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Saturday, 16 November 2019

WHEN SAME INFORMATION TAKES DIFFERENT FORMS

Kenya's mainstream newspapers are known to strive to differentiate their content, in a bid to retain their respective audiences. However, even publishers know that in the news business, there's little that can be done to render facts in one story differently. It's therefore quite odd to see the same information take different forms. The angles can differ but not the truth.


In the coverage of the story above, it appears like either one paper did not have it's facts right, or the other was being economical with the truth.

What is the title of the main subject in the story?

Paper 1 alludes to the fact that the Nairobi County Assembly Majority Leader is embattled but still in office.

Paper 2 though, refers to the same majority leader as having been ousted.

If one has not been following the going ons at the Nairobi County Assembly, this indeed could be quite confusing, and frustrating.

But for one who's familiar with recent developments of the same assembly, it would be very apparent that the main subject of this story is no longer holding his previous position.


And that then raises the question of why one simple fact can yield two interpretations.

Or, is this a credible editorial omission, or a commission of a discreditable edit?

Saturday, 9 November 2019

RARE PASSION, MOTIVATION AND SELF-DRIVEN JOURNALISM

The journalism space in Kenya has experienced tremendous growth over the years. Naturally, as old hands exit the limelight, new faces light up the media landscape. But one aspect mostly amiss with the new talent, is the right motivation and passion for the job. That's why those who remain true to the cause, in a self-driven manner, need to be applauded.


One such individual is the writer of the newspaper article above, more known for TV business news reporting, but one who delights in engaging in a different news segment, on a different medium!

Now that is rare passion.

Away from the familiar territory of business coverage, he ventures into a not so well-known sport locally, and delivers it eloquently, such that the editor has no worries about giving the story almost an entire page.

It truly is an inspired initiative, especially given that not so many regular sports reporters have a grasp of the intrigues and mechanics of Formula One racing.

Vroom-vroom...Zoom away.... to greater heights...Alex!

Saturday, 2 November 2019

SIGNATURES WITH NO SIGN OF SIGNIFICANCE

Communication should be a simple and even natural process. Information is shared or exchanged between to or more people or entities. It is imperative for that information to be meaningful though, or one that sense can be derived from. And for news media especially, context is very critical for the content being passed to the audience to be useful or impactful. 


What's the significance of the signatures being highlighted in the story tag above?

The viewer is not given any clue as to who the signatures belong to.


In the next set of on screen graphics, there's more reference of the signatures, and them being about to be vetted.

But, it's still not clear who the signatures belong to, or their intended purpose.


There's more information displayed... a little more about the background of the signatures.

But if the viewer is not following the discussions, or happens to just tune in, there'll still be no sign of the significance of the signatures!

Saturday, 26 October 2019

PAUSE: NEWSMAKERS POISED TO POSE?

English is fraught with many loopholes, especially for non-native speakers. What appears obvious might not be correct. And what is correct might not be that obvious. Broadcast channels that use English, however, really have no excuse for flouting language rules, or even misusing words. It helps to pause, and ask whether newsmakers can pose, before they get poised to do something.


In the TV lower third caption above, what exactly is the intended meaning?

Supposing 'Ruto allies posed to reject the report', ...wait!...

What report is being referred to here?

Is any viewer tuning in, from whatever part of the world, expected to be familiar with this report?

That's what using the definite article, 'the' would imply, right?

Back to the posing business...composing this strap means.....

....the news/program production team is explicitly suggesting that before Ruto allies rejected 'the report' they first posed!

Posed for a picture? Posed to ask a question? Posed with the intention of falsely misrepresenting or impressing?

Indeed, it would have been helpful to pause, and ask if newsmakers can pose, before they get poised to do something.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

EDITORIAL ABDICATION & REIGN OF ERRORS: THE FREE REIN EDITION

A newspaper of record should strive to uphold the highest standards. Errors are not always understandable. But admitting mistakes and publishing apologies is admirable. There's a thresh-hold, however, in the frequency of blunders, beyond which readers begin to question the credibility aspects and professional integrity. Editorial abdication often leads to a reign of errors.


For this 'reputable' Kenyan paper, there have been plenty of repugnant editorial bloopers, coming out of its production line, lately.


Even when it appears to be an effortless undertaking, like re-reading the headline and comparing it with the intro of the article below, the sub-editor elects to mix-up facts.

The headline talks of Kiir, the picture shows Machar and the Intro also makes reference to Riek Machar. So, the headline contradicts the article!

And how weird is it to see initials being used in a story, followed by a word that's supposed to be part of the initial initials.


If UoN stands for University of Nairobi, what does University of UoN mean anyway, if not total redundancy?


Even the best of columnists, are note spared the agony of this kind of editorial ignominy. Here, it appears like the difference between 'several times' and 'severally' is not so apparent.

Indeed, as a media entity celebrates 60 years of 'quality' journalism, it's not too much to expect that it's gatekeepers would be conversant with the geography of the region it operates in.

I mean, how ignorant is it to state, nay, publish for posterity, the fallacy of Tanzania being a land-locked country?

Like it has been pointed out here so, so many times, there's an elaborate newsroom and production process, to ensue there's a minimal number of errors, before a newspaper hits the news stand.

The optimal situation is to have a flawless press.

But impressive as that aspiration maybe, it's simply not achievable.

There's, however, the expectation that if all the responsible hands do a good job, then the outcome will not be bad for the brand.

Losing sight of the principle of editorial oversight can lead to very unsightly publications.

It's a pity that even petty mistakes have become pretty much normal.


One could be easily tempted to conclude that the casual manner in which these articles are proof-read, reflects the seriousness accorded to fact-checking or cross-checking of details before they are published.

It's good for a newspaper to admit it's mistakes and take corrective measures.


But if this becomes the norm rather than the exception, it wouldn't take an exceptional reader to read between the lines and see the underlying incompetence.

So, here's to more editorial abdication and reign of errors!

Thursday, 10 October 2019

REWRITING HISTORY WITH THE WRONG NEWS STORY

A chronicler of of unfolding events, is what some may define as one of the the key role of journalism. And this often involves witnessing major occurrences from a vantage point, to later put on record what may end up having immense historical value. So reporting historical facts should be a much simpler task. And there should be no reason to end up rewriting history with the wrong news story.


In the newspaper article above, a very straightforward fact is glaringly being misrepresented.

Any good student of history, or current affairs for that matter, should be able to explain how centuries are counted.

In summary, from 0 to the first 100 years, constitutes the 1st century.

It follows then that from 101-200 is the 2nd century.

Likewise, between 1401 and 1500 is definitely the 15th century.

According to this article, the church in question goes back to the 17th century.

This would mean between 1601 and 1700, right?

Wrong, (not you....the headline writer).


You see, the article goes ahead to say:
'Mumias Anglican Church's history dates back to 1885 when the clergyman was speared to death.'
Unless this newspaper wants to rewrite history with the wrong story, the events being quoted never happened in the 17th century.

1885 is actually very close to the 20th century!



Thursday, 3 October 2019

DUSTY NEWS STORY, RUSTY COVERAGE!

Something dramatic, significant, unusual, of some human interest and dominating offline and online discussions. These are all vital ingredients that could make a memorable news item, especially for TV. But Kenyan broadcasting stations downplayed the importance of a weather phenomenon, whose impact was felt for hours. The news story was dusty, but the coverage was truly rusty.

It was a rare weather spectacle in this part of the world, but the local press appeared to have been reduced to spectators.

Given how accessible this story was, it was amazing how there was an 'over-reliance' on footage shot by amateur videographers.

Just how 'impossible' was it for TV crews to be quickly assembled and deployed, to get first-hand accounts of this dust storm?

And one has to one wonders if this lethargic approach would be as dominant, if a big natural disaster is to strike Kenya.

Indeed, a lot more should have been done by the local media, given their tendency to set up live broadcasts, at the slightest provocation.


Hopefully, the local media outlets will dust themselves off and be more gusty in the coverage of such stories going forward.






Thursday, 26 September 2019

NEWSPAPER HEADLINES: DOS AND DOTS

A newspaper headline is what initially draws a reader to an article. It may even be the decider between glossing over, or getting into the rest of the content. A reader usually scans through the headline, looking for a main keyword, hence the reason why an active verb is critical. But it's also important to cross the t's and dot the i's.


The innocuous omission in the headline above, may not amount to much, and the chances of the article to be read may not be dented.

A curious mind may, however, spot the missing dot...


... and question the editorial abilities on display here, or lack thereof, and even raise doubts about the seriousness accorded to attention to details, as a core value of this newspaper publisher.

It may well be an honest mistake.

But honestly, it's not much ado about a dot!

Friday, 20 September 2019

TV SIN NOT TO BE SEEN IN A WORST CASE SCENARIO

Technology is amazing. And Kenyan media outlets have been trying hard to latch on to new innovations in the industry, although it's usually often a case of playing catch-up. Some levels of operational sophistication are, however, ignored, either out of ignorance or reluctance to embrace change. And that's why you may end up seeing a TV sin not to be seen in a worst case scenario.


The signal above is what was broadcast, most probably due to some technical hitches.

But should this ever be the case, given the options available to avoid such displays of malfunctioning systems being beamed to the viewer?

Is there such an overwhelming need to have the transmission always on 'Live Mode' and would a delay of less than 10 seconds be that catastrophic?

Alternatively, the system can be rigged to play out a particular content as backup, for example, an in-house promo, whenever there is an interference of normal transmission.

In other words, the default setting would be to air a pre-selected clip, instead of letting the whole world know that there is a problem in the control room.

But in this part of the world, it would not be strange to be told that this was a failure of the backup system.

And so a TV sin like this, is likely to continue to be seen, even in the worst case scenario!

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

HEAT OF LIFE, LIVE HITS AND WHY SUPERIORS AND PEERS MATTER LESS

In the field of journalism, professional challenges abound. If one gets into an unfamiliar territory, chances of failing spectacularly only outweigh the risks of a possible job loss. And when disaster strikes, forget the assurances from superiors and your peers. Rely instead on your self-belief. It will take you through the heat of life and live hits. 


The reactions to the 'wanting' linguistic abilities of the reporter above, oscillated between outright condemnation and patronising reassurance.

Indeed, serving the public's interest can expose a journalist to great ridicule from the same public.

But that is just an occupational hazard.

The real danger is the carefully concealed hypocrisy.

If the live report touched on something that's significantly damaging to the reputation of the media house, say, erroneously stating the President ordered the arrest of the area Member of Parliament:

- Would the newsroom managers come to the defence of the reporter, because it was the first time he was doing a live hit?

- Would senior editors or producers take responsibility for risking to have an inexperienced reporter doing a live broadcast during prime time?

- Would fellow colleagues in the industry be very sympathetic, or would the reporter become a case study of how not to do a live broadcast?

The reality in many a Kenyan newsrooms is that here, the reporter could be left to fry alone, even if the information he shared was given to him by his bosses.


And such is life. You really can't depend on other people to back you up 100%, all the time.

That's why it's so important to have an inner reservoir of strength, hope, courage and determination to soldier on, in the face of career-threatening adversity.

- Those offering their support, can opt to become spineless, if it suits them more.

- Those getting in touch to express their solidarity can thereafter be out of touch with your basic needs.

- Those sharing how they overcame similar circumstances can fail to disclose if they had somebody higher up protecting their interests.

That's why in the heat of life, and even after a live hit mess, what superiors and peers say should matter less.

Focus more on your self-belief and the Most High!









Friday, 6 September 2019

WINDOW SHOPPING SENSE AND NONSENSICAL TV NEWS GRAPHICS

Flipping channels is akin to window-shopping. A TV station ought to  have its best content on screen to interest a viewer, just like a shop owner seeking to entice a buyer would want to displays eye-catching wares. Importantly also, those tuning in expect minimal effort in making sense of what they are seeing. Having nonsensical TV news graphics does not cut it.



If one stumbles upon the on screen text above, how likely is it that the remote control will not come to mind, to save oneself from mental torture?

TV graphics are meant to aid the understanding of a news story.

But here, chances are high the yield is mere confusion, (or a very dubious call to action!).

Crafting news straps should be guided by the ultimate need to communicate briefly, but clearly.

Simply stitching any words together is an ill-advised short-cut.

And this particular NewsCut, does not make the cut!

Friday, 30 August 2019

DIVORCE COURT AND MEDIA COURTING TROUBLE

It's not very often that the Kenyan media dedicates ample time and resources to bring a private court hearing into the public sphere. The coverage of legal matters should be restricted to the issues as they arise, taking care not to violate the rule of sub-judice. In a divorce court, a media house could be courting trouble, if it suggests its perceived stance on the matter.


That appears to be the case here, given the way this TV news channel identified one of the litigants.

If party A says there was a marriage contract with party B, but party B disputes this and the matter ends up up in court, (never mind if party A wants to part ways with part B), why should a media outlet identify party A as being married to party B?

In the public eye, a position on the matter is already being strongly projected.

But on such legal matters, it's 'dangerous' and unethical to even appear to have an interest in the outcome of such a case, by deviating from the confines of neutrality and objective reporting.

The judicial system frowns upon acts that can jeopardise the fair determination of matters before it, even if they play out in the court of public opinion.

In the coverage of this divorce court, this media house could be courting trouble!

Thursday, 22 August 2019

MEDIA DISSERVICE AND BASIC TERMS OF SERVICE

The terms of service for media operators should include a clause on familiarity with common-place terminologies. That aim should be a mere minimum, in the noble task of serving the public's interest. And an African media house at least ought to know African nationalities and how to describe people from various countries on the continent.


The article above makes reference to the nationality of a west African country.

The country is Ghana. The citizens are...Ghanians?

Given the available resources, and real time research platforms available in an established newsroom, what would lead to such an editorial oversight?

There's likely to be historical evidence to show the word 'Ghanaian' has previously been used to describe the people of Ghana, by this same newspaper publisher.

That's perhaps why this qualifies to be a media misinformation and a disservice.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

KENYAN ROOTS, JAMAICAN SINGER, AND A NON-EXISTENT SONG

Doing a background check before writing a news story, should be an easy task. Supporting facts can now be sourced conveniently in this digital age, where the Internet is a living and ever-growing library. That's why it's hardly believable that a Kenyan newspaper can't distinguish between a song, and a son of a famous Jamaican singer.


In the article above, the writer tries to enrich and provide a wider context in the recent visit to Jamaica by the Kenyan president.

The coverage is woven around the historical struggle for freedom from colonialism by the East African nation, and the influence of independence proponents from the Caribbean island.

And no reference to Jamaica is complete without mentioning its pulsating reggae industry, which is relevantly captured in this article, given how its global music icons have been committed to the struggle against social, economic and political injustices.


Evidently, a lot of research went into piecing together this newspaper story, so it's a bit mind-boggling why the writer and sub-editor would mess up on the details around the life and music of such a recognised music legend like Bob Marley.

I'm not entirely sure if there's a linguistic connection between the name, 'Kimani' from Central Kenya, and the 'Kymani' with Jamaican roots.

But what I know, and what the writer and editor of the article ought to be aware of, is that Ky-mani is Bob Marley's son, not one of the songs from his impressive repertoire.

Please beware, an enlightened reader is not ready to sell their intelligence for a song!






Friday, 9 August 2019

OF HEADLINES AND HEAD SPIN-INDUCING CONTENT

The language used by the press should communicate or convey information in a very direct and comprehensible manner. This means editors, reporters and writers must deliberately align their choice of words with the main aim of making it easy for the reader to understand a story. Sometimes though, one encounters headlines with head spin-inducing content. 


In the front-page teaser of a main article above, the paper deploys a rather confusing or, shall we say, unusual sentence construction.

It starts with:
'How fatally ill patients...'
That means patients who have already succumbed to their illness, no?

And if that be the case, then the second part of this headline gets eerily weird.
'....get set for death'.
Cue the head spin!

Fatal conveys a sense of finality or culminating in demise, or a not so pleasant fate.

So fatally ill patients, one would expect, are not in a position to do pretty much anything, because the illness has already resulted in fatality.


There are those on the verge of dying, that this newspaper story seeks to highlight their final moments and decisions.

This time around, the headline of the main article makes reference to, 'terminally ill patients', which gives room to suggest they can still do something, ahead of their sunset moment.




Thursday, 1 August 2019

HEALTH MEDIA COVERAGE AND THE MEDICAL DOCTOR PRESCRIPTION

Health matters have been getting massive attention in Kenyan media outlets. Many lives are being lost to major ailments, and even minor diseases. It's hardly debatable that health issues may not be a beat for any reporter. Specialised knowledge is key, but should it come from a journalism or medical school? And is a medical doctor the right prescription for newsrooms?



One channel has taken this bold step of engaging a qualified and experienced doctor, to spearhead its coverage of health-related news and programming.

Indeed, this needs to be acclaimed as a masterstroke, because the newsroom stands to benefit a great deal, by counting among its ranks, a doctor-cum media practitioner.

Similarly, the coverage of legal matters and court proceedings has arguably been improved by enlisting the services of lawyers, who are also keen on making a mark in the world of journalism.


But having a doctor, who comes highly qualified as a communicator as well, presents an interesting scenario.

- Can the good doctor be trusted to be neutral or balanced, when doing stories involving medical practitioners, like an industrial dispute?

- Will the public's interest be upheld, or will a 'Hippocratic' bias carry the day?

- And if the doctor is being interviewed, either as a panelist or a 'presenter's friend', should she be referred to as an 'Analyst' or 'Reporter'?



Probably the most significant issue, in my opinion, is the perception of the viewer.

Picture this:
A TV news story is about the shortage of doctors in Kenya, and how millions of lives could be in jeopardy, if the government does not address this lack of qualified medical personnel. 
Then the story ends with: Dr........reporting for........
Her journalism passion and reporting excellence notwithstanding, is the country being deprived of critical services of a very capable health professional?

Anybody can be a journalist, they've been saying.

It remains a calling, though.

And a doctor on call, might just be the right newsroom prescription.


Saturday, 27 July 2019

OF NEWSPAPERS MISQUOTING PHOTOGRAPHS

If facts are sacred, misquoting photographs should be sacrilegious. This may sound improbable because the media is more often accused of misquoting people and misinterpreting facts. Or publishing or broadcasting content out of context. But how else can one describe a newspaper that uses one photograph to show two different locations?


The two identical photographs above, appeared in one daily, but in separate pages.

The photo is first used to illustrate an article about plans to develop Isiolo Municipality, in central Kenya.


On turning the pages, one shortly encounters the same photo, (a much larger version).

But this time, the story is about the safety of flights to and from Kisumu airport, in the western part of the country.


What informed this editorial misadventure?

Both Isiolo and Kisumu counties have airports, so having a plane in the picture works for the two locations.

But not the same plane.

That's plain stupid!



Friday, 19 July 2019

SPORTS JOURNALISTS, FOOTBALL AND BECOMING ONE WITH ALCOHOL

What do you get from a sports journalist covering a football tournament in a foreign country? Articles about football, yes? And if the writer is enterprising, you expect coverage beyond football matters, no? The writer can focus on drinking habits, and the cost of beer in the host country. However, not only is it good not to mix drinks, it's bad for alcohol and football to become one.


Old habits die hard, and this perhaps explains the intrusion of the football field terminology, in an off-pitch scenario, in the side bar article, above.

The writer, one can hazard a guess, was sampling the social scene of the host country, and came dangerously close to the point where football and alcohol became one.

(Loosely translated to insinuate inebriation).

There's hardly any other colourful way to justify this statement:
'Beers in Nairobi go for between Sh200 and Sh350 defending on the brand and location.'
Well, it depends on whether one is being attacked by alcohol, or a competing team's attackers!

Friday, 12 July 2019

MEDIA MISMATCH, LOCAL NEWS AND CONTINENTAL TITLES

Influential people often get extensively featured in the media. Politicians definitely get more than their fair share of coverage. A number of such Kenyan leaders have multiple roles and attendant titles. Is it too much to ask that when captioning such personalities, their identities be put in the relevant context? Continental titles in a local news setup is clearly a mismatch.


It's all good to recognise important roles or status of newsmakers, and in the process, also help a viewer to appreciate why the views of the person appearing on TV are significant.

A Special Envoy of the African Union in a broadcast, is likely to add value and also help sustain attention in a news story.


But how is this even remotely related to...wait... not even a national matter...but a very local county governance issue?

The editorial competence on display here, I suspect, is suspect!










Friday, 5 July 2019

INTENDED ACTION HEADLINE AND AN UNINTENDED REACTION

A journalist or any writer must know that the interpretation of what's already published is likely to be beyond their control. As such, care should be taken to ensure any semblance of vagueness is dealt with, to narrow down the chances of misinterpretation. A headline can be loaded with many call to action words, but end up causing an unintended reaction.


The headline of the newspaper article above, can lead to a very 'dangerous' interpretation, which the writer and many a reader would be quick to frown upon.

What are people being urged to do?
"Embrace, encourage and support female genital cutting warriors"
Say that again slowly....but now with emphasis on the part that says:

'...female genital cutting warriors.'

What are we talking about here?

A warrior is a skilled fighter...so here...it can be somebody who is experienced in...female genital cutting?

Notice that it's not clear if the warrior is fighting against female genital cutting.

But, a warrior, in contemporary usage, can also be a reference to somebody engaged in a defined struggle or cause.

However, note again that the headline does not directly imply this warrior is against female genital cutting.

The constraints of space notwithstanding, the headline would have better communicated the message if it read:

"Embrace, encourage and support ANTI-female genital cutting warriors"

A good sub-editor should strive to panel beat the copy to make it as close to the intended meaning as possible.

Simply put, avoid being vague like the plague. And it's better to be obvious than ambiguous!

Friday, 28 June 2019

OF HEADLINES, TENSE EDITORS AND MIXING-UP TENSES

Media coverage can revolve around current issues, past events or even future occurrences. The reader, viewer or listener would not find it hard to follow a story framed on whichever time frame, especially if the context is logical. This is achievable as long as editors don't get tense, to the point of mixing-up tenses.

A news story can begin with the anticipation of a future happening, dash to past events, before settling on present issues.

This would still make sense, if the reporting tenses don't imply an element of time travel is required.

The date of writing this post is June 28th 2019.

This newspaper article was published on 26th June.

The story states the winner of the contest to replace Theresa May as UK prime minister will be announced on July 23rd.

But the headline states:
'New British PM named on July 23'
A reader has every reason to get tense, with this lack of attention to tense matters.

Or is this a prime example of a future, past impossible tense?

Cue in the tension headache!


Friday, 21 June 2019

FRAUDULENT TV CONTENT AND ON AIR FRAUDSTERS

Kenyan television can be a fraud. If you tune in, you're not sure whether you are adding to your level of knowledge, or if what you have is being subtracted from. The broadcasts have many learning opportunities. But there's also a real danger of eroding one's intelligence. A viewer can feel defrauded, by on air fraudsters, under the guise of content editors, or disguised as program producers.


In the above screenshot, it's not clear what was the intention of using the 'word':
'FRAUDS'
- Is it a proper conjugation from the root word 'fraud'?

- Does it even correctly convey the sense of somebody doing something wrong?

- Is it a legitimate verb? Or an illegitimate noun?

So many pertinent questions...one obvious answer.

It's either there's a false self-confidence by media practitioners in their ability to make up words, or more accurately, perhaps, there's a need for more English lessons in that newsroom.

It's a fraud, I tell you... and I hope you don't trust these frauds!



Friday, 14 June 2019

OF STYLEBOOK AND LOGIC-DEFYING EDITORIAL GUIDELINES

A reputable media house has internal editorial guidelines, to achieving a standardised approach in gathering, processing and publishing or broadcasting content. Such a stylebook acts as a critical reference point. The rules can be borrowed from established journalistic enterprises, and customised to suit specific requirements. But some editorial decisions defy logic.



In the above live broadcast story tag, there's a rather strange looking word contraction.

There ought to be a sensible way of optimising the use of limited space, because the need to communicate should never-ever be sacrificed.

Shortening of words should thus be done in a way that the audience can still decipher what the full word is.

And, there are certain rules that still need to be observed.

An apostrophe, for example, indicates that letters are missing in between...but the last letter retains the logical sequence of the full word.

The word 'international' can be shortened to: INT'L.

But...what is one to make out of: NT'L?





Saturday, 8 June 2019

FROM MEDIA MONOTONY TO MEDIA MORONITY

The content across Kenyan media outlets can be very monotonous. You tune in to one news channel, and most likely stay there, because if you see one, it's like you've seen all of them. But nothing shouts lazy journalism more than when one publisher regurgitates what another has already put out. That's when media monotony morphs to media moronity.


The story of how Kenyan cars are registered using differentiated number plates makes quite a fascinating reading.

But, does it mean other media outlets should just copy what has already been published?


New angles can be used to add value to the original content, and still make the replicated read relevant.


You get a sense that this was not the intention here, because someone even decided to use the same photograph to illustrate the lifted story.

The take home lesson?

The biggest fan of a Kenyan media house...is a rival media house!

Thursday, 30 May 2019

BILLIONS, A SCREAMING HEADLINE & WHISPERING SUBSTANCE

The term 'billion' has been quoted frequently in reference to misappropriated public funds in Kenya. It's a huge figure that elicits shock, probably until the mentions became one too many. That a billion has now become a common-placed phrase, is, however, no reason for the press to casually bandy it about.


The headline of this article makes that 'magical' reference of billions, to perhaps immediately grab a reader's attention.

But, this reference becomes farcical after going through the content of the story and finding no supportive facts.

A mention is made of a somewhat vague figure of 'more than Sh1.3 billion', which hardly equates to billions.

Either some details were edited out from the original draft of the story, or, it's a classic case of a screaming headline and whispering substance!






Saturday, 25 May 2019

LYING & MEDIA LAYING DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF SAME TRUTH

There ought to be a semblance of factual unity in the information a media outlet is pushing out. And if accounts of the 'truth' are in conflict, then a balance in coverage is essential. However, the media consumer should not be left with different versions of the same truth. Somewhere therein lays some lies.


In the above newspaper publication, the reader is confronted with contradicting interpretations of what is seemingly one policy from the Kenyan government.

One article in the newspaper states that the government will not relent on implementing a supposed ban on the importation of some used care spare parts.

Here, the relevant government agency is said to have started enforcing the ban.

A number of pages, later on in the same newspaper, the very same standards agency is quoted denying its enforcing a new directive seeking to ban importation of car spare parts.

Whether the two articles are differing on whether it's a new or old statute, is besides the point.

And neither is it of much significant consequence here, if the said ban targets all or some car spare parts imports.

The concern here is the failure by the newspaper publishers to provide a common context for these two related articles.

In a reader's mind, this media outlet could be laying different versions of the same truth.

Who do you think is lying?


Saturday, 18 May 2019

EDITORIAL AGILITY, AMBIGUITY AND CONTRADICTING INFORMATION

That opposites attract is true for magnetic poles. But in communication, contradicting information is repulsive. The media risks confusing the audience, if news stories are two-faced in nature, or the meaning is delivered in a double edged manner that doesn't gel. Ambiguity is an enemy of editorial agility.


There ought to be a sense of unity in the message being conveyed, unlike in the opening paragraph of the article above, which seems to be pulling in different directions, sense-wise.

The story states that two international airports in Kenya:
'...have retained a new...'
Let's just pause right there.

Retaining conveys a sense of continuity, or keeping on with something already started.

So, how does one retain something new, after dropping something old?

According to the story, Total Kenya has been dropped from a list of suppliers, so it's incomprehensible to purport to say a new oil dealer has been retained.

Unless editorial rigour is totally dropped!