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‘Nation’ lunatic story peculiar case of divergent convergence

A few weeks back, the Daily Nation ran a story touching on the Kenya Railways Corporation titled: “SGR revenue jumps to Sh18bn on high passenger, cargo volumes.”

Yes, it was the Standard Gauge Railway on the headline, but the story was essentially about KRC-it clearly stated that the “SGR makes up to 82 per cent of KRC revenue”, and that KRC “…has already taken over 90 per cent of SGR.”

Too many Rs in one line, you might say.

The angle of the story was clear that KRC is making profits: Its big baby just recorded a 21.2 per cent revenue increase in the last financial year, improving from Sh15 billion in the preceding year to Sh18 billion.

How flattering. We are certain that KRC’s MD was in cloud nine!

But before we could raise our champagne glasses to toast our revamped lunatic express, another story caught our eye, this time from Nation’s financial reporting arm, the Business Daily.

His Highness the Agha Khan’s version of the Financial Times ran a splash on KRC, screaming: “Revealed: Top loss-making State-owned firms.” The intro?

“KRC, Kenya Power, and Kenya Airways are among the entities that have notably been relying on Treasury for funds to run operations amid struggles to service loans.”

According to BD, Kenya Railways Corporation’s financial books were not as rosy as the Daily Nation had painted them. The revamped lunatic express, BD informed us, made a loss of Sh33 billion in the last financial year and was still relying on the taxpayer to stay on track.

Now, at this point, we might want to surcharge the Daily Nation for causing us a headache, and for causing us to lose some hairs from scratching our heads. How can one story be told so differently under one roof?

Puzzled, we rubbed our eyes (another bill coming your way Twin Towers, for causing us sore eyes) and looked again.

Yes, the subject of the two stories was the same, but the bylines were different. Was it by pure coincidence that the two stories ran on the same day?

Again, given that Twin Towers takes pride in actualising “convergence” of its erstwhile scattered news desks, how come these two stories do not seem to converge anywhere?

More head-scratching and eye-rubbing, and we noticed that while the Daily Nation exclusively cited Kenya Railways Corporation as the source of the story, the daily’s twin sister, BD exclusively cited a Treasury report.

The jury is still out on who between DN and BD used a more credible, stronger source. But it would seem that while KRC used DN to blow its own trumpet, BD was not in the mood to play praise songs; or that while someone at DN news desk loves the revamped lunatic express, someone at BD’s news desk thinks KRC is still nursing a bout of lunacy.

How this happens in a ‘converged’ newsroom ought to be the subject for media research, we propose, under the thesis: “Nation lunatic story, a peculiar case of divergent convergence.”

1 thought on “‘Nation’ lunatic story peculiar case of divergent convergence”

  1. Both stories are fine. The first by DN speaks to revenues and the second by BD is on profitability which are different financial metrics

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