Somalia and Media: How the new ‘heart of darkness’ proliferated the success of Ragtag Journalism.

I’m a lucky girl. Despite being a relatively obscure blogger, I’m in a fortunate position of having access to an amazing network of Somali intellectuals, writers, journalists, and film makers, who not only continue to push us harder, but act as a source of inspiration for many of our media pieces here at AfroLens. I’ve recently had some interesting discussions with many Somalis working within various facets of the media about the proliferation of amateur journalists venturing into Somalia to cover our nation’s fall from grace (but really in search of book deals, and D-list media personality-hood).  Until now I’ve resisted the urge to engage these amateur political paparazzi and expose them for what they really are; shameless self-promoters. This group believes that they can skip key steps to becoming a journalist like formal educational training in the craft and years of work experience, and skip right ahead to notoriety and success on the backs of Somalis and Somalia. I’ve really resisted.  And boy oh boy, have they tried to bait me with their gratuitous media coverage. I’ve remained resilient and silent, but then something happened.

For those of you unaware, there is a new site called SomaliaReport, and while I’m sincerely regretful to inform you of its existence, there’s no way around this issue (your welcome Monsieur Bahadur for the unintended promotion).  Before I start asking big questions, allow me to give you a brief background into my reservations about this particular website. The man behind SomaliaReport is the illustrious Robert Young Pelton.  Some of you are asking, ‘who the %$# is that?’, others are in a face palm position, and the rest of you have not been clued in yet. Well this fine gentleman is famous for going to dangerous places. I’m being serious. This is actually his real occupation. I must acknowledge that any introduction done by moi will inevitably overlook the intellectual prowess of this media tycoon, and it’s only fair that I use his autobiography as a reference point for us to get to know him a little better.

According to his personal website, WWW.COMEBACKALIVE.COM. I swear I’m not kidding, this is the name of his website. Come back alive from what exactly? We can ask him that later, but from what we know, Robert Young Pelton is an author, filmmaker, and journalist who, “continues to overcome extraordinary obstacles in his search for the truth. In his travels to and through the world’s most dangerous places, Pelton shares risks with his hosts, and is often the sole surviving witness to history-shaping events.” You don’t have to be Edward Said to be in awe of the lunacy of all this. My god, this man is a like a travelling Canadian Yoda. What does one ask the ‘sole surviving witness to history shaping events’?

What a fascinating lad. I would love to get the opportunity to ask him to help us answer an age old philosophical dilemma that has even Spike TV baffled; “who will win in a death duel between the Medellin cartel of Colombia or Somali Pirates?”

After all, this is his area of expertise, and a subject fit only for the ‘soul surviving witness to history shaping events’. Anyway, Mr. Pelton through his extensive network of Somali journalists has decided to start a non-partisan website dedicated to groundbreaking coverage of Somali politics. Now, there isn’t anything particularly wrong with this venture. Sure he may be a shameless self promoter, who has garnered success through dehumanizing black and brown people, and glorifying civil strife. But who am I to judge Mr. Pelton, especially when people like this can hold office, and are considered serious presidential contenders….

Despite his eyebrow raising prolific career, Mr. Pelton still has every right to provide the international community with a website dedicated to serious journalism about issues effecting Somalia. So what does one do, when they are looking to gain a modicum of legitimacy from the Somali community as potential subscribers and supporters? (I’m being extremely generous in assuming we are his intended audience, as a lot of us have some ideas about who his intended audience is). You hire the best of the best to spearhead this ambitious project. For your editor, you would logically hire a person with an extensive reporting history in Somalia, and the larger East African community. Someone connected to local populations, and respected as serious journalist by his peers. It’s fair to assume they might be in possession of several degrees, if not formal journalism training. At minimum they should be proficient in the language of the community they intend on covering. This all makes sense right? I mean this is what you would do, if you were running a website called SomaliaReport.com? Well, Mr.Pelton has a different approach.  Instead, he hired this guy……

Who needs serious journalists when you can hire a ragtag reporter famous for foolishly travelling to Somalia, so that he could trick pirates into divulging their dirty little secrets by bribing them with qaat (a drug substance consumed in East Africa, and parts of the Middle East). He gave the west a salacious insight into the world of pirates by observing their odd idiosyncrasies, like how qaat (the drug of choice in Somalia) makes pirates ‘sex craved and really talktative’. jay-bahadur is quite insightful if you’re from Boise, Idaho, and have never heard of a place called Somalia, and I suspect Mr. Bahadur is aware of his demographic reach, and exploits the willful ignorance of his audience members.

Before his success, Jay Bahadur was a market researcher living in Toronto with his parents when according to several interviews, a ‘brilliant’ person convinced him that the key to journalistic acclaim was to go somewhere, ‘crazy’. For Mr. Bahadur, and many Orientalists, ‘crazy’ is code word for Africa. And pirates. Sweet heavens, this is like a sensationalist’s wet dream. Success was sure to follow, and boy did it follow.

During his U.S media blitz, Mr. Bahadur informed Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, about his crazy plan and stated that he, “never knew anyone whose been to Somalia…it’s a country that is totally manufactured out of newspaper”. Mr. Bahadur’s plan once he arrived to Somalia was to “ask for directions to a pirate base”. And his first reaction upon setting foot in this supposed wild and new terrain was, ‘I’m in fucking Somalia’. While this reaction is natural for a man who’s had little contact with Somalis or Somalia, it’s incomprehensible in a city like Toronto, which is home to one of the biggest Somali diaspora communities outside of Somalia. But anything is possible with melanin-challenged privilege. Surely this is the last man you would go to for legitimate information on Somalia or piracy. Nope. It gets crazier. According to his biography featured on the website for publishing giant HarperCollin’s, Bahadur was invited by the U.S State department to serve as an advisor on issues relating to Somali piracy.

So now that we’ve covered some of the awkward background details of this story, it’s time for big questions.  What’s wrong with this picture? When did Africa become the stomping ground for talentless thrill seekers with stars in their eyes? Should we as Somalis, and Africans be concerned about opportunists who come to Africa for fame and glory they would rightfully be denied in their first world nations? Is there anything wrong with a website called SomaliaReport, that has no visible Somalis in leadership roles? How authentic and fair is the reporting? Do we care? How important is media ownership to a people seeking peace and development?

As Jay Bahadur so poignantly stated, we are a nation that has been manufactured by media reports. We are synonymous with starvation, corruption, warlords, piracy, and now terrorism. We have no one to blame but ourselves for the continued exploitation of our plight, and our lived realities. We can only hold ourselves accountable for encouraging this influx of ambitious hipsters, who come to Mama Africa for cheap thrills and a chance at a Huffington Post write-up. While our nation suffered through one of the worst famines to hit our continent, people like Jay Bahadur were riding the pirate train to success. Good on him. As Somalis say, niinkaan waa libaax (he’s a lion) and has more chutzpah than your average hipster, and congratulations are in order for his successful bamboozling of marqaan (high) pirates.  The aim here is not to boycott his website, or even discourage people from engaging with these types of media personalities. Instead, we are asking some serious questions about the ethics of media reporting in Somalia. There are serious journalists and communication experts who risk their lives everyday to give us authentic news and analysis of Somali politics sans the brazen self-promotion, and who also reject the reductionist accounts of Somali issues.

For example, many of us involved in the social media world are excited about a new project conducted by www.ushahidi.com, which is an ambitious initiative that allows for local populations in Somalia to send in reports and feedback about local politics, and the frustrations they’ve endured as citizens of a country embroiled in a twenty-year plus civil war. The people behind the Ushahidi initiative have done great work in Haiti as well, and feel that authentic reporting can only be achieved when you engage local populations in an accurate manner. They’ve recently partnered with Al Jazeera to conduct the biggest survey of Somalis about issues such as development, the war, famine, and other facets of Somalis lives.

Here is a link about their partnership with Al Jazeera, and their extensive polling of Somalis.

This work is revolutionary, and can be an amazing tool used throughout the continent to reclaim narratives about our homelands, and report our own stories with class, dignity, and authenticity. This is a great example of cutting-edge journalism that’s working with local populations and increasing access to accurate information, and not sensationalist reportage. Initiatives such as Ushahidi should be used to address issues of peace, reconciliation, and development. We, as Africans do not have the time nor the luxury to promulgate aspiring guerilla journalists into actualizing occupational fulfillment.  Lastly, we must be skeptical of any organization, private or public that speaks on our behalf, yet excludes our voices. It’s vital that Somalis and Africans act as a media watchdogs and hold these journalists accountable to their stories, and question their ambitions in Somalia, and Africa. Why Somalia? Why not report about the oil sands of Fort Mcmurray? Or immigration in Canada? What is the motivation behind venturing into the ‘world’s most dangerous places’ or seeking out pirates without any real concern or connection to our homeland? Are we allowed to be suspicious of these people? I think so. If Mr.Pelton had an iota of integrity, he would at least attempt to hire a Somali national from the pool of seasoned Somali journalists in Nairobi, and instead he chose to fly a novice from Toronto to serve in a leadership capacity. I will leave you with the words of Jay Bahadur reflecting on his quick rise to fame, “I tried to skip a few steps successfully so far in journalism … to become editor-in-chief,” he says with a laugh.” I think this man owes some pirates a few royalty checks. Oops, I forget, he paid them in qaat.

Idil Holif is a blogger, grad student, and social media junkie who can be found blogging at www.afrolens.com. To contact Idil Holif, please email her at afrolens@gmail.com

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78 thoughts on “Somalia and Media: How the new ‘heart of darkness’ proliferated the success of Ragtag Journalism.

  1. Somalian Pirates Have a Mafia Protecting Them – Thomas C Mountain

    With Toxic waste being dumped along the Somali coast, and Fisherman from distant lands poaching fish from Somalian waters various mafias moved in and offered protection to the Somalian Pirates.
    ….
    US wants war in Africa – Kenya invades Somalia – Thomas C Mountain

    Crisis management – means engage people in killing each other while their resources are stolen, and this is the US policy.
    Thomas C. Mountain is the only independent western journalist in the Horn of Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006.

  2. Hi Idil. Haters gonna hate but Somali already has too much of that.

    More importantly do you actually read Somalia Report? I would love your input on the type of coverage we provide. I think we are the best single source of unbiased news you will find.

    Not only do we put our money in the pocket of brave Somali journalists (those who chose to stay) we also give voices to every possible point of view and bring it to the Western world. A task that has been long ignored.

    We welcome all professional Somali journalists to join our ranks, but frankly Idil most are terrified to return home and work in that violent environment they left. So it is left to a new generation of Somali journalists to cover their country from within.

    You can ridicule us for trying to part of the solution but you should not ridicule your fellow Somali’s for being brave enough to bring the truth to you.

    Thank you for your opinion

    Robert Young Pelton
    Publisher
    Somalia Report

  3. Idil and Afrolens team…
    I’m baffled by the Somalia Report and quick to fame kid (Jay) who but together this journalism bonanza, I want to thank you and Afrolens team exposing this non sense… after all the pirates are millionaires and have more money than poor Jay so 4 him to buy khat the elite pirates and get their story is all PS…the whole thing don’t make sense..

  4. “Haters gonna hate but Somali already has too much of that.”
    Wuxuu ma ciyaal baa?. Pelton, its this petulant and arrogant attitude that is being ridiculed, not the work of Somali journalists.

    Great piece by the way @ afrolens. I’ve visited his site, there was something off but I didn’t research it further, thanks for the insight.

  5. This is such a joke……..RYP failed to recognize the intellectual and solidarity movement of young Somalis who will no longer put up with this b.s. Idilay thank you so much for bringing this to light. I know ‘accountability’ is a huge problem in Somalia and clearly the SomaliaReport aka propaganda machine took the liberty to become the “false voice of somalia” and take advantage of this problem. The publisher RYP displayed his amateurism with his response, the same type of amateurism he used to hire Jay….the toronto kid that barely knew what a “Somalia” was.

  6. For somebody claiming to be a ‘Somalia Expert’, the man should know the difference between the words ‘Somali’ and ‘Somalia’. Also how dare he insinuate that you are hating when in fact you are asking in-depth questions that should have been asked a very long time ago.

    Its obvious, Mr Young is too young to understand what he has gotten himself into. He doesn’t care about Somalis or Somalia. If he were he wouldn’t mic the two up. He is in for the fame and fortune.

  7. Thank you Robert for your response. We appreciate all feedback for this article!

    Do we read Somalia Report?
    Yes. We thoroughly researched Somalia Report before we came to the conclusion that it has substandard hiring practices.

    Now let me ask you, did you read Idil’s article? I don’t think so.

    You say that Somalia Report offers the “best single source of unbiased news you will find”.

    How is that possible when your editor-in-chief does not speak or read Somali, and has spent less than 100 days in the country? How can you ensure quality control when your editor-in-chief is completely removed from Somali culture, and is receiving 3rd party translations? Let me put this into context. The Canadian Broadcasting network (CBC) does not hire journalists unless they have at minimum: a journalism degree; speak English and French; and several years of experience. These standards are similar to many major news publications around the world. Please explain how your ‘Editor-in-Chief’ does not even meet those rudimentary requirements.

    By your own admission most Somali journalists are terrified to return home and work in that violent environment they left. So, why are you unable to recruit from the brave and qualified Somali journalists that you currently employ? Yes security is an issue. Somalis have been reporting from and about Somalia longer than you have been visiting the worlds ‘most dangerous places’. However this is not relevant, since your Editor-in-Chief is based in Nairobi. It is incomprehensible that you are unable to recruit a competent and seasoned Somali journalist from one of the largest Somali diaspora communities in the world. Somalia Report partners western editors with Somali journalists. That is clear. You claim that you are truly concerned with the new generation of Somali journalists, and encourage those who’ve left the country to return. So, why are you not recruiting from this demographic, Somali journalists with western passports?

    You accuse Idil of ridiculing the Somali journalists that work for Somalia Report. That is entirely untrue. In fact she is dumbfounded, as am I, by your aversion to recruiting from this qualified group.

    “Haters gonna hate but Somali already has too much of that”

    Yes, I know it may be customary for you to speak in Hip-Hop lingo when you’re addressing blacks/Africans. However, I can assure you that this is unnecessary when you’re addressing Idil and me. In any case, since you seem to be familiar with hip hop lyrics, I’ll leave you with this quote for your reading pleasure.

    Tell them the truth and they call you a traitor talk to them honestly and they call you a hater- Immortal technique

    Best,
    Afrah Aden
    Blogger AfroLens

    • When you start reporting on the ground from inside Somalia, please contact us. Dissing your countrymen who are actually doing something to bring you information from inside Somalia seems embarrassingly unproductive.

      • RYP where in Somalia do you reporters based on? can you pinpoint your sources? after all we are small community and know each other very well.. there’s sayin in somali “beenlow nin dhintay iyo nin dheer buu markhaati u qabsadaa” ask your sources to translate this for you and you will understand our frustration with your PS….

      • I went back to the original article written by Afrolens and to their response to Mr RYP and I still failed to see where in the world they dissed their countrymen…do not quite understand why he keep accusing them of that? oh well, I see someone is practicing the famous mantra *when you don’t have answers, just dismiss* 🙂
        I would love to ask Mr Pelton some few questions:
        1) how much money did he give to these poor Somali people he used?
        2) how much profit did he make on their stories, pics, smiles, misery, etc?
        3) how does it feel to be such a wonderful leech?

        Dear Afrolens writers, I thank you for your work and please keep denouncing these shameless vultures.

  8. RYP. We Somalis fully support Somali journalism. For your information there are other sites besides yours which we have been using for years, we also have contact with Somalis on the ground who bring us news, its not like there was a lack of reporting by Somalis before you site came up. You have yet to respond to Idil’s points, the points she has made in this article which has gained the support of everyone reading this except for you. I for one have no idea who these ‘Somali’ journalists are that you have hired, and I am not impressed by the site or the idea of ‘comebackalive’. I have been to Somali regions under Al shabaab and came back alive, I dont see how this is a news story. These Somalis you describe who are afraid of returning home may exist but many of us have returned to Somalia and there has been a coordinated effort of Diaspora Somali’s returning to Somalia for the famine effort. We are also not afraid of pirates, it was us who freed the British captives; the Chandlers. I am also finding it incredibly difficult to believe that a pirate who aims for millions in ransom would give you so much access and time for a few pieces of cheap narcotic. Your style of journalism is the blight of this planet, it only appeals to people fond of Judd Apatow comedy and ‘dude’ behaviour. I do not see Somalia or any country going through problems as a ‘fun zone’ for dudes. For all of our sake,including yours can you please respond to Idil.

  9. Robert, it is unnecessary to use hip hop jargon when addressing a person of colour . It reeks of ignorance and at best, racism.
    I really want to believe that you’re stay in Somalia was inspired by a passion for human rights instead of an opportunity to further your journalistic career.
    Your stay in Somali isn’t noteworthy, many others have come before you, but unfortunately they haven’t had the privilege of being white and as such, right.
    I am writing to you in the hope that you will stop using Somalia as a stepping stone for your career! Please find other ways to relieve your white guilt.

  10. Read and pissed with with this mature corporate child soldeir! tell him hes in the wrong century! the 19th is more apropo for the media in general. you were too kind in your discription of the often corporate child soldiers of journalism( The bewildered forth estate, they don’t know why they are really not the hollywood stars! rather they really want to be on the other side of the camera!! what journalism! As if the profession is okay once one is “trained” the truth is they have consistently failed the people, they the forth estate are assumed to be the last bastion of protection for. This guy is incredible in is selfrightious paternalism, what gall to claim authenticity over the authentic! this is quite in keeping with that 19th century piece by Churchill covering Sudan. Who that is not biased would use such dehumanizing nomeclature such as pirate etc with have to that this cionage and currency of usage to the corporate child soldiers! Unbaised what in relation to the media what utter contempt for our intellegience. Eventhough i do encounter such manifestations of moralistic indignance, i am still amazed at the Westerner’s shameless audacity to profess ” we know you, better than you know yourself” this harkens back to the Siadian critique of orientalists, however, there is a difference here, the forth estate is undereducated, in comparsion to the orientalists critiqued by Edward Said.
    Mr the Pelton simply to say that or claim that because you are on the ground or have a freind who hung with the Somali coast guards( probably after watching the south park episode) or have somalis you exploit for native information does not make you the authentic news. Your claim is well known in Africa, where white explorers came saw and discvoered! one famous one is Colum
    bus!!

  11. I am personally saddened to see such an outpouring of racist, angry and ignorant comments hosted on your site: “Dehumanizing black and brown people”, “melanin-challenged privilege”. Really? This exactly the type of attitude we don’t tolerate in journalism because it breeds hate and ignorance. Please don’t confuse your opinions with facts.

    If you have something truthful, helpful or productive to add to the mix we would welcome your input. It is my personal opinion that your ugly comments are an embarrassment to yourself, your family and your community. Please stop and think what you are projecting about yourself to the world. Do not support racism or hatred in any form.

    • I can’t describe the feeling of bewilderment that has engulfed me after reading this reply. When has mentioning race, become racism? I don’t think you can use color blindness as an argument to debunk this piece. Nice tactic on your part I see what you’re doing here. This is the second time you have deflected all questions posed. I think any media expert can easily see through this attempt at defacing this website. But you underestimate the people reading this exchange. I think you are mistaken, when you say she has embarrassed herself, her family and community. Since when did opinion pieces and freedom of thought cause people being disowned?

      I can’t help but wonder, what Freud would say after reading this! Have you ever heard of Freudian slip, you may want to look into this? I can’t believe that an owner of website dedicated to reporting from Somalia is unaware of white privilege! But hey, you know the saying ignorance is bliss!

      P.S. I WOULD APPRECIATE IT IF YOU WOULD ACTUALLY RESPOND TO THE QUESTIONS HERE, SINCE YOU HAVE NO ISSUE ENGAGING IN THIS TOPIC!

      • “….It is my personal opinion that your ugly comments are an embarrassment to yourself, your family and your community.” He says.

        I, as member of her community, am filled with pride because of how well she represents us all. Witty, Smart, and bold. I can understand Mr. Young being saddened. He must be lost for words.

    • Oh, did we hurt your feelings Sir?…btw, you do know Afrolens is not responsible for our views & words and our comments can be deleted only if they are offensives…so again, sorry we caressed you the wrong way!
      Laakiin (I’m sure you know that word, Mr Expert in Somalia affairs), why are you not answering to their initial questions?…hmm, you are getting me curious now.

    • Ah yes, white liberal “colour-blindness.” The real racists are the Somalis here and their incisive critiques of your racialized tropes and Orientalist, voyeuristic narratives of our country. Fyo, I think you’re overestimating our dear RYP’s ability to engage with the arguments here, as I really do believe he has never encountered these questions of power, privilege and representation, and the deflection we’re seeing is much more than a defense mechanism. How terrifying.

    • Robert…….We appreciate your deflection….great PR move on your part..Unfortunately our audience has way too many degrees to fall for this tactic…Infact here is a response from one of our readers. Professor Abdi Latif Ega of Columbia University:

      “It is apparent that here you are indignant and apprehensive of any critique whatsoever. Masqerading your paternalism for the bastions of journalism is false. You as everyone else have a right to be critiqued, without engaging in platitudes that borders such well known offensive practices. You have been questioned and you have not answered anything. Are you saying that, you are not claiming authenticity yourself? and not hiding behind a profession many have seized to take seriously?(including journalist themselves) particularly regarding the post 911 eleven war on terror. Where in the case of Somalia there has been caricature after dehumanizing caricatures. The amazing thing is how can such ignorant and racist assertions come from a person dealing with Africa.

      You have dismissed the many Somali news sites that have been around for decades now. Claiming that one need not listen to us because you (your organization) are “on the Ground” is baffling. Further more, you continue to dissmiss everyone here, telling us to disassociated your western imperialism from yourself. Your paternalism (a kind word for you)is evident in this website, where you have called everyone a racist, etc for saying that the media usage of nomenclature like Pirates, Warlords and terrorists are dehumanizing and the proof is in the amount of callous brutality that has been visited upon us by the “international community” and thereof that nomenclature is dehumanizing…. It is self-evident sir that you’re really not equipped nor want to cast a gaze at your own racism. It is simply defeats the purpose to label all of us what you want and hope that it sticks. We will accept lucid critiques from you and anyone, but please refrain from the arrogance so common with westerners when dealing with africans; That is to tell us how ignorant we are and racist based on such self-righteous platitudes, You do not set the parameters, rest assured we will allow people to speak freely and is the policy of the site to allow critism and are saddened by your frivolous use of the race card,rather that answer the critiques at hand against the report and your pieces. We look forward to a continuing healthy exchange of ideas when you’re ready to have a serious discussion.

    • Dear Robert,

      It is unfortunate that in 3 separate responses, you have not bothered to answer a single question we’ve asked.

      First you accused Idil and me of ‘dissing’ the Somali journalists working at Somalia Report. Then you dismissed our questions because we are not based in Somalia (funnily enough, neither are you). And finally you’ve accused us of being ‘racist’ and ‘ignorant’.

      Your deflections are baseless and could not be further from the truth. And most importantly, do not answer any of our questions!

      Why is your “Editor-and-Chief” unable to speak or read Somali, possess no formal education in journalism, and has little work experience as a journalist in the West and Somalia? How can someone who does not meet the basic requirements of a journalist in the West, suddenly be qualified to be “Editor-in-Chief” of Somalia Report? Why are you unable to recruit qualified Somali’s that currently work at Somalia Report for this leadership role? Why are you unable to recruit experienced Somali journalists from the diaspora community for this position? Why are you unable to recruit any qualified person for this position?

      Thanks to all the commentators who’ve lent their voice to this discussion.

      Best,
      Afrah Aden
      Blogger AfroLens

    • “your ugly comments are an embarrassment to yourself, your family and your community. Please stop and think what you are projecting about yourself to the world” : why does this remind me of the Western tendencies for generalizing the “Others” as if there were no differences between Africans etc. If the comments embarrass their family and their community of the bloggers, even the whole Somalia and Africa, then you embarrass me as part of the white race and the Western culture.

  12. Somali Report made our jobs as journalist/emergency response team hard and unnecessarily long.

    I agree with Idil and I can confirm to you that Somali Report is a dangerous website. Their sources are bunch of ragtag journalist that will write anything you want them to write about. Note that almost every youth in Somalia is a ‘reporter’ and will write anything to get some little $$.

    One of Somalia Report articles got us almost killed in Dhobley, Somalia. They produced an article and used one of the pictures I took on the day they were referring to.
    HERE IS THE ARTICLE http://somaliareport.com/index.php/post/1419/Dhobley_Residents_and_IDPs_Face_Looting_Rape?PHPSESSID=41dbed0c539df703ef2626e37f681232 (After complaining to them they took off my picture and clearly changed some of the content).

    I was there in Dhobley, Somalia with my team on that day and we’ve been operating in and between Dhobely, Diff and Dadaab for over 4months. There were no looting from the TFG or Ras-Kamboni side in the time that we were there. We gave everything we brought with us to the refugees and all of that would have never been possible without the local leaders.
    That article made us look bad in front the TFG and Ras-Kamboni fighters who welcomed us treated like their sons/brothers, respected us and were facilitating us every time we got in to Somalia (two of their soldiers put their lives on the line for Matt Wilder, they jumped on him when some people started shooting as u can see here http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150256366304218&set=t.515871282&type=3&theater)
    We were the only group who were allowed to film, take pictures and interview the local leaders…insha allah soon you will see in our documentary the dislike for foreign journalist by the Somalis we’ve interviewed inside Somalia.

    This is a clear proof that unprofessional & wannabe journalist will only make the job of real journalists hard.

    This should be a lesson for al of us Somalis everywhere. If we dont take initiative, other people who dont know anything about your land will take it and dont be surprise when they make things even worst.

    Dont be surprised when they become your eyes & ears, when they tell you that tribalism it your problem and enforce a system on you which is based on 4.5 tribal system, when they deal only with warlords & murderers, when they choose to completely change your constitution, when they break your country into 15 mini-states, when they dump chemicals in to your sea, when they fish your shores empty, when they decide to represent you at the UN (Mahiga) and at the African Union (J. Rawlings).

    Thank you Idil.

    Deeq.
    GSR

  13. RYP,

    Let me put it in a slightly different way that perhaps you feel comfortable to reply to. Let’s just say that Canada was in total anarchy, civil war, with corruption ripe across all private, charitable, and governmental bodies, both internally and externally. Let’s just say that you are passionate about Canada and want to let the world know what is really going on, hoping you can make an impact on what you feel are the injustices that are happening every day in the lives of your loved ones, your family, your friends, and everyone else in Canada. Let’s just say that this has been going on for decades. Let’s just say that after all you’ve done and reported on and put effort in and worked hard for, you finally feel that there is a glimmer of hope. Let’s just say that you get a feeling that there could be a light at the end of the tunnel.

    And then a SOMALI person comes to Canada, bribes a few people, walks around for 100 days, goes back to Somalia, writes a book, becomes a best-seller around the world, and now has made money off the plight of your people, the Canadians who fight and struggle every single day to stay alive, survive, and try to rebuild their country, bring peace and unity, and show mercy in order to grant justice to those who deserve it. But that’s not all. This SOMALI person is now advising everyone that he has an extensive network across Canada (but doesn’t state his sources), is called an ‘expert’, and has furthered his career four-fold in the space of 100 days.

    Now how would YOU feel? Because that’s how the majority (if not all) of the Somalis that have been on your site and read this blog feel. So let’s step away from all the things you feel are negatively being pointed towards you and begin a dialogue of shared information. As the journalist you say you are who is bringing others together, can you please answer the Questions that have been posed to you earlier.

    Or better yet, in the interest of true journalism, being unbiased, and verification of the truth of matters (which every real journalist wants to achieve), what most of us would probably want to know as a MINIMUM is who your sources/journalists are????

    • Can I just add that any Somali person will support anyone who is honest, passionate and transparent about their intentions and actions, to help things to improve for the Somali people and the Somali Nation. If you are not getting the support, perhaps rethinking the way you do business/journalism might get you more support. Perhaps re-think the whole idea of your website and go back to the drawing board?

  14. Damn, I am starting to feel bad for Mr Young! The point of this discussion, I guess, is that gonne are the days you can write anything about Africans and you won’t be held accountable. The internet has allowed us to monitor and respend to questionable materials and ideas written about us in real time. Oh and Mr Young, regarding your comment about Somali journalists not working on the ground, some of us are here and not passing thru but actually live and work in Somalia.

  15. Does Robert think we are stupid and ignorant to believe him??? yes we are Somalis but that doesnt mean we are illitrate if u think its brave to spend some few coins on needy citizens then u tell us u bribed some pirates Mr you are so wrong,,,,know that the pirates are making billions of dollars every year they are richer that u by far,,,so u say u are a good journalist answer the questions u have been asked then we see how good u are?

  16. This all recounts a similar ‘conversation’ between the Niall Ferguson and Mishra saga, and I certainly am backing Mishra on this one 😉 … Truth cannot be captured through action alone, and there is certainly no wisdom behind suicide.

  17. Mr Young please just answer above questions and don’t hide behind race. If you are interested in being part of the solution let somalis tell their story.

  18. Salam family
    I have always been a proud Somali and African but today I am ecstatic! Walaahi! Dharbaaxo wanaagsan o smaart ah ayaa loo dhiibay ninkan beenta wada!

    Thank you Idil! I always knew you were beyond brilliant and talented! MashAllah! Such a well written article! Thank you for challenging opportunistic people who hide behind ‘journalism’!! Many of them are a disgrace to this profession. In Somali culture a journalist is a witness and a witness worthy of that name cannot resort to lies and misinformation.

    In my life I disliked nothing more than so called explorers and journalists crippled with Eurocentrism, racism and orientalism, who write venom about Africa and Africans! I have been fighting with the media in this UK and you will laugh at the stupid and dishonest responses I always receive. Because they do not give any credit or that my intelligence matches theirs. This case would not be any different!

    The days of Richard Burton and Bernard Lewis are well over. We have educated and Africentric brothers and sisters who are on top of their games in so many fields. However, MEDIA is one of the most important tool there is in the world when it comes to passing on a message or building an opinion whether for good or for evil.
    So it is really crucial we not only write books and articles but also, report, blog, make our own documentaries to tell our own stories from our own perspective. It also important we monitor, critique and challenge the lies and misinformation that many so called journalists write about the Somali people and the continent of Africa and her people.

    We must encourage our people to give up on their love with white men with gadgets and treating them like they are holders of truth and talent. We must bring irresponsible and ill inform paternalistic westerners into account and bring any of those who try to exploit our image and hardship out of business.

    We need to respond not with our emotions but in an intellectual and professional manner and make sure we research the subject so no fool can find loop holes in our work.

    Idilay and Afrah, you did that PERFECTLY!

    Please do not expect Mr Young to address the questions you have put forward to him.
    This is what I have learnt from comrades with regard to the specific way in which the Eurocentric world process complaints that challenge their exploitation and paternalistic and prejudiced manner they write about the global majority, the brown and black people:

    Ignore: They simple refuse to reply, especially if the point is very strong and beyond argument.

    Attrition: the response time alone kills the fire in the person bringing the complaint.

    Ignorance: “we don’t know which report/what you’re talking about”

    Distraction: An attempt to try and avoid addressing the real issues rose in the complaint.

    Political exit: “We don’t agree with ALL your points, but thank you for writing.”

    Unilateral Discontinuation: We have exhausted the issue and thus will conclude the discussion. “Agree to disagree.”

    The follow this patern religiously…just observe!

    Keep it up sisters and brothers.

    With love and solidarity.
    Zaynab

  19. Afrolens, thank you for publishing such truthful and very informing article. Somalia has been under seize for more than 20 yrs. and the SomaliaReport.com site is one of the new players who want their share of the prize pie. But thanks to people like Idil and Afrah they will not be able to continue to cash on the misery of Somalia.

    Please continue to be the voice of truth and journalistic integrity.

  20. Sorry, I work with Somalia Report – there are dozens of Somali journalists reporting to Somalia Report (their names, or at least the nicknames they use for journalism (some have been threatened by al-Shabaab and others, so use nicks instead) appear at the top of the articles they head)… all you have to do is read an article, and see the name there:

    for instance, Adbikafar Hosh wrote this piece on the assassination of Puntland finance minister Keyse Musse: http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/2346/Puntland_Finance_Minister_Musse_Assassinated_

    I am not quite sure why you have difficulty with english-speaking editors for the english part of Somalia Report, there are Somali-speaking editors for the Somali side of the page. Somalia Report is still growing, Jay is not working by himself and there are a crew of dedicated and intelligent Somalis – who speak English and Somali – on the ground throughout Somalia, reporting for Somalia Report. If you really need proof, I can have some of them write here.

    For the record, I live in Toronto as well and meet regularly with Somalis, and I have yet to hear one of them complain that anyone is reporting on Somalia – I would think that getting news out of Somalia would be beneficial to Somalis in general, and that there would be less vitriol…

    unless your anger is that one of you wasn’t hired to be the editor, in which case you should send your resumes to jobs@somaliareport.com, not write angry blog entries accusing others of racism without basis or reason.

  21. I will add that RYP has reported on Afghanistan for years, and Chechnya under the bombing of the Russians. His interests are in the human beings suffering under war, and he established SomaliaReport as a way of getting news out of the country, for the benefit of both the diaspora and english-speaking readers who want to know what is happening.

    So far, he has just paid to establish the site and is paying journalists and editors out of pocket, without profiting from the website. Think reasonably: if he was just trying to ‘profit from war and death’ then why wouldn’t he just work for one of the major channels which pay for journalists to just spend a few days in a hotel and fly out, without learning anything? Instead, he lives for weeks or months amongst the people in Mogadishu, meeting journalists and establishing networks, to try to build up communication.

    Seriously, where do you think there is ‘big money’ in reporting on conflict, tribal warfare and oppression in east Africa? Most of the mainstream media is actively ignoring east Africa unless there are pictures of starving babies, and even then that only gets two minutes… most of the Somali diaspora I meet here in Toronto are pleased that non-Somalis are taking an active interest in Somalia.

    Don’t hate, replicate. If you want to build a better site than SomaliaReport, than do so.

    • Dawud, have you seen the video showing RYP’s new chief-editor Mr Jay Bahadur on the Dailyshow with Jon Stewart?….I love Jon Stewart but it was the most despicable 6mn show I’ve ever watched…They were making fun of Somali people, not getting the news out of the country!….watch it, here it is, you might get an answer to your question *where do you think there is ‘big money’ in reporting on conflict, tribal warfare and oppression in east Africa?* http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-august-9-2011/jay-bahadur

      Bwt, Mr RYP was asked some serious and simple questions, he could just answer to them, if he has nothing to hide.

    • Interesting response Dawud. I read SomaliaReport from time to time, and I do not think all of its reporting is troubling. It provides a source for English language Somali news although I do not agree with all of its op-eds or its views at times.

      That being said, I think the questions posed in this article are very relevant and fair. How is Mr.Bahadur a qualified editor by any stretch of the imagination? So far I have yet to see either you or Robert attempt to address this relevant question.Its hard to imagine how a person with no handling of the Somali language, and little background in the country can manage news coming out of it. I’d assume part of your audience is the diaspora as well. When some of your audience critiques your publication, it would be beneficial to address concerns, as opposed to justify it with references to “haters”. That’s quite childish to be honest, and I’d expect more from a professional outlet.

    • Dear dawud786,

      “I will add that RYP has reported on Afghanistan for years, and Chechnya under the bombing of the Russians. His interests are in the human beings suffering under war, and he established SomaliaReport as a way of getting news out of the country, for the benefit of both the diaspora and english-speaking readers who want to know what is happening.”

      Yes. We are familiar with Mr. Pelton’s past as a visitor to the ‘world’s most dangerous places’. And his ability to ‘comeback alive’ as he states “often the sole surviving witness to history-shaping events”. While his history is eyebrow raising it is besides the point. The article questions the legitimacy of a website that hires a Western ‘journalist’, who is unqualified for the leadership position he holds.

      “I am not quite sure why you have difficulty with english-speaking editors for the english part of Somalia Report, there are Somali-speaking editors for the Somali side of the page. Somalia Report is still growing, Jay is not working by himself and there are a crew of dedicated and intelligent Somalis – who speak English and Somali – on the ground throughout Somalia, reporting for Somalia Report”

      Your statement exemplifies the reason behind the entire article. Why was Jay Bahadur flown in from Toronto to work in a leadership capacity, when there were Somali journalists who were clearly more experienced and knowledgeable for the position? Why is that acceptable? Mr. Pelton has many capable and brave Somali journalists working for his website, why were these women and men overlooked? And for the record, I do not have an issue with Mr. Bahadur’s ability to speak English. I am troubled by the fact that he does not know how to speak or read Somali, and has less experience as a ‘journalist’ then the Somali reporters who work beneath him. Aside from dealing qaat to Somali ‘pirates’ what experience does he have that would make him the best candidate for this position, over the 100’s of other bilingual journalists that Mr. Pelton employs. I would appreciate if you, or Mr. Pelton would answer that question.

      “I would think that getting news out of Somalia would be beneficial to Somalis in general, and that there would be less vitriol…”

      It is this type of condescension and white man’s burden that offends us greatly. You assume that we had no access to news on the ground before Somalia Report came ino existence. Somalia Report is only one of several news publications that offers news from and about Somalia in Somali and English. However, it is a website that has hired an Editor-in-Chief, who does not speak or read Somali, has no formal education in journalism, and has a less background working as a ‘journalist’ in the West, let alone in Somalia than his supposed Somali subordinates.

      “unless your anger is that one of you wasn’t hired to be the editor, in which case you should send your resumes to jobs@somaliareport.com, not write angry blog entries accusing others of racism without basis or reason.”

      This has nothing to do with a disgruntled job applicant. I know Somalia Report is in the business of hiring those in leadership positions without any qualifications. However, in the real world, one would need qualifications for the job they’re seeking…call us crazy, but this seems to work. Unfortunately that is not the case for Mr. Bahadur and his post as Editor-in-chief at Somalia Report.

      “Most of the mainstream media is actively ignoring east Africa unless there are pictures of starving babies, and even then that only gets two minutes…”

      I also believe, as does Idil, that Africa is gravely underreported by the mainstream media. I encourage you to read our about section, which explains the inspiration behind AfroLens.

      About AfroLens

      “AfroLens began as an idea between two Somali-Canadian friends who were, quite frankly, fed up with the lack of African voices in mainstream media. AfroLens is not only a website, but a community and movement designed to spearhead an African media revolution on the continent and in the diaspora. We will discuss politics, the arts, and feminism through various forms of media. More than just a 20 second sound byte about famine and war; we will offer a platform for artists, community activists, and citizens committed to the betterment of Africa!”

      Best,
      Afrah Aden
      Blogger AfroLens

  22. RYP is not a pioneer in shoddy journalism nor flogging of sensationalist trash. I’m sure he hired his Editor-in-chief for that exact reason – the generation of sexy news items such as getting high with pirates. There is no lack of Somali news portals, or journalistic integrity – we recognise sites set up for cheap thrills when we see them. The internet is large and Somali voices are gaining ground every day. And we WILL hold you accountable, especially when you can’t even answer simple questions.

    And just to let RYP know, we are very proud of the writers of this blog. No doubt their families and communities are as well.

    Well done, Idil.

  23. Please explain to me how an article such as this:
    http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/2140/Somali_Views_Differ_Over_Military_Intervention

    which quotes Somalis on their views on military intervention

    is sensationalist. From my experience, RYP has spent far more time, blood, sweat and tears on reporting from the region than most mainstream journalists, and so far as I know, than the bloggers on this site. Please actually read the articles posted there and tell me which of them are sensationalist, when they are all written by Somalis living in Somalia and reporting on news that matters to them.

  24. I’ve never heard of this site or this so-called reporter. The youtube link someone posted of him was extremely cringe worthy. ‘Someone told me this is what I had to do to get ahead…’ Truely shameless. But if all this was an embarrassment for the creators of the site, Mr Pelton reply truely left it as something undesirable by the intelligent mind. Your website Mr, is not for the Somali audience. We desire content of superior quality; one sourced from the roots. Please don’t insult us with your American school kid lingo. I am British Somali – your words sound foreign to me.

  25. It takes a strong character to recognize a mistake, and correct it..An ombudsman is by definition supposed to be impartial and unbiased, someone who supports and defends the statutes, and operates without agendas. Instead Somalia Report is run by: someone who is biased, unprofessional, downright neglectful, someone who lacks the very basics of the profession.. if you disagree with me just read his comments above..But this article exposed him for what he really is: an autocrat and a loose cannon. He made no attempt to answer Idil and Ifrah’s questions, the very simple question that we (Somali Diaspora) want to hear….Instead he and his “mouthpieces” now in action are keep singing the same old song…so for one more final time Mr. Robert (Somalia Report) and his crew answer the damn question or stop writing your non sense and shutdown your profit oriented propaganda..

  26. A very well writen article. I think the bottom line is as Somlis we need to to be reporting the Somali problem ourselves. The pity is that the thousands of of Somali websites arebiased and report events with ethics and governance.

    Reporting the Somali problems also touches and has longer lasting effect the somali youth in the diaspora, as shown by Deeqs videos from Dadaab.

    • Funny how when I pointed out the above, Saacid — “The pity is that the thousands of of Somali websites arebiased and report events with ethics and governance.” — Afrah told me that I am patronizing and racist. Oh, and when Maxamed said the same thing.

      I don’t speak for RYP or his hiring policy, I just don’t care for the implied insult to SomaliaReport that it is exploitative or hurts Somalis, when we take great pains to echo their voices, select and edit the articles which they submit, and bring them to an English-speaking audience.

      to answer Afrah, we don’t encourage anyone to harm themselves or put themselves at risk. Journalism is a dangerous occupation in Somalia, with 66 journalists killed last year — more than one a week. http://en.rsf.org/somalia.html But there must be some reason that the journalists care to write?

      Please tell me how Somalis are exploited by reprinting the voices of refugees, community leaders and Islamic scholars in the following article:
      http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/2474/Dadaab_Leaders_Urge_Refugees_Against_Al-Shabaab

  27. I am astounded that this has been going on for a while and misleading the international communities. theres no transparency, no accountability and it is all nonsense. it buffles me somali report can be reported from the prospective view of non somali person. the time for soali report to be under fire has come and i will inform every living somalis about their false reporting and inaccurace to the wider community this should not be in business. it has many holes.

  28. I think this type of media coverage is not only pathetic but deceptive. If you want the truth as perceived by those closest to the experience you go to the locals! Sadly, most people could care less about the truth. They want to re-affirm their pre existing notions of African society and in this case Somali society (with in Somalia). Also, there are governments (like those using Somalia as a dumping ground for toxic waste, selling arms, exploiting natural resources… etc.) who would much rather their populations maintain these pre existing notions than realize that their governments are contributing to (and profiting from) the devastation/conflict in Somali.

  29. Pingback: the Western bias in chronicling war « haba na haba

  30. Pingback: Journalism about and from Africa « Good Developments

  31. Idil and afrolens.com team, thank you for bringing this to my attention. Though I have read news many a time from this site, I had no clue who manage this site!

  32. well.well.well.This is a clear indication that many people took advantage of the wars and conflicts in Somalia.i am a Kenyan Somali who has crisscrossed Somalia. As many westerners would describe us a hopeless,destitute and backward Society,they are the once rushing to the most “Dangerous city on earth’ to earn fame.Who is backward now? them or us.am currently working with a humanitarian org,i have not seen anybody of white skinned in those place i have gone to,yet .they are the once giving the analysis of Somalia.Arm chair reporting ,we call it here in Somalia.An expert in Somalia affairs,yet the can not utter a single Somalia word,they have never been into Somalia soil.Unless Somalis rise up and fight for there identity,we will always be subjected to the utter nonsense of the melamine lacking creature under the SUN.

  33. Since you first published your racist insults, our Somali journalists have published over a dozen stories on news coming from inside Somalia, we have green lit a number of investigative stories from others and we continue to research the truth behind a number of official statements and events. Dozens of Somali journalists will be employed based on their efforts. That money will go towards feeding their families and representing their hard work and bravery. Bravo to them

    Your efforts in that same time have resulted in over 45 unproductive rants, obsessive tweets, zero fact checking, zero research and absolutely no productive activity that has benefited a single Somali inside Somalia. When will you begin solving the problems you point out? We strongly support your idea of creating a Somali news service that hires educated Somalis. Where is it? Surely you could do this much better than we can based on your comments.

    Can you only imagine if all your privilege and protection in Canada was not wasted on inspiring negative energy, racism, hatred and ignorant opinions towards people you don’t even know. Can you imagine if you used this space and time to communicate helpful information, researched facts or positive results? What if you were to put your inflated ego and hatred of white people aside for just a moment, to create just one productive result for your fellow human? Regardless of color, religion, sex or opinion.

    What if you were truly concerned for the plight of the people of Somalia, and spent your time actually helping Somali’s inside Somalia to be self sufficient and not reliant on evil white people especially those “shameless self promoter(s), who ha(ve) garnered success through dehumanizing black and brown people.” Yes step up to the plate and show us how it is done. You will only hear applause from us.

    I hope that as long as people read this post they will ask themselves why a healthy woman given a safe country, an excellent education, a unfettered voice, access to all those intellectuals and the gifts you have chooses to use those blessing to engender hate, racism, ignorance, destruction instead of love and productivity. I feel so sad for you and what you have created here. Perhaps that is why you are an self described “obscure blogger” and don’t get 6 million worldwide hits a month like Somalia Report? The truth is, the world likes what the see in Somalia Report and we only hope to make it more impactful by staying away from the bitter poisonous fiction and divisiveness you seek to plant here.

    Our audience is the world and we proudly bring Somalia journalists to the forefront. To do that we enlist the help of well intentioned people who sacrifice their time to make their stories equal in stature to major media outlets. Jay Bahudar is one such person, there are many others you don’t even know about. All are welcome, black, white, male, female, Muslim, Christian or whatever. Its all for a singular cause: Give Somali’s inside Somalia a voice.

    When we get that resume from that Somali journalist/editor inside Somalia you say exists we will hire them. Point him or her to publisher@somaliareport.com Until then we will continue to publish an impressive number of stories from Somali’s and ignore your self promotional attempts at insult. We like to use quality of results not volume of opinion to measure success.

    In closing, we still extend our offer. If you or any of your associates are ever in Somalia and want to report on conditions that affect Somali’s, we will welcome your contributions. Until then you are free to invest your time in inspiring hatred and distrust, we won’t.

    best wishes

    RYP

    • To Mr Pelton,
      I’ve decided to post yet another comment, no pardon me, I meant “unproductive rant” since you so enjoy coming back to this post. I’m surprised that you would spare the time in your busy day to address the frustrations of an “obscure blogger”, aren’t you just a beacon of vigilance. I for one cannot fathom why you insist on engaging them, if this has no bearing on the productive and inspiring work you’re doing, unless of course you’re afraid this may tarnish the little legitimacy you hold. Or maybe if you say it enough, “I’m doing great work! That has never been done before and the money I receive is a result of my virtue” maybe, just maybe you might actually believe this. But that is neither here nor there. I’m not here to debate your motives, but to respond to your outlandish remarks.

      I couldn’t help but wonder what this team’s nationality had to do with this article. Since you encourage research, I went back and read the Charter of Rights and Freedom as well as the Canadian Citizenship Oath just for good measure. Boy was I surprised to see that Canadian nationals that have non Caucasian background are not given temporary citizenship which could be easily revoked if their compatriots are in disagreement with their action.( Your comment read too much like a threat, you may want to have someone review for you, as you have a company’s name to uphold). When all nationals right to life, liberty, and security doesn’t come with a disclaimer saying dissidents and non-productively was unacceptable to those given ‘status’. As you mentioned “why a healthy woman given a safe country, an excellent education, a unfettered voice, access to all those intellectuals and the gifts you have chooses to use those blessing to engender hate, racism, ignorance, destruction instead of love and productivity. I feel so sad for you and what you have created her.” I don’t see the relevance of this self-righteous statement, what does their protection in Canada and the so called ‘privilege’ granted have to do with what they choose to do. I think you forgot about the ‘liberty’ bit here. Nor do I remember the Multicultural Act of Canada endorsing how people of different backgrounds should choose to live their lives. So I don’t see how this blog post has anything to do with nationality, and the rights and freedoms of someone that hasn’t infringed upon your life. It’s an “obscure blog” with clearly not as much audience as SomaliaReport so why hostility Mr. Pelton?

      “Hatred of white people”, where did this come from? There must have been subliminal message that only you were intelligent enough to notice, I for one read no such message. Wow, my self-preservation impulse is out of commission it seems, so I guess I should be thanking you for letting me on this secret. But there is one thing I would love for you to indulge me in; why did you take the time to right such and angry comment, if you have millions of people to be catering to? Why did her article touch you so deeply that you had to respond, not once but several times?
      “We strongly support your idea of creating a Somali news service that hires educated Somalis.” Correct
      me if I’m wrong but I think news services that hired Somalis already existed and still do. So I don’t see the relevance of this statement, it seems you are just trying to find flaws in her article that aren’t even substantial. I don’t think you jabbering back in forth on this post is conducive to your website, as you are unintentionally giving legitimacy.

      P.S. Why do you keep posting your email for job opportunities, are you trying to bride them!

    • Dear Robert,

      You have yet to address a single question we’ve asked, including concerns from the Somali community, or as you put them “unproductive”. Yet, while you dismiss this article and the chorus of support that we’ve received, you keep returning (one could assume that it’s struck a nerve). Regardless, I implore you once again to stop deflecting and answer the questions.

      Why is your “Editor-and-Chief” unable to speak or read Somali, possess no formal education in journalism, and has little work experience as a journalist in the West and Somalia? How can someone who does not meet the basic requirements of a journalist in the West, suddenly be qualified to be “Editor-in-Chief” of Somalia Report? Especially when you already employ journalists within your organization who can fulfill this duty, who can speak Somali and have ten times more experience

      While we’d love more than anything in this world to be your HR consultants, its glaringly obvious that you’re not interested in recruiting legitimate editors for Somalia Report. Your inability to find an experienced journalist who speaks Somali in Kenya, which hosts the largest Somali diaspora community outside of Somalia, and is also the headquarters for East African news, is utterly pathetic. You continue to falsely state that we don’t support the Somali journalists that work for your website, and we’re also aware that you’ve spread this falsehood to your staff. Perhaps this is your tactic to not have them ask the same questions we’ve raised in this article, I don’t know how long that’ll last though. I also echo other commentators, who are baffled by your accusation that Idil and me hate white people. Please find any comment that alludes to this sentiment. This is patently untrue, and for someone who claims to uphold journalistic integrity it is thoroughly disturbing. I also question your reading comprehension, since the article does include words of support for Ushahidi, which if you took the time to read was co-founded by Erik Hersman, who also happens to be white. I am also equally puzzled by your assumptions of our heritage. Why that is in anyway relevant to our critiques of Somalia Report and its management, is beyond me. Unfortunately, this is not unusual in Canada, where many people like yourself presume that all minorities are newcomers. How could they possibly be 4th or 5th generation Canadians?

      But I digress, maybe we went about this the wrong way. We incorrectly assumed that you understood concepts like orientalism and white privilege. This is the foundation of the article, and as a Christmas treat for you, here are some links that will help you better understand (Political Science 101). Perhaps once you’ve familiarized yourself with these concepts, we can have an honest conversation about Somalia Report’s unqualified editor.

      Edward Said – Orientalism

      Tim Wise – White Privilege

      P.S. We congratulate you on your 6 million hits! Thanks for sharing. If nothing else is gained from this exchange, at least we know that you embrace the title of self-promoter.

      Happy Holidays

      Afrah Aden
      Blogger AfroLens

  34. Not hostile at all, the owner of this blog took it upon herself without facts or even reason to publicly make ad hominen attacks and publish a number of false and insulting statements about Somalia Report and its staff. Since it came to my attention I specifically pointed out the exact racist statements made by her.

    Furthermore after 40 or so similar random and unresearched attempts to bolster that viewpoint i pointed out that perhaps that unproductive energy could be put to more positive use.

    As for my work schedule, I have all the time in the world to fight racism and ignorance.

    • Hi John,

      I’m honoured that you took the time to respond to my comment(I’m surprise you chose mine over the other 40+ comments), unfortunately I’m not Somali, and feel you should engage your Somali audience and their concerns. You did indicate the diaspora is your target audience, and it might help if there was a nuance of constructive dialogue rather than accusations thrown. As an unbiased reader, I do feel this article raised some valid concerns, and to be honest, I’ve yet to see you address them. Are their claims about your editor incorrect? If so, please speak to that accusation.

      I think you’re doing great work with your site, but I’m a little turned off by your aggressive and condescending attitude towards your Somali audience. Quite frankly your response almost reads a tad bit racist. I’m not suggesting you are, and would never falsely accuse someone of this without justification. But as a reader, I can’t help but noticed that you just called the owners of this site basically disgruntled and ungrateful refugees, who should find better things to with the education you (white Canadians) allotted to them .I don’t know these girls, and your comments about them being given a’ safe country and an education’ is very distasteful. As a Canadian, I felt I was misrepresented and certainly do not view my fellow citizens as recipients of my generosity. You’re comment about how they ought to spend their time and education, is not your place to say. Also, I don’t think you would respond to a white Canadian in the same manner and remind them of what Canada has supposedly rewarded them. We could do without that type of rhetoric, and I don’t think it helps you in any way when challenging accusations about your venture. I don’t think your racist, but I do think you’re culturally insensitive.

      I also do think these girls were pretty harsh in their approach, and perhaps we need to investigate why?
      Lastly, I’ve read this article numerous times, and sent it to colleagues; I really don’t see where they made claims about ‘evil white people’ or hating white people. But please enlighten us as to where this occurred exactly. Is it smart to combat false accusations with more false accusations? In fact, they’ve instructed me to an amazing initiative done by a non-Somali gentleman about citizen journalism. Again, I do believe we can come to a common ground, and learn something from this.

      John, you’ve just discovered an amazing gateway into the opinions of educated Somalis in the diaspora, this is perhaps your opportunity to win their hearts and dispel any myths about your intentions. It’s not my place to say, but I really think you should apologize for your comments about their nationality. I was deeply offended and found it very distasteful, as it left a very bad taste in my mind. I hope any reader reading this exchange understands not all white Canadian view Somalis as refugees being harbored temporarily.

      I would also suggest that you take the time in addressing the Somali diaspora that have spent the time to read and engage in this topic. As you’ve take the time to read this blog and inform yourself as to what people are saying (negative or not).

  35. Fighting racism and ignorance??!!……who is racist and against who?…who is ignorant and about what?….and those are honest questions, I am getting confused now, really am!

    Or maybe you meant *As for my work schedule, I have all the time in the world to save the easy money I get on the back of struggling people, the fun I get by watching and selling their misery…how dare you little Canadian refugees tell the world what a great leech I am, how dare you?*

  36. Wow, on a side note, so happy I had a chance to come upon this site, I would like to say I would really like to see questions and intense conversations like this more often and broadcast more on national television. I believe Somali youth like myself are so consumed in our world and in western society that we are spoon feed facts about Somalia by men like Mr.Pelton which, isn’t entirely bad but not ideal when coming from a man with little experience in Somalia and little tolerance with idea’s or point-of-views contrary to his own. I applaud Mr.Pelton efforts to help Somali like many previous bloggers had done before me but, what I don’t understand is his illegitimacy to answer and few unanswered question? I mean he is a certified news reporter which I believe you need a least an English degree to achieve, why cant he decipher the real meaning behind the text and answer the question we Somalis need to know to feel like Somalia Report is what they truly claim to be not just another news station who gain from our misery….
    just my suggestion…

  37. Idil Holif nice blog you have here very informative. Your intellectual Kaarbash is very much warranted, keep up the good work and keep us updated. I greatly enjoyed the read.

  38. As some say knocking someone hustle is something I go not generally do. How ever after reading this long post I am shocked and unaware of this huge scam taking place. I believe it’s about time that the Somali youth of the diaspora come together and expose these con artist for instance Mr Pelton, and Jay Bahadur who are making money through deception and lies. In addition to that I would firstly like to thank Idil the blogger who brought this to my attention and also I would like to finish off by stating that I will continue researching, promoting and exposing these swindlers or if I may say douchebags.

    Regards

    Nimco in London

    • Thank you Nimco for your support walaal! I’m saddened that Mr.Pelton has yet to grasp our concerns, and has failed to
      address any of the issues highlighted in this piece. What we did achieve is solidarity of the community, and a commitment to
      bringing accountability and transparency to would be media thrill seekers venturing into Africa. Thanks again!

  39. Interesting blog and exchanges walaalos I understand your point of view but I also see another side to this.

    I was born and bred in the west and I don’t find Somali websites written by Somalis to be of the same style as the websites I am accustomed to reading. By having a non-somali editor we get to see a different style of website to other Somali websites. We lost the biasedness and hard-headedness of Somalis caring for their “tol” or their “qabil” so it is interesting to see. However I understand the negatives to this as well.

  40. “Spend a week with us and we think you will not find a better source for news from inside Somalia”
    Thats the last statement made by Jay on somaliareport.com on ‘about us” section after i wanted to find out for myself what this thing was all about.

    I spent enough time here reading the article and the comments made and as well as the website in question and I came to the conclusion ” no thank you Jay”. I smell conscious policy and practice of taking selfish advantage of circumstances, with little regard for principles trying to make a living out of distorting the images of african country in need of good journalism.

    • “Spend a week with us and we think you will not find a better source for news from inside Somalia”…

      Oy vey….It’s that type of arrogance paternalistic, and colonist attitude that we take issue with. Absolutely no respect for the journalist community in Somalia, and outside of it, and the audacity to assume that foreigners uninformed about the linguistic, cultural, and political realities of a society can do a better job of providing information than the community is just beyond my grasp of thinking. Again, anyone is free to run any website they desire, domain names are now ten dollars. Good for them for creating a website they enjoy, but since they chose to expand their operations to a nation they know little of, then it’s fair for us to be critical. For example, I can’t imagine a world where I could move to Mumbai for three months, and become the editor of an local publication, without the language, the education, and the experience in that region, or journalism itself. Maybe that’s just how things work in our world. I’ve yet to hear them address this particular issue, and instead we’ve heard everything from being called ‘hater’s to ‘racists’ to nuanced attacks about our Canadian nationality…That reaction is all one needs to make an informed conclusion about the intentions of these folks. Forget our article, they’ve insulted, deflected, and ignored every single concern articulated by our audience here, which indicates a lack of respect for the opinion of their targeted audience.

      • Quite honestly, while I only work for RYP and don’t speak for him, if SomaliaReport had hired a Somali, many Somalis would be arguing that he was of the ‘wrong tribe’ to possibly report on Somalia, “without the language, the education, and the experience in that region.” Nor does “foreigners uninformed about the linguistic, cultural, and political realities of a society” describe Somalia Report nor do we think we ” can do a better job of providing information than the community” – since our reporters are Somali, with 90% of them in Somalia, and others in Kenya and the region. Only our editor and copy-editors are English-speaking, but apparently that is an affront.

        RYP’s long education in journalism and writing about civilians comes through hard work, but perhaps if he had done that in a Western university, you would respect him?

        Noticeably, you ignored Maxamed above when he wrote on disputes and how SomaliaReport lacks ‘the biasedness and hard-headedness of Somalis caring for their “tol” or their “qabil” ‘ – but perhaps basic standards of journalism, such as non-partisanship, are besides the point. You make your argument about what Jay said on Jon Stewart and a quote from RYP‘s agent… and you reveal your own academic weaknesses and bias thereby, as you cannot ”discuss the content of SomaliaReport” as it would weaken your prejudice.

        Yes, RYP is an Orientalist exploiting the misery… because your caricature doesn‘t need facts to support it, such as the fact that RYP pays for SomaliaReport without advertising nor subscription, paying for the salaries of Somalis who he evidently exploits by welcoming their reporting, which is only selected for relevance and edited for clarification. But sure, keep up your rant as above. It is surely far more effective than starting your own Somalia news website to prove him wrong.

        • “Quite honestly, while I only work for RYP and don’t speak for him, if SomaliaReport had hired a Somali, many Somalis would be arguing that he was of the ‘wrong tribe’ to possibly report on Somalia”

          Oh wow, where does RYP find you guys? it’s like a litany of condescension, paternalism and nuanced racism. Of course we would be arguing about tribes. I mean what else do we Somalis do, but argue about tribes, right? give me a break… It’s that dismissive, misinformed, and borderline orientalist attitude that we’re talking about. None of you have answered our biggest challenge? Could RYP not have found Somalis in Kenya to work as an Editor, or dare I say, even do your job? What was his motive behind parachuting an unqualified foreigner to work in leadership capacity at a publication reporting on a region where he/she lacks the cultural, linguistic expertise, and the occupational experience?
          According to your rants, RYP’s hiring is influenced by a belief that you guys can do a better job of handling us, correct? After all, all we do is bicker, and fight, and perhaps we need the guidance of a well meaning westerner to keep us in check, so we can finally access real, raw and cutting edge news we’ve lacked for decades? is that about it Dawud? I can’t help you, because with each response, you only aid our argument with your simplistic dismissal of Somalis and our journalistic tradition. What do you think we did before SomaliaReport? Do you think we operated through a message in a bottle system? Or do we all have a direct line to our respective tribal leaders who give us biased accounts of the day’s pressing news? how condescending and offensive! You have done nothing to reassure your targeted audience that you have an iota of respect for this region, and its richness. I can’t help you anymore. All I can do is ensure that the community is aware of whose running things over there, and encourage your audience to hold you accountability, and enforce transparency. Since you guys believe yourselves to be the messiahs of Information, then you have nothing to worry about. Do what you claim you do!

          “But sure, keep up your rant as above. It is surely far more effective than starting your own Somalia news website to prove him wrong.”

          Don’t worry about our goals and commitments to our community, that is for our community to assess, dissect, and scrutinize. You can do that when we start running websites about Canada 🙂 Actually, We’ve received nothing but praise from the Somali diaspora, international journalists who find the occupational trajectory of your editor and owner absolutely appalling, and even politicians who’ve thanked us for providing an analysis into the history of your management. I think we did something amazing here. We’ve also reached out to some of your reporters, and we will be discussing how these reports are sent in. A lot of websites just pay any man to get the job done, at any cost, and these reporters are often exploited, even killed as that story could mean the difference between tomorrow’s meal or poverty for some. I’m not suggesting you operate in this manner, but it’s a common problem when individuals come to a region with Huffington-like ambitions. Our concern here at Afrolens is the African community that has been exploited, dehumanized and made a mockery of by opportunists like your editor (His twitter account is PuntlandPirates, with a picture of a Somali man, come on, get the guy a PR person stat). If you are sincere in your operational objectives, then more power to you, but your reaction doesn’t help your claims of sincerity and cultural awareness. I’m shocked, and as is much of the diaspora at your reaction to these challenges and critiques. Rather than dispel these supposed ‘caricatures’ you’ve instead deflected and derailed any honest conversation. Are you honestly telling me that Jay Bahadur was the best man for this job? it’s simple yes or no. Atleast have the professional integrity to stand by your hiring practices, and defend it. If not, then please don’t engage because quite frankly, we’ve had enough of your deflective tactics.

          Lastly, we will never stop exposing and highlighting stories like this as Somalia, and Africa is our lifeline and home, and we will not let anyone come into this region solely for the purpose of exploitation and media whoring. If that isn’t your intention nor the intention of SomaliaReport, then hire a better HR Manager, and start actually engaging in the communities you claim to serve (this is more complex than talking to a few Somalis in Toronto), as I promise you will encounter an educated community that has a long history of a journalistic tradition that predates RYP’s safaris into dangerous places… Good luck with your website!

  41. “Spend a week with us and we think you will not find a better source for news from inside Somalia”
    Thats the last statement made by Jay on somaliareport.com on ‘about us” section after i wanted to find out for myself what this thing was all about.

    I spent enough time here reading the article and the comments made and as well as the website in question and I came to the conclusion ” no thank you Jay”. I smell conscious policy and practice of taking selfish advantage of circumstances, with little regard for principles trying to make a living out of distorting the images of an African Country in need of good journalism.

    p.s. I enjoyed this website and will continue visiting here on the dailly basis. Thank you for standing up for Africa. kudos to those who stand up for their motherland.

  42. I am sorry, I was under the impression that when one argued, one had to use facts and reason, not just opinion.

    Please point out where Somalia Report is exploiting people for money. Since we pay journalists in Somalia, and do not have ads or charge people to read our news, I fail to see where we are ”making money through deception and lies”, ”trying to make a living out of distorting the images of an African Country”, ”easy money I get on the back of struggling people, the fun I get by watching and selling their misery”, etc… please do point out where Somalia Report banks any of this, and where we distort the news. Feel free to point to any article on the website that does this. Nothing on Somalia Report is exploitative or done to sell misery.

    RYP is doing a public service, he makes enough money from his other publishing and production companies to fund his ventures to Somalia thus far, he pays for journalists and editors to cover the news, and his hope is that NGO workers and security personnel will pay enough for subscriptions to cover the costs of running the website in the future. The only political motive, such as it is, is to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis in Somalia – a function it carries out far better than this websites does, I may point out.

    Further, your running off on Jay because he joked about being in ”Fucking Somalia” while talking with Jon Stewart – what are you smoking?

    Please do get back when you want to point out a single fact or distortion on Somalia Report, or even can indicate where a single slander above is true about the site. Otherwise, these accusations are tedious and not worth arguing over. Try writing to one of the journalists working for Somalia Report, or the refugees and residents of Somalia we write about, and ask them whether we are doing a service. Funny how all the people we report on in Somalia seem grateful to speak to Somalia Report, and do not seem to consult this website as to whether to talk to us. Please tell me why that is, too.

  43. Gotta admit SomaliaReport is a good site. It may not be above criticism, but I believe this post is harsh. Everyone who is familiar with Somali media knows there thousands of Somali run sites out there that do not do a great job. That is not to say that Somalis are incapable of delivering the news for themselves, there are decent unbiased Somali sources out there, but there are also thousands of biased unprofessional clan or Shabaab agenda websites out there that deserve far more criticism than SomaliaReport. The guy isn’t lying about employing Somali journalists, they contribute the bulk of the reports on the site. As far as I have seen they provide a solid source that is sorely lacking on the Somali media sphere, in providing English language Somali news. There could be relevant concerns with regards to their choice of editor, but I disagree with framing it as a sham site. The news is mostly accurate and timely. Somali journalists will corroborate this for the most part as well IMO.

    That being said they could have handled there responses to this blogpost in a far more professional manner.

    • Thank you for your input, definitely appreciate any form of constructive criticism. I think you misunderstood the tone and point of this article. We did not attack the Somali journalists at SomaliaReport, nor did we discuss the content of SomaliaReport, but rather bigger questions about the management behind this website, and their intentions/qualifications and sincerity….I really disagree with your assertion about the lack of in depth information on Somalia from Somali websites…If that conclusion is accurate, then how else did you, or I obtain our information before this particular website’s existence? But you are entitled to your opinion, and our aim was not to shut down SomaliaReport, but rather put a spotlight on a growing trend of using Africa to springboard careers that would’ve been denied to them by their own respective nations.

      Thank you for stopping by and engaging in this lively discussion, and since you are an avid reader of SomaliaReport, then it’s your responsibility to hold them accountable for the quality of their content.

  44. Oh my – SomaliaReport – what a poor poor performance. This could have been so easy if you had just addressed the concerns of the diaspora Somali community (or the small but relevant members here).

    I am not Somali, but am very familiar with the nuanced attack you just revealed on the writers of this blog, and their subsequent community.

    There is just to much for me to go over – I am in shock at the stance you took – you had a number of opportunities to address very pertinent concerns – you didn’t. Instead you revealed yourself to be mired in a repugnant; paternalistic, white-mans burden’, orientalist haze of self grandeur.

    I will spread this revelation far and wide – shame on you.

    Thank you for this blog.

    PS I have no idea who the people are that wrote this blog, I just stumbled across it – and thank (insert your deity of choice here) I did. Thank you Afrolens.

    • Thank you for stopping by. Oy vey @SomaliaReport! I’m hoping in 2012, they will return and finally
      provide their supposed target audience with fair and honest rebuttals. One can only hope.

      Orientalist, white-man’s burden, paternalistic? you my friend, are using words that will only elicit belligerence
      from the management at SomaliaReport, and will only be met with cries of reverse racism (shout outs to the tea party for perfecting the art of derailing accusations of racism with accusations of reverse racism LOL). We did send them Professor Siad, and hope
      he can shine a light on their paternalistic and ‘dude culture’ worldview.

      Thank you for your kind words, and hope we can continue to discuss issues important to the African community 🙂

  45. The issue of Bahadur’s qualifications as editor (and “RYP”s responses) notwithstanding, has anyone here actually read Bahadur’s book? I ask because I’m going to be getting a copy in the near future, and I’m curious as to how it holds up. I’m not of Somali descent, but I’ve had an interest in what’s been happening there for several years. The lack of mainstream coverage has been incredibly frustrating, and this seemed like something that could be more substantial than the usual Associated Press release, even if it does only focus on piracy and not Somalia as a whole. People here seem to take issue with SomaliaReport’s reporting, but does anyone have any clear problems with ‘The Pirates of Somalia’?

  46. Pingback: Somalia Report’s integrity problem « dhegdheer

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