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‘Chicken butchers for hire’ good story, but title cheated readers

The Standard on November 6 published a story about seven young men who are on demand in seven counties for their expertise in slaughtering chickens.

Eye catching, that story! Except for one thing. The heading of the story by Ndungu Gachane said, “Chicken butchers for hire reap profits from little-known idea.”

But the story didn’t tell readers squat about the most important point in that heading.

What would you say are the key words in it? a) Chicken butchers; b) reap(ing) profits; and c) Little-known idea.

“Chicken butchers,” because it’s not everyday you hear a guy who kills chicken for a living called a butcher. We associate butchers with our red meat.

“Reaping profits,” because it piques curiosity. People want to know what makes money. And if you say, “reap” their eyes will search for “how much.”

And “little-known idea” piques curiosity the highest. The notion is intriguing. It speaks of what business calls differentiator. Or strategic advantage over others.

The reader’s mind will inevitably ask: what could be unique about killing a chicken? What is this “little-known idea”, the one thing that sets these hustlers apart from the crowd of chicken butchers?

But what did the story deliver?

One: it informed readers about the butchers. Said they’re seven men. It showed these seven men practically don’t have a life. They’re on demand in Nyeri, Murang’a, Kiambu, Laikipia, Meru, Embu and Nairobi counties. And on a good day, from 4pm to 11pm, they will slaughter up to 3,000 chickens. And that they know no holiday because that’s when they’re the busiest.

Two, the story said they make a commission of Sh8 to Sh10 per chicken, answering the second question about “reaping” something – not necessarily “profits.” Profit is defined as revenue minus expenses. The story said nothing about expenses. So from where did the writer pluck the notion of “reaping profits”?

Three, and most important, the story said nothing about the group’s “little-know idea.”

Perhaps the closest the story got to answering this question was this: “Group leader Joel Kibe, 32, […] mastered the art of slaughtering professionally, which he says is slaughtering a chicken in under three minutes.”

Could that be it? Killing an animal in under three minutes? How? By smacking its head with a rock? Decapitating the head? What? You could shoot the poor bird in the head, and it would die quicker.

All of those examples are gory. And animal rights advocates may come knocking. But how does killing quick define professional? Oh, Kibe said that it does. And you took his word for it? Didn’t verify?

Doesn’t matter. The story ended with no revelation about the “little known idea.”

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