A Tale of Two Journalists: Graham Peebles and William Davison on Ethiopia

By the Strathink Editorial Team

Center stage in U.S. politics today is the role of the media. The new administration has declared the media “the opposition party” and the contentiousness between the government and the mainstream media has been unprecedented. Before continuing this editorial, and Strathink would like to point out that we are rigorous in separating news from opinion, we come on the side of freedom of the press. We believe a free press is essential to a democracy and see the role of the press as a watchdog of the government. We also believe in the responsibility of the press to maintain the highest standards of integrity—there is no such thing as “alternative facts.”

At Strathink, we have opinions, which we express in our “Opinion Roundup,” clearing marked with the red graphic. We publish other peoples’ opinions that are clearly marked “Opinions Matter.” These are opinions, which we hope are backed up by the facts presented, but they are opinions. News is distinguished from opinion by the standard template of a news item: publication name, date and byline.(author’s name).

In this “Opinion Roundup,” we present our views on how the international media writes about Ethiopia using two examples: Graham Peebles and William Davison. Why Graham Peebles and William Davison? We think (again, our opinion) that the two represent two faces of the same phenomenon—one writes blatant opinion that is passed off as fact and the other is more tempered in his approach but succeeds in falling short of good journalism.

Let’s look at two articles and explain what we mean.

We begin with Graham Peebles. Mr. Peebles represents an extreme case of bias in his work. According to his website, Mr. Peebles lived in Ethiopia for two years and now, in addition to writing news about Ethiopia, runs a charity called Create Trust. We are not quite sure what the charity does, but it involves artists, puppeteers and storytellers with a webpage allowing people to make their financial contributions. Ok.

Let’s look at one of his recent articles, “In Ethiopia, famine stalks the land once again.” His thesis: The answer to famine is not increased levels of food aid, but strategic planning to enable communities to survive the impact of extreme weather, made more acute by climate change.

Mr. Peebles begins his article by quoting statistics about climate change and El Nino. Very good. Facts are important and weather patterns have a scientific explanation. He then inserts the ubiquitous quote from a villager in Wollo, one of Ethiopia’s hardest areas of drought. The villager compares the current drought to the one experienced in 1984—the focal point of Bob Geldof and the “We are the world” musicians. This gives his story a historical context that Western readers understand—a bunch of musicians “saving” Ethiopia by singing a song. Science. Music. An instant connection to far-away Ethiopia and hunger.

And then comes the real purpose of the article—“Duplicity and deceit.” Mr. Peebles opens this section with the following paragraph:

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) government has “earmarked $192 [£127] million for emergency food and other assistance, diverting money from projects such as road construction,” and the Integrated Regional Information Network news agency (IRIN) says that $163 million has been pledged by the ‘international community’. This is to be welcomed, but it’s nowhere near enough – according to aid agencies $600 million is needed.

 Our readers might want to read this paragraph twice. We read that the Ethiopian government has earmarked money for food assistance, the international community has pledged money, but that the total money available is not enough, according to aid agencies.

From these statements by the government and IRIN, Mr., Peebles jumps to this conclusion:,” Not only are people on the verge of starvation, farmers, whose crops have failed due to the lack of rainfall, are being hounded by government thugs for loan repayments (taken to buy fertilizer that in all likelihood should have been given as aid) they cannot now make. ESAT news reports that, “local government officials jail farmers who could not pay their loans”.

 Why? Well, he quotes Ethiopian Satellite radio and Television (ESAT), the propaganda arm of Ginbot 7, a SELF-DESCRIBED terrorist organization. Dude, really? Do your homework! He even uses an ESAT quote, the ruling regime “has gone to the extent of kidnapping people who enquire about the food aid even at this critical time.”  Can anyone verify that quote? ESAT? Graham Peebles? Anyone?

The Ethiopian government has many faults but denying the drought and the need for food is not one of them. If Mr. Peebles did his homework, other than phoning Ginbot 7, he would read reports from the United Nations, the World Food Program and bilateral donors acknowledging Ethiopia’s timely and appropriate response to the drought. Mr. Peebles even calls the government safety net program “a sort of social safety net.” Evidence? Facts? Again, if Mr. Peebles did any kind of homework he would read from technical experts such as the Overseas Development Council (ODI), e.g. economists other than Berhanu Nega, that the productive safety net program is “an important policy initiative.” We guess that aid to Ethiopian farmers should come from a Western charity, not from the government.

What kind of reporting is this?

Let’s look at one more article dated February 17, 2017, “Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising.” It is clear that Mr. Peebles is romanticizing armed struggle. He writes: Angered and exasperated by the government’s intransigence and duplicity, small guerrilla groups made up of local armed people have formed in Amhara and elsewhere, and are conducting hit and run attacks on security forces.

And who is he citing as his source—again Ginbot 7’s ESAT. In this article, Mr. Peebles says the Ethiopian government labels “anyone who publicly disagrees with them” a terrorist yet reports on a hotel bombing in Gondar. We guess bombing a hotel, despite the fact that the hotel was filled with Ethiopian guests and Ethiopian hotel workers, is somehow ok because the bomb was planted by “freedom fighters” who disagreed with the government.

Ethiopia’s 2015 parliamentary election is mentioned as merely an exercise to please the U.S. and the U.K. That the EPRDF won 100% of the seats is simplified by not mentioning that Ethiopia’s seats are won by “first past the post”—meaning that winner takes all, like many states in the U.S. Electoral College. Ethiopia has promised to change the system to allow a more proportional representation. This is critical to advancing Ethiopia’s democratic process. There must be a platform for opposition voices in the government. A one-party state cannot be a democratic state.

By the way, in the U.S. today, one party controls the executive and legislative branches of government and nearly all of the state legislatures. A healthy situation? We don’t think so at all—in either Ethiopia or the United States. We just ask Mr. Peebles to be a little clearer in his characterization.

Mr. Peebles concludes with a call for conciliation. We like his conclusion. What we object to is passing himself off as a journalist when he has a clear agenda—one that is, unfortunately, driven by his naïve relationship with ESAT/Ginbot 7.

The case of William Davison is different. We do not put Mr. Davison in the same category as Mr. Peebles. We expect more from Mr. Davison because he is an authenticate journalist and we see glimpses of understanding the complex and nuanced political environment today. Yet, his latest article published in The Guardian, falls far short of the kind of reporting that could shed light on Ethiopia’s problems.

Mr. Davison begins with the cliché of the Oromo farmer furtively crossing his arms in a gesture of Oromo resistance. Ok. It’s clichéd but Mr. Davison needs to put a human face on the political upheaval of the past two years. He needs to give the Western audience a picture in their minds of an African because Western audiences respond better to an image than an explanation. The image conjures up all of the stereotypes of Africa. Poor farmer. Repressive government. The scene is set.

Mr. Davison then gives his readers an insight. He writes, “The problem for activists is how to translate popular anger stemming from grievances into political change. The security apparatus has shown it can quell protests and a de facto one-party state offers few opportunities for opposition activities. “ Yes, we agree and we find this insightful for a broad audience—how to transform anger into political change. And it certainly is true that there are few platforms for the opposition to be heard.

Mr. Davison gives a brief and superficial explanation of why the Oromo feel marginalized—but not false. It is true that Emperor Menelik, beginning in the late 1800s, expanded the Ethiopian empire across large swaths of the country occupied by the Oromo people. It is also true that that the TPLF led the EPRDF-coalition to form the current government. It is certainly a fact that Oromo leaders are responsible for the problems in Oromia, particularly in terms of enriching themselves by dispossessing farmers of their land. And it is also true that there is a perception of Tigrayan domination over the entire country.

So, what are Mr. Davison’s journalistic lapses? First, he throws the comment about land at the reader with a reckless abandon for the significance of land in Ethiopia. Land is fundamental to the household economy. The state does not own the land; the collectivity of the Ethiopian people owns the land. There is no private ownership but land is leased for 99 years. Why? The answer is an important piece of the story. Over 85% of the Ethiopian people are subsistence farmers. If there is an economic shock, their only asset is land. If people are forced to sell their only asset—land—during an economic shock, what will they do? Where will they go? Ethiopia’s economy cannot support them at the present time. They will starve. This is an important part of the story that needs to be explained.

The statement about Ethiopia’s ranking on the Human Development Scale, behind South Sudan, makes no sense in the context of 2017. Mr. Davison knows this and is using an outdated comparison for effect.

What really turned us away from Mr. Davison’s article is his statement about the arrest of Merara Gudina for “breaking emergency rules by communicating with a banned nationalist opposition leader at a European parliament hearing in Brussels.” Mr. Davison is fully aware that the banned opposition leaders is in fact a self-professed terrorist based in army with the stated goal of overthrowing the Ethiopian government using violence. Why doesn’t he say this?

We can answer the question. He doesn’t say this because it ruins the simplistic narrative of his story. Although in a much more subtle and sophisticated way, Mr. Davison echoes the tired story of Graham Peebles—freedom fighters battling an oppressive African government exercising its power over the people using brute force. This narrative continues to sell in the Western media.

As long as this narrative gives journalists a byline, the West will continue to view Africa as Joseph Conrad’s Marlow. Marlow lives on in the Western journalist writing about “the horror, the horror,” that is Africa—the binary narrative that refuses to die.

We conclude this opinion piece by calling out journalists who fail to adhere to the “journalistic truth.” The journalist truth is “a process that begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts, and then trying to convey a fair and reliable account of their meaning, subject to further investigation.”

Mr. Peebles and Mr. Davison are just two journalists writing about African politics in a sea of journalists. Why is it important to single-out two with our criticism? It all adds up. Each story that simplifies and distorts Ethiopia’s narrative reinforces an outdated perception of Ethiopia, and Africa as a whole. Colonialism ended in the last century but the cultural lens that the outside world uses to view Africa is active today.

We call on journalists in the international media to stop repeating the clichés read from other journalists and become more rigorous in their facts and analysis. Ethiopia and Africa as a whole cannot be understood in a sound bite. Journalists need to add insight not injury to Africa’s 21st century narrative.

We hold ourselves accountable to this principle as well and invite both Mr. Peebles and Mr. Davison to respond to our “opinion roundup.”

7 Responses to “A Tale of Two Journalists: Graham Peebles and William Davison on Ethiopia”

  1. I could not find an e-mail address on your site for some reason, so I will leave my response to this insulting attack here. I leave William to reply to the unfounded criticisms of him.

    I assume your organisation has some connection to, or ill-judged sympathy towards the Ethiopian government.

    You have distorted what I said and taken sentences out of context in an attempt to discredit my work and the pieces mentioned.

    • I have no political bias, my only bias is towards revealing the human rights abuses and dishonesty in Ethiopia and elsewhere.

    • The Create Trust is not my website.

    • If you read the Create Trust website (www.thecreatetrust.org) you will see the good work it has accomplished. I am doing very little with Create nowadays, but have never used puppeteers or storytellers, as you say.

    • I don’t mention Live Aid. The quote from the villager was representative of many voices at the time and was taken from a BBC news report.

    • The ‘real purpose of the article’, was to raise awareness of the issue, not to attack the regime as you state.

    • Farmers were indeed being hounded as reported, I did not ‘jump to any conclusion’. Your attack on ESAT – with whom I have no relationship at all, is totally unfounded. ESAT is run by Ethiopians in the diaspora and therefore has good credible sources on the ground, it is virtually the only independent Ethiopian media group – not owned or controlled by the EPRDF, and whilst they are rightly critical of the government they are not part of any political group including Ginbot 7, which has been described by the regime as a terrorist group. I have no relationship or contact with Ginbot 7 either.

    • Government ministers repeatedly denied the scale of food insecurity, e.g. Deputy Prime Minister, Demeke Mekonen commenting on the BBC programme said “there is no such thing as famine in Ethiopia these days”. And in my follow up essay http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/29/hungry-and-frightened-famine-in-ethiopia-2016/ you will find – ‘In a recent interview Arkebe OQubay, the ‘special adviser to the Prime-Minister’ told Bloomberg that the countries greatest achievement since 1984, was that “we are being able to feed ourselves. In 1984 we were struggling to feed our 40 million-population, but now we have 95 million population and we have food security.” This is pure fantasy: Ethiopia (according to most recent, 2012 figures) remains the largest recipient of food aid in the world, and millions are today at risk of starvation

    • The UN and others did praise the government, for some reason international agencies are extremely tolerant and supportive of the EPRDF. Regarding the ‘safety net’ I said – ‘Although the Ethiopian government has made some provision to mitigate the impact of poor harvests, such as establishing a sort of Social Security net so poorer farmers can access funds for public works such as digging water holes, many have been critical of the EPRDF’s response, and their inability to foresee and plan for the current crisis.’

    And – ‘Given the country’s exposure to drought, as well as the intensifying, ongoing threat caused by climate change and El Nino weather patterns, long term plans need to be put in place to mitigate the effects.’ And NO aid should not come from charities, as I say ‘the answer to famine is not increased levels of food aid, but strategic planning to enable communities to survive the impact of extreme weather, made more acute by climate change. As Thabani Maphosa, World Vision’s Vice President of Food Assistance Programmes, states, “food assistance interventions must be designed to empower poor people to build productive assets such as water harvesting tanks, dams and irrigation projects,” as well as strengthening and consolidating small holder-farming – not allowing foreign companies to build industrial-sized farms and grow crops for export only (which is going on apace in Ethiopia) – in order to help them become self-sufficient in the long term.’

    • I am against all forms of violence and did not condone the attack on the hotel as you suggest. I repeatedly call for peaceful actions.

    • ‘First past the post’ does not mean you hold all parliamentary seats. There is no democracy in Ethiopia, the 2015 elections were a farce as they always are, and have been called such by the EU, HRW and others.

    • In all my writings I have called for unity, peace and conciliation. For this to happen the regime must stop reacting with violence – as it habitually does. I am not against the EPRDF, I am against many of their policies. As for the USA, it is not a democracy either.

    • All my published essays – on Ethiopia and other topics are collected here http://www.grahampeebles.org if your interested.

  2. Abebe Geltama says:

    Becouse you are Agame and until you leave our Ethiopia for good you will never to sleep tranquel and remember that.

    • The Truth says:

      Don’t forget, Tigrians are Agame & proud people. What about U? Do u know what ur last name “Geltama” means in Tigrigna? It means foolish. Foolish in Tigrigna is geltam & it’s u. Hence, foolish as u r u don’t know what u r writing.The core of Ethiopia is Tigray and the capital is Axum. Read history if u can. Therefore, u should leave Ethiopia not Agames. Got it?

  3. Tekle Argawi says:

    Dear Graham; I read you article on Ethiomedia website. It sounds as if it was written by an Ethiopian who have lived and experienced the oppressive governance that has been reigning for more than 25 years. It is unbiased report and a fact on the ground . For many years many of us, Ethiopians, have been disappointed by insensitive and indifference stands taken by the westerns governments and media towards the deteriorating situation of the country. After many years of silence from the western journalists, you are the first Western who took a bold step to expose the dictatorial regime in Ethiopia and spoke on behalf of the oppressed and destitute. It is a painful experience and heartbreaking to see a peaceful people forced to raise arms and use violence to protect its rights.
    I thank you very much for sharing your experience and bringing up this issue to the attention of the world. You are an honest friend of Ethiopia.
    God Bless you

  4. Kidane H. Selassie says:

    Dear r Graham,
    Please keep us informed, and your article was very educational.

  5. Chalew Lemne says:

    Dear Mr.Graham,

    I read your article posted on ESAT today ‘Peaceful protest to armed struggle”.  You really put the truth out there about what is goining on in Ethiopia, “We don’t believe this is our government”. Any government even being dictators don’t really do such cruel act to its own people, at least there is something the people like what some dictators do, unlike in Ethiopia, nothing in common with the people. The current so called government in Ethiopia, the only purpose they are there is to benefit themselves by staying in power by creating mistrust among people of the same country for thousands of years; looting our resources, abusing our people, basically they don’t represent people of the 21st century of any country. I don’t know where they came from, we were fooled by them!

    Thank you very much for your help convincing the international community on what they really are (even if they know it), giving us deaf ear calling them “Democratic” even the former US President Mr. Barack Obama said this. But you call them what they are. Please continue exposing the truth which won’t die even if few die hard TPLF supporters tried. History will judge them and they know it, they are just working for their stomach!

    Thank you so much

  6. Dear Strathink Editorial Team
    Thank you for inviting me to reply to your Opinion Roundup headlined ‘A Tale of Two Journalists: Graham Peebles and William Davison on Ethiopia’.
    Your criticism is generally constructive and well intentioned and I appreciate the opportunity to publicly debate the issues.
    I would feel slightly more comfortable engaging in this exchange, however, if I had more information about Strathink. As there’s little on your website, and my queries on the matter have not been answered, I’m going to make an educated guess and assume it’s a semi-autonomous think tank with connections to the Ethiopian government, probably the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
    I appreciate the distinctions you make between the two foreign “journalists” featured, but I’m not comfortable being grouped together with Mr Peebles. As you note, his article is fervently and uniformly oppositional, and also it contains no original reporting. I’m a full-time journalist who’s been reporting from Ethiopia for more than six years, and the article is my latest attempt at objective analysis based on a reporting trip to Oromia. I’m not sure Mr Peebles even describes himself as a journalist? For example, he refers to a collection of essays in his response to your article.
    Moving on to your specific criticisms of my article. The description of the introduction as a ‘cliché’ is confusing. Can you cite another example where the crossed arms resistance symbol made by the waist has been used before? A cliché cannot also be an exception.
    To state that ‘The image conjures up ALL of the stereotypes of Africa’ is a manifestly false statement. Of course it doesn’t. Also, I think it would have been closer to saying something worthwhile if you’d qualified the stereotypes as ‘false’, ‘outdated’ or something similar. Stereotyping when well intentioned and rigorous is nothing more sinister than a legitimate effort to identify shared traits within a defined group.
    If the ‘cliché’ is using a farmer opposed to the government to set the scene, then that is a different approach, albeit equally confused. Given that the Oromo protests were against the government and concentrated in rural areas, the decision to feature a farmer opposed to the government is easily justifiable. Strathink itself notes, incorrectly, that more than 85 percent of Ethiopia’s population is subsistence farmers. So arguably journalist should feature poor farmers when covering rural Ethiopia to provide an accurate representation? (The normally cited statistic is that around 80 percent of Ethiopia’s workforce is employed in agriculture.)
    The apparently perverse criticism raises the question: What would you have liked me to feature in the introduction that is more representative of the political situation I’m covering in Oromia? Furthermore, the arms-crossed-by-the-waist-gesture was actually a genuinely strong image to convey the article’s thrust: ‘anti-government sentiment persists, but, for now, is muted’.
    Given this context, what are we to make of this passage?
    “It’s clichéd but Mr. Davison needs to put a human face on the political upheaval of the past two years. He needs to give the Western audience a picture in their minds of an African because Western audiences respond better to an image than an explanation. The image conjures up all of the stereotypes of Africa. Poor farmer. Repressive government. The scene is set.”
    When a reporter goes to discuss Brexit in a rural county in the U.K., or Trump in the U.S. Midwest, they also need to put a ‘human face on the political upheaval’, right? Is it an unacceptable ‘cliché’ if they begin the article with a description of an ex-steelworker stacking shelves in Walmart? Maybe the U.K. piece opens with a market trader concerned about the impact of EU regulations on the shape of their bananas. To adapt your analysis:
    ‘THEY need to give the Western audience a picture in their minds of a WESTERN PERSON because Western audiences respond better to an image than an explanation. The image conjures up all of the stereotypes of BREDXIT/TRUMP. ALIENATED VOTER. ECONOMIC GRUMBLINGS. The scene is set.’
    Would this be an acceptable way to report these other issues? If so, then your criticism of my lead is invalid. If it’s not acceptable, then your critique is of an aspect of news journalism as conventionally practiced — not my reporting style, let alone my attitudes towards Africa. (Or perhaps it’s a criticism of the psychology of the average Western reader, who is apparently too simple-minded or distracted to appreciate straightforward verbal descriptions. Here you could be on firmer terrain.)
    Assessing the section on land is more complex. I agree that my coverage of the issue was cursory. The purpose was primarily to inform Guardian readers that land was an issue and brief describe to what the locals were saying. But if the treatment of the issue was inadequate, to describe it as ‘reckless abandon’ is hyperbole. Pointing out that tenant farmers feel insecure is uncontroversial and relevant to the political situation. Sure it would be interesting to describe the background to collective land ownership in Ethiopia, but it is not essential context for this article.
    Yes, Ethiopia (174) is below South Sudan (169) and Afghanistan (171) in the UNDP 2015 Human Development Index, which is, as far as I’m aware, is the most recent year data is available for, and was linked to in the piece. I don’t understand Strathink’s comment aside from that it appears to be a sloppy mistake. There are probably methodological arguments to make on the matter, but then the Ethiopian government’s proponents don’t spend too much time questioning the UN’s methodology when they cite favorable socio-economic data.
    Your criticism regarding Berhanu Nega is similarly flawed to your land comment, but also belies your unhealthy interest in him, as evidenced by the seemingly disproportionate coverage you give Ginbot 7’s leader on Strathink’s website (It’s only you and the New York Times who cover him in-depth), and your lack of familiarity about the format of this type of article. My article was not about Berhanu Nega, or his organization. Rather than not saying he’s a ‘self-professed terrorist’ because it ‘ruins the simplistic narrative of his story’, I did not say it because, again, it is largely irrelevant. Describing him as ‘banned’ is sufficient to describe his legal status, and there’s no space in a 1,200-word article about Oromia for any more elaborate description. If anything, I should not have bothered to describe him as a ‘nationalist’, as it doesn’t add anything to the piece.
    On these issues, land and Berhanu Nega, you would have done well to place your criticism within a broader perspective and more relevant context. If you appreciate your misunderstanding of the relevance of Ginbot 7’s ‘all means necessary’ struggle to the article, you should realize it’s a non-sequitur to conclude:
    “Mr. Davison echoes the tired story of Graham Peebles—freedom fighters battling an oppressive African government exercising its power over the people using brute force. This narrative continues to sell in the Western media.”
    (Apart from anything else about this, your most wild accusation, it is the overwhelming strength of the Ethiopian government’s security forces compared to relatively weak protesters that is a key factor in the Oromia situation.)
    These weaknesses and errors in your specific criticisms invalidate your conclusions. But let’s look at them anyway. They’re mostly about the allegedly lingering effects of colonialism.
    “Each story that simplifies and distorts Ethiopia’s narrative reinforces an outdated perception of Ethiopia, and Africa as a whole. Colonialism ended in the last century but the cultural lens that the outside world uses to view Africa is active today.”
    European colonialism was, at least, genocidal, racist, infantilizing, proselytizing, hubristic, and exploitative. This was a reported article about how some people from the Oromo community feel about their situation and the Ethiopian government. I am struggling to understand where a colonial hangover plays into my treatment of the subject matter. Is it the Oromo interviewed who suffer from it? Have you spoken to the farming communities described in the article and they criticized the colonial filter I employed?
    If you don’t have the evidence and the arguments to back up the insulting allegations you made, then you should not make them. Frankly, your conclusions seem like a lazy clichéd technique to deflect attention from the problems discussed, including the issue of ethnic marginalization that is related to allegations of internal colonization.
    This is not to say that the legacy of European colonialism is irrelevant, of course. There are obvious and unsatisfactory reasons why, for example, journalists from former colonial powers are the ones writing in relatively influential international media about African countries. Clearly, I’m part of this system. But while structural inequities persist, and should be highlighted, do not make the mistake of thinking that all Westerners involved in Africa carry psychological or ideological baggage from the colonial era. While I make errors, and may well provide inadequate coverage of Ethiopia at times, I constantly aim to meet the ethical journalistic standards that you describe, rather than conceitedly and ignorantly trafficking in the discriminatory norms of the past.
    As always, I’ve made my self-available for public criticism on this article — and some comments were made online in response to the article that are more valid than yours. The first was to point out that I did not include the views of Oromo supportive of the state of emergency and of the government’s reform efforts. This is a fair comment to some degree, but it was also actually the case that the vast majority of interviewees expressed their concern at the situation, fear about the state of emergency, and their belief that the underlying problems hadn’t been addressed by the government.
    The second criticism was that I didn’t seek out the views of local officials for the article. There were some logistical issues that contributed to this, but it’s a valid point. I hope to reveal more about governance issues and reform efforts in future articles through the views of officials.
    It should also be added that taking a sample of views from rural West Shewa Zone as representative of the Oromia Region is statistically dubious, to say the least. Resource constraints mean this type of situation is a constant problem for journalists trying to draw conclusions about large issues. Because of these problems, I try not to be overly confident when making conclusions, and report either only views that were part of a strong consensus, or state when certain perspectives are outliers.
    These are some of the actual problems I see with the article. Maybe rather than falling back on truly hackneyed clichés about Conrad, you can strive to address these types of substantive issues in future Opinion Roundups when you analyze the international media’s criticism of Ethiopia.
    In conclusion, I’m not sure it’s fair to say that I fell ‘short of good journalism’ in the piece, which was widely read, and generally well received by what I consider to be reasonable observers. Such an assessment is of course highly subjective, and you’re as welcome to your opinion on the matter as anyone else. I hope, however, I’ve shown that some of your opinions don’t rest on very solid factual foundations.
    To say the article involved ‘journalistic lapses’ is as correct about this article as it is about the overwhelming majority of articles on complex subjects – if by a ‘lapse’ we define it as inclduding section where there could have been improvement. As discussed, relevant details were omitted, and there is always more to say.
    Thank you again for your criticism and for inviting me to respond. I think such exchanges between the media and representatives of Ethiopia’s elite political establishment – however shadowy – can only have a positive long-term effect.
    Kind regards


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