VOA Amharic Radio news and Ethiopian politics
Why do you trust VOA Amharic Radio?
I just want to share few points i thought are important regarding media. Most of the world's populations heavily rely on the media for different kinds of information. I believe every nation and society these days has either Radio, TV, Internet or at least Newspapers. Why? It looks like the mass media is so important in our life. It all depends on our trust that a certain source is reliable. But when you study what media is, why and how it operates, you will understand that it is far more than an information portal. So is VOA Amharic Radio transmission and if we trust it there should be a reason behind it.
Most medias in the democratic world are very well known to be profitable businesses and they are usually many in number. They not only get information to people, but they do business through advertising and are profitable. The other side of their operation is they are political tools. As the civilized world became so dependent on the media it is clear that what the media says is taken as "Truth". The media actually shapes society's thoughts and actions by subtle ways of manipulation. They set agendas, frame a certain meaning, use words and expressions that actually control the public. Don't you think this is the reason why some states don't allow other media ownerships than the state itself? I believe the popularity of VOA Amharic Radio transmission started during the socialist Derg Regime. By then people started to see the difference of "True reports" between the state media and VOA Amharic. Whoever is able to secure trust from the public will be a trusted media outlet.
You can recall what the state media was saying about the condition of the late prime minister, Mr. Zenawi, when other media sources were declaring the bad news. Do we trust Ethiopian state media? It depends on how they are handling their reporting. The most concrete reason why some Ethiopians don't trust the state media is, as to my understanding, it is controlled by a regime that doesn't allow any other media to function in the country. Many countries do just the same, they want to be the only source of information. Sad to say, in our time, states are not able to totally control information that reaches their people. The socialist Derg regime tried that and the people started to sniff for another source of truth, and they happen to find it at VOA Amharic Radio transmission.
VOA Amharic Radio transmission, and its influence in Ethiopian politics
The voice of America radio transmission has its own place in the political changes that happened in Ethiopia. I was a child when the communist regime came to power. Communism really ruined the country. It may not be the ideology that ruined it but the people who were running this agenda. Right from the beginning the regime was riddled with power struggle from the inside out. Politically motivated killings were so rampant that people were living in real fear and uncertainty. War was the prominent theme by then. Lots of productive and elite young citizens were killed in the name of “purging enemies of the communist agenda". Media was strictly state owned and controlled. The sources of alternate media coverage by then were radio transmission of the western Medias like BBC, Deutsche Welle and VOA Amharic radio.
There may have been lots of western media transmissions that can present accurate and up to date information but the Ethiopian public was very much glued to the voice of America and Deutsche Welle because they have Amharic language transmission. Ethiopia is indigenous to many tribes, cultures, religions and languages. The VOA Amharic radio transmission by then was very much loved and believed by the majority of city dwellers because it was coming from a free and democratic country, America. Media in the west is an entirely different entity to that of the repressive regimes in Africa. As one who lives in the west now I have seen the ultimate power of the free media. Government officials are scared of the reports and inquiries and polls and you name it. This is unheard of in a place where I lived half of my life, my home country, Ethiopia. My generation grew up learning to fear government officials. They can do whatever they want to do and no one dares ask why. This is the real deal in all repressive regimes everywhere. I believe things have been changing in Ethiopia and it may even get better in the future. The voice of America served the people as a platform for free expression of ideas and as a source of alternative reports.
I am not sure if the communist regime tried to jam VOA Amharic transmission nor do i know if it is possible to jam it at all. Sure they could have done it if they had the means. Everyone was referring the VOA for current developments in the country. "Do you hear what the news said about the war?" goes the question....."Yeah..the state media says our military is winning but VOA reports are not indicating that"....says the reply. VOA Amharic radio was popular.
I recently read a news feed on a website that the current government in Ethiopia was trying to jam the VOA Amharic transmission (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8575749.stm"). That is a bit off-track for me. In a time as this where people have unlimited and fast sources of news it is hard to understand why a government will jam a single radio station. Sure every government has its own right of objecting a falsified report and present the facts to the public to counter the negative report. The idea of jamming VOA kind of reminded me where i was living. I think VOA Amharic transmission is going to continue its report and the people are going to listen anyway. The information world has gone beyond the control of states and governments. Nowadays people are leaking top secret government files on the Internet.
The Internet is really changing the demographics of the whole world. The world is becoming a very small and bare place to live. You do something here and the whole world will know about it in few minutes.
The power and influence of western media, VOA Amharic radio being one of them, I guess, is still affecting politics in many countries. Though I have some doubt that media in the west is totally free from government influence, it is remarkably powerful to expose the truth to the public.
Thanks for your time