By Ahmed Abdi
Most of the Somali people have recently started to quit listening to their long-time news provider, BBC Somali Service and news newly-competitor of Voice of America (VOA) Somali Service.
They lost interest and distrusted them due to the privilege of the recent technology they have gained mainly social media such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google plus and many other Social media platforms.
If you ask at least six different peoples from different locations for example, Hargeisa, Garowe, Kismayo and Mogadishu they will definitely tell you that they did not listen a week or even months or they did not remember the last time they have listened to them.
Of Course, they will tell you that there is no unmet news coverage that they would need from any of them that they did not hear before. Because the above-mentioned news outlets serves better than BBC and Somali Services.
Forget about people in Jigjiga and many other place across Ogaden region that the BBC and VOA Somali Services are muted to cover their regional problems despite the conflicts, famine, human rights violations, social injustice, and underdevelopment.
If they ever do once a year coverage -they avoid mentioning the geographical name, which probably is Ogaden region of Ethiopia due to the region’s name,named after Ogaden-clan , which makes up the region’s half of its populations. More than 6 million Somali audience members had possibly lost there.
Moreover, Many of their former clients will tell you that the editors of the two channels’ tribal affiliation led them to distrust and stop listening to the news channels of BBC and VOA Somali Services. Meanwhile, many others complained about their lack of objective and balanced coverage.
Let us analyse the changes occurred after all these to learn the difference between now and then.
Between 1994-1998, Somali people used to put aside everything in their hands whenever they heard the BBC’s famous music to listen its international and regional news carefully. In the past, villagers, who had no radios used to travel a long distance on foot amid listening the news of the BBC Somali Service for the nearest possible location available to get its news-possibly walking 14 kilometers away from their own villages.
It is obvious that the BBC had been their source of news reference as well their only reliable dictionary in terms of every disputed divination of Somali world. You see, its former Somali reporters had knowledge when it comes to their regional dialects and Somali literary language.
People used to make their appointment-hours the times of the BBC Somali Service be on air i.e specific hours of the morning, afternoon, and evening that is usually devoted to listening to it. This is an indication of how people’s lives were more connected to its programs before. In these hours, crowds of Somalis assembling in a bid to listen to the news of the BBC Somali Service.
Even there was a time, the only available program about Africa including Somalia was Wednesdays. It was BBC Somali Service, which people made a place to return for their disputed sources. And nobody could dispute a news said it is a source of BB Somali Service. The time has changed, so have BBC Somali reporters.
People VOA Somali Service is believed to have been created to compete with the Somali people’s traditional news outlet, BBC Somali Service, after the U.S’s interest of Somalia affairs grew following the U.S-led invasion of Somalia in 1992 ad the U.S’s war on terror as well as the United States fear of China’s East Africa penetration amid the U.S rival’s demand of Africa’s Natural resources to pave its way of being a super-power.
The time that VOA Somali Service aired its first programs was welcomed by the mass and many BBC’s longtime clients turned to VOA Somali Service and it became more popular in every corner of the five-pointed white star of Somali flag represents i.e every place that Somali-Speaking community could be found.
But unfortunately, a media that most of the Somalis mistakenly assumed a role model, a sign of good era, however, turned to be null and void after it has lost its values, which probably means compromising its impartiality.
Several things are supposed to be the reason for the decline of the BBC and VOA Somali listeners including the lack of quality reporters compared to the past reporters that devoted to literature and were rich in their Somali language and their own culture when addressing Somalis, who are culturally rich in oral tradition and have zero-tolerance for such unskilled presenters.
It is obvious that many factors contributed to the disappointment of their audience members including their less quality programs for the result of hiring their new reporters based on evaluation of their knowledge of the English language rather than Somali language and regional knowledge as well as favouring one tribe against another, one politician against another and/or one region against another.