Alumni Spotlight: Bofta Yimam '04
Alumni Spotlight: Bofta Yimam '04
By Allison Eatough '97
There’s no such thing as a slow news day for Bofta Yimam '04, an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, entrepreneur and Washington D.C. correspondent for the Black News Channel.
Over the past year, Yimam has covered everything from the COVID-19 pandemic to voting rights, the congressional infrastructure bill, the nation’s economy, the military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the impact of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“I work early mornings, so it's kind of a different beast,” Yimam said. “With mornings, you’re covering things breaking overnight and looking ahead to what’s coming that day. I also work on longform pieces ... that focus on the unique perspectives, challenges and successes of Black and Brown communities."
Yimam’s role at the Black News Channel, an independent national news network that is minority-owned and operated, is the latest in her successful 14-year journalism career.
A first-generation American with roots in Ethiopia, Yimam said her interest in journalism began early on.
“I was just drawn to writing and speaking and telling stories,” Yimam said. “I remember watching the news with my parents. They would watch 60 Minutes for the latest international news and the storytelling. And I remember wondering how those reporters got to locations so quickly and were able to communicate those compelling stories on the ground.”
Enamored by the profession, Yimam majored in communications at The University of Maryland. She took on internships at WJLA-TV in Arlington, Virginia and ABC’s Good Morning America in New York. But after graduation, instead of jumping feet first into the field, she traveled to her homeland.
“While at Maryland, I studied abroad in Spain, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made there,” she said. “I really enjoy travel, so I went to Ethiopia for six months. I briefly worked with a nonprofit there and even did a documentary. I just really wanted to get to know the country in a different way, more than a tourist who’s there for a couple of weeks.”
When she returned, she found herself competing with new graduates for journalism jobs. She struggled to get an offer, even after applying to more than 100 TV stations. While working multiple jobs, she decided to take a non-paying internship after college, commuting two hours each week to a small station in Virginia, hoping to get her "foot in the door," she said.
At the close of her internship, one of the station’s anchors recommended she check out a station in Georgia – a station where the anchor got her start.
The tip worked. Several months later, Yimam got her first paying reporter job. However, the entry level reporter position came with a less than minimum wage salary. So, she worked a part-time job on the weekends at a local restaurant to help make ends meet. Yimam laughed as she recalled customers saying at the time, “Hey, didn't I just see you on TV?”
She also worked as a reporter and anchor at stations in Memphis and Pittsburgh and as a freelance reporter for national and international news networks, including CBS, Euronews and Cox, before joining the Black News Channel in early 2021.
In 2016, Yimam tapped into her entrepreneurial side and launched her own keynote speaking and boutique visibility firm that focuses on brand presentation through story design.
“I really had to listen to this other part of myself that just wanted to play bigger and be more multi-dimensional,” she said. “I wanted to develop more of a brand and feel empowered, even in the financial sense.”
As the CEO and founder of her own company, Yimam said she helps ambitious business owners communicate their brand through strategic presentations and content marketing focused on revenue, visibility and impact.
Today, she embraces the power of storytelling in both worlds.
“Communication is the crux of what I do all day,” she said. “Communicating to the public, whether it be on TV, communicating with the clients, it's nonstop, right?”
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