As we noted last week, the VOA News Blog had received an email from Aboaondofa, who asked: "how do you help people in your journalism?"
We put this question to several VOA colleagues and we plan to roll out their replies, one at a time, in the weeks ahead.
Our first reply comes from Idrissa Dia, Chief of VOA’s popular French-to-Africa service. He quotes from some emails and phone calls his service has received.
Idrissa says VOA French programs are probably having their most significant impact in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He says one email writer there sent this message:
“I am and will always be a faithful VOA listener, since thanks to you we are aware of the taboo information… because no state or private network will touch those stories, not wanting to take any risks of being closed down or seeing their journalists arrested.”
Another emailer writes: “I'm in Bujumbura, and I did not have the chance to go and vote like every good Congolese, but it is more useful for me to congratulate all those who have contributed to the success of this big rendezvous of the Congolese people. I thank VOA for its coverage which allowed us to learn more throughout our country.”
Idrissa says one writer went so far as to suggest that VOA be nominated for a Nobel prize because, as far as this emailer was concerned, VOA has played a “very positive role by being among those forces for peace in Congo".
French-to-Africa’s Managing Editor Ferdinand Ferella, who has been covering the region for almost two decades, received an email in which the writer said “I had the pleasure of listening to your Forum on the DRC elections, and congratulate you for your objectivity. This should be a very important lesson to our own press.”
Other communications from listeners to our French programs are thankful for VOA services like English lessons, and the opportunity they are given to ask questions in interactive programs like Washington Forum and America and You.
Sometimes the help given by VOA affects individuals directly. Idrissa reports that the publisher of the Djibouti-based journal "Le Renouveau", Ahmed Farah Daher, called recently to say thank you because one of his journalists had been freed from detention after VOA's broadcast of a story about his case. Idrissa says this publisher “assured us that the Djibouti government pays attention" to what VOA is saying.