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Cut out officialese and write as a journalist – in plain English

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi has urged African diplomats to support Kenya’s candidature for the African Union commission chair (People Daily, March 5, p.5). Kenya’s candidature? Misleading. The AU Commission chairmanship is held by an individual, not a nation. Kenya is pushing opposition leader Raila Odinga as its candidate for the job. Or is Kenya and Raila the same candidate?

The police Air Wing department is technically dead (The Star, February 5, p.4). Oh, really? That means should a security emergency arise requiring quick intervention, only achievable by air transport, police would be hard pressed or unable to respond. Of course, now paint for us a picture of the “dead” Air Wing.

A new report shows the police Air Wing department is dead and unable to respond to emergencies. Urgh, but you said that already.

Out of 24 air assets the wing had from 2010, only four are operational but not in its possession. What are “air assets” exactly? Pen Cop will soon offer free writing classes mara tu fedha zitakapopatikana.

The government is targeting the Sh1.8 trillion opportunities in the Water sector to create millions of jobs in the sanitation and agriculture value chains in the country (MyGov, March 5, p.15). Next: According to data from the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation, the sector has a funding gap of Sh1.8 trillion, a gap the government intends to tap and create job opportunities through public private partnerships. Cut out the officialese and write like a journalist, in plain English. Is “Sh1.8 trillion opportunities” same thing as Sh1.8 trillion “funding gap”? What’s that?

Two aircrafts came into contact midair in Nairobi yesterday, resulting in the death of two people (Standard, March 6, p.2). Reads like a press release. Two people die after two planes ram into each other midair and you report lazily that the aircrafts “came into contact”? Use precise, concrete words. That’s the language of good journalism.

Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has promoted 36, 505 tutors to higher grades in line with the Career Progression Guidelines (People Daily, March 6, p.1). Ahem, “promoted” is enough, “to higher grades” is unnecessary.

Parliament has proposed a raft of radical changes with far-reaching consequences to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (Standard, March 8, p.4). Well, if the changes are “radical”, it means they will have “far-reaching consequences”. You don’t need to say that.

Nine jailed for life over robbery with violence (Standard headline, March 8, p.4). Intro: A magistrate’s court has sentenced to death nine men found guilty of robbery with violence. Is “jailed for life” in the headline the same as “sentenced to death” in the intro? No. The law is very clear.

Court orders tourist lodge to pay Chinese family Sh553m (People Daily, March 8, p.3). Hotel to pay Chinese tourist Sh417m over murder of wife (Standard, March 8, p.3). Hotel to pay family of Chinese tourist Sh23m (Nation, March 8, p.2). Maasai Mara hotel ordered to pay Chinese Sh427m for wife’s murder (Star, March 8, p.9). Same case, same court, different compensation awards. What’s the correct amount?

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