On Corruption and Somali Journalists


By Liban Ahmad

The reaction by some Somali journalists in Mogadishu to the Guardianarticle by the Somali journalist, Jamal Osman, vindicated Jamal who argued that corruption also caused the murder of many journalists. Jamal defended his article in a Universal TV interview last night. He said journalists were murdered in Mogadishu for one of three reasons: ( 1) they were targeted for working for the government media organisations (2) they were accidentally killed in suicide bombing operations against government officials, or ( 3) they were killed by assassins for a political group who felt the the journalist had been a propagandist for a rival group.

Most journalists work for local radio stations in Mogadishu that were launched as mouthpiece for local sub-clans. Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland administration, has a press law and political parties, but one neutral radio station and several daily and weekly newspapers.

No Mogadishu radio station has a code of conduct because radio stations, like post-1991 shops, were launched without a local authority permission, and managers and journalists are accountable to the owners and associated sub-clans. Why are some Mogadishu journalists trying to mislead public about the fact that some of their colleagues accept bribes ( sharuur) ? Jamal was right to tell us that ” corrupt journalists expose themselves to serious potential consequence.” This an admirable act of self-criticism.

Nearly six years ago I listened to a radio debate between Harun Ma’rtuf of VOA Somali Service, and the veteran Somali journalist Mahamud Mohamed Afrah, on the role of journalists. Harun Maruf laughed in disbelief to relate the story of a journalism seminar participant who said that belonging to sub-clan with a militia and technicals was one of the qualities a Mogadishu-based journalist “should have. “

Rather than organising a mass rally against Jamal Mogadishu journalists can write a letter to the Guardian or publish a rebuttal if they beg to differ with Jamal on how Somali journalists operate. Jamal has begun a timely debate on unethical journalism practices by some Somali journalists who are bribed or ask for bribes.

Liban Ahmad



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