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Questionable reporting by New York Times Nairobi Correspondent

This is an email sent by a concerned reader to New York Times (NYT).

I’ve made some observations in work by one of your foreign correspondents, Abdi Latif Dahir of Nairobi, that you as well as the New York Times’ standards department should look into.

  1. Plagiarism

Nairobi’s Gold-Loving Governor Is Arrested on Corruption Charges, The New York Times, by Abdi Latif Dahir

Kenya arrests gold-loving Nairobi governor on suspicion of corruption, Reuters, by George Obulutsa, published more than eight hours before the NYT piece

Specific parts

Reuters’ Obulutsa: Citizens and international investors have long complained of corruption in Kenya, East Africa’s business hub.

NYT’s Dahir: Residents and international investors have long complained of corruption in Kenya, the business hub and richest economy in East Africa.

Reuters’ Obulutsa: On Thursday, Sonko received an award sponsored by the Kenya Red Cross and United Nations Volunteers for encouraging volunteering.

NYT’s Dahir: On Thursday, the day before his arrest, Mr. Sonko received an award sponsored by the Kenya Red Cross and United Nations Volunteers for encouraging volunteering.

Reuters’ Obulutsa: He has recruited hundreds of people into his “Sonko Rescue Team” who sweep out streets or appear at fires wearing “Sonko” branded red boiler suits in Nairobi’s poorest neighbourhoods.

NYT’s Dahir: He also established the Sonko Rescue Team, a group of youngsters who respond to emergencies, sweep streets and take clean water to poor areas.

  1. Improper attribution

 2 Rare White Giraffes Slaughtered by Poachers in Kenya, by Abdi Latif Dahir and Neil Vigdor

Mohammed Ahmednoor, the manager of the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy in northeastern Kenya, where the giraffes lived, said that rangers had confirmed their deaths and that there were photographs of the skeletal remains.

“This is a very sad day for the community of Ijara and Kenya as a whole,” Mr. Ahmednoor said. “We are the only community in the world who are custodians of the white giraffe.”

“Its killing is a blow to the tremendous steps taken by the community to conserve rare and unique species, and a wake-up call for continued support to conservation efforts,” he added.

Many news organisations, including CGTN, the BBC and National Geographic, had these exact quotes or some of them, because they were in a press release – and they said they got them from a press release. Your story makes it appear as if your reporters spoke with the conservancy’s manager.

  1. What are some of the ethical issues around a reporter writing the same story for different publications?

 A Kenyan Painter Casts a Critical Eye on China’s Role in Africa, The New York Times, by Abdi Latif Dahir, 2020

A Kenyan painter’s art questions China’s deepening reach in Africa, Quartz, by Abdi Latif Dahir, 2018


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