14 October 2011

My Own Mini FailFaire

Last night was Fail Faire DC held at the World Bank. If you want to see all of the discussions of failure be sure to check out the #failfairedc tag on twitter.

In the spirit of failure, I should admit my own. Yesterday, I jumped on the fact that media were under reporting the fact that along with two Spanish MSF workers, two Kenyan aid workers had been kidnapped. When working on the DAWNS Digest I noted it as a top story and was proud to think that the headline would not be the same as everyone else.

The problem was that as more reports came out it became harder to substantiate the story of the two Kenyans. Thus far, I have been able to track it to an AP wire from 8 AM yesterday that said:
Security officials in Kenya say gunmen have seized two international and two Kenyan aid workers from the world's largest refugee camp.

Kenyan police chief Leo Nyongesa said authorities are following the kidnappers by road and air, and that the Kenya-Somalia border has been closed.

A youth leader in the Dadaab refugee camp, Baijo Mohamed, said the two kidnapped foreign aid workers are with Doctors Without Borders. Mohamed said their Kenyan driver was shot in the neck.

A Doctors Without Borders spokeswoman said she couldn't immediately comment.

Thursday's attack follows the recent kidnappings of a British tourist and a Frenchwoman from Kenyan resorts near the Somali border.
The AP began to exclude the two Kenyans from their reports and discuss the driver who was shot in the neck. A few other sources, such as The Standard (Kenya), reported that 4 people had been kidnapped. However, it seems that there is a good chance they sourced their information from this original AP wire. Because we could not follow up on the story from the United States, it became clear that the stork may be bunk.

I pushed to find ways to get that into the story (I wanting to prove I was right), but Mark said no for good reason. So, we published the report that has the most validity. MSF has made public statements about the abduction of its two workers and that is the only hard evidence available.

This makes me further interested in finding ways to support citizen journalists that are in Dadaab right now. With a limited number of people it is easy to see how the initial mistake by the AP was made or how they have had a tough time backing up their earlier claim. It is possible two Kenyans were abducted, but I would imagine that a reporter would have a harder time proving that than the story of the two MSF workers.

The point is, that this is exactly what DAWNS hopes to be able to support. So there you have it. I jumped the gun based on early reports and failed beautifully.