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When ‘Capital News’ published village rumours

The heading grabbed you. Then, the story let you down.

“Love, Betrayal, And Tradition: The Shocking Tale Of Wife Swapping In Kenya’s Kuresoi”, the heading said.

Wife WHAT? People are swapping wives where?

The outrage is palpable. The reader will dig in — guaranteed.

The April 3 story by “Editorial Desk” started out by telling readers that “a shocking tale of love, betrayal, and tradition” had unfolded in a village in Nakuru county, “leaving the community reeling in disbelief”.

The story then detailed how two men decided to swap their wives as “cure” to infidelity.

How wife swapping cures infidelity would never be qualified. But never mind.

Citing Citizen Digital but with zero indication where to find the original story, Capital News narrated the heartbreak of one of the men, who got abandoned by his wife and mother of their two children, for another man.

From top to bottom, the story was thick with adjectives – about adjectives and adverbs in a minute.

Paragraph 1: a “shocking” tale of love unfolded.

Paragraph 2: it was an “unprecedented” move.

Paragraph 3: the “extraordinary” saga stemmed from a heartbreak.

Paragraph 5: the man made a “radical” choice.

Paragraph 6: what ensued was a “daring” act of defiance.

Paragraph 7: “surprisingly”, the wives consented.

Paragraph 9: the elders expressed “deep” concern.

Paragraph 10: a “trail” of uncertainty for the children remains.

In the wrap up, tensions are simmering. The fabric of tradition is unravelling. The community is bracing for repercussions. Extraordinary tale of love. Quest for justice.

All packed in one sentence.

Dear Capital, was this news, opinion, personal reflection or just village rumours – mucene? If it was meant to be journalism, what criteria did you use to publish it?

Here is a short list of basic criteria for journalism writing:

  • Journalism must be original.
  • Verification should be evident.
  • Attribution is a must.
  • Quotes provide credibility.
  • Show, don’t tell.

All of the above were absent.

Then, a word about adjectives and adverbs. They are frowned upon in journalism writing. Why? Here, don’t take our word for it:

  • Purdue Owl: “Flowery language: Many beginning writers make the mistake of overusing adverbs and adjectives in their leads. Concentrate instead on using strong verbs…”
  • com: “Adjectives do indicate bias — even if the descriptor is not one, you’d deem unfair, it indicates a viewpoint.”
  • Reddit: The use of adjectives and adverbs in journalism should be stigmatised and considered “bad form”.
  • com: “This post provides almost 500 ideas for adding frowns to writing: adjectives…”

You get the drift. Capital News soiled credibility with the litany of adjectives in this story.

Moreover, Capital cannot blame this on some novice writer whose piece somehow miraculously bypassed gatekeeping.

No, the byline said, “By Editorial Desk”. That is the voice of the publisher itself. Meaning, Capital News owned this 100 per cent.

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