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).

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