At the recent anti-Ethiopian government rally in the city of Thurmont, Maryland, many of the journalists and citizen journalists recording materials were from the Ethiopian diaspora.
Photos and videos of the protest are quickly posted on Ethiopian Diaspora website.
In another part of Maryland, Silver Spring has, for years, been the base for discovering communications which built itself as the world’s top non-fiction media company.
More recently this suburb of Washington has become the hub of competing Ethiopia’s Diaspora media. Ethiopia-born and American-raised Nunu Wako is preparing to tape an interview for her lifestyle show called Nunu Wako Show on the EBS Television Network.
Many of her shows focus on success stories in the Diaspora.
“Our focus is Ethiopians and Africans. We want to tell our story. You know, the journey that we take when we are not in Ethiopia and how, you know, we do everything that might not seem durable but we make impossible possible.”
She says her program like others on EBS stays away from politician which deeply divided her community. Some members are strong supporters of two decade ruler, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, while others call him a dictator who suppresses freedom.
Very few Ethiopian immigrants have an impartial view.
From the nearby studio in Silver Spring, Abebe Belew hosts the weekly Addis Dimts radio show. He says he has no choice but to discuss politics.
“I spoke, speak all the issues, but most of the time in Ethiopia, the serious problem is Ethiopian politics. You know, if you’ve been in Ethiopia, you can see we have very very younger generation, the majority of them and the atmosphere, the global atmosphere for change is very very suitable. But because of the Meles dictator government, the Ethiopians can not do anything.”
He says he would be thrown in jail if he did his radio show in Ethiopia. His show costs 75000 dollars per year with much of the money coming from online donations.
“It’s clear for Ethiopians. All you have to do is speak the truth and tell it as it is. So that’s how my style is.”
Opponents of the Ethiopian government interviewed at the Thurmont protest said that they loved the Addis Dimts Show, while they said shows like those broadcasted on EBS appeal to supporters of Prime Minister Meles.
But they said it’s nice to be able to choose from more and more African media, including those being made in the Diaspora, where freedom of speech and media go much further than they do at home.