November 6, 2012 by soniauwimana
Jonny Hogg, the Kinshasa-based stringer who files heavily edited copy for Reuters, is an A-grade Congophile, but he completely lacks the Jason Stearns’ knack for faking objectivity. Even after multiple editors have attempted to rescue his copy, Hogg has become something a poster-boy for extreme anti-Rwanda bias in the mainstream press. He is also a standing joke; for one thing, Hogg’s prose style is….well, let’s just say the Pulitzer or Man Booker Committees are unlikely to be troubled anytime soon.
Hogg is also notoriously thin-skinned. After a light-hearted social media campaign earlier in the year to raise funds for Hogg to travel to Kigali (he is notable for reporting about Rwanda without ever talking to anyone from Rwanda), the young American spat the dummy in a manner that was described to me as “something you might expect to see on ‘Toddlers & Tiaras'”.
But the problem with Reuters now seems much greater than just Hogg who is, after all, a very junior reporter. This has been most evident in the consistency with which Steve Hege’s Rwanda-bashing panel has opted for Reuters over the competition (AFP, AP, Bloomberg, etc) when leaking its reports. It begs the questions, what is the quid pro quo here? Political reporting is a series of trade-offs. Something begets something. Free lunches are as implausible when it comes to strategic media leaks as they are everywhere else (except for at MONSUCO HQ where no-one ever pays for lunch).
If Hege, MONUSCO and other DRC boosters have struck some form of tacit deal with Reuters, that might go some way to explaining this bizarre piece of reportage this morning. (I am going to quote the title and the first three paragraphs to avoid criticism for selective editing):
Congo, Rwanda control tempers after border shoot-out
Mon, Nov 5 2012
By Kenny Katombe
KABUANGA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo sought on Monday to prevent the killing of a Congolese soldier in a border clash from causing an escalation of already tense relations, officials said.
“Relations are the same with Rwanda. We’re in contact with them. It was just an isolated incident,” Congolese army spokesman Colonel Olivier Hamuli said during a visit to the scene of the shooting in eastern Congo, at a spot where the border runs through a potato patch.
“You can see there’s no natural frontier, so it’s easy for someone to make a mistake and find himself in another territory,” he said, waving towards a group of potato farmers watching from just metres (yards) away in Rwanda.
(Additional reporting by Jonny Hogg; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Michael Roddy)
An FARDC source tells Steve Hege he saw a bootprint near the border with Rwanda that appeared to be in the shape of an RDF boot…there was some fresh dirt on graves at Kanombe Cemetery ..a DRC military intelligence official tells Hege he heard somebody somewhere say something…and Rwanda is as guilty as sin of mounting a full-scale invasion of the eastern DRC. Countries freeze aid. Global hysteria ensues. The UN Secretary General calls a Mini-Summit. Ken Roth flails about like an Inflatable Breezy Geezer (think car dealerships) for months on end…
But soliders of the FARDC walk into Rwandan territory and open fire…not “according to sources” or by virtue of an extrapolated footprint, but actually flagrantly breach the borders…and, to Reuters, this is nothing more serious than wandering through a potato patch?
Can you believe it?
Imagine if the reverse had happened! Imagine if an RDF soldier had been caught Congo-side shooting live ammunition at the FARDC! It is impossible to exaggerate the international hyperventilating that would have been triggered by such an event. Condemnation would have been swift, universal and fierce. Jonny Hogg would have dissolved into tears of elation. Ken Roth may have even smiled. The UN Sanctions Committee would be meeting as we speak — weighing not whether or not Rwanda should be punished, but arguing over the severity of the punishment.
Reuters’ coverage of the FARDC incursion is alarming, as well as profoundly revealing, in it’s blasé flippancy.