Kenyans have expressed disgust at the New York Times for publishing bullet-ridden bodies of victims of Tuesday’s terror attack at a Nairobi hotel which claimed the lives of at least 14 people.
The photograph of the bodies slouching under tables at a restaurant in the Dusit D2 Hotel raided by al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group al-Shabaab was described by Kenyans and sympathizers on Twitter as insensitive and double standards against Africans.
Shame on you. Respect our people.
— Kambua (@Kambua) January 16, 2019
If anyone has ever lost sight as to how the west views black people, then this is your wake up cal before you lull back to slumber. It has not changed and it will never change. Love your people my people, you are all alone on this starship earth.
— Rhapsody in Black (@AndrewKabena) January 15, 2019
The accuracy of this tweet remains underrated but undefeated…they will stretch and exaggerate the story to satisfy the dark western stereotypes that they have but it shall be well…
— Calypso Nyat (@brokenkev) January 15, 2019
@nytimes, you have provided to our enemies a front row seat to the mayhem they have created. You are now part and parcel of this story. And let history note that on this day, you did not stand with Kenya. We will remember and do what we do best, revisit.
— Wanja Kimandi (@wanjar) January 15, 2019
And you just had to share the most gruesome photo you could get. Shame on you!!!
— Annie Njanja (@NjanjaAnnie) January 15, 2019
I strongly recommend that government of Kenya ban The New York Times from undertaking any business in Kenya to serve as a lesson to western propagandists.
A few years back we were here with CNN.
— James Kiragu (@OfficialKiragu) January 15, 2019
The New York Times did not delete the photo after the social media uproar but rather responded on Wednesday with a justification saying: “We understand how painful this coverage can be, and we try to be very sensitive in how we handle both words and images in these situations.
“We want to be respectful to the victims and to others affected by the attack. But we also believe it is important to give our readers a clear picture of the horror of an attack like this. This includes showing pictures that are not sensationalised but that give a real sense of the situation,” the American publisher said in a statement on Twitter.
We have heard from some readers upset with our publishing a photo showing victims after a brutal attack in Nairobi. We understand how painful this coverage can be, and we try to be very sensitive in how we handle both words and images in these situations. https://t.co/Qjm0qBMaF3 pic.twitter.com/1sqgTnnVKW
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 15, 2019
It added that “it takes the same approach wherever in the world something like this happens — balancing the need for sensitivity and respect with our mission of showing the reality of these events.”
This received further criticisms from angry Twitter users who made references to coverage of attacks in the United States where the New York Times does not publish images of dead people like it did for Kenya.
“When covering 9/11 I guess this alleged approach to covering terror was forgotten – https://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/11/national/thousands-feared-dead-as-world-trade-center-is-toppled.html … Or the California attack…we saw Police cars and hugs in your story. Human triumph, love and the beauty of response…but hey in Africa different approaches apply!” tweeted Dennis Itumbi, a Kenyan government official.
When covering 9/11 I guess this alleged approach to covering terror was forgotten – https://t.co/HaSrhd9Gl0
Or the California attack…we saw Police cars and hugs in your story. Human triumph, love and the beauty of response…but hey in Africa different approaches apply!
— Dennis Itumbi, HSC (@OleItumbi) January 15, 2019
The response enraged hundreds of people.
Presumably we will be seeing photos of children in the next mass shootout in the US so we can “get a real sense of the situation” right?
— Mazza (@MarionneRyan) January 15, 2019
— Kimutai The Chemist (@dankimbayas) January 16, 2019
Can New York Times just stay away from Kenyan issues if upholding journalism standards is selective, we don’t want an APOLOGY!
Let African stories be told by Africans, who understands the moral fabric of the society and know how our stories needs to be told.#SomeoneTellNYTimes
— Cyprian Nyakundi Escobar (@CisNyakundi) January 16, 2019
Considering that last year there were over 300 mass shootings in USA, I’m expecting to see at least 600 bodies riddled with bullets on the @nytimes . That is if you are just trying to give “a clear picture” of the horror of such events. #SomeoneTellNYTimes
— Bwana Thanos?? (@BenjaminIsOteko) January 16, 2019
As an American in Nairobi, I’ve never seen pictures of bodies in the news after our numerous US school shootings. I feel just as discraced by your response as I do by your original decision to publish photos of bodies from the #RiversideAttack
— Matthew Grollnek (@MatthewGrollnek) January 16, 2019
No. You don’t use the same approach in the world. pic.twitter.com/6tcU6Ocvhx
— Mother of Drones ? (@justrioba) January 16, 2019
Many other western media have been held to account for misrepresentation of Africa in the past and social media was the only tool used to get the message across, and it worked in most cases.
In December 2016, Ghanaians took to Twitter to condemn a report by American television network Cable News Network (CNN) on the country’s 2016 elections, claiming Ghanaians were struggling to obtain food and services.
“Oil reserves were discovered off the coast of Ghana in 2007, but Ghanians (sic) struggle to obtain food and day-to-day services. Rolling blackouts are common and citizens often stand in long line to obtain products,” it said.
A cross section of Ghanaians including media personalities began tweeting their displeasure with a screenshot of the paragraph in question and hashtag #CNNGetItRight.
The original article was later updated with the correct spelling of Ghanaians, and later, the entire paragraph was deleted with an Editor’s Note acknowledging the mistakes.