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 July 2017


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


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


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


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


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.