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Thursday, 24 September 2015


One often gets the feeling there's too much emphasis being put on literacy skills in the practise of journalism, at the expense of equally important numeracy competencies. And as Kenya seeks a way out of the teachers pay dispute, a lot of confusing figures are being thrown around. So, a literacy wise and numeracy foolish media can easily spread misinterpretations. 

The casual manner in which unqualified figures are often published, even with larger than life clues of something not adding up, is really worrying.

A simple cross-checking with the relevant available resources, can prevent glaring errors from being propagated.

For example, attendance figures quoted in the Mombasa International Agricultural Fair 'filler' story, are ridiculous.

The population of Mombasa city, nay the entire county, is nowhere near 2 million.

It's hard to imagine, where the fabulous figure of 6.4 million people, said to have attended the show came from.

That 'a team of newspaper editors' can fail to see such inconsistencies, points to a rather careless approach to editorial fact-checking.

Further scrutiny of the article reveals more confusions. Is the 6.4 million the 2015 attendance, as per the heading, or membership, as alluded to in the first sentence in the story?

Curiously, the last line of the news brief states that:
"Attendance was 55,000, a slight increase of six per cent from 52,000 people."
How can a brief 'mini article' be loaded with so many numerical deficiencies?

It is no wonder the local media has been unable to sufficiently interrogate figures being bandied, as the government and Kenyan teachers stalemate persists.

The media can't elect to be wise in literacy, and select to be foolish in numeracy.

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