The Nairobi Star says it’s been the victim of fake news. Was it?
The Kenyan newspaper reported this week that a fake news story with a real Nairobi Star reporter’s byline, Ernest Cornel, has circulated accusing Kenyan governor Hassan Joho of “drinking and smoking.”
The phony story was “cleverly designed to look like a genuine story from The Star,” according to an editor’s note by the newspaper. The fake story’s headline was “Joho in drinking and smoking parties during campaigns.”
“We wish to categorically state that The Star did not write such a story neither did the reporter write it,” the newspaper stated. Further, the Star maintained it wouldn’t “engage in smear or partisan campaigns” in covering politics and elections.
The real Nairobi Star reporter whose byline appeared on the fake story, Ernest Cornel, told iMediaEthics he learned about the fake story when a colleague showed him a screenshot of it circulating on Facebook. Cornel, a political reporter based on the Kenyan coast, said he hasn’t heard from either the governor or his aides, but “readers who think the article is factual have reached out expressing their frustration.”
Cornel also told iMediaEthics he worries that someone who doesn’t know the story is fake might act out against him. “Aggrieved parties who may not understand that the article is fake, or perhaps have not seen the editor’s note clarifying the same, may strike,” he e-mailed.
iMediaEthics has contacted the Star to ask why the newspaper felt it needed to address the fake story and if Joho complained. We’ve also contacted Joho for his response to the false news story.