Harun Maruf loses commitment to journalistic objectivity

By Adan M. Dawad

Harun Maruf selects facts to mislead readers when he tweets to keep them in the dark about a divided FEIT.

During 1990s I listened with interest to reports that Harun Maruf had faxed from Mogadishu to BBC World Service. He joined the BBC Somali Service before getting employed by the VOA Somali Service, which began broadcasting to Somali listeners in 1993.

Harun successfully navigated the risks associated with reporting from 1990s Mogadishu whose neighbourhoods were under rival warlords. Much of what happened in the capital city of Somalia went unreported either because the stringer feared consequences of reporting on a given warlord or he was not able to verify what happened in another part of Mogadishu.

Communication between north and south Mogadishu was difficult. Mobile phones or landlines did not exist. The experience of reporting from a war-scarred Mogadishu stood Harun in good stead when it comes to getting jobs with either BBC or VOA. Sadly, he has lost the journalistic objectivity. His tweets on the tense politics of Somalia betray bias toward one group.

“Jubaland has concluded the election of 16 seats from Gedo region. Based on election results recognised by the federal election committee, there are only four seats remaining in Hirshabelle State to be completed” tweeted Harun.

What is wrong with this tweet? Harun failed to mention the parallel election processes at El Wak and Garbaharey, where the two opposing wings of the Federal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT) have issued certificates to MPs elected at both districts of Gedo.

To deny the split within FEIT is akin to selecting facts to mislead readers or listeners or viewers. Harun’s tweet says a lot about the editorial standards of the Voice of America. Harun Maruf should not be dispensing with commitment to journalistic ethics in an age when fake news takes different forms ranging from misleadingly selective facts to the distortion of facts. Harun’s tweet on El Wak election has both characteristics.

Adan M. Dawad