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.




Wednesday, 30 August 2017


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


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


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


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


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!