The New York Times has named Abdi Latif Dahir as its East Africa correspondent months after it’s former Bureau Chief Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura came under fire over insensitive reporting during the Dusit D2 attack on 14 Riverside Drive, Nairobi.
Latif is joining New York Times from Quartz Africa and is expected to take up his new role next month.
“We are excited to announce our first new correspondent: Abdi Latif Dahir is joining The Times in Nairobi from Quartz Africa, where he has served for three years as East Africa reporter, ” NYT said on Monday.
Born in Nairobi and partly raised in Mogadishu Somalia, Latif began his career nearly a decade ago at the Daily Nation as a business and technology reporter.
Before joining Quartz Africa, Latif also worked for The East African, United Press International and Al Jazeera.
As he takes his new assignment in Nairobi, many, who have taken to social media to congratulate him, have urged the journalist not to follow the footsteps of his predecessor — Ms Tamura —, especially on terror-related reports.
Ms Tamura was named the NYT East Africa Bureau Chief in September last year. Before her appointment, she worked as a correspondent based in London for the American paper.
Months later, she became under fire over graphic images used in her Dusit D2 terrorist attack story.
Netizens, particularly Kenyans on Twitter (KOT), called out the NYT for publishing images of the dead.
Following the backlash, she changed her Twitter title to “Foreign Correspondent at The New York Times”.
During the January incident, the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) condemned the media over the distasteful pictures.
It further demanded an apology from the Bureau Chief over the usage of the images.
“Take note, in the event the pictures are not pulled down, within 24 hours as requested, MCK will initiate relevant action against your publication, not limited to revocation or suspension of accreditation of journalists working for New York Times in Kenya.
You are hereby required to inform the council of your action within 48 hours and not later than January 21, 2019,” MCK’s Chief Executive Officer David Omwoyo wrote.
NYT, however, didn’t issue an apology and instead went ahead to justify the choice of the images.
“…our role as journalists to document the impact of violence in the world, and if we avoid publishing these types of images, we contribute to obscuring the effects of violence and making debates over security and terrorism bloodless, ” said NYT director of photography Meaghan Looram.
More recently, NYT found itself on the receiving end of KOT wrath over the choice of words in the bureau chief job advert.
“…It is an enormous patch of vibrant, intense and strategically important territory with many vital storylines, including terrorism, the scramble for resources, the global contest with China and the constant push-and-pull of democracy versus authoritarianism, ” read part of the job description.
“The ideal candidate should enjoy jumping on news, be willing to cover conflict, and also be drawn to investigative stories. There is also the chance to delight our readers with unexpected stories of hope and the changing rhythms of life in a rapidly evolving region…”
Netizens criticized the international media for painting the African continent in bad light.
They questioned why the media seemed to focus on the negative stories from the region as opposed to positive developments in the continent.
The group’s assistant editor, Michael Slackman, later apologised over the choice of words in the advert.
Dear Lam Sisterhood,
Thank you. I loved and learned from your “dramatic reading.” I deserved it! https://t.co/0QrSN3ivYI
— Michael Slackman (@meslackman) July 7, 2019
As a lifelong African, I’m overjoyed that a benevolent New York Times correspondent will soon patrol our pirate seas & deserts, occasionally telling our unexpected stories of hope. I live for the white gaze https://t.co/7t6IJjyf3C
— Larry Madowo (@LarryMadowo) July 4, 2019
— Ken Opalo (@kopalo) July 3, 2019