Spotlight: VOA’s Negussie Mengesha on New Media Freedoms in Ethiopia

Negussie Mengesha who began his journalism career in the U.S. as an Amharic reporter at Voice of America in the 1980's is now the head of VOA’s Africa Division overseeing the agency’s nearly 125 hours of weekly programming in 16 languages on radio, television, and digital platforms to the African continent - reaching nearly 51 million people weekly. (Photo: VOA)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 5th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Voice of America (VOA) has been a voice for the voiceless in Ethiopia for many decades, and one of the main people behind this effort is Negussie Mengesha, who started out as young reporter then became an editor, Amharic Chief and is now the Director of the Africa division for VOA.

In the following video Negussie explains how he fled Ethiopia in the 1970s and became a refugee in Sudan before relocating to the U.S. all because he was unable to practice his profession as a journalist in his home country due to the repressive government at the time.

Thanks to the current reforms underway in Ethiopia Negussie was able to return to Ethiopia for the first time in four decades last October. In addition to an emotional visit to his parents’ burial grounds, Negussie said one of the highlights of his trip was meeting with PM Abiy Ahmed.

“I thanked him for opening up the political space and for allowing the media to operate freely,” Negussie said. “That meeting for me was very, very important.” He added: “Freedom of the press is close to my heart. I have seen journalists killed because they wrote freely, because they exposed corruption, mismanagement or also injustice.”

As to VOA he said: “This place is more than a workplace for me, it’s like my family. I started out as reporter, then became a senior editor, then became the Amharic Chief.”

Negussie says VOA is planing to strengthen its presence in Ethiopia and added: “Hopefully one day we will have a VOA 24/7.”

Watch: Negussie Mengesha on New Media Freedoms in Ethiopia

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