The business of a commercial newspaper is to sell to the public as much eye-opening information as possible on what occurs in your country and throughout the human world. It is, in short, to erase all questions from the minds of all readers. But to sell such information, you must knock your story into such a shape as to attract the senses of as many consumers as possible.
For what a newspaper purports to provide is important information. Tourists, for instance, are a source of that foreign exchange with which your government can, in turn, buy other vital consumer goods from those other countries in attractive quality and adequate quantity.
Consider, then, the caption on page 3 of the Daily Nation of May 19: “Ministry of Health PS Peter Kiplagat Tum addresses the Press together with the Parliamentary Health Committee chairperson Sabina Chege … during a week-long retreat with the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Health at Sarova at Whitesands, Mombasa, on May 15, 2018.”
If you have just arrived in Kenya from Kamchatka, say, you will be completely mystified. What on this earth of ours is a “PS”? What information do those two letters convey to the reader, especially if he or she has just arrived in your country from across the seas? With the alleged word “PS”, the writer and the sub-editor have terribly mystified and misled a whole lot of your consumers.
It raises troubling queries especially in the brains of those foreigners arriving in your country for the first time. I make that statement on behalf, especially, of the buyers who arrived in Kenya only yesterday from, say, Okinawa, Saskatchewan, San Diego and San Marino. I ask it for all those who hoped to depend on your newspaper for vital information about your country.
I mean especially those who arrived for the first time from, say, Okinawa, Ottawa and Oviedo. Just before landing, these human beings had hoped to glean some vital information about Kenya through the pages of your newspaper. They wanted to pick up everything, especially through the organs which purport to convey such information. That, I daresay, was the major reason the human arrivals rushed to buy your newspaper.
For, to remind you, adequate and accurate information is what your newspaper purports to be in the marketplace to sell. Indeed, this is the way in which your newspaper can help the government to market Kenya abroad. That is why all your writers and sub-editors must daily struggle extremely hard to ensure that what you sell to all your readers is genuine and accurate information, beautifully written, about your country.
Your newspaper must describe Kenya and its people, products and potentials fully, accurately and in a language. All the information must be written in captivating English (if that is the language you have latched onto for selling all your adverts, commentaries, features, news and other kinds of information publicly).
Philip Ochieng is a retired journalist. [email protected]