Cry for ESAT not for the VOA: Stop the hypocrisy By Elon Samson

July 25th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

Almost all critical Ethiopian websites are crammed up with articles about the VOA saga. Reading some of the articles and reports on these websites, one can sense that the writers are filled with deep anger and frustration. I personally don’t understand the source of this deep anger and frustration. I sometimes ask whether we Ethiopians have lost our reasoning and driven by emotions and emotions alone. I never read one writer critically examining the cause of our anger and tried to show us a different perspective and a way out from this saga. The whole issue has become a cacophony.

I dare to state that our cacophony is worthless for the following reasons:

First VOA is not an Ethiopian radio. It is funded by the American government and has its own missions and objectives, which is to serve the interest of the American government. Therefore we shouldn’t be indignant if the VOA decides to do anything against the opposition or the government. We can’t control something we don’t own. The only right we have is either to boycott to listening VOA’s programs, or to encourage Ethiopians to refuse to give interviews to the station or, to encourage the VOA reporters to resign from their posts.

2 There is full of hypocrisy in the VOA protest. If we are really committed for free media, why do we criticize the wrongs of an institution we don’t own, while failing to establish one, or bolster up the existing ones? Look the number of websites we have! How many of us have funded them, how many of us have copied and sent their messages to people in Ethiopia. We have a number of regional radios in the Diaspora, how many of us have supported them financially to assist them to air their programs to Ethiopia. We had Adera radio closed for finance; we have Abebe Belew’s Addis Dimtse, staggering to survive. We have now the first satellite television in our history. How many of us have paid the $ 500 contribution? How many of us have contributed $10 per month? How many of us have condemned the jamming of ESAT and went to oppose the Chinese and other governments that assist the Ethiopian dictatorial regime or written protest letters? ESAT has captivated the minds of everyone in Ethiopia to the degree unparalleled in the Ethiopian media history. Our people at home have never lamented for the jamming of VOA as they did for ESAT. Let’s ask us ourselves, what have we done for ESAT? What have we done for other radios and websites? So why are we screaming for an institution that we don’t own and we have no share at all? What else is hypocrisy more than this?

3 VOA has never been a radio of freedom. It is a professional media exercising professionalism, but Ethiopia needs more than that. Ethiopia needs a media that envisages and propagates freedom and professional reporting. As a media of freedom it should advocate and call for freedom and democracy with vigour and tenacity; as a professional media it should make a balancing reporting. The media we need should make a balanced and truthful news and news analysis, at the same time advocating for freedom and democracy in the rest of its programs. VOA meets the first requirement, i.e. it is a source of good news, but not a force for change, freedom and democracy. To my understanding it is ESAT which combines the two essential ingredients that our country needs right away- being a media of freedom at the same time a media of profession. I don’t wonder if people cry for ESAT, but makes no sense for me to cry for VOA

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