5 Kenyan Stories That Have Shamed International Media

With the deep penetration of the internet and high uptake of social media in Kenya, the country’s defence has never been better.

While the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) protect Kenya’s physical borders, Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) force is always on the lookout for foreigners threatening the country’s reputation.

Kenyans often pick petty fights with sister nations such as Tanzania once in a while, but the international media fraternity has also time and again featured in the demonstration of Kenya’s ability to protect itself from virtual ‘enemies’.

In the past decade, it was possible for international media, or anyone else for that matter, to falsely represent issues regarding the Kenyan community because access to information was still a luxury in Africa.

Today, however, any attempt to misrepresent the country always backfires, since it is extremely easy for Kenyans to use web resources to mobilize backlash to misrepresentation of topical issues.

Kenyans spend a significant part of their time following trending topics on social media.

Hotbed of terror

The American media company, CNN, has the best story to tell with regards to embarrassing experiences when reporting Kenyan matters.

In 2015, the then CNN’s executive vice president Tony Maddox had to fly into the country, to offer a personal apology, for the company’s outrageous coverage of the then US President Barrack Obama’s visit to Kenya.

In a news report ahead of Obama’s Kenyan trip, CNN expressed concern describing Kenya as a hotbed of terror.

The negative depiction of the country sparked an uproar under #someonetellcnn, which trended for days on end, as Kenyans schooled the media company of all the positive unique things that Kenya stands out for, apart from random terror attacks that every other country in the world has to deal with.

Dusit D2 attack

The Newyork Times has also found itself in trouble with Kenyans under the #someonetellnewyorktimes, after unethically publishing photos of dead victims following the Dusit D2 terror attack in January.

Outraged Kenyans shamed the media company for double standards, wondering why the company was so quick to use gory photos of dead Kenyans in their reporting of the incident, while only subtle photos are used to report similar incidents for western nations.

Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, the guilty journalist in the incident, had initially remained adamant, saying that it was not in her place to pull down the photos.

“As I’ve said, I don’t choose the photos. Please direct your anger to our photo department. Thank you,” she responded to tweets.

Later on, however, she apologized for her attitude and the anguish caused by the Times questionable editorial judgement.

Pirate seas of the Horn of Africa

The same company was thrust into the spotlight once more in July after a job advertisement for the position of Nairobi Bureau Chief went wrong.

In the job description, the company explained that it was searching for an individual with the capability of managing news “from the deserts of Sudan, and the pirate seas of the Horn of Africa…a territory with vital storylines including terrorism, and the scramble for resources…”

Once again, Kenyans were up in arms, wondering why the international media fraternity is so bent on portraying the country as a backwards jungle.

BBC’s body shaming

British media company BBC was also in moderate trouble with KOT in 2018, after an attempt to avoid offending its audience went the opposite way.

In an interview, the BBC blurred the cleavage of a Kenyan glam artist, sparking a heated debate into the motive, with a majority of Kenyans taking offence in the Corporation’s perceived body-shaming act.

In self-defence, BBC editors said the decision had been reached at with the aim of complying to media watershed period regulations.

The man who fell from the sky

Skynews is the latest to have an egg smeared across its face after Kenyans poked holes into a viral feature based on a stowaway who fell from a Europe bound plane when it was above London.

In the feature, the company named the dead victim as one Paul Manyasi, but the man’s alleged family denied having told Skynews that the victim was their son.

This sparked a heated conversation on social media, with local press tracing the actual Paul Manyasi to the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, alive and well.

On Thursday, Skynews pulled down the feature, perhaps bowing to social media pressure, or in order to conduct further research on the issue.

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