November 30, 2020
Author’s Note: This article’s goal is to encourage Reuters, the digital group Access Now, NMG and The East African’s editorial boards to consider taking responsibility, including, making the necessary corrections for the fake news they spread and to apologize for publishing fake news and disinforming their readers, including their shareholders.
Furthermore, this piece’s objective is also to bring to the attention of my readers the dishonesty of Reuters, including its correspondent in Ethiopia, Giulia Paravicini, and Dawit Endeshaw, Reuters’ Journalist based in Ethiopia, Andrew McLaughlin, President of Access Now and Aggrey Mutambo, “Nation Media Group’ [a.k.a. Nation] writer and The East African news website.
“Fake news isn’t just news you don’t like. Fake news is designed to spread confusion and obscure the truth with lies, hoaxes and conspiracies, and there is a lot of it around…” according to the BBC.
Reuters’ Handbook of Journalism stated “Accuracy and fairness are the hallmarks of Thomson Reuters journalism. Neither accuracy or nor fairness must ever be sacrificed for speed. If we lose our reputation for accuracy and fairness we lose everything. We reinforce to readers our commitment to accuracy and fairness by being totally honest about rectifying errors – promptly and openly…”
Reuters, which is owned by Thomson Reuters, has been one of my trustworthy sources of information, including news. However, I have now started questioning the accuracy, balance and fairness of some of its news stories.
For example, its article titled Ethiopia’s PM seeks to regain control over restive Tigray region –which was written by Journalists Giulia Paravicini and Dawit Endeshaw – contains news that isn’t true (fake news), incomplete citation, inaccurate information and biased news, among other things.
For instance, Reuters paraphrased: “His [PM Abiy Ahmed] government cut phone and internet communications to the region, according to the digital rights group Access Now, making it impossible to verify official accounts. Government officials accused the TPLF of shutting down communications.”
To make its paraphrase appear credible, to obscure the truth and to make finding the facts harder, Reuters didn’t provide information for a document it is referencing or a link where it got the information. Reuters’ deceit and rush to judgment to spread unverified news (false news) caused it to devalue the hallmarks of Thomson Reuters journalism, “Accuracy and fairness”.
Countering Reuters’ fake news source, Access Now, with evidence
Without citing a source, on November 04, 2020, Access Now claimed in its tweet that “BREAKING: The government of Ethiopia has again shut down the internet. Mobile network, fixed-line internet & landline telephony have been cut in Tigray, as PM @AbiyAhmedAli declares a state of emergency & orders military intervention against Tigray People’s Liberation Front.” See “Exhibit 1” on page 4.
On the same day, Access Now, without citing a source, twice updated its tweet that it posted to break its false news on who shut down communication in Tigray.
To verify the breaking news Access Now tweeted, I spent significant amount of time researching its source. For example, I researched its website using “Ethiopia” as a key word. My search generated: “SEARCH RESULT PAGE FOR: ETHIOPIA”, among other things, the following “Ethiopia shuts down telephone, internet services in Tigray Aggrey Mutambo, the East African”.
Clicking on the above hypertext took me to The East African website page which contains Mutambo’s article titled “Ethiopia shuts down telephone, internet services in Tigray”; its URL is: https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/tea/rest-of-africa/ethiopia-telephone-internet-services-tigray-2731442.
The search results confirmed that Access Now’s claim that “The government of Ethiopia has again shut down the internet. Mobile network …” had no source because Mutambo in his article attributed its source of information to Access Now, which is the false news originator.
Moreover, to obscure the truth, to cover up the fake news it spread, to make it look like the false breaking news is viral, Access Now posted the inaccurate news on its website, by attributing Mutambo’s article captioned “Ethiopia shuts down telephone, internet services in Tigray”.
For the false stories it invented, Access Now’s post on its website referring Mutambo’s article as its source is “a trick some fake news outlets employ to send readers on a sort of “attribution goose chase””. See “Exhibit 2” on page 5.
Since Access Now acted in duplicity, its subsequent valid claims would arouse it readers’, particularly Ethiopians suspicion if not the rejection. LinkedIn stated “Access Now defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world. By combining direct technical support, comprehensive policy engagement, global advocacy, grassroots grantmaking, legal interventions, and convenings such as RightsCon, we fight for human rights in the digital age.”
According to Reuters, “Nation Media Group [a.k.a. Nation] is a media house in East and Central Africa with operations in print, broadcast and digital media. … The Company’s brands offered in Kenya [including] … The East African … The Company operates various websites, including www.nation.co.ke, www.theeaseafrican.com …”
Refuting the fake news Nation and The East African spread
Nation and The East African published the fake news against Ethiopia without verifying its accuracy and adequately attributing their source. To explain, the Nation’s writer, Aggrey Mutambo, without including a link in his article and adequately citing his source he quoted Access Now and spread the false news against Ethiopia that: “The government of Ethiopia has again shut down the internet,” Access Now said. [Furthermore] “Mobile network, fixed-line internet and landline telephony have been cut in Tigray, as PM declares a state of emergency and orders military intervention against Tigray People’s Liberation Front.”
To summarize: Conclusively, Access Now invented the fake news; and then it tweeted its false news. To make the fake news viral, Access Now posted its own false story on its website by quoting Mutambo’s article. Using the fake news Access Now tweeted, the Nation’s writer, Aggrey Mutambo wrote his article without providing sufficient citation for its source. The Nation and The East African media editorial board posted Mutambo’s article on their news websites without verifying the accuracy of the article’s contents.
Worst yet, Reuters, one of the most respected new media across the globe got caught red-handed, practicing deceit. It rushed to judgment and published its article quoting Access Now’s fake breaking news. Furthermore, Reuters’ article did not sufficiently cite its source that exposed Reuters’ effort to obscure the truth and to make finding the truth more difficult. This caused Reuters to devalue the hallmarks of Thomson Reuters journalism, “Accuracy and fairness”.
Reuters’ Access Now, Nation and The East African articles regarding communications shut down in Tigray is a typical example of fake news. It is a fact that the mainstream media is on life support because, among other things, for its audience it has become too difficult and too time consuming to sort out true news from false or exaggerated news. For example, since Reuters, Access Now, Nation and The East African media obscured the truth, I spent a significant amount of my time to find the true news and to write this article. I invested my time to write this piece, for several reasons, primarily: to protect my beloved country, Ethiopia, from being a victim of fake media and dishonest journalists – who lack respect for their profession and readers.
I also invested my time to research and write this piece to try to contribute my fair share for the betterment of the media and to show my support for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed government’s law enforcement operation against the terrorist TPLF’s juntas a.k.a. greedy day hyenas.
Spreading fake new and disinformation is simply wrong. Consequently, for spreading fake news stories, I encourage Reuters, the digital group Access Now, NMG and The East African’s editorial boards to consider taking responsibility, including, making the necessary corrections for the fake news they spread and to apologize for publishing fake news and disinforming their readers. Since Reuters and NMG are publicly traded companies, I also encourage their editorial boards to offer an apology to their stock holders.
I dedicated this article to the victims of the terrorist TPLF’s juntas a.k.a. the greedy day hyenas in Mai-Kadra western Tigray. Ethiopians will never forget their horrifying massacres, may their souls rest in peace. And also may God bless Ethiopia and all the people who defend her!
The writer, LJDemissie, can be reached at LJDemissie@yahoo.com.