Q&A with Khpolwak Sapai, Director of TOLOnews

Highlights from our IG Live with TOLOnews. Watch the full conversation on Instagram.

What are some of the challenges you’re facing at the moment, particularly in reference to the new regime in Afghanistan. How have you navigated these in last year?

As a news channel, we want to inform the public as quickly as possible about events and incidents. But this is not an easy task. Public interest is a priority. But there are big challenges we are facing. First, there are some limitations. We do not have any media law in the country. Only some newly introduced guidance, which is too general and has made it difficult for us to know what it means. Access to information is another big problem for us. 

How have your security protocols changed because the security situation in Afghanistan has changed? How have you navigated that?

It is one of the biggest responsibility of the management. The safety of our journalists is at the top of our priorities. Therefore, a specific guideline is in place which clearly explains that any risk should be observed very carefully. We have with us a security advisor, who is watching the situation and informing the reporters. If there is any sign of risk, our reporter has to stop their task immediately. And the most important element is that covering risk is completely voluntary, not compulsory.

What would you want a global audience to know about TOLOnews?  

First, I would like them to know that we are a trustworthy source of information regarding significant incidents and developments around the country. We share this in various formats, publishing the day’s top stories on our website, social media, our Youtube channel in three languages — English, Pashto and Farsi. 

I would also like them to know that the  story of our struggle to not go dark after the collapse. We lost more than 90 percent of our staff. The public had no idea what was happening in the city. That was really a difficult situation. That was really a unique experience in my professional life as a journalist.


A question from the audience:

How does TOLO encourage women journalists?

We have some very brave female journalists. Before the collapse, we had only four women reporters in our newsroom. Now, our number has doubled. We have eight women and only four male journalists. We are not simply encouraging them, we are supporting them.

As director of the channel, I really am proud of my colleagues, of women journalists working in such difficult situations. They are really committed.