HabariLeo newspaper seems to have engaged in an intriguing bit of late revisionism today. Take a look at the two images below – from the printed edition of the government-owned paper (on the left), and then from the online version of the same article (on the right).
For those who don’t speak Swahili, the difference in headlines here is significant.
On the left, the headline is framed as a direct quote from the Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda: “Those who oppose the phone tax have bad intentions”.
On the right, the headline also refers to the Prime Minister, but carries a very different message: “Pinda – the phone tax is not to hurt people”.
Aggressive in print, defensive online.
I don’t want to add my thoughts on the mobile phone tax issue itself. Plenty has been said on that elsewhere. But I think HabariLeo’s actions here are worth documenting.
A different headline online and in print is odd, perhaps, though hardly earth shattering. But there’s more. A little further searching uncovered something more interesting. When the article was originally posted online, it bore the same headline as the print edition. How do I know? Because the newspaper’s Facebook page still bore the original headline (or at least, it did when I checked earlier today, though it has now gone) – see below:
In other words, for some reason HabariLeo took the decision to go to the trouble of changing the headline of its leading article after it was first published online, softening it substantially. And then to remove the article from it’s Facebook page. Why would they do that?
Incidentally, it’s also worth highlighting that HabariLeo’s English language sister-paper at TSN Media, Daily News, didn’t cover the story at all. Is this another example of the most interesting political stories getting less attention in Tanzania’s English language press than in the Swahili papers?
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