How international media covered DusitD2 Hotel terror attack

A plain cloth police officer evacuating victims of terror attack from DusitD2 Hotel in Nairobi on January 15, 2019. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The Tuesday 3pm terror attack on Nairobi's dusitD2 hotel presented inevitable ethical dilemma to journalists; that of balancing between detailed reporting without glorifying terrorism or giving too much information to the terrorists and their networks.  

The New York Times, the Guardian,  Al-Jazeera, the BBC, Washington Post, Associated Press, Daily Mail, Reuters among others are relentlessly followed the story right from the first explosion as did Kenyan media. 

?At first, most of these international media were cautious in reporting the attack which Al-Shabaab militants have claimed responsibility for. They were relying on information provided by the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett and the Cabinet Secretary for Internal Security, Dr Fred Matiangi.

However, as the number of causalities and those wounded were made available, the international media began to follow different angles.

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At 9pm, The New York Times published on its website gory images of the dead, the wounded, and vehicles on fire while emphasizing on its reporting on how “dire” the situation in Kenya was.

This reporting did not go down well with Kenyans, with many of them expressing their frustrations on social media.

Several Twitter users for instance, castigated the media house for publishing disturbing images on its platform. However, the reporter involved seemed to have been sensitive and quickly apologised on the same.

Yesterday, The BBC through its team of reporters presented a comprehensive report at 8.30 PM on how the attack unfolded.  Pictures of people being rescued from the building by security officers were presented. The step by step developments of the happenings and the scene were explained both on its Television, online page and Youtube Channel.

The media also extensively wrote about the reactions of Kenyans on the incident, the international media, as well as the reactions of the Jihadists on their social media pages.

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On its part, Aljazeera showed scary scenes and pictures of burning vehicles and security officers running helter-skelter as they were rescuing the victims.  The media which posted both videos and texts on the developments at Dust Complex also gave account of Al Shabaab’s side of the story on the incident. According to Al Jazeera, Al Shabaab had claimed responsibility of the attack and that it had managed to kill 47 “enemies” who were inside the complex.

However, so far, only 14 causalities have been officially confirmed to have lost lives during the attack.  

Reuters is among the few international media that has seemed to be cautious in what it reports about the incident. Most of the information about this issue have been obtained from Key government officials like the Inspector General of Police, CS for security and the President.

All the statistics about the dead, the wounded and the developments are reported from official point of view. The media has also kept off airing or presenting gory scenes to its audience.

The causalities according to the nationality have also been reported.

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The latest reports from the Associated Press indicate that security agencies are questioning key people after the raid. Among those in police custody is a man and a woman following their association with one of the attackers who was killed.

According to this press, the purpose of this questioning was to “to establish how the three knew the man who lived here and the people who had been visiting.”

The media is also quoting the sentiments and views of United Kingdom and the United States High Commissioners on the reports of their respective nationals who lost lives in the attack.

At least one Britain and One American are said to be among those who died in the terrorist attack.

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