Saturday, 26 November 2011
Confirmation. A very important piece of detail that every serious news establishment should try to get, before publishing or broadcasting, especially potentially controversial issues. Stories from the newsroom have an uncanny way of at times finding their way to courtrooms and confirming facts could be a legal lifesaver. But confirming the obvious is over-stretching it.
A television news item, for example, shows images (at times graphic ones) of a shootout between suspected criminals and the police. There are a couple of bodies, firearms and spent cartridges being alluded to or shown directly.
Then you hear the reporter saying something like, 'The police have confirmed the incident..."
Is it that the images just splashed and the reporter's account of the incident are not to be believed initially, or is it that for them to be believable, somebody in 'authority' has to confirm them first?
Using that annoying statement of 'Confirming the incident,' even for a print story, adds no value whatsoever in the overall reportage, not unless perhaps there was a denial of what is being reported, in the same story.
So if the Kenya police, for example, deny there was a grenade explosion somewhere, in the on going war on Al Shabaab, and the reverse is true, it would be perfectly alright to mention the Kenya Defence Forces, as having confirmed the incident.
Why then confirm that which has not been denied in the first place, like what is witnessed in many a Kenyan news story? I just don't get it.
Perhaps it is a hangover from our political past, when information meant for public consumption, had to be dispensed with all protocol observed, lest one found oneself on the foul side of the dictatorial divide.
Thursday, 17 November 2011
It would have been a great story. Celebrating another fine run by a Kenyan long distance athlete. All indications had showed Vivian Cheruiyot was going to be crowned the world's finest 2011 female athlete, and an article had been written in advance. But alas, the IAAF declared a different winner, just as the earlier story was about to appear in print.
The result. Embarrassing, yet almost inevitable. The highest selling newspaper in Kenya hit the stands with two contradictory stories. One proclaimed Vivian's win and explaining in great details, her exploits in 2011and the elaborate award ceremony in Monaco. It was the centre pages' main attraction.
The other story, tucked in the sports pages at the back of the Sunday paper, had a totally different and more accurate account of what had transpired at the IAAF award ceremony. Vivian had been vanquished.
The honour of the best female athlete was bestowed on Australia's Sally Pearson, with Jamaica's sprint sensation Usain Bolt running away with the finest male athlete title.
So, it was almost practically impossible to completely change the content of the Sunday paper's Lifestyle magazine, carrying the erroneous story of Vivian winning the title, that was all set to appear just as Pearson was being declared the winner, on the preceding Saturday evening Kenyan time.
And the situation was made worse by the fact that both stories were written by the same person.
Should the popular paper have shelved the inside section in light of the latest development? As aforementioned, this was probably not practical.
Should it have withheld the new input to avoid contradicting the now misleading anticipatory article? No. otherwise it would have no business being in the news business.
But I strongly feel there should have either been an apology or explanation, even if as a footnote, somewhere in the Sunday paper, because that would have helped minimise the confusion to readers and speculation and castigation thereafter, especially on online social platforms.
Friday, 11 November 2011
It has become a television news phenomenon, widely praised for its bold and courageous reporting. Rarely do you find the public expressing fears about journalists exposing themselves to serious potential harm, in the course of their work. And that goes to show KTN's investigative team's recent expose on Kenya's biggest drug haul was top-notch.
Dennis Onsarigo and Mohamed Ali's painstakingly undertook to piece together information touching on sensitive issues regarding what they allege to have been an elaborate government cover-up, in the wake of the largest narcotics seizure in Kenya.
Critics can point out the stories were more of personal accounts or opinion than unconfirmed facts, or that even the narration style of the two reporters was irksome, but there is no denying the expose was stinging, focused and incisive.
I salute the KTN duo for a job done exceptionally well. Below is a sample of the reactions about their story, in the social media.