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.

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Friday, 22 June 2018

CASE FOR EQUATING EDITORIAL ERRORS TO FAKE NEWS

The standards of Kenyan media outlets may really try one's patience. For many are the editorial bloopers and blunders that regularly pass through the hands of clueless gatekeepers. At this rate, fake news should no longer just be about inaccuracies and misrepresentation of facts. Throw in errors that look too wanton not to be deliberate.


In the news briefs article, presumably taken from an established foreign media entity, an inexplicable decision or indecision by the sub-editor causes an almost unbelievable and truly unfathomable piece of information to be published in a national paper.

A typo does not even stand a chance in explaining why the article begins with words:
'Ethiopia's Egypt's President...'
What in the name of how, why, who and the remaining Ws!


Then there's this other one highlighted above.

And here's a good case for not championing the Newspaper for Schools cause.


No teacher of English would want the risk of learners entrenching...um...'Am', in their compositions and essays.

Moreover, there are times the typo is so unsightly...that one might even be persuaded that the factual error is the lesser evil.


Herein lies a good foundation for equating editorial errors to fake news.

And therein the truth should be awakened!


Wednesday, 13 June 2018

FACTS AND THE TRUTH BEGETTING AN UNTRUTH

The moment the media puts out a news story, it develops a life of its own. If something is not clear in a particular story, clarification can be sought within the newsroom. But that is not the case with the audience out there. There's nobody to ask for further explanation, or additional context. The result could be facts and the truth begetting an untruth in a reader's mind. 


In the newspaper article above, the headline contains factual information, but at the same time, a very misleading and negative impression could be created about a 'reputable' medical facility.

Yes, a patient died at the hospital indicated by the headline.

But a reader glancing over that headline might easily conclude this tragic incident began and ended at the same medical facility.


Only by reading through the body of the story would the reader be able to know that this case started in another medical clinic, and the patient only passed on at the hospital reflected in the headline.

The medical facility would rightly take offence if this story ends up making inappropriate insinuations, by directly linking it with the botched operation and subsequent death of the patient.

In other words, the truth here begets untruths, by virtue of the way this newspaper is treating this story.

The result could be a high-speed chase, involving a reputation damage ambulance chaser!


Saturday, 9 June 2018

CRIME, FOOTBALLERS AND ENTERPRISE REPORTING

In a rare departure from the beaten path, a sports journalist delivered story of footballers, who had a promising career, only to end up behind bars. Getting access to film in Kenyan prisons is not easy. And convincing the sportsmen to open up on camera about their doubling in crime is quite an achievement. The result is a powerful depiction of the impact of enterprise reporting.


In this era of converged newsrooms, it was quite refreshing to see one journalist masterfully piece together a fantastic tale on both print and broadcast platforms.


The local media outlets are known to mostly dwell on diary stories that are almost predictably going to be about negative developments, personality-based politics, press conferences, and the occasional breaking news that again is likely to yield uninspiring coverage.


So, when a gem of enterprise reporting hits your screen and newspaper, the impact is unmistakable.

The meticulous planning that was involved is very evident and the multiplicity of voices within the prison and in the outside world all build up to an inspiring story about the futility of crime.

The convicts now hopefully have a better conviction about life.


Saturday, 2 June 2018

QUANTIFYING DESTRUCTION: MONEY FIRST OR MONEY LAST?

Loss of lives or property often get well-accommodated in the media. Such coverage does not seek to celebrate calamity or someone's misfortune. The unfortunate bit could be that the press seeks to capitalize on this sense of loss to get the attention of the audience. Quantifying the value of destruction appears to be quite a challenge though. Should money come first or last?


In the newspaper headline above, the reader is first being asked to process the amount of money 'destroyed' before relating it to a particular product, in this case wheat.

From the way this information is packaged, the headline writer is stressing the amount of money lost... but in terms of wheat.

To a reader like me, this is rather confusing.

'Floods destroy wheat worth Sh 150m' would sound more natural and easier to process than 'Floods destroy Sh 150m worth of wheat'.

In other words, the loss should first be established to be of wheat, before the value of the wheat lost is given.

And if you are not fully convinced, try listening to a similar sentence construction in a radio or TV news broadcast!