New York Times faces Twitter backlash for Nairobi attack coverage

Newspaper’s use of graphic images of victims sparks online fury and allegations of disrespectful and biased reporting.

Attack On Hotel Complex in Nairobi
A woman reacts after being rescued from the Dusit Hotel in Nairobi [Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images]

As Kenya reels from the deadly attack on an upmarket hotel in capital Nairobi that killed 14 people, a controversy over a New York Times (NYT) article has added to the anger.

Many Kenyans have taken to Twitter since Wednesday evening to express their feelings on the assault on Dusit Hotel complex, claimed by the armed group, al-Shabab.

Using the hashtag #WeShallOvercome, Kenyans tweeted messages of solidarity. However, another, angrier hashtag soon emerged in response to the NYT coverage of the tragedy.


An NYT article by its East Africa bureau chief, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, showed the aftermath of the attack, including images of wounded people and dead bodies.

The article drew ire of some Kenyans who used a slightly harsh hashtag – #DeportKimiko – to protest the images of graphic violence against black Africans, calling them disrespectful and biased.

They argued that such images would never be used in the coverage of tragedies in the United States, where the NYT is based.

Soon, another hashtag #SomeoneTellNYTimes began trending, with many tweets showing photos of people providing the victims aid after the assault.

Others posted positive images of Nairobi to contrast with the violent images used by the newspaper.

In response, the NYT tweeted a statement expressing its respect for those affected by the attack but also defending its use of the images.

“It is important to give our readers a clear picture of the horror of an attack like this. This includes showing pictures that are not sensationalised but that give a real sense of the situation.”

Source: Al Jazeera


Al-Shabab claims coordinated assault on upscale hotel complex in Kenyan capital, with reports of at least 15 killed.

Published On 16 Jan 2019
Kenya Attack
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