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Ethiopian bloggers pay tribute to jet crash reporter

Ethiopian bloggers have flooded the Internet with tributes to Associated Press reporter Anthony Mitchell who was one of 114 people killed when Kenyan Airways flight KQ507 crashed in southern Cameroon early Saturday May 5. (See the BBC story on the crash and Global Voices's roundup of the reaction of Kenyan bloggers to the accident.)

Anthony worked as a journalist in Ethiopia for five years and led the reporting of violence that broke out after the country's controversial national elections in May 2005.

He was thrown out of the country in January 2006 after the Ethiopian Government accused him of engaging in “hostile” reporting. But he remained something of a hero to many Ethiopians, including many of the country's highly politicised bloggers.

For me, he was the best foreign journalist to be stationed in Ethiopia for the last decade. Apart from his journalistic philosophy, he would also be remembered as incredibly courageous correspondent. I don't think AP reports about Ethiopia would have been the same, had he not been directly and indirectly responsible for those stories – In Ethiopia as a reporter and in Kenya, as an editor,

wrote Seminawork in Anthony Mitchell, courageous journalist.

“The Death of Anthony Mitchell,AP’s Ethiopia reporter…is really a big loss to Ethiopia and Africa in General,” wrote 4kilo in May God bless his soul!

“Associated Press correspondent Anthony Mitchell was a true friend of Ethiopia,” wrote Addis Voice in Tribute to a true journalist. “During the height of the post-election repressions, Anthony Mitchell wrote nothing but the truth, the whole truth.”

“Anthony Mitchell was a true friend of Ethiopia and Ethiopians,” according to Carpe Diem Ethiopia in Anthony Mitchell: Keeping the Tormentors Honest, a “local hero” according to The Other Side in Plane crash in Cameroon, “a brilliant journalist” according to Global Voices’ own Ethan Zuckerman in Reactions to the crash of KQ 507 and “a respected and prominent journalist” according to Just Thinking in Anthony Mitchell.

There is no one – with an eye on Ethiopia – who does not know Anthony! His deeper understanding of the politics in Ethiopia and consequently his reportings of the things that were going on in the country led to his expulsion from Ethiopia in 2006. But based in Nairobi, Anthony continued to keep an eye on Ethiopia and he kept all of us – Ethiopians – and the whole world informed of our country!

wrote FilwehaPundit in We Missed a Great Man!

Anthony Mitchell was also widely admired by his fellow reporters, especially his colleagues in Associated Press’ Nairobi office where he worked after his expulsion.

Les Neuhaus, the reporter who replaced him in Ethiopia, left a comment at the end of Seminawork's above-mentioned entry, stating:

Anthony Mitchell made me a better reporter…If it is true that he is gone, it is a severe blow to journalism in Africa, and the world at large. He perfected his craft in Ethiopia and Ethiopians should be proud of his contribution to news reporting from that troubled country. It is a blow to me as I read this heavy, heavy news.

Beirut-based journalist-blogger Christopher Allbritton met Anthony on a press trip in Djibouti just a few weeks before the crash. In AP’s Anthony Mitchell on plane that crashed on his blog Back to Iraq, he wrote:

I met Anthony, who is 39, in March in Djibouti, when we both were onboard the FGS Bremen, a German frigate, for a story on maritime security operations in the area. Anthony was full of funny, self-deprecating stories about himself and Africa, stories that contained no small amount of hard-won wisdom, too. He talked about the clans of Somalia, the US military’s actions in the Horn of Africa and constantly took the piss out of our military escort in the most good-natured way possible.

The writers behind the Pulitzer Center's Ethiopia Blog got to know Anthony in Nairobi, where he moved after being expelled. In Anthony Mitchell they wrote:

When we were in Ethiopia, more than a year after Anthony left, people were still talking about his reporting. Those with ties to the government were critical, of course; everyone else said he had done more to publicize Meles’ abuses than any other journalist in his years there. Testimony to the quality of his work comes from Ethiopia’s many bloggers, who are mourning his death.

I worked along side Anthony for almost two years in Ethiopia and described my feelings about his death in Anthony Mitchell on my blog Meskel Square. The entry concluded:

It is difficult to think of a note to end on. Anthony would have found any attempt at sentimentality or grand-sounding sentiment ridiculous. The best I can say it that he was a very good man and a very good journalist. And to state the obvious – that everyone who knew him in Addis Ababa is absolutely devastated today.

7 comments

  • proud ethiopian

    We all lost a good person and i send my condolences to his family.

    But to say that those critical of his bias work during election were ethiopians with “ties to the government” is being narrow minded and unintelligent. everybody likes the truth, honesty, impartiality and professionalism. it isn’t just those with ties to the government. we all want progress and better democracy.

    when many american officials and others blamed the EU election observers of leaking false information to the one party called CUD, anthony must have reported it. when police were killed and reporters like SBS journalist Oliver said she SAW election rioters trying to OVERPOWER AND TAKE THE GUN OF THE POLICE OFFICERS, Anthony should have reported it. when many non-EU observers said the EU was extremely bias and the ruling party won the election in majority, Anthony must have reported it. when even european officials praised the elections saying this was only the SECOND multiparty election in ethiopian 2000 yr HISTORY (BOTH UNDER MELES) and progress was made, Anthony should have reported it. yet what did anthony report?? …just the violence of the police officers. thats it!! do we have to be pro-government to comprehend this??

    You don’t have to be an ethiopian with “ties to the government” to criticize the bias work of anthony during the elections. Nobody has to be a rocket scientist to understand these.

    anyway, let us forgive and forget, i would like to say that anthony was serving the world with dedication before the election and even after he got kicked out. one mistake shouldn’t marr his image. we have many good things to talk about him. with a small exception, we should thank for all of his service and dedication. we should still praise him. may God be with his family as well.

  • Ron

    Guigy’s comment is so racist I find it disgusting and an appalling thing to post on a blog set up to someone’s memory. If you hate all white people, you should keep your opinions to yourself.
    Perhaps we should have a look at why Ant was in Ethiopia in the first place. He only moved to Ethiopia because Cath, who he later married, gave up her job to go and work for the charity Goal there, helping build health centres in poor parts of the country. Ant was a staff reporter for the Daily Express and gave up his job not knowing whether he would ever get any work in journalism in Africa. He wasn’t paid to go out there by AP, it wasn’t a move for financial gain, in fact he thought of it at the time as possible career suicide.
    He only got work there through hard work, digging for stories and then trying to get news orgaisations to take an interest in Ethiopia.
    If it wasn’t for Ant, the stories and investigations he did just wouldn’t have happened, because he managed to raise international interest and anger at such things.

  • Daniel

    I had have felt a lose of a close friend & brother to man I have only known by name. The more I think about it I think I am also feeling this for a lose of Ethiopia. We owe him a million. May God comfort his family.

  • Melaku

    It was so sad for me to know that Anthony had been on board in that plane and I was praying to God that he is safe and didn’t take that flight to get back to Nairobi, but this is not what happened early Monday morning.
    I was even scared to access any Newsmedia website to find out the News of Anthony Mitchell-“Ye’kefu qene Lij”. I even shut my Laptop without reading any News from websites. Those three days were not that easy to wait for the News.
    On Monday Afternoon, my buddy and I were on the phone discussing about Ethiopia’s situation, and in the middle of our conversation, he just spill the death of Anthony out not knowing that how much I was scared to hear/know “the News”.
    I was sad and am still sad. As a man of Truth, The life of Anthony had been tested to the uttermost to stand tall on his strength and moral principles in Ethiopia. He lived his life as a man of integrity.
    Anthony had done what is right for the people of Ethiopia. He was Strong and pure man indeed who came out triumphant on the times Ethiopians needed him the most.
    What a great Man!
    My deepest condolences go out to Fitzgibbon, son Tom, daughter Rose, his parents John and Jackie Mitchell and his sister Jo Jotischky.

  • If a expressing clearly an idea may looks like, not knowing all the good part of Anthony it because, I din’t get the oppurtinity to meet him in a Five Stars Hotel. Somehow, I’m honestly wondering if he wrote a book. That being said, I’m confident to whisper : I’m not ” A Racist because I don’t have the Power nor, the Money to throw O.J.Simpson out of a restaurant in the U.S.A. That’s RASIM !!!

  • Anthony Mitchell is dead, Long-Live his son Tom !

  • […] Ethiopian bloggers pay tribute to jet crash reporter – Global Voices Online […]

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