New York Times explains controversial ‘tone-deaf’ Nairobi boss advert

New York Times explains controversial ‘tone-deaf’ Nairobi boss advert

A representative from the New York Times has come out to offer an explanation on the recent controversial Nairobi bureau chief advertisement that rubbed many the wrong way.

The advert, which was posted on the NYT LinkedIn account on Wednesday last week, was heavily criticized by Kenyans on Twitter over the wording used which many said was “tone-deaf”.

Taking to Twitter on Monday, the media house’s International Editor – Michael Slackman – admitted fault in the advert saying he “deserved” all the flak it brought forth.

“That job posting was my doing and I want to explain what happened. We are currently looking for three correspondents to cover Africa and I saw this as an opportunity to find the best there is,” he tweeted.

“But I plead guilty to taking a short cut: Rather than write a new job description, a posting from about 18 months went out. I gave it a cursory look, and approved it. Mea Culpa.”

Mr. Slackman further urged the public to judge NYT based on the quality of reporting of their correspondents across the continent rather than on the advert.

— Michael Slackman (@meslackman) July 7, 2019

Kenyans online however slammed the Editor’s explanation, further demanding an apology saying the posting was “racist”.

— Nanjala Nyabola (@Nanjala1) July 8, 2019

— AgroBioDiverse (@AgroBioDiverse) July 8, 2019

But you admit you did not bother to craft a job posting for a position you wanted to fill with the “best”, so this tells us a lot.

— Kuukuwa Manful (@Kuukuwa_) July 8, 2019


KOT last week condemned the media outlet for allegedly seeking only rather negative stories from the region and the continent at large.

Others even questioned why NYT would not include – in the advert – that it was seeking someone able to dig out positive stories from the region such as innovation or the impact of mobile money services.

“Our Nairobi bureau chief has a tremendous opportunity to dive into news and enterprise across a wide range of countries, from the deserts of Sudan and the pirate seas of the Horn of Africa, down through the forests of Congo and the shores of Tanzania,” read part of the job description.

“It is an enormous patch of vibrant, intense and strategically important territory with many vital story lines, including terrorism, the scramble for resources, the global contest with China and the constant push-and-pull of democracy versus authoritarianism.”

NYT further added: “The ideal candidate should enjoy jumping on news, be willing to cover conflict, and also be drawn to investigative stories. There is also the chance to delight our readers with unexpected stories of hope and the changing rhythms of life in a rapidly evolving region.”