19 May 2007 04:19


  • Title: [SW Column]( Syed, Ahmed Gashan) The BBC-Somali Service: Could it be?  
  • Posted by/on:[AAJ] Sunday, February 18, 2001
  • Opinions expressed in this column are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of SW.

    The BBC-Somali service: Could it be?

      Syed, Ahmed Gashan




    Related Stories:

    Sub:Questioning the fairness, thus integrity of Mr Yussuf-Garad Omar,
    Published: February 14, 2001


    Dear Ms Blackburn,

     I thank you for taking the time to recognise what has been a concern for millions of listeners for quite a while by a way of jotting down those few lines in response to my email of the 13th of February in relation to the aforementioned matter concerning a service in decline, mediocre journalistic performances by novice apprentices, and most of all Mr Garaad's alleged misuse and abuse of position as the head of the BBC-Somali service.

     I have to admit your response left me with the impression that perhaps Mr Garaad is not alone in his campaign to recruiting less qualified individuals with no credible track record in the field of journalism placing emphasis on the conception that the selected persons qualify for the job simply on the basis of vowing allegiance to certain groups, supporting a particular faction or subscribing to a theology of some kind.

     I suppose your listeners will have to do with your mere five-line response in lieu of what was anticipated: a reassurance that a scheme to find a viable solution to this predicament of which existence has not been so far recognised judging from past communications with those in charge, will be commissioned. An opportunity missed one might conclude here, since anyone of the officers of the service including the accused could have released a deductive summation perhaps dispelling allegations levied against Mr Garaad or reassuring listeners of continued and improved service into the 21st century, quality programmes, restoration of the century-old policy of employing qualified persons on the basis of merit rather than association, monitoring Mr Garaad's notorious, oppressive style of management, foiling his plan of filling the corridors of BBC-Somali service with men  and  women of his close relations and of similar ideologies disposing of qualified men and women of various denominations along the way.

     However, having observed writings of complaints to that effect by individuals who share similar views, spoken with loyal listeners who expressed their concerns as to the deteriorating conditions, the ill-fated manner and conduct in which the show is currently being operated, exchanged emails with a number of people with whom Mr Garaad had both professional as well as social dealings, and finally studied the proceedings of the latest litigation between employees of the services versus the gentleman in charge, it seems apparent that the troubles go far deeper that they appear on the surface. And as such are just surfacing at the moment because insiders are coming forth in large numbers and in their protest against the nature of Mr Garaad's recruiting practices, misuse of public position and abuse of authority entrusted in him, and worse of all applying bullying tactics in his daily supervision of his subordinates, in particular those he learns to embrace varying viewpoints on work-related matters. Talk about the demeanour of the late media mogul, Mr Robert Maxwell of the Maxwell Media Group.

     On this notion, I would like you to cast your memory back to the affair concerning the hon. MP Peter Mandelson of the Labour party who was resigned from his cabinet post as HM Secretary for Northern Ireland for abuse of public office over the SP Hinduja affair. I trust you are fully acquainted with the account of the affair and my reason for recounting it here is distinctive similarities between the two cases are noticeable, except perhaps the latter case is of a greater concern to million of listeners across the globe of which repercussions, if not prevented, might have adverse effects on the way those millions view the service.

     Forgive me, perhaps I am coming from a corporate culture where management responds swiftly to assertions of this nature and in their endeavours to rescue a brand name, a trademark, or an image, hence coffers damage-control measures are undertaken, corrective schemes are devised, clients or service recipients in this case are advised of the intentions of the shareholders with regards to studying the subject matter and commissioning an investigative, fact-finding research of which purpose is to get to the root of the quandary. A press release, television/radio commercials, communiqué via the Internet or other communication modes have been used in past by corporations including Ford Car Manufacturer, American Airline to name of a few to inform customers of how and what management intends to improve quality of their product(s) along with service(s) provided, introduce corrective measures, and amend the overall formulae in the hope of retaining small percentage of their original customer base.

     I do not see how the old beep is any different from any of those corporations for services are provided, customers are targeted where their satisfactions are sought, for the success and failure of any such entity rests with customer satisfaction. Correct me if I am mistaken here for equating the BBC-Somali service with a corporation in the private sector, as I am in belief that organisations in the public sector are to adhere to similar guidelines and policies to those complied with by entities in the private sector.

    Why is it so difficult for those in charge to see the value to which listeners attach to the service? Do you not realise the diversity, abundance and competition awash in the airwaves? Are you not aware that there are at least one radio station broadcast in Somali almost in every city from Minneapolis to Atlanta, from Sydney to Oakland, from Stockholm to Toronto, from Amsterdam to Cairo, from Hargeisa to Galkaio that are available on the Internet? Mind you the quality of some of their programmes are of first class.

     Therefore Ms Blackburn, I suggest that journalists at the BBC-Somali service: 

    ·        Give equitable coverage of newsworthy issues ranging from news analysis to   informative programmes including cultural and literary, to entertainment   programmes to all parts of Somalia,

    ·        Approach any newsworthy story concerning Somalia as a country in a professional manner devoid of any prejudice or favouritism towards any particular regions, group or individual for that matter regardless of the relation,

    ·        let the listener decide which story he/she wishes to listen,

    ·        Abide by the governing policies and guidelines of the BBC so far as news stories in relation to Somalia are concerned,

    ·        Present the news at it is and let the listener decide its importance,

    ·        And finally if it turns out the Mr Garaad has been conducting himself in an oblique and an unprofessional manner I suggest appropriate punishment should be passed, otherwise his acquittal and discharge from all wrong-doings.

    ·        Should that not happen, I fear irreparable impairment to the quality of the service is imminent costing the institution, the taxpayers and its millions of listeners dearly in the long run. 

    I shall welcome your feedback on the matter as a whole and thank you for your attention.

     Sincerely yours,

     Thank you,

    Syed, Ahmed Gashan



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