao, Uunye, MaDVD, or other more disparaging references, on first mention.

If that is the trend, then I fear we could soon be seeing the local mainstream media disastrously mimicking social media parlance, in a desperate attempt to retain a vanishing audience, in order to remain relevant and viable.

Quotation marks would have sufficed here, but don't quote me!



Thursday, 27 July 2017

A HEADLINE'S PROMISE AND A DELINKED ARTICLE'S PREMISE

A headline is primed to sell a newspaper if on the front page, and any article elsewhere. This means a lot of responsibility is bestowed on whoever is tasked with crafting headlines. A reader has every right to feel offended by an article's headline that seems unrelated to the story it's calling attention to. The headline makes a promise, but the article's premise is delinked from it.


It's pretty much like ordering a burger only for the waiter to call you a bugger...now that's ugly!

So, in the newspaper story above, the main headline states:

'Teachers assured of higher July salaries'.


Now the obvious expectation is that the story will be about salaries...higher salaries...for the month of July...being assured to teachers.

The deck introduces a twist even before the reader gets to the body of the article, by proclaiming:

'Kuppet official says there are plans to withhold salaries till after August 8 polls'.

At this point, there appears to be some conflicting elements in the story being anticipated.

One angle talks of higher salaries, while the other alludes to fears of salaries being delayed.

An already confused reader would want to get clarity from the story intro.

But the story's first paragraph is more closely related to the information contained in the deck, and bears no resemblance to the contents of the headline.

It is beyond temptation to assume an editorial preference was given to the higher pay angle, as opposed to the delay in payment contention.

If that's not deception, what else can you decipher?

(Try not to link the defective headline to elective politics in Kenya).




Thursday, 20 July 2017

DIMINISHING VALUE OF LEGACY MEDIA

It's no longer debatable. The mainstream media in Kenya is undergoing a serious erosion of its appeal. That politicians can elect to ignore such a powerful platform in an election year, speaks volumes about the diminishing value of traditional mass media. The legacy media is losing its influence, which in the past has driven the transformation agenda for the country.


That a debate meant to feature more than 5 candidates seeking the second most powerful seat in Kenya, featured only one candidate, is an indication of a fading local media and its waning dependability

Granted, there are now so many alternative ways of pushing political messages to the electorate, such that one need not worry about access or lack there-off, to established media channels.

But the proliferation of digital platforms and the availability of social media networks, should not be an excuse because mainstream media houses have strived to tap into these emerging communication technologies.

So what ails the legacy media in Kenya?

- The dynamics of journalism have changed but attitudes of journalists remain the same.

- Young media managers are taking over, but old systems still prevail.

- News gathering is getting deeper in technology but content presentation is becoming shallower.

- Education levels are rising but editorial standards are falling.

Time for self-reflection and evaluation is long overdue for the country's traditional media.


And yes. It won't hurt to also get spellings right!








Thursday, 13 July 2017

NEWS SLANT, SKEWED OBJECTIVITY AND PRETENTIOUS PRESS NEUTRALITY

Biases in media coverage can be subtle. They can also be very blatant. During this electioneering period in Kenya, the press is trying to project some semblance of balance, in the coverage of various political camps. But such pretentious neutrality becomes evident, once in a while. The news slant translates to skewed objectivity.


Notice how similar disruptions in two campaign rallies were accorded different headlines in the two leading dailies in Kenya.

Each paper appears keen to limit embarrassing it's 'preferred' presidential candidate.

In other words, one paper gets to be nice to the political establishment, and very liberal in giving prominence to negative aspects of the opposition.

And the other dishes the reverse treatment across the political divide.

So, it's like the country's main dailies have entered an election coverage pact, either between themselves, or with their political affiliates.

It will be interesting to find out if the dividends of this arrangement are political or purely commercial!




Thursday, 6 July 2017

TV INTERVIEWS: ELITES NON-INTEREST & FIDELITY TO PUBLIC INTEREST

Objectivity. Impartiality. Neutrality. Balance. These are words that media practitioners will be harshly judged against, as Kenyans navigates this year's electioneering period. That's why journalists ought to be aligned more with the needs of the public, than for politicians. Fidelity to the public interest should override non-interests of elites, in TV political interviews.


And so it becomes quite challenging to satisfactorily interrogate politicians, and associated political players on TV, especially, for the benefit of the watching public, a good chunk of whom are potential voters.

There's a very slim chance of getting approval across the various political divides, and the odds against journalists are multiplied by plenty of malevolent critics, who probably are adding their own prejudices or biases, and thus subtracting from the overall value of the engagement.

So, the chorus of disapprovals after every other TV interview or debate, where the interviewers or moderators get a serious bashing because of perceived 'media sins' of omission or commission, should be cognizant of the difficulties of serving competing interests that journalists have to routinely contend with.

In any case, is it better for the interviewer to exhibit great understanding of topical issues backed by solid research, to please his or her peers, or the elites in society, for that 'coveted' stamp of approval, but fail to resonate with many more who are not as knowledgeable?

Or should an interviewer demonstrate some level of ignorance, so as to represent the likely average grasp of the issues amongst members of the audience, to better help enlighten them, by having everything simplified?

I'm certainly not the best media informer, but in these two scenarios, I distance myself from the former.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

CAKE OF HISTORY AND DINING IN ADDIS ABABA

To be in a historical place is for most people a highly fascinating experience. One could get a fill and half of history in museums. But visiting ancient sites or places that have withstood the test of time and stood for over a hundred years, is the real icing on the cake of history. Even if you are a stranger in a foreign country, the encounter can still be breathtaking.


A quest for food led us to a very special eatery, on the suburbs of Addis Ababa.

From the entrance, nothing says you are about to dine in the midst of immense history, (and we wouldn't have had a clue if it was not for our very polite and extremely helpful guide).

But there's a sense of nostalgia of an era gone by, going by the interior decor.

And the dead giveaway is a huge portrait that proudly proclaims that this establishment has been in operation since 1898.

Our guide could have been on to something, when he told us that this was the very first hotel to be set up in Ethiopia.

It's really a pity that my taste-buds can't stomach the highly acclaimed Ethiopian national dish.

For real, it felt mighty odd to feast on a piece of "modern" fish delicacy, instead of fishing for traditional dishes in the menu, which have been served for many decades.


Friday, 23 June 2017

LIKE IT OR NOT, UNLIKE AS A LEAD IN A READ IS UNLIKABLE

Unlike, at the beginning of a story, I don't like. For the media, this amounts to making an untenable assumption about your audience. That their minds can supply the missing details they've been denied by the writer. Like it or not, unlike as a lead in a read is unlikable.

It's a bit taxing on the reader, if a newspaper article begins as if other critical details in understanding the story have already been furnished.

Yes, there is a not too bad possibility that this type of writing could be fresh and mercifully different from the 'tired', tried and tested formula of crafting story introductions.

However, any style of writing should not wander far off the known natural conversation patterns.

Imagine meeting a person you've not met for a long time...no...scratch that.

Imagine meeting a stranger and the first thing you say to them is, "Unlike...".

That's bound to cause some barely bearable confusion, as one desperately tries to hang on to every word that follows, in order to make sense of what is being communicated.

Terribly ingenious in a fabulously non-functional manner, I would say.

Unless...you are like...unlike...is like...a likely....likelihood!

Unlike...me!



Wednesday, 14 June 2017

TO TRAIN OR RAIN STAFF: THE STUFF OF TV NEWS ERRORS

What will it take to rid editorial eyesores from Kenyan TV news channels? It seems like a newsroom and studio gallery plague that just won't go away, no matter how many times the errors are pointed out. Mistakes happen, but again, so do corrections. And with live TV, the rectification process should begin soon and end immediately. 


It doesn't take much effort to change from rain to train now, does it?

How ironic is it for a discussion in one of the local channels to highlight the need to better equip journalists with relevant training, and yet the lack of a very elementary competence keeps being flashed on the screen.

Spelling!!!

How annoying is it to not only spot a mistake on air, but to see it over and over again?

Like I have often argued frequently, the many eyes in a particular TV production need to see more of these unsightly errors, and the brains scattered around the production chain should not all be scatter brains!

Friday, 9 June 2017

EDITORIAL ABDICATION AND DICTATES OF COMMUNICATION ETIQUETTE

The media, it is often argued mistakenly, is a reflection of society. This in not an accurate description simply because the media ought to inspire the society to aspire to some higher ideals. In other words, there's a good reason why newsroom gatekeepers play such a critical role. And there's always an editorial obligation to enforce communication etiquette. 


News sources and subjects given space or platforms in media outlets should also espouse qualities that foster the collective well-being of the society, even as they criticise what they deem not to be right.

However, as much as Kenya's lowly politicians are fond of doing it, it's not in the public's interest to use narcissistic language like:
"I demand to be immediately de-briefed on this constitutional lacuna"
So, it's a bit strange that the very confrontational opinion piece above was published in a national paper, in what appears like its raw or original form.

Such articles need not be entirely censored.


But if it is okay to edit for clarity and space consideration, this national newspaper should find it appropriate to ensure the points in an article are also articulated in a civil way.

I demand to see more editorial guidance. Newsroom heads must enforce communication etiquette!

Friday, 2 June 2017

THE WARTHOG, AN ABSENT MIND AND ABSENT-MINDED NEWSROOM GATEKEEPERS

Rewinding facts in a news or feature story could be done for emphasis. There's no much harm in re-stating key elements of a story, to clarify issues, especially. But it's clear some repetitions can be ridiculously pointless. It may be a sign of an absent mind or an absent-minded newsroom gatekeeper.


One look at the intro of the above article, and one gets immediately tempted to visualise a warthog, in all its forgetfulness glory.

For it has been said many a times that when a warthog is chased by a predator, it runs for dear life, but shortly after, my dear, it terrifyingly stops and starts scrounging for food, in the middle of the chase, and the predator in full charge.

I'm not saying the writer or sub-editor of that first paragraph is a warthog.

But with all due respect, their behaviour is the same. The story states on the onset that there are:
"...plans to build a 10-floor, high-end, Sh522 million residential complex in Lavington..."
So we've been told how much it would take to undertake this project.

But the warthog, so...so...sorry...I mean whoever was crafting that lead, found it important after less than ten words, to remind us that the initiative will be:
"...at a cost of Sh522 million."
To make your point, you don't always have to go the whole hog!









Friday, 26 May 2017

OF ROYALTIES AND MISPLACED LOYALTIES

In Kenya, the combination of music and politics has proven to be vital in securing an election victory. Musicians have now wisened up and are demanding their pound of flesh from politicians. As politicians seek to shore up voter loyalties, the musicians are demanding royalties for use of their productions. For the the media, though it's a case of royalties and misplaced loyalties.



In this part of the world, certain communities have a penchant of messing up pronunciation of English sounds, referred to as mother-tongue interference.

This could be a logical explanation for the mix-up of the lower news story tag above, which states:
'KAMP, PRISK demand loyalties from politicians'
You see, the mind could be playing a terrible game on the writer of the caption, such that the way they are used to saying, 'royalties' is how they spell it as well.


Or worse still, the person truly thinks he or she's typing 'royalties' and is even unperturbed by the sight of the word 'loyalties', because the mind is stubbornly 'seeing royalties'.

I wouldn't want to put my money on the probable fact that, here, we are dealing with a case of the writer not using the word, 'loyalties' in the right context.


I also strongly want to believe it is wrong to conclude the entire news production and studio crew in this TV station, on duty then, could not distinguish between 'loyalties' and 'royalties'.

After all, royal media has loyal viewers. (I hope you don't see what I did there).




Thursday, 18 May 2017

PICTURES, WORDS, CAPTIONS AND CORRUPTION OF MEANING

Yet again, editorial nonsense has graced the pages of a Kenyan newspaper. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then it's better for words to be banished from pictures, if the caption ruins the meaning of the picture. Of what use it is to seek to add understanding of what's happening in a picture, only to end up subtracting its overall comprehension?


That's what is apparent in the picture above, from a national paper.

It shows people in a sort of commotion, probably fighting or in a physical confrontation.

But instead of adding clarity, the explanation supplied on the side of the photo, heightens the confusion.
"Police officers protect irate women from attacking a suspected conmen..."
What is one supposed to make of this description, members of the press?

- That the women doing the attacking are the ones being protected?

- How do you even 'protect from attacking'?

- And since when is it proper to say, 'a suspected conmen'?

The competence of this sub-editor is suspect, I suspect!




Thursday, 11 May 2017

THE NOT SO OBVIOUS STATEMENT OF THE OBVIOUS

Repetition of facts for emphasis is acceptable in the media  But tautology is usually frowned upon since different words end up repeating the same meaning, where even one word would have sufficed. What remains unbearably irksome though, is the stating of obvious facts.


It might be that editor is unaware of the irritation they are unleashing upon their audience.

Or perhaps steeped in blissful ignorance, the editorial gatekeepers couldn't care less if there's material that doesn't add value but potentially subtract interest levels.

In the above article's postscript, the reader is being told that:
"The writer is a writer..."
If I may add, the writer wrote a well-written write-up!

- This blogger is a blogger, journalist and news editor.




Thursday, 4 May 2017

OF FORGED LAND AND NEWS FORGERIES

The media plays an important role of enlightening the public. Yet, when partaking from Kenyan news outlets, one at times is left feeling dumber. Confused wondering if one could be the only one not understanding the content. Or worse still, convinced that the media cannot be mistaken and whole-heartedly believing even news forgeries.


What does the word forgery actually mean?

According to the online Cambridge dictionary, forgery:
...is an illegal copy of a document, painting, etc. or the crime of making such illegal copies.
So, going by this definition, the heading of the newspaper article above wants the reader to perhaps visualize an original piece of land, and then stretch the imagination a little more and see the accused person making an illegal copy of the same land.

Forged land?

Ridiculous, right?

One is left wondering what wrong one has done to deserve such an editorially-induced mental anguish.






Thursday, 27 April 2017

HEADLINES: ART, AESTHETICS AND ATROCIOUS TOPLINES

Headline writing is an art. The end product is so designed to attract attention to a story. Keywords to string together are cleverly selected, to grab the reader's interest at first glance, usually based on the condensed information being conveyed. Then there are those specially crafted headings that ooze aesthetics. 


One just can't help but marvel at the beautiful newsroom creation depicted above, from Kenya's only regional paper.

It doesn't look too contrived and in my opinion, serves such a rare treat of editorial brilliance.

Or maybe I'm just a sucker for thoughtful puns.

Either way, the remarkable effort by this headline writer ought to be applauded.

In this part of the world, such imaginative packaging of news content is hard to come by.


The default standard is often atrocious, clumsy or even nonsensical toplines.

There's need for more creativity in news writing. And that's the bottomline!


Friday, 21 April 2017

SUSPECT IMAGE LINK COMBO AND MEDIA MISDIAGNOSIS

These are sensitive political times in Kenya. Movements and pronouncements by politicians are closely being watched. Information circulated by mainstream or social media is  also critical because details can be packaged to either augment or deflate the chances of election aspirants. The wrong combination of images and information can be quite a devastating media misdiagnosis.


The subject in the picture accompanying the link to the story above, closely resembles one of the most prominent opposition leaders in Kenya.

And the nature of the story is highly likely to generate an almost immediate motivation to click on the link, presumably by associating it with the image provided.

Is it a case of click-baiting?

Regardless, this would be in bad taste.

As to who is culpable here, it's quite a complex matter.

- This particular link was posted to Facebook by a social media user not the mainstream media outlet.

- The story itself is five years old.

- The webpage one lands in, via the provided link, bears no image at all.

- The details of the actual story pertain to a different person, whose picture would be nothing close to the one provided in the 'offensive' link.

The Internet may not remember who is responsible, but don't' forget you could be liable for what you post.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

OF TV NEWS PROTECTING AND CORRUPTING PUBLIC MORALS

Kenyan TV news has a remarkable penchant for drifting towards sensationalism, in the mistaken belief that what is shocking will always gel with the audience. It's a pity that a news story seeking to highlight the moral decadence in the society, can actively add to the decay of public morals.


There's need to first point out that what adults do in private is pretty much none of anyone else's business, including the prying eyes of the media.

So, this particular TV news story sought to address the issue of perversion among consenting and supposedly non-consenting adults.

But it went horribly wrong for family TV viewing, (in spite of the warning by the news reader introducing it), when the line of interviewing, (or cross-examination), went way beyond acceptable decency levels, from the overtly aggressive journalists.

And the dirty clincher was the airing of a video clip of not so child-friendly toys!

To serve what purpose I dare ask? Was this so critical in taking the story forward, and if so, shouldn't there have been blurring or soft-focusing of the damn gadgets?

What could be of concern to the public and authorities, is perhaps the co-opting of children in despicable acts that rob them of their innocence, though this seemed to have been of secondary importance in the story.

And that's how the Kenyan media can end up violating the same moral values it's trying to ensure the audience upholds.



Saturday, 8 April 2017

DANCE WITH THE ANGELS JANET KANINI IKUA

It was another office party, those that get triggered by the slightest indication that management was in the mood to recognize team effort. I was tasked with ensuring everyone has plenty of enjoyment. But one colleague seemed to be getting the most fun. She danced her heart out, radiating some form of inner joy. That is the Janet Kanini Ikua I was honoured to have interacted with.

She could burst some well coordinated moves, much to my amazement, momentarily unable to reconcile this display of vivacity with the disciplined and exceptional dedication to duty, when Janet was then a news anchor.

As the Weekends Editor, I tried to make the bulletins devoid of as much toxic Kenyan politics as possible, and instead ensured there was more time accorded to human interest stories, in line with the brief outlined by my seniors.

And Janet beautifully helped to deliver these soft stories in a powerful way.

I once crafted a challenging Intro for her, on a piece on poetry, admittedly thinking she would stumble on the rhyming scheme.

She cast my doubts away, as if dancing through the lines, and well aware of the need to retain the musicality, while saying:
Lynette was sent to the gent of the tent for the rent
But the gent of the tent had no rent for the tent for which Lynette was sent
Even as she battled her illness, she was gracious enough to respond to my call, when I was giving a lecture to some young students, and needed her input.

As I spoke to her,  the attentive class listened in, on our conversation.

There was a mixture of heartfelt empathy and admiration, when I revealed to the class what Janet had told me...

...That she was was at the hospital as we chatted, having just finished one of her cancer treatment sessions.

Every time I replay this talk in my mind, feelings of guilt engulf me.

But that was Janet for you, eager to be of service, no matter what she was going through personally.

So I choose to celebrate her life and the many lives she managed to touch, plus of course her dancing prowess.

Dance with the angels Janet Kanini Ikua!!!



Thursday, 30 March 2017

THE MEDIA, COMPREHENSION BURDEN AND EGGS ON THE MILITARY

Let's assume I don't know. And I don't try to do some research because the search for an answer may leave more questions unanswered. The media should lighten the comprehension burden, especially for the not so enlightened readers, trying to figure out the link between a presidential visit, eggs, and the military.


We get the fact that the Kenyan president visiting the country's troops on the battlefront in Somalia, is historic.

We also expect this to be a huge morale booster to the soldiers.

We wouldn't be surprised if critics conclude this was a publicity stunt.

But from a headline that states:
Uhuru in historic Somalia visit, eggs on the military
...What are the chances of the average reader understanding what the sub-editor wanted to communicate?

Some brains could be fried, (think eggs).

The message may appear scrambled, (think eggs again).

And whether boiled or poached, (sorry, eggs again please), I sincerely hope this particular media outlet does not delight in seeing members of its audience with, (one last time), egg on their face!


Thursday, 23 March 2017

SWIMMING IN THE JOURNALISM OCEAN AND INAPPROPRIATE SEA MEN

Some editorial errors in the Kenyan media scene are atrocious. Others are just plain stupid. Yet some are pardonable, and there are those that are simply hilarious. But then there's news content that is disgustingly inappropriate. See, men, swimming in the journalism ocean, is best left for well trained sea men.


Women too, off course do a splendid job in the media industry.

But see, men, there's something about sea men that...you know...the devil is in the details, (especially at the very bottom of the picture above!).

You still don't get it? Let me build...sorry! Allow me to bring a closer view to you.


Now this is really a load of editorial embarrassment, (please excuse any implied crassness).


Thursday, 16 March 2017

SHEER NONSENSE, EDITORIAL DEFICIENCY AND NEWSROOMS NATIONAL DISASTER

There is sense. There is lack of sense. And then there's sheer nonsense, which some Kenyan media outlets have off late taken a keen interest in excelling at. The Editorial deficiency and inability to convey meaningful information to the audience should perhaps be declared a national disaster in newsrooms.


The on air blunders have ceased to be mere visual irritants.

One is at first amused, then bemused, before being left feeling intellectually abused.

In the news story tag above, this is what viewer is being asked to mentally process:
'Thugs shot dead woman after kidnapping her in Uthiru'
Television is full of make believe content but this is stretching it to the realm of lunacy!

Let's break down the appalling caption to try and establish the scale of idiocy being depicted.

- A 'dead' woman was shot by thugs.

- The thugs first kidnapped the 'dead woman' before shooting her.

This TV news channel should also be charged with first degree murder of the English language!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

FRESH DISAPPOINTMENT AND NEWSPAPERS PEDDLING STALE NEWS

The pace at which news is produced is now remarkably faster, because the work of journalists is greatly supplemented by ordinary citizens, and the digital space also demands frequent updates of posted stories. This means traditional media outlets ought to figure a way of taking significant stories forward, to remain relevant. Newspapers peddling stale news are a fresh disappointment.


So, a prominent Kenyan politician is taken ill and predictably all the major papers have this story on their front page.

The different editorial teams, it appears, had the same motivation of milking dry this unfortunate development, to whet the readers' appetite and possibly shore up sales.

Back to the content though, and one story conjures up a number of scenarios, according to the assigned headlines.

The opposition politician either is:

- still admitted in hospital due to food poisoning

- still unwell at the time of publication of the story

- out of danger after being treated for food poisoning

The date of publication of this story is Thursday 9th March 2017, the same day that the key subject was reassuring the country about his health!


Hear ye...Hear ye...!

- The former prime minister fell in on Tuesday 7th March 2017.

-  He was discharged from hospital on Wednesday 8th March 2017.

Is this an admittance of failure to get this story when it was still hot?

And if the information was released late, and privacy issues were at play, should the story still have dominated the headlines, so belatedly?

With almost all major media outlets having an online first policy, when it comes to pushing stories to the audience, it's mighty odd for this story to be prominently retold in retrospect in the dailies.

But you've got to respect the resolve to cash in on a 'freshly squeezed' juicy stale story!






Friday, 3 March 2017

POLITICIANS, MEDIA OWNERSHIP AND NEUTERED NEUTRALITY

It has been argued before that news coverage neutrality is likely to be neutered, where media ownership is linked to politicians. Editorial independence and putting public interest first comes a distant second to proprietary interests. And this is coming to the fore as Kenya navigates through an electioneering period. 

The bias can be oh so subtle. But the media owner's influence can also be elaborately projected.

In this newspaper front page, there is an obvious attempt to offer a balanced coverage of the ruling and opposition coalitions.

What is not so evident, is the calculated placement of the articles.

The splash has a prominent person/party of immense interest (from the paper's perspective), and an accompanying big image to underscore the 'special' treatment.

A pseudo-sidebar story, is then thrown on the periphery of the front page, where chances of eyeballs landing are deliberately diminished

But directly below it comes the clever stuff.

What comes to mind when the averagely educated person comes across the acronym NASA?

Something to do with space exploration right?

In what could either be a mockery of Kenya's main opposition outfit, or a crafty political masterstroke, what is placed in close proximity to the NASA article is a strategic deviation to:
"Seven new planets with water discovered"
Yes. Astronomy.

If you think this is a mere coincidence, enjoy your flight of fancy!