Check the facts on Injera's 9.1m signature!

By eric odanga
May 20, 2021
  • Was this signature worth $94,000? (Photo Courtesy)

The rush to scoop others in today’s media has upped the stakes. Why? Because it is about ratings. Who broke the news first?

To me it apprears the simple exercise of checking the facts before publishing, broadcasting or posting on a website has taken a back seat. 'Break the news and check the facts later is the new order.'

A senior executive at CNN differs with this approach and asserts that it is necessary to check the facts first even if it means a delay in breaking the news because this will save any embarrassment of issuing an apology.

When Collins Injera scored a historic 200th try in London, he promptly removed a sharpie from his playing socks, signed a rugby ball and ‘autographed’ a ‘camera lens!’

Guess what grabbed the headlines? The landmark achievement? No. It was the cost of Injera’s signature on the camera lens. The estimated cost of ‘damage’ to the lens was $94,000(Ksh.9.1 million)It was not long before Injera attracted attention.

You see, this was an international event being held at the hallowed ground of rugby Twickenham and viewed by millions of fans worldwide. The commentators could also have been bored until Injera spiced up the tournament.

Immediately, the big news was the damage done by Injera’s sharpie on the ‘camera lens.’

As a journalist, a little bit of research could have put everything in perspective because as fast as the news hit the media, the cost of the lens overshadowed Injera’s achievement.

As the story unfolded, pertinent questions were asked: Was the lens worth $94,000? Could a professional photographer not protect his equipment against damage? Did he have a second camera and lens? Where did Injera sign? Is it possible that there was no actual damage and the mark could be easily removed by some chemical?

I have been looking at some comments on the internet and have second doubts about whether this story was worth the publicity? Why? It was not factual. Sample some of the comments:  

“Professional cameramen are so protective of their lenses there’s no way he would not have panned away. In fact there is no way he would not have had protective filter on a high-end lens. If he somehow did shoot that day without a protective filter, he would be held responsible by his company for just letting the guy walk up and write on it because he had plenty of time to react.”

Jeremiah posed: “Does the lens have a special coating that has to be protected? If not, nothing sticks to glass, not even paint. A quick wipe with rubbing alcohol should clean that up right away. I just saved them $93,998.”

“This whole thing was just a hyped story. I don’t believe glass is absorbent. It can be removed. If the lens was scratched in the process, well that’s another story.”

“Rub some acetone on the sharpie marks. Like Magic they disappear and are gone for ever. Won’t hurt the lens or any coating on the lens either.”

“This is obviously false. If it was written directly on the lens, you wouldn’t be able to read it at all. At best, it would be a blur around the signature area, but more likely you couldn’t see any effect, but the image would be slightly darker. Besides, sharpie markers will not damage glass lenses or coatings, and it’s easily cleaned.”

“Lens can be cleaned and recoated. Equipment is insured, belongs to the network or is on lease.”

“The sharpie mark can be removed with rubbing alcohol or and of a number of other solvents. There should be no permanent damage to the camera lens.”

“The lens was unusable for the rest of the day..but a professional cameraman should have more than one camera and lens.”

Lens are protected 

“The lens can be protected by a UV filter which is a clear glass filter that screws over the end of the lens such that should anything happen, a filter is much cheaper to replace than the lens. (Professional cameramen do not use UV Filters to protect lenses because it can degrade the quality of the photograph in several ways.”

“There are special “films/coatings” on those lenses that cannot be reapplied. Does the sharpie contain a chemical that might mess up a lens coating? Alcohol, will remove black sharpie writing from a glass. Alcohol is the main ingredient of all lens cleaners.”

“As someone who works with, in, and around AV equipment on a daily basis, I can tell you that the person who says the lens is trashed by a sharpie can be ranked right up there with the pros in the clueless department! We use denatured alcohol and ammonia free glass cleaners all the time on coated lenses. These things get worse more than the sharpie can throw at them.”

“You might also note that he is not writing on what you’d call a “lens”. He’s writing on a plate of glass on the front of the box the actual lenses live in. Maybe it’s a filter or just a protective glass. At worst, this is a couple of hundred dollars.”

The above comments on yahoo sports poke holes on the story and absolves Injera from any misdeed. From my own experience, I agree that cameramen are so protective of their equipment and are likely to take every precaution.

Also, cameraman's equipment is insured against any unforeseen circumstances. My camera friends also agree the mark could be removed as stated by any of the cleansing agents.

Let us not take the shine from Injera’s achievement and focus on some inaccurate reporting.