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Thursday, 21 September 2017

PARTISAN COVERAGE OR PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATION?

Kenya's 2017 electioneering period continues. The date for the repeat presidential poll has been revised. This comes hot on the heels of the country's highest court giving full details of its decision to annul the initial presidential election. The local media coverage though, suggests the press is partisan on these political and judicial developments.


It's often stated that facts are sacred. And yet it has not escaped the notice of many that in some instances, the press appears undecided as to what exactly is factual.

The audience is thus confronted with variations in coverage, which raises suspicion about the media's accuracy and credibility, especially if a single event is accorded almost contradictory interpretations.

Granted, and as it has previously been pointed out here, product differentiation works better for competing newspapers, which means not putting the same content in front of the buying reader.

However, one would expect legal matters, especially pronouncements by high ranking judicial officers, would be reported with little or no variances.

Unless, marketing...nay...political allegiance also informs the coverage by the Kenyan media.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

OF TYPOS, SMALL ERRORS AND BIG TERROR

Putting together a newspaper is not an easy task, That's why a competent team is tasked with producing the publication. A lot of machinery and automation is involved. But humans retain control of these processes. Which perhaps explains the frequent typos, errors and editorial terrors in Kenyan dailies.


The shocking part though is that some of the mistakes are so elementary.

In the example above, it appears the paper's gatekeepers are not familiar with the correct spelling of the relevant day of the week.

And the fact that there's a team supposed to ensure high standards, before the paper is published, suggests that attention to details is not one of the strong points here.


A reader can rightfully question whether the publisher should be trusted with handling facts, if spelling of common words is a challenge.

Yes. Even a small error can be a big terror!

Monday, 4 September 2017

SCREAMING HEADLINES, LAUGHABLE SUBSTANCE, CRYING SHAME

The next chapter of Kenya's political transition is about to be written, with the announcement of the date for a fresh presidential election, after the Supreme Court invalidated the previous one. The focus once again is on the electoral commission. And the local media too, will be closely watched. Screaming headlines with laughable substance continue to be of concern.


At first glance, the front page story of the above publication shouts at potential readers/buyers that internal changes are in the offing at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries and Commission.

And this, the paper proclaims prominently, is on the authority of the IEBC chairman.


Quite a juicy story one would think.

But on turning to the article, there is no reference to the IEBC chairman as promised in the headline, with regards to the 'purge' at the electoral body.

The suggested changes are actually attributed to the opposition coalition!

 A paragraph in the article also seems to contradict the headline.

 The senior official that the IEBC chairman allegedly wants to exit the polls body, is the very same one that the same story says will lead the re-organization.

 Was this a ploy to sell the paper?

Was it a deliberate act to mislead readers?

Is this even ethical or legally acceptable?

This needless name-dropping should be dropped.



Wednesday, 30 August 2017

ELECTION PETITION AND PARTITIONED MEDIA COVERAGE

Kenyans are awaiting the verdict from the Supreme Court, after a marathon of court hearings. There are two main political sides in the presidential election petition. It thus looks mighty suspicious, when a section of the press chooses to give prominence to one side, without openly having declared any allegiance, beforehand.


The placing of the story above could easily create the impression that the selected party is the one that matters the most.

The content for the other side in this dispute can only be accessed by turning the page, in this particular publication.


And whereas the headline of the 'preferred' article has proper attribution, the other one is kept vague, almost as if it's taboo to make a direct reference to the petitioning side.

Notice too, the picture selection in one story depicts a lawyer engrossed in arguing the case, wheres in the other, we see senior opposition politicians concentrating more on their phones.

Gladly though, this apparent bias was note elevateldy reversed in the rival daily, as is 'normally' the case.

Articles of both sides in this dispute are placed next each other, (try and ignore which side comes first).


The treatment of this important story by the press perhaps would potentially affect how a particular media outlet is treated by the side that emerges victorious.

My lords and ladyships, it is my humble submission though, that it's in the public's interest for the press to accord balanced coverage in this electoral dispute.

Friday, 25 August 2017

THE HIGH FIGURE OF DEFINITIONS OF FIGURE: GO FIGURE!

English can be a strange language undoubtedly. And that's probably one reason why the media in Kenya often makes a mess out of communicating even simple information. Sometimes though, what the local press publishes can deceptively look wrong.


It appears, for example, that I can't figure out some of the numerous meanings of the word figure.

At first glance, I was so sure the headline for the above article:
"Clan factors to figure in contest for speaker"
 ...was not making sense. The correct version, I immediately thought, should have been:
" Clan factors to feature in contest for speaker" 
I now know the figure of various definitions of figure is quite high.

It can be a noun, verb and even figure of speech.

Go figure!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

POLICE BRUTALITY PREVALENCE AND MEDIA AMBIVALENCE

In a shocking violent act, during the protests that followed Kenya's General Election, a six- month-old infant is believed to have been clobbered by anti-riot police. The parents' pain is unimaginable, after the demise of their little one. The local electronic media extensively covered this prevalence of police brutality. It appears though that there was some ambivalence in how the story was treated by a section of the print media.


How else can one explain the front page teaser of such an evocative story, in the country's leading daily? The heading 'mildly' states:
'Infant caught up in police raid dies'.
It's as if the police are being absolved from blame. One can even conclude the tragedy was accidental.

Notice the difference with the main story, tucked in the inside pages.


The impression is that this was a deliberate act and the riot police are directly responsible for the infant's death.

Why didn't the front page teaser read something close to:
'Infant beaten up by riot police dies'?
One can almost detect something sinister, here.

Whether it's fear by the paper to represent the entire truth, or tactically seeking to distance itself from prominently apportioning blame, it's clear in this instance that this sad story, is being handled subjectively.

Friday, 11 August 2017

KENYA ELECTION: MEDIA HITS, MISHITS AND MISFITS

It's been a grueling last few days in Kenya, in yet another competitive General Election. The actual polling day was remarkably smooth, with only a few challenges. Then came the tallying of votes and all manner of electoral malpractice allegations started to be thrown around. The media had a difficult task of verifying information. But in the end, a winner was officially declared.


Covering the election as a journalist is not an easy affair. The pressure to deliver timely and factual content is almost unbearable.

Many local newsrooms were on a long-haul mode, interspersing live updates from main studios, with live links to reporters scattered across Kenya.

All manner of political analysts and pseudo-experts were also accorded acres of space and copious airtime to either showcase their grasp of issues, or 'regale' the audience with their ignorance.

And not many people were satisfied with the media coverage.

I, too, had many a cue cringe moments, especially when rookie TV reporters had their on-screen moment of fame, (or is it infamy?), or when the calibre of questions being fielded at pressers came off as a tad elementary.

In all fairness though, the media did not utterly disappoint.

There's always room for improvement, but there were positives to build on. And that's my point!