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Thursday, 18 January 2018

AGONY OF LOOKING FOR CAESAR'S MISSING SCISSORS

It's been almost a week now. And yet the puzzle has adamantly remained unresolved. Many younglings are bound to have given up almost immediately. But a poor soul somewhere could still be in agony, having been made to feel intellectually inadequate. And yet it could as well be a case of looking for Caesar's missing scissors.


The illustration is very clear but there's hardly any clarity in the accompanying instructions.

Normally, one would happily be already counting down the required objects within minutes.

But a minute detail seems to be amiss here. The task is:
Find eight pairs of scissors in the library
The picture, however, depicts an underwater scenario.

And try as much as one possibly can to spot them, there's not a single pair of scissors in sight.

It's not right for a national newspaper to subject especially its young readers, to such a wild goose chase, due to an editorial oversight!

Friday, 12 January 2018

INTRODUCING THE OVERWORKED INTRO

The beginning of a broadcast news story, newspaper article or even online news post is a very critical element. It summarises the main points or facts in a way that grabs one's attention, but still leaves one yearning to partake of the rest of the content. An intro should not be overworked.

It's easy to understand why scriptwriters, reporters or editors would be highly tempted to craft an elaborate lead in.

This, it is hoped, would better entice or hook the audience, and also sustain interest in their content.

But it's better to keep it simple, because natural storytelling would not usually involve bombarding the content consumer with complicated details, or an overload of facts, at the very beginning of the engagement.

Indeed, trying to cram too much information in that initial encounter with the interlocutor, is likely to be an impediment to sustaining further interest.

In this newspaper article, the first paragraph is a typical example of trying to say:

Too much...too soon. Too bad!

There is somebody, who is an astronaut, the most experienced in America, who walked on the moon, was part of the Apollo mission, and a commander of the first space shuttle mission...

Why squeeze all those details in the beginning sentence?

How is the reader expected to process that information overload, without exceeding the brain load capacity?

It's no wonder the sub-editor also got lost in this windy and wordy maze, and actually left out the one detail that made the intro to be devoid of any clarity.

This needs to change like yesterday! (hint, hint).


Friday, 5 January 2018

UNDRESSED AND ADDRESSED: AGENDA SETTING IN ACTION

It's an issue that's hardly been given attention in public discussions. Some might even say it's a matter of private discretion. And yet it's of great public interest. It's a real shame. But one that must be undressed and addressed. That's the surest way of finding a solution, in line with the agenda setting role of the media.

Right, to help us understand this pressing issue, I am joined in studio by a high-powered panel. On my immediate left is A, an expert in internal affairs, under the garment sector. Next to him is B, who is a published authority on gents and pathogens.

And on my right is C. She is an award-winning designer of intimate wear, specialising in briefs. Next to her is our resident analyst D, a qualified social scientist.

You can also join and follow this conversation online, using the hashtag #justiceforveterans.

Before we begin our discussion, let's bring you live pictures from one of the many homesteads, where this issue is playing itself out.

On the right of your screen you can see some of the weary combatants, and it seems like there's some tension building up with the new arrivals.

Let's listen in.

Okay. My director tells me the audio quality is not very good. But the silence in this live video clip is perhaps symbolic of the dilemma encountered every time one has to make this critical decision. It's sort of like a silent war playing out in one's head.

Allow me to now bring in the panelists. And I'll start with you A.

What are your thoughts on whether or not to let go, after receiving exemplary service.

A: I think, first of all, there should be due recognition of the tremendous role played by these most burdened delicates. However, there's a significant amount of wear and tear over time, and so inevitably, the collective function will become more important than individual fabrics.

Do you agree C? Are we saying they are not woven to last?

C: Oh yes!. I strongly feel time has come for them to be given performance based contracts, as opposed to making them permanent and pensionable.

But D, isn't this setting up the system to continuously compel somebody to enlist newer services, of course at a considerable expense and profit to the likes of C?

D: Indeed. This is a classic case of a reversed dependency syndrome, as articulated in the theory of societal deception. They make it look like its a highly necessary requirement, but on the reverse of it, assure themselves of a sustainable demand for their products.

Well, according to the findings of a recent study, there are serious health risk if there's an over-reliance on the same service providers. B, briefly talk us through the process of degeneration and build-up of toxicity, especially prevalent in heavy-hitting boxers?

B: It has clinically been proven that the density of germs per square millimetre, is directly proportional to the duration of service. In other words, the more you continue putting a small number of service providers on frequent rotation deployment, the more exposed you are to disease causing pathogens.

C: Hold on. Production standards have greatly improved. The material used is pre-treated and designed to repel micro-organisms. I can confidently vouch for these inner attributes.

D: But can you equally vouch for the physical attributes of the wearer?

C: I don't know about you, but I have no reason to doubt myself.

A: That's a very low blow.

D: Apologise C.

C: For stating the obvious?

Okay. We all need to calm down.

B: Allow me to say this...

D: I need an apology or I walk out.....this is uncouth....uncivilised...un...

C: Ungentlemanly!

Right, we have to take a break to allow the tension to cool down. See you after a short while.

++++++++++++++++

Welcome back. I want to believe temperatures have now tapered and we can now have a meaningful debate. We all seem to be in agreement that a time will come to eventually let go. But first, I need A to explain to us why it's so hard to go separate ways with our battle-hardened inner protectors?

A: Well, there's quite a significant emotional connection that many might not want to acknowledge. These intimate companions have witnessed a lot, and shared with the wearer interesting, or even embarrassing experiences.

So, how does one go about letting go and should the decision be forced or voluntary?

D: That depends on the level of attachment.

B: I think it shouldn't be forced, and one should be given adequate time to prepare for the separation.

C: Some people though need a little bit of pushing. And it pays to be creative in executing such a covert operation. I...I...I don't know if I'm allowed to give a personal example?

Go right ahead.

C: Well, you see...Any time I notice that some delicates are overstaying their welcome, and there's no sign of separation happening soon, I engineer the disappearance of identified veterans.

You mean, you use trickery to effect the desired change?

C: You can say so, but it's borne out of necessit...

Hold that thought. We have a caller on the line. Yes hello. Please tell us your name and where you are tuning in from. Then your comment or question.

Caller: Let me go straight to the point. I'm in no mood for niceties. For a long time, I have been wondering why my favourite servicemen periodically exit the scene, without being debriefed. I usually conclude they are just missing in action, hoping to one day get reunited with the outstanding loin goalkeepers, many of whom have gone over and beyond the call of duty. Never did I even suspect there was an enemy within that had infiltrated the ranks of the drawers.

I'm sorry, but I'm a bit confused by your observations. Are you saying somebody has been raiding your collection of undercover agents? And C, why are you panting?

C: Er..ehh...mmm...

Caller: I demand to be reunited with all my missing aide de camps!!!

Alright. We have run out of time. It has been a most illuminating discussion. I leave you with the words of a certain wise man:
Don't be quick to get your knickers in a knot!




Sunday, 31 December 2017

APPROACHING TEN YEARS OF MEDIA CRITICISM

It's often said that for one to succeed in any venture, one ought to isolate a problem or gap, and then provide a product or service to satisfy the identified need. That was the spirit that led to the starting of this platform. Nearly ten years later, a lot has changed. Whereas on the onset, there was little sustained media criticism in Kenya, hardly any error in the press now passes undetected.



There's now an ever vigilante army of online critics, never hesitant to call out the media, when coverage crosses the line, misses the line or even disrespects the line.

I wonder if it's time for me to do a reassessment, realignment or perhaps repurposing of my contributions?

Many are the times huge editorial blunders escape my attention or scrutiny, only for me to be delighted by a lively social media discussion on the same, with accompanying screenshots from TV, or offending newspaper content.

Well, it's tempting for me to say my work is done.

But after another fulfilling year, I'd rather press on and do my bit in keeping the press in check.

For how much longer?

Until there's no longer any room for improvement in our journalism.

Thank you for your continued support and do have an outstanding 2018!!!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

KCSE, TRAGIC NEWS & A CELL PHONE NUMBER

Results for Kenya's 2017 university entry national exam have been dominating the news agenda. The fascination has largely been on who between boys and girls performed better. But then came the tragic news of a girl committing suicide because of what she perceived to be a poor KCSE score. The coverage in one TV news channel though, had a rather strange cell phone number.



In stories that contain a plea for help, a contact number is usually provided and often displayed, to help raise finances, especially if the case is a very needy one.

However, in this tragic news coverage in this particular TV station, there was no mention of an appeal for help in resource mobilization.

And yet a mobile phone number was being frequently displayed on air.


The Big Question is, what exactly was the intention here?

Whose number was it that it had to be given its own prominent space on the lower third news tags?

Send your responses and we shall sample some of them at the tail end of this year.








Thursday, 14 December 2017

EDITORIAL SAFEGUARDS AND ASTOUNDING ERRORS

Sensible meaning should be at the heart of any communication. It's really pointless for the press to share meaningless information. That's why it's common practise to have different levels of proof reading and fact checking. It's utterly astounding therefore, when these editorial safeguards fail to prevent embarrassing errors.



If the information does not make sense to the writer or sub-editor, chances are very high the same will be true for the reader.

The highlighted paragraph in the article above reads:
An institution that hires an unregistered teacher is liable to a fine of not less than Sh100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.
The subject here is an institution. It's fine to say, '...is liable to a fine of not less than Sh100,000...'.

But it almost sounds absurd, when the article suggests that other than the fine, an offending institution can also be subjected to, '...imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years...'.

At times, all that is needed is re-reading the 'copy' or better still, reading the contents aloud.

This way, any lurking mistakes stand a good chance of being spotted and rectified, before a newspaper article gets published.

And this also applies also to those charged with crafting headlines.


To stay ahead in the news business, try and ensure readers don't lose their heads on account of your headlines.


Friday, 8 December 2017

BORROWED CONCEPTS AND TV PROGRAM MISCONCEPTION

Yes, it is refreshingly engaging. Yes, the conversations are somewhat hilarious. And yes, the discussion topics are relevant. But not so new faces. Not a new channel. And definitely not a so new TV morning show format. Have we seen the last of original program ideas in Kenya? There's a misconception that borrowed concepts offer immediate traction with the audience.


This perhaps explains why creativity appears beyond dead and buried.

I shuddered on hearing two presenters animatedly alluding to the fact that they had raised similar observations in another 'platform' (meaning another similar program on another channel).

Very few program producers seem daring enough to venture away from the beaten path.

So, what viewers have to contend with are recycled program formats, and even presenters on a regular cycle of channel hopping.


If indeed familiarity breeds contempt, the current breed of program producers need to defamiliarise themselves with the tried and tested options, for the benefit of the target audience.