Media Expertise Profile

Profiling Ethiopian Journalists: a TV Show as a Glimpse

Bogale Tesfaye is a young Ethiopian journalist in search of the stories behind prolific journalists in Ethiopia. Entitled “Teyakiw Siteyek” (to roughly mean querying the inquirer), Bogale’s program presents  a little more than an hour of intriguing conversations on the personal and professional (although these two usually collide) journey of Ethiopian journalists. Teyakiw Siteyek is not just the easy-going nighttime talk show it might appear to be. It is a looking glass to Ethiopian Journalism through the career journey of individual journalists.

Aired on 9 Pm every Saturday on Hagerie TV ( for four months now, Teyakiw Siteyek has hosted 25 of the most notable media founders, radio reporters, show hosts and news anchors with household familiarity to the Ethiopian audience; a potential reason why it seems to attract considerable attention among the journalistic community in Ethiopia. This article summarizes a virtual dialogue we had with Bogale about his show and journalism in Ethiopia.

Introducing Bogale Tesfaye

Bogale (left) with Dereje Habtewold (right), an Ethiopian journalist in the diaspora

Bogale joined the Ethiopian media scenario in 2012 with  a degree in Theatre Arts and the energy of a young graduate in his early 20s. Along with the short-term trainings he took while at work,  Bogale learned a great deal from the boldness and determination of his professional predecessors ‘just to stay in a profession that didn’t pay well’.“I have always been intrigued by the distance that these senior journalists went for their jobs in challenging institutional and economic situations”, he recalls.

With a warm smile and pretty quick humor, Bogale seems to have the advantage for his grasp of the journalistic realm from his interaction with his colleagues at the beginning of his career. We asked him if his degree in Theatre Arts has helped him in any way and he responded affirmatively. “I have taken only one media and communication course and it initiated my interest in the fascinating world of journalism. However, I did not know I would fit so well until I got in to journalism.  I grew more passionate about it as I stayed. My ability to easily hold a conversation with my colleagues has definitely helped me as a host as well”.

Pushing further, we inquired if he had any observations about the relationship between the journalists he has talked to and their training background. Recalling that only a few of his guests had a journalism degree, Bogale shared that many of these journalists had common traits of persistence, passion, and years of committed work even despite minimal to non-existent economic reward. Recalling a guest with a science degree who went through ‘fiction-like’ challenges towards a management position in a big media house and another radio journalist who had to work for free as a journalist up on returning with a politics degree from Russia, Bogale added the skills and behaviors required for the job may be eventually achieved if one has the passion and willingness to learn even though a journalism degree is always an ideal way to start.

A case for  Teyakiw Siteyek

Bogale with Birtukan Haregewoin, a veteran radio journalist

Bogale recalls watching a journalist speak on Seifu on EBS, another Sunday night talk show, about how meaningful it would have been if there was a platform whereby journalists can come together and share their experiences. “That’s when I first started brainstorming the possibility of creating that platform. I decided that if I could bring the prominent journalists to tell their stories and experiences, it could pave a path for those professionals behind the scene to be seen, acknowledged and supported.”

Bogale explains how these 25 episodes have been featuring the more famous journalists as opener for the program’s higher purpose beyond featuring journalists.

“Once the show is familiar enough, we will be bringing camera people, technicians, editors, and many other professionals many of us do not know of even though they have significant contribution in the history of journalism in Ethiopia. This is a show about people who do journalism not for a living but as a mission in life! We also plan to go beyond just journalism and review the professionals across lines of corporate communication, public relations, politics and related sectors.

What Makes a journalist?

Bogale believes that a training in journalism is an important element of professionalism. He adds that a majority of his guests on the show had other essential advantages to their success in journalism. Apart from possessing fiery passion and persistence, the professionals commonly acknowledge the modelling effect of other veteran journalists as having significant influence. Early experience with school ‘mini-media’ and particularly the influence of local and English language teachers towards reading and quality writing are also factors that have the professionals’ gratitude.

“We now have many more journalism schools than before. However, A majority of the journalists seem to be coming from other disciplines. I think this is because the passion for journalism inspires young graduates to face the inevitable challenges of the profession. Young journalism graduates should be aware that while the degree is important, they still need to be ready for the practical reality and persevere  in the face of social and economic hardships. They should be willing to work towards excellence rather than expecting quick fixes”.  He  added that journalism schools should focus on nurturing the proclivities and determination of students for effective training.

Bogale also emphasized that the openness of media institutions (although few in number) to give amateur talent chances of practice during the early days has allowed for some of the best journalists to flourish. He believes that the media houses today should leave some room for young talents and passions to be expressed.

Hope for Journalism in Ethiopia

I ask my guests what hopes they have for journalism in Ethiopia. I believe that there are today more hopes than threats of journalism. We have fewer number of journalists in jail than before, we have more diversified voices and higher number of media with less censorship. I am hopeful about the changes in quality that professionally established media can bring to the scenario. Eventual strength of professional associations such as Ethiopia Media Council are also indication that the future holds better journalism and better media for Ethiopia”.

Bogale mentioned attrition, obsessive commercialization, and unprofessional management as some of the threats holding Ethiopian journalism back. However, he asserts, “I am more hopeful than concerned!”

Bogale is a firm believer in the power of journalists as savers of a nation. He believes that the profession does not have the ‘dignity’  it deserves as the fourth estate that it is. “From equipment taxation to social status, there is a long way to go about journalism in Ethiopia. People need to know how much of hard work journalism is and who the heroes are so that more of such professionals are encouraged to join the profession.”


You can watch Teyakiw Siteyek on Youtube:


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