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Hits and misses in storytelling: When scribes leave readers guessing


Dear reporters,

Here are some examples of mostly bad, and good reporting and writing that you fed the public lately.

  • August 2023 – The Standard:Education Reforms: Ruto’s task force paves way for radical changes in education sector.

Paves the way? How about “recommends”? Then, the story failed to provide context. It talked about “changes” without mentioning what’s “current”. It didn’t even give the proposed changes. It was a failure in adequate reporting and succinct writing.

  • September 29, 2023 – Daily Nation: “Ruto signs Sh8bn deal with US aid agency to acquire electric buses.”

The story said that the President had signed a deal with US foreign aid agency, MCC, for the acquisition of electric buses to ease traffic congestion in Nairobi.

What is MCC? Story didn’t say.

Is there a US foreign aid agency besides the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)? Yes, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is a little-known US agency that provides time-limited grants promoting economic growth, reducing poverty, and strengthening institutions. By not clarifying this, the Nation missed a chance to educate.

  • October 3, 2023 – The Standard: “Renowned tech icon Njeri Rionge is dead

The story said nothing about how the trailblazing co-founder of Wananchi Group, Kenya’s first, best-known provider Triple Play telecommunications services actually died. Not a word about circumstances surrounding Njeri’s death or attempt to find any info about it. This was a huge omission.

  • October 4, 2023 – The Star: “Cabinet endorses construction of new 60,000-seater stadium.

Never had WHERE been so important a question. “Where” is actually an imperative that must be answered a braking news story. The Star did not tell where this new stadium is supposed to be built.

  • October 21 – The Standard: “President Ruto’s ‘mambo matatu’ approach to new health plan

Mambo matatu” is a new catchphrase that started with the President saying in September that difficult characters in the national discourse, e.g. cartels, had only three options, go to jail, get deported – if they are foreigners – or “go to heaven”. This story was about the new healthcare system, which establishes three funds. Among its top policy proposals, Kenyans will get free treatment at the country’s Levels 1, 2 and 3 health facilities.

So, how did “mambo matatu” apply in this heading? The story did not explain. This was a cheeky, unnecessary headline.

  • October 19, 2023 -The Star: How you can access Star Kenya news on WhatsApp channel”

Finally, this was a hit worth celebrating. It’s the innovation of our time. The Star became the country’s first news channel to embed breaking news onto Whatsapp, the world’s most popular chat platform today.

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