February 09, 2021
Sure, fake news catches and succeeds attention, but for a while; however, it embraces disregard and unreliability forever.” ― Ehsan Sehgal
If you ask me, writing a complaint article about a media giant’s “fake news and paid news” and expecting a result is a fruitless effort because my plea failed on deaf ears. To explain, in my article titled, Reuters is Fake News, I provided “relevant, material, and competent” evidence and established my case beyond any reasonable doubt. And then I politely requested Reuters to consider correcting its fake news and apologize to its readers for reporting manufactured news.
My article was published on various Ethiopian news websites on November 30, 2020. Just to make sure that Reuters received my appeal, I lodged an online protest with Thomson Reuters Customer Support (TRCS). For submitting my accusation, TRCS’s webpage gave me a system generated reference number. TRCS also sent me an automated response email that stated my complaint was received.
After I filed my online grievance, I didn’t hear from TRCS for more than a week or so. So I emailed my protest article against Reuters’ piece to about ten employees of Reuters. On my email, I stated two things: First, if they weren’t the right recipients of my complaint article, I offered them my apology and requested them to forward my email to the appropriate person/department. If they were the correct recipients of my complaint article, I asked them to consider correcting the fake news and issue an apology to Reuters’ readers for reporting fictional news against Ethiopia.
To date, more than two months after I filed my protest article, I haven’t heard anything from TRCS. Now, it appears to me that TRCS trashed my appeal.
As I’m writing this article, I re-lodged online my complaint letter with TRCS on February 02, 2021. For successfully filing my grievance, TRCS’s website gave me the following system generated case reference number: “Case Created: Reference Number is 06912903. 1 attachment has been uploaded successfully.” And also TRCS’s website emailed to me an automated response, which has the above reference number, for my communication. Though it has been six days since I filed my protest, I still didn’t hear from TRCS.
Lesson learned from my experience
Learning from my experience that filing a complaint against Reuters’ fake news, I’m trying a different approach to address a rumor the Associated Press’ (AP) journalist, Ms. Cara Anna, spread against Ethiopia on her article titled “Tigray opposition parties assert 50,000-plus civilian deaths”. Her piece was published on various media giants’ news websites, including AP, U.S. News, The Washington Post, Yahoo! News and the New York Times (NYT) on February 2, 2021.
I heard that the NYT removed Anna’s article from its news website. To verify that claim, I searched its website. Since my search didn’t generate the article, it appears to me that the claim that the NYT removed the article is correct.
My protest letter against Ms. Cara Anna’s article
Dear Ms. Anna: I don’t intend to preach to you about THE ASSOCIATED PRESS STATEMENT OF NEWS VALUES AND PRINCIPLES (APSNVP). But in my judgment which is based on my online complaint filing experience with Reuters, it seems to me that this kind of journalistic policy, among others, is articulated to give AP an appearance of “a towering standard of excellence to which the rest of the industry aspires.”
To elaborate, AP, on its APSNVP first page declared that “We abhor inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortions. We will not knowingly introduce rumor or false information into material intended for publication or broadcast… [Emphasis added]”
Furthermore, on its News Website’s about page, AP described itself as follows: “The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting. Founded in 1846 [174 years ago], AP today remains the most trusted source of fast, accurate, unbiased news in all formats and the essential provider of the technology and services vital to the news business.”
On paper, AP presentenced itself as a news outlet that performs its journalistic responsibilities at the highest standard as it stated in its APSNVP. In reality, based upon your rumor and gossip based article, AP’s “fake news and paid news” reporting has some similarity with the Onion’s fictional news reporting, which is “an American satirical digital media. One key difference between the Onion and AP news reporting is that what they say and what they do:
The Onion does what it says it will do. For instance, it says its news reports are satire, including fictional reporting, on various social issues, among others.
AP does what it says it won’t do. For example, although AP says it won’t report news based on a rumor, you spread rumor and gossip against Ethiopia. To defend your rumor and gossip based piece, you qualified your fake news report by saying “The statement posted Tuesday does not say where the estimate comes from, and the parties could not immediately be reached. Communication links remain challenging in much of the region, making it difficult to verify claims by any side.”
Note: I don’t have any illusion about the respectability of AP’s news reporting. In fact, that is the only reason I wrote this complaint. Also I’m aware that “the big media is living off its past glory days”.
Before all else, it appears to me that you are based in Nairobi, Kenya. I hope you are enjoying your stay there. I’m confident that you would come across to this article. I thank you for your interest about Ethiopians, particularly Tigrayans’ current tragic situation that their struggle to recover from the Ethiopian government law enforcement operation.
As you heard, the law enforcement operation was instigated by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s (TPLF) juntas’ special and militia forces “lighting military attacks” against the Ethiopian National Defense Forces Northern Command bases in Tigray.
On November 25, 2020, Human Right Watch reported that “The TPLF, the ruling party administering the northern region of Tigray in Ethiopia, acknowledged that it took over the assets of the Ethiopian military’s Northern Command based in Tigray…“.
Cara, in my analysis of your article, you presented yourself as a journalist who doesn’t seek journalistic truth.
Humanity doesn’t deserve journalists who sensationalize people’s misery because that takes them nowhere. If you are behaving this way just because Ethiopia’s government receives handouts from your generous government, ask your government not to give the Ethiopian government donations. As far as I know, the handouts haven’t helped Ethiopians to get out of poverty.
Just in case you aren’t aware, Ethiopians current state of poverty is caused by climate change which started more fifty years ago. Their impoverishment, in the last half a century, has been exacerbated by the TPLF’s juntas instigated, internal conflict, ethnic division, rampant corruptions and mismanagement of public resources, among others. Although Ethiopians have been too poor for too long, they have enough natural and human resources to sustain them. To get out of their poverty, what they lack is peace among their amateur politicians. As you might know, they are infamous for their incapability to collaborate.
I must let you know, in the last 170 years, Ethiopia used to help some of the world’s needy people. As far as I know, she never bragged about handing out donations, and she never used her handouts as a tool to twist its aid recipients’ arm. I can support my assertion, if needed, using the New York Times’ glory days’ articles which were published after September 18, 1851.
Cara, you know that propaganda has a potential to tear a country down. Once a country is broken up, hell would break loose. And it will be too difficult to rebuild! So if you aren’t interested helping us (Ethiopians) to come out of our misery by playing a watchdog journalist function and giving us a perspective as VICE does to its audience via a thoughtful piece such as “The Cannibal Warlords of Liberia”, please leave us alone.
The writer, LJDemissie, can be reached at [email protected]