Ethiopians should not allow drifters masquerading as journalists and institutions masquerading as independent to define what is right or wrong.
October 28, 2020
William Davison, the Former Bloomberg correspondent in Addis Ababa turn owner and Managing Editor of Ethiopia Insight and Senior Ethiopian Analyst for the International Crises Group (ICG) has a quirky way of showing Ethiopia Insight. After he claim he left Bloomberg and joined The Guardian, the British national that was supposedly applied for accreditation and denied press credential for unknown reason reentered the country on tourist visa and subsequently was deported, according unnamed reporter of VOA March 9, 2018 report titled Ethiopia Deports journalist, arrested blogger.
The half-baked VOA report that took the words of William Davison contradicted itself half way on the same report by quoting Mohammed Seid of the Associated Press saying, “we have been treating him like all other reporters when he was a Bloomberg reporter, but now he has no accreditation with any other Media outlets … so he can’t produce reports from within Ethiopia.”
Davison who claimed on his Facebook page that “I am on a Tourist Visa since Feb 13, and an Immigration official declared I was not a tourist” did not elaborate what he was doing in Ethiopia. Nor the conveniently unnamed VOA reporter failed to find out.
Unfortunately, VOA lists one Afan-Oromo, three Amharic, two Somali and two Tigrigna reporters and Africa Division Director by the name Negussie Mengesha among several Ethiopian and none Ethiopian nationals reporting in the English language in its roster to figure out who among them generated the half-baked March 9, 2018 report regarding Davison’s application as The Guardian – Development Section correspondent and deportation a month before the new Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed came to helm of power.
A day later (March 10 2018), the infamous news outlet The Reporter known to be affiliated with the renegade ruling member party Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) better captured Davison’s contradictory statement in a report titled Former Bloomberg Correspondent Deported by Yonas Abiye. It is not clear why Davison who claimed to be hired by The “Guardian’s Developmental Section” persisted to acquire accreditation in Ethiopia in addition to what he referred as permit for “residence correspondence role” that he claimed was also rejected.
Regardless, Davison recapped his dissatisfaction with the accreditation process as “what my treatment demonstrates once again is a lack of appreciation of professional journalism and failure of various government institutions and officials to follow established procedure in anything like a transplant manner. As such, these are issues that are relevant not only to all journalists in Ethiopia, but for anybody interacting with the authorities, and indeed all Ethiopians.”
What is clear is, the man that cry “lack of appreciation of professional journalism and the failure of various government institutions and officials to follow established procedure in anything like a transplant manner” few months after his deportation in March of 2018 established Ethiopia Insight with team that don’t appreciate professional journalism and transparency including the infamous Peter Heinlein, ‘a former VOA reporter in Ethiopia and Horn Africa Chief’ Davison picked out of 1000s of journalist from around the world.
Unfortunately, there is more to Peter Heinlein than what Davison wanted the world to know. In a Nov 2014 Tesfa News report titled VOA Horn of Africa Service Chief Peter Henlein Removed not only for his misconduct in the US government agency but what the report referred as “falsification on behalf of the Ethiopian regime” led by PM Hailemariam Desalegn and Azusa Pacific University (APU).
Peter Heinlein’s co-conspirator implicated in the report was the infamous ruling member party TPLF operative Henock Semaegzer who worked under Henlein for VOA Amharic and later English until his last article was published in February of 2018 according to his VOA profile.
But, Henock Semaegzer who now goes by a name Henok Fente LinkedIn Profile shows, he left VOA in Aug of 2018 and “joined” MERSA Media Institute Executive Director — “a non-profit African-American media policy think tank” established in 2014.
In reality, the Washington, DC based MERSA Institute was established on 7 September 2018 by Henok Fente — the Incorporator, executing officer, governor, director and agent according to The Open Database Of The Corporate World — less than one month after he left VOA, not in 2014 as he claimed.
Many strange things happened leading to the revolution that ousted the ruling party TPLF led regime and the ascendancy of the new PM Abiy Ahmed to power in April of 2018.
Among them the establishment of MERSA Institute with two questionable individuals that includes Henock Semaegzer that supposedly joined the institute four years later in 2018 since its establishment with assumed last name Fente and Solomon Goshu, the Former “Senior Editor” for The Reporter in Addis Ababa presented as MERSA Senior media law policy fellow. The third person listed as “Senior advisor-investigative & broadcast journalism” according to MERSA Institute official website is the distinguished journalism Professor Emeritus John Dinges of Columbia University where Semaegzer claimed to earn his Mater Degree in Journalism.
Unfortunately, Prof John Dinges LinkedIn profile shows no association with MERSA Institute or anything to do with Sub-Sahara Africa. Nor there is any information found at Colombia School of Journalism about MERSA Institute.
Yet, the one-man MERSA institute claim “we work to help create vibrant, responsible and independent press, professional unions and education centers through research, capacity building and institutional support in Africa” and, “we believe free and independent media are lifelines to the development of peaceful, prosperous, and democratic societies. We are here to support freedom of speech through in-depth policy research and recommendations, conducting trainings, and strengthening the role of professional unions” coming from Henock Semaegzer known for his duplicity on behalf of TPLF led regime at VOA is once again showing at his new role as Executive Director of MERSA.
It is not clear whether MERSA is set up to undermine the reform effort and preserve ethnic apartheid system on behalf of TPLF or simply a fund-raising scheme from global community by TPLF operative drifter masquerading as journalists.
At the meantime, Davison of Ethiopia Insight duplicity is not far behind. Few months after he establish Ethiopia Insight registered in EU capital Belgium following his ‘deportation’ in March of 2018, in April of 2019 he joined the Belgium based International Crisis Group (ICG), “an independent organization working to prevent wars and shape policies that will build a more peaceful world” as a Senior Analyst, Ethiopia, according to ICG official website.
Incidentally, according to the informal Foreign Correspondents Association of Ethiopia (FCAE) August of 2016 Press Statement by Karim Lebhour concerning the “continuing threats to press freedom in Ethiopia”, William Davison of Bloomberg news is identified as the Chairman of FCAE. Karim Lebhour , the then Agence France-Presse North America editor and chief correspondent in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia two years later (2018) joined the International Crisis Group as Head of Communications and Outreach North America. It is not clear how Lebhour put out press statement conforming Davison is the Chairman of an informal FCAE in 2016 and ended up joining ICG two years later in 2018 followed by Davison in 2019.
Davison et-LinkedIn profile shows, he is a graduate of University of Leicester, Bachelors in American Studies from 2000 – 2004 and a Freelance journalist and owner of Ethiopia Insight ever since. There is no information what he did for six-years from 2004-2010 prior joining Bloomberg news as Ethiopian correspondent.
A recent news report also claims Davison travel to Mikelle, Ethiopia on behalf of the International Crises Group. Again, it is not clear if he is still a Freelance journalist for The Guardian Developmental Section on top of the Owner and Managing Editor of Ethiopia Insight and Senior Analyst for ICG at the same time.
But, Ethiopia Insight website tell a story of its own starting with the five team members (three Ethiopian and two foreign nationals) Davison assembled to give the world Insight of Ethiopian “politics and economics” 1. Ermias Tasfaye, “focus is Oromia. He is based in Burayu, Oromia, and does research and translation work”. 2. Kulle Kursha SNNP reporter. “Kulle is a Hawassa University law lecturer. He reports and analyses political developments in Southern Nations region”. . 3. Hiba Said, Editor. “Hiba is a Research Assistant at Georgetown University African Studies Department” 4. Jonah Wedekind Editor. “Jonah is a political ecologist finalizing a PhD in agrarian studies at Humboldt- University of Berlin” and 5. Peter Heinlein Editor. “Peter is a retired former Voice of America correspondent in Ethiopia and VOA Horn of Africa Service Chief in Washington DC”.
Davison’s Ethiopia Insight also claims it is “an EU-registered website. In Ethiopia, it works in partnership with Local Insight Media, a private limited Ethiopian publishing company incorporated with Addis Ababa City Administration Trade Bureau (AA/LD/08/1/0001463/2011) according to its website.
Google search for Insight Media in Ethiopia only found (https://vc4a.com/ventures/insight-media/) under Venture Capital for Africa (www.VC4A.com), claiming “Ethiopia’s fastest growing digital news platform, providing consumers with the latest news from Ethiopia and its diaspora established in Jan of 2016” with the only member and founder Abel Asrat according to its website.
It is no clear if it is the same outlet Ethiopia Insight claimed to be it ‘local partner’ nor, why William Davison chose not to provide the link of its local partner Insight Media.
Team members that supposed live up to Ethiopia Insight’s mission — “impartial and strives for maximum objectivity in its coverage of political and economic issues” and “an ideologically diverse, thoroughly edited Viewpoint section” consist of two reporters confined in Oromia and Southern Nations regions respectively and Editor Hiba Said, a 2020 fresh graduate of Georgetown university with BA in justice and peace studies with Arabic language minor according to her LinkedIn profile speaks for itself.
At the meantime, the three foreign nationals includes Davison himself, a British national and the Former Bloomberg journalist and the present owner and Managing Editor and Senior Analyst for ICG, Wedekin, a PhD student and Germen national as Editor and Heinlein, an American national and Former VOA Horn Chief as Editor speaks volume how foreign nationals roam the globe including Ethiopia to give the world Insight about Ethiopia and can get away with impunity.
One latest ‘News Analysis and one Viewpoint of Ethiopia Insight illustrate how drifters masquerading as journalists, analysts and experts can change the course of history of a nation.
Take the October 10, 2020 “News Analysis” by Bereket Eshetu Messele titled Splitting Southern Nations region into four can promote peace.
His profile on Ethiopia Insight (picture to the left) reviles, “Bereket has an LL.B from Wollo University and LL.M from Bahir Dar University. He is a lecturer at Bahir Dar University’s School of Law and a licensed lawyer who provides advocacy services as well as represents clients in federal and regional courts”
His official Baherdare University profile (image in the right) reviles, he is a Senior Lecturer of School of Law Bachelors’ degree in Law from Wollo University, Ethiopia on July 02, 2015. Following his graduation from Wollo University, he joined the Mettu University, Ethiopia and served as an Assistant Lecturer for a year. In October 2017, he joined Bahir Dar University, School of Law to follow his Masters’ Degree, with the specialization in ‘Human Rights and Criminal Justice System’. After his graduation on October 18, 2018, he was employed at Bahir Dar University, School of Law as a lecturer.
Essentially, Bereket completed his education and was employed by the university after Ethiopia Insight was established to qualify him as expert to analysis on subject that further split southern region in to four more ethnic apartheid states as envisioned by the former ruling member party TPLF and its sponsors.
Incidentally, none of the Editors including the Managing Editor Davison felt obligated to provide the reader on an author ethnic affiliation conveniently on the very subject he wrote in splitting a region in four more ethnic groups.
Likewise, take the Oct 12, 2020 Viewpoint by Meareg H titled “Time to make English a working language of Ethiopia’s federal government”. Unlike the news analysis, Meareg H has no last name, credential nor his whereabout is disclosed by Managing Editor. Whoever Meareg H may be, the owner and Managing Editor of Ethiopia Insight that claims, “Our focus is publishing News Analysis on under-reported issues from across Ethiopia, as well as offering In-Depth coverage of Ethiopian affairs that cannot reliably be found elsewhere”
Ethiopia Insight also has “an ideologically diverse, thoroughly edited Viewpoint section. We try not to publish obvious falsehoods in these pieces, and will correct all unambiguous factual errors, but it is inevitable that some readers will consider some commentators’ interpretations of events as factually incorrect. We encourage readers to use the comment section beneath stories to discuss such differences”.
Here is the irony where a British national of Bloomberg correspondent and Senior Analyst of ICG that decry for professional journalism and lack of transparency couldn’t even appreciate the basics of journalism nor professional ethics disclosing the full name of the author and credential his partners in yellow journalism.
Sadly, he is not alone. The seasoned former infamous BBC African Editor and the present researcher in the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London Martin Plaut that cut-and-paste Meareg H’s View Point — “Time to make English a-working language of Ethiopia’s Federal Government” off of Ethiopia Insight without asking question as well as his colleague Mary Harper — the present BBC Africa Editor with the habit of making mockery of journalism and professional ethics on Africa tells the bigger story of what Ethiopia in particular and African nations in general are up against with contemporary British ‘journalists’ that feel, Africa is a safari outing to behave like drunken sailor like their 19th century forefathers to reinvent Colonial Britain’s ethnic apartheid division, deception and ignorance in the middle of 21st century information revolution.
They say, “knowledge is having the right answer. Intelligence is asking the right question” Ethiopia Insight team and contributors appeared to be conveniently chosen for having no knowledge or intelligence not to tell the right answer or ask the right question.
The Founder and Managing Editor William Davison and team will be better off to come clean with their audience. Or better yet, they should start Britain Insight to tell the world all about the British Empire caused ‘crises’ that keep the International Crises Group busy — chasing the symptoms than the causes of the crises.
Finally, unsolicited advice for William Davison is in order. Too many conflicts of interest are not good for your professions (if you have one) or for your sanity if you believe to be sane enough to give Ethiopia Insight and analyze the crises.
If you are journalists (the highest honored profession with not much financial reward) as you claimed to be in the last decade, honor it. If you are Managing Editor of Ethiopia Insight as you claimed to be in the last two years and Senior Analyst with ICG in the last year, get the facts together from the right sources and pick credible partners to write about it.
Unfortunately, as the Indian born academician, author, and scholar Amit Abraham put it “the pen has always been mightier than the sword but sadly in today’s journalism the ink is sponsored”. So, as the American human right and social justice educator and founder of Indigenous Creation DaShanne Stokes put it, “If your actions don’t live up to your words, you have nothing to say”.