More precisely, Somalia Report’s problem with honesty. When I first started casually reading Somalia Report I sensed its sketchiness, something felt off. I couldn’t figure out why I felt that its reports were unreliable so I ended up just ignoring the site all together. That is until I stumbled upon this excellent takedown of the website and its owner Robert Pelton (I’m 99.99% sure he wrote that wiki entry himself) which was followed by a number of rude and kinda racist responses by the non-Somali ‘reporters’ at SR. So I wasn’t too surprised to find out that they have been busted for making up interviews and stories this week on Twitter.
Here is the wonderful charity Horn Relief pointing out Somalia Reports completely fabricated story on an Al Shabaab looting of Horn Relief’s non-existent office in Afmadow:
Also yesterday, Somalia Report’s editor published a retraction of its interview with Somalia’s Prime Minister Abdiweli Gaas, which also turned out to be completely fabricated. Revealingly, this demonstrates that anyone in Somalia, or claiming to be in Somalia, can write up any old nonsense, email it in an become a Somalia Report journalist. Interestingly, according to this retraction, the lapse in judgement was not made by the publishers at SR, but the hoaxer alone, who has apparently let down her family and community. As a member of this hoaxer’s community, I would like to thank you, Ms Abdi, for revealing the ineptitude and lack of professionalism of this website which has high-jacked our voices. It also backs up AfroLens criticisms of the website and their editor’s shortcuts into journalism.
I hope the folks at Somalia Report come to realise that this complete lack of understanding of journalistic ethics and cultural awareness is an obvious result of hiring non-Somali experts and individuals with no qualifications in journalism. I don’t see that happening too soon though given their previous responses to criticism. I do however hope this episode leads to greater efforts by Somalis, and all Africans, to use our own voices in the media more forcefully to tell our story. Honestly.