A Somali-based media organization has named VOA the “Top International Radio Station” in Somalia. VOA’s Harun Maruf was named the “Best Journalist of 2013” among international broadcasters.
The first-ever survey by the Mogadishu-based Somali Centre for Media and Studies (SOCMAS) focused on three areas: news reporting, coverage of major events, and community-oriented programming.
“It’s a great thing to have been recognized in this way, and it’s an indication of our audience’s confidence in us,” said VOA Somali Service Chief Abdirahman Yabrow. “We have all worked hard since 2007 [when VOA Somali was re-established] to develop this kind of reputation for VOA.”
The service has enjoyed a number of successes in the past year, including the launch of its first-ever TV show Qubanaha (Variety), a 15-minute mix of U.S., international, and regional news, with reports from local journalists in Somalia.
In September, Harun Maruf landed an exclusive with Omar Hammami, an America-born jihadist and al-Shabab member who died shortly after the interview, which was picked up by a number of U.S. and international media outlets.
The service also hosted Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud at a VOA-sponsored town hall meeting in London.
“Beyond just breaking news, what VOA Somali really tries to provide our audience, is comprehensive in-depth reporting and analysis that goes deeper than other Somali-language broadcasters,” Maruf said. “It’s a competitive media environment there, and to be voted ‘best international radio station’ after just seven years speaks volumes, especially when competing with broadcasters like BBC, which has been on air continuously in Somalia since 1957.”
More than 50 percent of the population in the capital Mogadishu listens to VOA Somali radio weekly, according to 2012 audience research. VOA Somali broadcasts on shortwave, AM and FM, through a network of affiliates in Somalia and across the Horn of Africa.
SOCMAS was established in 2012 by Somali journalists and researches with the goal of improving the quality of journalism in Somalia.