Monday, 14 January 2008

Where did CNN's Jeff Koinange go wrong?

I am publishing as a kind of prologue to the full content of all emails exchanged between Jeff Koinange in me between August 2006 and May 2007, an article which was written by Mwende Mwinzi on June 10, 2007, in the Kenyan Daily Nation.......

Jeff Koinange is now working for a new TV-Channel K24 in Nairobi and I have decided to continue resp. reniew the publication of our correspondence at this very daring time in Kenya.

It should serve as a kind of warning not to believe everything you see and hear on TV........ as Jeff once wrote: "It is only Show........ and talk is cheap.....".

The article by Mwende Mwinzi reads as follows:

It had been coming for months we now know, but it was still a shock to hear it. Jeff Koinange 'is no longer employed at CNN', said network spokeswoman Christa Robinson on May 29. 'We are not commenting beyond that, there are several different people who will fill in for the time being.'

The announcement was brief and cort. The Peabody award-winning journalist who had worked for CNN since 2001 had been fired. With his departure, Koinange would leave CNN with the most sensational story he'd ever made at the network.

'I'm reeling from this news since I've so much respect and admiration for JK ..... his accomplishments, professionalism, confidence and style', my friend George emailed me in response to the widely read March 6 blog which tagged Koinange "the Kenyan date rape journalist". 'Obviously this is one side of the story if indeed this is what happened .... what are your thoughts?'

In the blog called KUMEKUCHA, Koinange allegdly raped a woman old enough to mother him while meeting her in a London hotel in mid-February to discuss her book A Shining Star in Darkness and, as it would be, their love.

Quoting from her blog, Distant-Lovers, the site quotes the victim, Marianne Briner, as emailing Koinange: "I can't remember to have ever felt like that - misused and mistreated by somebody who pretended to love me ..... after you left me - after we had sex in the roughest and most careless way - I felt so dirty .... I am still bleeding and will go to see a Doctor tomorrow." In other email threads, Koinange asks Briner for a tryst ---- a menage a trois ('threesome') --- involving her and her daughter; discussions between the two centre also on health and on Herpes, the sexual disease Koinange allegedley infected her with during their intimate session.

"Do you remember your nice words: I will never hurt you - I love you and respect you too much to ever disappoint you - just trust me? ...... Just empty words now - like you once said: 'talk is cheap'?"

Up until this week when Briner temporarily deleted the entries, Koinange's adulterous emails (also emailed to CNN boss Jim Walton) were in public domain causing the network tremendous embarrassment. But it is not, it is believed, for their sexual content that Koinange was eventually fired. If the allegations are true, CNN released him for impropriety and corruption.

According to some reports covering media in Nigeria, "there are allegations that Jeff Koinange has used 'funds' to execute contracts with the Rivers State Government and some Government agencies. "By his own admission, he has also violated journalism ethics by paying for (and some would say staging) stories for CNN.

Following some January correspondence between him and Jomo Gbomo, a reported top member of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Koinange visited and reported on the Niger Delta crisis, showing in his footage 24 Fillipino hostages and Delta militants.

"Of course I had to pay certain people to get the story," he confessed in an email to Briner. ".... You do not get such a story without bribing - you know how the world, especially in Nigeria functions - you have to have financial resources - but at the end it was worth it - CNN has its story and I have my 'fame'."

MEND comprises militants struggling for the liberation of the Niger Delta which, they believe, is at the marcy of foreign oil companies exploiting it. Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer (and the world's six largest exporter of oil) but the conflict, says the US Department of Energy, has cut the distribution by about 500,000 barrels per day.

"Our fight is against everybody," one of their commanders said.

"Every institution that doesn't want the people of the Niger Delta to have their fair share."

Since the tail-end of 2005, MEND militants have attacked severally Nigeria's oil sector, abducting dozens of foreign workers. "We are telling all expatriates to leave Nigeria, not only the Niger Delta, but to leave Nigeria. We will take lives, we will destroy lives, we will crumble the economy."

Though CNN has adamently denied staging the issue's coverage, Koinange's email has, through Briner's blog, succeeded in casting doubts on the veracity of the story and, worse, on the network's credibility.

According to Frank Nweke, Nigeria's Minister for Information, Koinange's footage not only sends "the wrong signals to the international community about the state of affairs in the country, creates unneessary panic and portrays Nigeria as a country in perpetual crisis," but it also "utterly disregards the most elementary principle of journalism because no government official was interviewed."

".... I have been 'reprimanded' by CNN for emailing anything but the basics," Jeff wrote to Briner shortly before his termination. "It is causing them great concern."

Globally, CNN reaches an estimated 1.5 billion people in over 212 countries. Like all other net organisations, the company's success hinges tightly on its credibility and the accuracy of its reporting.

Yet, as we all know, such agencies will also go to tremendous lengths to capture, capitalise and cash in on hot news items like ethe now (in)famous Delta story.

So where did Koinange go wrong?

"Don't put anything in emails that you wouldn't want the whole world to read," says Keith Crosley of Forrester Consulting for Proofpoint Inc., which makes anti-spam and email monitoring tools for companies. It is a difficult ideal to live up to, he says, but, absent that, workers should at least abide by their company's policy for acceptable email use.

In satisfying his salacious appetite for lascivious emails and online romps, Koinange indisputably violated CNN's policy for such correspondence in using his official CNN-email-address.

But do you think that is what did him in or was it perhaps his documented admission contained in those emails to the now much publicized corruption 'done in agreement with CNN?"


Tomorrow I will start with the 'real' Distant-Lover' ..........