BY ANDUALEM SISAY GESSESSE – IN SUMMARY – Written by Award-winning journalist, this article examines the recent some international media coverage of the military operations of Ethiopian government in Tigray region. He looks from the standpoint of the basic journalism principles – Independence, Truthfulness, Fairness, Humanity (Harm minimization), Fairness, and Accountability- and shows with examples how most of these media have been biased and are misleading the world with early judgement.
When I wake up this morning, one of the foreign media correspondents shared one information on the whatsapp group of foreign media correspondents in Ethiopia. This has prompted me to share on the group my advice as a colleague and professional journalist. Here is what one of the foreign media journalists shared after asking on the group about the safety of our friend correspondent to Associated Press, “FYI Many Tigray journalists are being arrested/detained in Addis”. Then I asked to share us the names of the journalists he claimed are arrested. I did this not because the government will not arrest journalists in Ethiopia, but to identify the sources most of these foreign media are using.
Luckily he responded with the names of three journalists and a twitter feed from where he got the information from. It is indeed a twit by the Human rights commissioner of Ethiopia as you see below.
.@EthioHRC learned with concern the arrest of more journalists, with EPA’s Haftu Gebregzhiabher, Tsegaye Hadush, & Abreha Hagos, as well as OMN’s Udi Mussa detained overnight.
We reiterate our call for the respect of due & fair process.
— Daniel Bekele (@DanielBekele) November 11, 2020
Meanwhile there is no word that describes ethnicity of the “arrested”. So where did he get this information? In fact, the Commissioner also added 4th journalist who works for Oromo media. Did this international media add the word Tigray accidentally or added deliberately? Who is influencing the thinking of these foreign media reporters in Ethiopia? We shall see in one of the reports at the end of this article if he and his colleagues have been objective in their recent reports.
Whatever the case maybe, for Ethiopians listening both the government and TPLF propaganda, it tells us that these journalists are mostly taken by one side propaganda when it comes to the current military operation of the federal government in Tigray Region. The government officials claim that like previous similar restoration of rule of law that brought to justice the armed group leader of Ethiopia’s Somali Region leader – Abdi Illey the aim of the military operation in Tigray is to bring to court the extremist leaders of TPLF such as, the former spy chief Getachew Assefa, who is implicated in a crimes against humanity, among others.
On the contrary, the TPLF leaders say that Prime Minister’s Abiy Ahmed administration has invaded Tigray to abolish the federal system and rule Tigray by force.
When I get back to the issue at hand, the journalists mentioned by name above could be arrested or not. My focus was not that. The reason I asked for detail was to prove how biased that foreign media correspondent is and advice him to avoid such bias in the future. So that they will at least try to balance and contextualize their stories, which has been dominated by the words “civil war and regional instability”, among others.
These two words, which state that Ethiopia will go into civil war and East Africa will be destabilized if we don’t dictate the federal government or get back to power, are what every Ethiopians have been listening from the TPLF hardliners for the past two years plus after the ruling coalition elected a new leadership Abiy Ahmed. They have been hammering this statement using their media outlets day and night with what looks to scare and stop stop the federal government from bringing to justice those wanted for torturing prisoners and mega corruption.
These criminals, which involves the former intelligence chief, who is also hiding in Tigray Region and testimonies of victims whose legs are chopped in prison, who are sodomized etc is recorded.
Putting into context and showing who is fighting with whom is what any professional journalist is expected to do. But are these journalists telling us on whom exactly the federal government has launched defensive operation?
No! Their report filled with the propaganda twits of the family members and their associates mainly living abroad. These journalists didn’t ask ordinary individual on the streets of their residence to get exactly what the people think about what’s going on.
You don’t find a single news which has the perspective of ordinary people about the possibility of civil war in Ethiopia, which they seem to wish for.
It is easy for them to sit in their comfort chair and assemble the twits of extremists living far from Ethiopia and write a news story.
My intention is not just to prove how their reports on the military operation of the federal government is one-sided, but also to advise them as a colleague.
So responded on the group the following piece of advice, though some took it personally. “Please check with the police government officials…CHECK FACTS.. Don’t take one side story and try to inflate conflicts in a more than 100 million people nation…YOU GUYS – FOREIGN JOURNALISTS AND ANALYSTS HAVE COUNTRIES CAN BE AIRLIFTED IN 48 HOURS WHEN THE COUNTRY GOES INTO TROUBLE…YOUR COUNTRIES ARE ALSO HAPPY TO SELL US WEAPONS. SO THAT WE WILL KILL EACH OTHER…But for us this is our country. SO I URGE YOU TO DIVERSIFY YOUR TWITTER CONTACTS TO ADHERE TO THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF JOURNALISM – VERIFY FACTS, BALANCE , TRUTHFULNESS, MINIMIZE HARM (HUMANITY), ACCOUNTABILITY. THANKS IT IS MY BROTHERLY ADVICE..
I was not accusing them. But since the issue is sensitive it needs serious professional journalism. If they are real journalists, they can travel to the neighboring towns and get even wider testimonies.
I know I shouldn’t be the once advising these journalist who have been reporting for major global media outlets, which at some point have also helped me to improve my journalism practice through trainings. But the world also expects balanced reporting from these international media outlets and shouldn’t be making wrong decisions based on their intentional or unintentional biased reporting.
So I decided to challenge them by their book listing the fundamental / golden principles and ethical codes of journalism, which all journalists in the world are expected to adhere to unless they have a hidden agenda.
After I shared the above piece of advice, one who works for Washington Post took it personal – Perhaps seemed embraced for I was going to support each and every report of them with evidences that show how they violated these basic principles of journalism.
He automatically shared one of my latest reports below I wrote after attending government press conference a day earlier. Sharing this link, Ethiopia accuses TPLF for using teenage soldiers, asking me “This is verified is it?” Now I knew they are not taking my brotherly professional advice positively. And I responded, “Government official said…Do you think you are operating in a banana republic? You may not like them”
Now analyst for International Crisis Group, who has been sharing twits of one side and defending one position on international media also jumps in with the following comment. “Andualem, slow down!! You are talking to fellow journalists and experienced ones at that. Here’s my brotherly advice my brother: focus on fact-checking your material for New Business Ethiopia, and stop dishing out unsolicited advice to others. Also, turn off your CAPS LOCK!”
When I continue to challenge them on how some of the individuals in the group, including the ICG analyst in Ethiopia with facts, sadly I am blocked from that whatsapp group.
But thank God, now I be using my website and other outlets and every social media to expose any biased reports on the current affairs by international media based on their own books of journalism ethics and principles. I think this can also generate more traffic for my website. Just kidding…
I am doing this because I have professional responsibility as a citizen of over 100 million people nation and global citizen to reveal bias reporting or lies whenever I see one. Doing this I think can help me reduce at least the negative impacts of the reports of some of these international media, which seem to indirectly working to instigate civil war in Ethiopia making their headlines twit feeds of one side and wishes of diaspora extremists.
I want the international audience to keep in mind that I have never in my life time worked for a government media. I am self-contained enough and not interested to associate myself with any group including government or opposition. Anyone can google and go through my profiles of about two decades of journalism online and check for yourself. But I and 100 million people in Ethiopia deserve to live peacefully in our country and I have the responsibility to challenge such unprofessional which can take away our relative peace and stability.
So I do not have any other agenda, except challenging each and every biased media reports of these media outlets on the current conflict in Ethiopia until they return to unbiased professional journalism.
Let’s start for today by one of the biased reports of the The Guardian and challenge it by their book. By the way, The Guardian do not have a correspondent in Ethiopia but one of the foreign correspondent whites for them without the knowledge of the government.
Look at the headline, and guess what you expect from this report. Will this report meet the five fundamentals / principles of a journalist – balance, accuracy, truthfulness, independence, harm minimization (Humanity), fairness, objectivity, and accountability? I leave this judgment for you. The title has already blamed one side, what do you expect inside.
If you are a professional journalist like me, what comes in your mind is how much did the other side paid this journalist / The Guardian to attack one side and favor the other? Because unfortunately this story doesn’t meet any of the above.
That is why in my advice to these journalists on the whatspp group, said that you have a country to run into when things get bad with airlift in 48 hours and urged them to be accountably and professionally report.
Be it Washington Post, Foreign Policy, BBC, Al Jazeera, VOA, have the word civil war in their headlines and fear of regional instability. But when you read those articles, you don’t find local people voice, some like Al Jazeera used two people living abroad of which one is an Oromo extremist. They don’t have any figures or facts on the ground. It is funny, they use sources who have good internet access in Europe or USA and / extremists who vowed to make Ethiopia like Somalia.
And they don’t mention any of the leaders why they are on the federal government watch list and the unspeakable crimes they committed registered on many human right groups since they took power in Ethiopia in 1991 and during the arms struggle.
None of these articles answer who is fighting with whom. They didn’t even bothered at least called and asked the progressive TPLF leadership, which decided to join the Abiy Ahmed led Prosperity party about. Some makes you think that these hardliners have controlled the whole Tigray Region and all the people in Tigray are one ethnic group, which shows their ignorance of the facts on the ground.
Some even make it look like the whole TPLF is against the federal government, which is also another blindness to the fact on the ground. Do they even mention in a line about the worst human rights violations TPLF was commuting from 1991 till April 2018 including on the people in Tigray?
Their crime of some of the TPLF leaders even extends out of Ethiopia as witnessed by the people in the neighboring countries.
TPLF founders Abay Tsehaye, Sabhat Nega and Zenawi were given revolutionary military training by Afeworki’s EPLF beginning 1975. Afeworki then introduced TPLF to Somalia’s Barre who in turn gave them arms &money. When TPLF assumed power they devastated Eritrea &Somalia. Snakes!!
— Farah Maalim EGH (@FarahMaalimM) November 9, 2020
Are these international media telling the world that the TPLF has introduced ethnic based constitution and divided the country’s region’s on ethnicity labeling one ethnic group as enemy of the other? Did these media outlets reported what TPLF hardliners have been up to in the last two years hiding in Tigray? Did they told us where the TPLF leaders invested the budget federal government has allocated to the people of Tigray?
I would also like to acknowledge the correction made by Al Jazeera Inside story by talking to people living in Ethiopia in this discussion instead of always featuring tribal extremists living in Europe and North America working hard to come to power with bloods of the poor Ethiopian farmers and their children…
I like this discussion where the International Crisis Group Analyst acted in “I know Ethiopia better than Ethiopians” mindset and embarrassed himself exactly talking what the TPLF hardliners have been crying out for negotiations after the government closed all escaping borders and realized that they will soon face charges of treason or die in Mekele.
In conclusion my fellow journalists, instead of being taken away by the twits of one side and opinions of only the extremists mainly living abroad in their comfort zones, I once again advice you to go out on the streets of Ethiopia and ask local people about what they think of the clashes between the two sides (federal government and TPLF hardliners).
We would like to alert all that PM @AbiyAhmedAli has never said these quoted words and hold @BBCMonitoring responsible for spreading disinformation. The tweet has been deleted 4 hours after spreading something that was never said. @BBCWorld pic.twitter.com/VPVeVQZRRg
— Ethiopia State of Emergency Fact Check (@SOEFactCheck) November 25, 2020
If you ask me why you don’t do it, I have retired from writing for foreign media and decided to focus on strengthening my own news website with more attention to economic and business stories through training online and recruiting the future journalists of Ethiopia. Such efforts I believe is the lasting solution to combat foreign interest-packed international media coverage.
FINALLY, DEAR READER when you get time I urge you to please, please read the following articles of these international media outlets and judge them with the above golden or fundamental principles and ethics of journalism they teach us to adhere to. In the reports please check if they care about balance, accuracy, truthfulness, independence, harm minimization (Humanity), fairness, objectivity, and accountability?“
As the capture of the hardliner TPLF leaders approaches, some of these foreign media journalist in Ethiopia seem desperate as you see from the above headline …He took opinion of one side as headline. He didn’t care about the sensitivity of the issue and the over 100 million people of Ethiopia. family members of the TPLF living abroad or their business associates must have put huge money into the account of this journalist. Mind you he rushed to a conclusion or blaming one side (the federal government). But TPLF, which is favored by this journalist has proven this journalist wrong when they admitted in a TV discussion below aired on their own channel a few days latter.
TPLF makes a shameless admission to have undertaken a surprise and lightning strike on the Northern Command of Ethiopian National Defence Forces. If there were any iota of doubt left on the malicious attack perpetrated by TPLF on our National Defence Forces, here’s a confession. pic.twitter.com/5RaMVZ1BPv
— Ethiopia State of Emergency Fact Check (@SOEFactCheck) November 14, 2020
I am saying this because all the children of the leaders and families of the corrupt leaders of TPLF are abroad. Let alone them I am rich enough by doing due diligence (checking the back grounds) of many of affiliates of these TPLF corrupt officials who have been looking foreign partners to clean their dirt and smuggle the money out of Ethiopia and move to their accounts in London, Dubai, U.S. and China among others.
Or perhaps The Economist publication might be owned by some weapon manufacturers who made a deal to deliver some arms to the wanted diehard TPLF leaders…Anyways, this is not the journalism they teach us. I now got why President Trump called some of these media “the enemy of the people”.
You will join me in revealing false news of these media when you find out that Reuters with the headline below has used false quote (twitt) from President Museveni. There is no such twitt if as you see President Museveni’s twitts after he met with the Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
Uganda leader meets Ethiopian official, urges talks
Tigray crisis: Why there are fears of civil war in Ethiopia
AP Explains: Why Ethiopia is suddenly on brink of civil war
Ethiopia lurches towards civil war
Ethiopia Near Civil War as PM Sends Army Into Defiant Region
How Ethiopia Reached the Brink of Civil War
THANK YOU FOR READING THOUGH A BIT LONGER – HAVE A NICE DAY / NIGHT WHEREVER YOU ARE.