Kenyans slam NY Times for double standards in coverage of the Nairobi terror attack

Ismail Akwei Jan 16, 2019 at 09:00am

January 16, 2019 at 09:00 am | News

Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei | Contributor

January 16, 2019 at 09:00 am | News

NYT response

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.

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.

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.


The response enraged hundreds of people.

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.

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