March 14, 2013
When people in the Sudan turn on their radios every morning, the voice that often greets them belongs to EDC’s Nadia Taha.
Taha is a journalist with the Sudan Radio Service (SRS), which broadcasts news, information, and original programming via shortwave radio to millions of people throughout her native Sudan. Born in Darfur, Taha went on to become a lawyer before joining SRS in 2010. Now she has distinguished herself as one of only a handful of female journalists in the country.
SRS has proven itself to be an indispensable resource for people in Sudan’s many conflict-heavy regions. In addition to news reports, the station also provides informational programming focusing on health, wellness, gender, and culture. The station has been operational since 2003, and EDC helped train Taha and her colleagues about best practices in journalism.
People are tuning in from across the region. And judging by listener feedback, Taha’s reports are an essential link between people in conflict and the news that they need.
Q: Why is SRS such an important resource?
Taha: SRS provides news that is unique. This is news from the conflict areas of Sudan, about the lives of the people in the conflict zones, and about the humanitarian challenges they face. We also broadcast news about government corruption that can’t be found on any other media outlet in Sudan.
SRS provides news that is not filtered, restricted, or censored. It provides balanced and fair news—we talk to all sides of the conflicts in Sudan. This is a rarity in Sudan.
Q: How has your background in law shaped your coverage of news and events in Sudan?
Taha: My background as a lawyer has helped me to identify human rights issues. I tell the stories of the underprivileged. I have a passion for stories that are connected to justice and human suffering. Most importantly, I recognize the importance of being fair and balanced in my reporting.
Q: How do you remain objective?
Taha: SRS has trained its journalists to put aside our individual biases and take all views into account. For instance, if the rebels call me and say they have scored a victory against the government army, I call the government side to get a counter-narrative in order to balance the story. To remain objective and fair, I also talk to independent third parties, like the United Nations and aid agencies.
Q: SRS also creates educational dramas about heavy topics such as rape and violence. Why are these programs part of your broadcast?
Taha: We air many educational programs that deal with tough and taboo subjects not covered in the government media, such as rape, early marriage, female genital mutilation, divorce, and domestic violence. Our popular drama episodes have discussed these issues at various points. We supplement the dramas with a more serious program called Transparency, during which, we tackle these issues in depth by talking to various experts. It is a very popular program.
Q: What do listeners say about SRS?
Taha: We receive about 100 text messages every week. The messages are mostly from grateful listeners, thanking us for talking about these taboo subjects. We once got some feedback saying that rape is not only committed by soldiers and armed men in war zones. It happens even in domestic settings in towns, and it is committed by educated young men. The sender of the text believed that the program would help criminal young men abandon the act.
I don’t know if that will happen, but I do feel proud that I am contributing by educating people about a bad practice and helping create a better society for the people of Darfur and Sudan in general. It is the same feeling I got when I visited camps for Darfur refugees in Chad. The refugees told me moving stories. They thanked SRS, they thanked the donors of SRS, and they also thanked the people who came up with the idea of SRS.