Message from the Executive Director

‘’A New Year; New Beginnings for the Ethiopian media’’ With 2020 behind us, we at MERSA Media Institute are excited about our prospects as a start-up media think tank which is already leaving its mark on Ethiopia’s media landscape. Every great journey starts with few steps; during the second half of 2020, MERSA has taken what we believed to be small and yet consequential steps towards a better and stronger media in Ethiopia. Nothing fuels our drive than playing our part in media development endeavors that is consequential to the sector. Although we still have a long way to go, we recognize, we could not have reached at this point without the invaluable support of our partner organizations. We also owe a great deal of gratitude to our partner  media organizations which are committed to change and strive to strengthen their capacity through the sometimes-demanding training programs facilitated by MERSA Media Institute.

Our institute values professional media with strong institutional backing advancing ethics, public interest, accountability and transparency. We also embrace the vision of strong media coalitions, both within Ethiopia and the continent. I am also honored to be part of MMI team at a time when Ethiopia is undergoing a historic reform process where valuable contributions can be made in strengthening objective and self-regulating media sector practicing public interest journalism.

This month, I would like to amplify the workshop our institute organized on the issue of operationalizing media self-regulation in Ethiopia, which took place on February 2, 2021.

In Ethiopia, media self-regulation is a very recent phenomenon although several players in the media sector and international donors have attempted to establish a self-regulatory mechanism in the past. One of these initiatives led to the establishment of the Ethiopian Media Council (EMC) in 2016. However, the media self-regulatory mechanism did not become fully operational even after the establishment of the EMC. This is a missed opportunity for the media sector to institutionalize a self-regulatory regime, capitalizing on recent space created in the country’s institutional, legal, and regulatory reform efforts. Ethiopia’s media sector has just started to recover from decades of government repression and lacks the professional capacity to advance public interest journalism.  Hence, strengthening the self-regulatory mechanism in Ethiopia, at this particular time, nonetheless, is a no-brainer. While it is necessary to have media self-regulatory institutions up and running, it is in no way sufficient to actualize a functioning system of self-regulation. It requires a step-by-step process of sector-wide engagement in the operationalization of self-regulation since such structures are new to the country. This entails a process of stakeholder consultation informed by local, regional, and international experiences aiming at forging a path towards consensus and operationalization of media self-regulation in Ethiopia. Meaningful consultation relies on knowledge and experience, carefully framed for the existing local context. The workshop was instrumental in bringing about clarity and consensus towards the operationalization of media self-regulation in Ethiopia.

The workshop was organized to validate a study on self-regulation in Ethiopia featuring extensive desk reviews, benchmarking country experiences, and key stakeholder interviews. It also gathers additional feedback for the final compilation of the “Operationalizing Media Self-regulation in Ethiopia” handbook. The workshop coincided with the day of success achieved by all stakeholders who played a massive role to realize the ratification of the Ethiopian Media Law. I would like to use this platform to congratulate everyone who played their part in the long successful journey to change. We also aim at building the Ethiopian Media capacity and work with our partners to meet their expectations.

I look forward to the year ahead with new and dynamic news surrounding the development of the media sector in Ethiopia.

Once again congratulations!
Henok Fente

Message from the Executive Director #2

I bring you the warmest greetings from Ethiopia on behalf of my colleagues at MERSA Media Institute, who have been working under stringent deadlines to deliver quality project interventions over the past year. Happy holidays to members of the board and our partner organizations both local and international.

This past year has been difficult for all of us with the COVID-19 pandemic that had stranded societies, their economies, their health and of their loved ones. Ethiopia also went through a difficult year and still is embroiled in a civil war. Despite all these challenges, MERSA Media Institute kept on growing and delivering much needed support to the media sector in Ethiopia.

We have implemented vital projects on COVID-19 media resilience, run fact checking and election reporting workshops, helped launch and strengthen one journalist association, and continue to support the legal reform process in Ethiopia.

We have trained hundreds of journalists in Ethiopia through our flagship Dagu Media Lab program, helped draft two major media legislations, and facilitated scores of media sector consultations.  In the face of a highly polarized media environment along ethnic lines, MERSA Media Institute worked to promote objective journalism and media institutions that are self-governing, sustainable, and committed to inform the public about issues affecting their lives.

We designed projects that facilitate professionalization of the sector and institutions committed to the creation of constructive dialogues, holding powers accountable with a strong sense of professional ethics and public interest.

Our interventions would not have been fruitful without the dedication and hard work of our staff and consultants. We are now seven people strong and growing. I would also like to express my profound appreciation for members of the board who gave us guidance, leadership and patience as we struggled to communicate on a regular basis.

I would like to assure you that MMI is now a robust and strong organization, communication platforms are being developed to ensure maximum leverage on the strategic direction and support our board members can provide.

I wish the MERSA family a bright new year and thank you!