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Freedom of the press in a war zone

Utah Success Stories

(ABC4 NEWS – Salt Lake City, UT) When was the last time you thought about freedom of speech and freedom of the press? You may not agree with everything, but you have access to information, and information is power.

Here’s an excerpt out of an in-depth, online “Jessop’s Journal” interview with a man, Steve Comrie, that helped start the only TV network owned and operated, not by the government, but by the independent people of Afghanistan.

Steve told me; “So in January 2010, I flew into Kabul in the middle of the night on a landing strip that had no lights. To build a television channel that would taunt the Taliban, with good programming. Knowing that the people I was about to work with were already targets of the Taliban for what they were about to do. These were a group of 20-something young men. One of them had been at university in Tehran. Another had been at journalism school in Egypt. And their families were well enough off to send their boys off to other places to get them out of the war zone.”

He continued with his story; “But these young men were so courageous. They said, “no, we’re coming back to make a difference.” They could have gone on into politics or done other things. But with the support of their families, the financial support, and the moral support they were prepared to take on the Taliban in this new way that didn’t exist in Afghanistan. At the time, 2010, most of Afghanistan had no electricity. Most people didn’t have television sets because the Taliban would kill your family if they saw a dish on your roof.”

Think about that for a minute. How much do you value our access to information here in the United States?

Back to Steve’s comments, “So television hadn’t developed there as it had in other countries. And especially some television made by Afghans for Afghans. It had to be done from scratch. Game shows, news, public affairs, we had the first “Oprah of Afghanistan”, here name was Moshdah. We had a show called “Kabul Debates” where the audience was university students and on the stage was the Taliban, an American General, and a politician from Afghanistan. Today that channel is thriving and doing well. And our young people have done fine. It was a great experience.”

Everyone has a story. Stories have power. They help us understand each other. I have the privilege of being able to tell positive, inspiring stories for my weekly ABC4 News series that airs every Sunday night at 10 p.m. called “Utah Success Stories”.

I also get to do in-depth, online interviews with people from all walks of life on “Jessop’s Journal.” Consider this your personal invitation to watch the rest of the interview with Steve Comrie (https://www.abc4.com/news/journal-2/miracles-still-happen-what-this-man-saw-during-the-war-in-afghanistan-this-week-on-jessops-journal/), along with more stories, on-demand at abc4.com/journal. I’m Doug Jessop, ABC4 News.

Follow Doug on social media at www.Facebook.com/dougjessopnews, www.Instagram.com/dougjessopnews and www.Twitter.com/dougjessopnews

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