Sami Mahdi

1TV, Afghanistan

Afghan broadcaster Sami Mahdi has revolutionized Afghanistan’s media landscape. In a country where the Taliban once starved people of information, Mahdi is one of the most reliable sources of news. More than that, he has engaged Afghans in a way no other newscaster has.

As the director of news and current affairs at 1TV, Afghanistan’s fastest-growing independent news station, he has pioneered programs such as “Kabul Debate Live,” a televised town hall meeting. In this show, he invites political leaders to appear before a live audience. For the first time, citizens can ask questions about critical issues, while viewers can phone or text in their concerns. It is one of the few ways Afghans can demand accountability from those in power.

Mahdi is unafraid to take on taboo subjects. In an effort to stop violence against women, he launched the show “Niqab” (Mask). Afghan women, hiding behind a mask, talk to a live audience about rape and domestic violence. The masks encourage women to speak without fear of reprisals.

Mahdi is also a lecturer in political science and legal studies at Albironi University in Kabul. He began his career as a journalist and broadcaster in 2007 with Tolo TV, where he hosted a weekly talk show interviewing international political figures.

Mahdi received a bachelor's degree in law and political science at Kabul University.

Follow him @sami_mahdi1TV.