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, 23 August 2018


Information channelled through the media needs to be unambiguous, if it's to be useful to the audience. The challenge though, can come by way of using a not so straight-forward language like English. And the press in Kenya appears to be prone to linguistic shortcomings, which at times result in vague headlines or even doubtful information.

The heading of the above editorial can leave the reader a bit confused because though it may not be apparent, the chosen words make it open to two interpretations.

Crafting headlines is an endeavour that seeks to maximise the impact of chosen words, sometimes against minimal use of available space.

It thus becomes very necessary to leave out 'empty' words like determiners or definite and indefinite articles such as 'the', 'a', 'that', 'an', etc.

Instead, emphasis is put on keywords that are l'oaded' with 'meaning' and words that convey a powerful sense of 'action'.

After all, news revolves around something happening, and reporting this involves use of words that capture the action well.

Going back to the article above, the chosen action word is 'clear' meaning 'remove', 'act' or do something about changing a situation.

Well, the same word also conveys the sense of something being evidently easy to perceive, and hardly possibly to disprove.

So, is the newspaper calling for the 'clearing' of any doubts around a new polio vaccine?

Or are readers being told there are 'clear' doubts about this vaccine?

I need to 'clear' my mind, (you probably should do the same).

Tuesday, 14 August 2018


Words are the building blocks of communication. Whether in isolation or combination, they are used to convey meaning. But frequently for the media in Kenya, words are carelessly stitched together. And it's no longer shocking to find TV graphics alluding to infertile news couples or childless parents.

Only a fertile imagination, perhaps, can come up with the details in the straps above.

What in the name of procreation, is the viewer expected to make of the words, 'news couples' and the supposed fact that 2 million of them are infertile?

That pseudo-statistic arises from a very minor error, but the outcome is a major source of editorial embarrassment.

Another critical element is context.

Each of the words may appear to make sense, like the lower-third information above, but what they collectively imply may not be sensible at all.

How such an obvious contradiction can escape the scrutiny of editorial gatekeepers is another newsroom wonder.

But the on-air result is far from being wonderful!

Thursday, 9 August 2018


Broadcasting stations in Kenya have raised their rivalry a notch higher. And this has in turn sparked a scramble for star talent, perceived to be critical in curving a competitive advantage. But there's a growing need to re-engage the audience, because a personnel-centred approach in TV news can only deliver so much. The writing is on the camera lens.

In these 'post-millennial' days, it was surprising that the above live cross with the 'seasoned' reporter/editor, had to be aborted on account of such an elementary technical challenge.

As if the battery status message appearing on screen was not damning enough, the news production crew allowed the live signal to continue, until the camera gave up the ghost, leading to an on air freeze.

It's likewise important then, not to ignore any indication that a channel could be deviating from its core functions.

Enough with 'Tanite' and its associated TV foolery, and let's get focused on the needs of the viewer.

A station may opt to bring together a star-studded team to enhance the delivery of content.

If the content is wanting, however, no amount of 'fine' delivery would compensate any lack of serious substance to offer the audience.

May 'tanite' find its way back to 'tonight'!

Thursday, 2 August 2018


It's not easy to find media reports that are agreeable with the entire audience. That's why being objective or balanced ranks high in journalism. That way, the audience gets to draw their own conclusion. So why should a newspaper purport to use a universal description of something? Adjectives like 'ultra-modern' could as well be describing crap.

The caption above describes one thing, but the picture seems to show another.

What is actually meant by 'ultra-modern' and is it applicable across the board in terms of perceptions?

In other words, if according to the newspaper something is 'ultra-modern' are readers still allowed to hold a different opinion?

A good journalist tries to avoid such superficial use of generalised adjectives, especially when dealing with hard news.

Such kind of value judgement is suspect!

But you be the judge.