Published weekly by the Media Council of Kenya

To the Editor
Pen Cop
Off The Beat
Media Review
Media Monitoring
Literary Vignettes
Letter to the Editor
Guest Column
Fact Checking
Fact Check
Editor's Pick
EAC Media Review
Council Brief
Book Review
Edit Template

After reading ‘valuation’ 11 times in one story, is writing a dying skill?

You’ve heard what they say about writing in plain language? It is concise and simple, guaranteeing that everyone can understand what you’re writing.

Concise means you don’t use two words where one will suffice. “Because of the fact that…” No, just “because.” “Despite the fact that…” Try “although.” One word. Not two, not four.

Concise also means don’t repeat. That would be verbosity.

Simple, on the other hand, means don’t show off. Newspaper writing is not the place for the grandiose. Try simple, short sentences. They communicate magically.

The Nation and the Star failed some of these tests in two recent stories.

In a story titled, “Inside the family fight for Otieno Kajwang’ millions,” by Joseph Wangui, the Nation on January 26 was guilty of ridiculous repetition. The story kept sprinkling one shiny, newfound word, “valuation”, for a seemingly endless count.

A court case over how to split Kajwang’s millions has stalled because of “disagreement on the valuation of the estate (Paragraph 2).” Kajwang’s brother wants two properties excluded “from the intended valuation (Paragraph 6).”

Kajwang’s father, now deceased, too, “was not opposed to the valuation,” except for one property “that should not be subjected to valuation (Paragraph 9).” Relatives have failed to “agree on the valuation (Paragraph 11).” The differences “ have made it difficult to settle on a valuer (Paragraph 12).”

The parties have entered consent for “properties to be valued.” Two properties in Lavington “were to form part of the valuation (Paragraph 13).” It remains to be established “whether the estate has enough funds to pay for the valuation (Paragraph 14).”

Some Sh11 million in Kajwang’s Parliamentary Pension Fund account “is enough to pay for the valuation” (Paragraph 16). Lawyers will update the court February 23 on “the progress of the valuation” (Paragraph 17).

Valuation this, valuation that. Repeated eleven times in a 17-paragraph story.

Similarly, the Star in a story titled, “Uhuru: I am disappointed in Mudavadi,” by James Mbaka, on January 26 filled valuable newspaper space with 30 paragraphs, practically half of which repeated the same things in different words.

Point one: the President is disappointed.

Paragraph 1: The President has “expressed his disappointment” with ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi for joining Deputy President William Ruto’s campaign.

Paragraph 4: The President termed Mudavadi’s and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetangula’s decision to back Ruto as “misguided and disappointing.”

Half way down in Paragraph 18, the President is still terming the Mudavadi and Wetang’ula team as “misguided and disappointing”.

Paragraph 6: The President told leaders that “Mudavadi had frustrated him”.

Paragraph 7: The President said “Mudavadi and Wwetangula were taking him for a ride.”

Paragraph 8: A visibly angry president had been “let down by people he thought were his friends.”

Paragraph 9: A quote – “The President said he was disappointed in Mudavadi for agreeing to work with Ruto yet he was talking with them all along,”

Paragraph 10: The head of state “thought they were friends only for Mudavadi to betray him.”

Just how many times can one say, “disappointed?”

Point two: The President was clear.

Paragraph 5: A quote – “‘The President was clear that we do everything possible to consolidate Western Kenya behind Azimio la Umoja […],” Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya told the Star.”

Halfway down in paragraph 17, Oparanya is still telling the Star that “the President was clear on his political direction.”

Paragraph 19: Jut to be sure, “the President left no doubt about his preference [and] asked them to rally firmly behind Raila.”

Paragraph 25: This was the first time the President “was opening up.”

Point three: ANC is haemorrhaging – well, with the defection of one MP.

Paragraph 2: Uhuru spoke “as the haemorrhage in ANC continued with indications that Vihiga Senator George Khaniri is also set to dump Mudavadi.”

Paragraph 22: “As ANC camp continued to suffer defections, Khaniri dumped Mudavadi.”

Dear reporters, write in plain English. Write succinctly. Every word counts.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share this post

Sign up for the Media Observer

Weekly Newsletter

By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy

Scroll to Top