Why Support Ethiopian Media Institutions?
The fundamental question many are asking is how to build a stable, peaceful and prosperous Ethiopia where diversity of views, identities and interests are respected and engrained in public discourse facilitated by a professional and responsible media.
The urgency of this matter is amplified by the volatile political undercurrent shaping the country’s future. Elections are planned for next year in the backdrop of a political rhetoric heavily influenced by ethnic strife. At an event commemorating his first year in office, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed stressed the need for a responsible and ethical media that promotes healthy and pluralistic political debate.
In reality, the Ethiopian media is just starting to revive from decades of systemic authoritarian repression and struggling to find its footing. The media landscape in Ethiopia today is characterized by partisan reporting, politically affiliated ownership and lack of professionalism. The good news is that the current government has embarked on sweeping reform of policy and legislation governing the media and other institutions.This report evaluates the role journalist associations and media organizations play in the development of professional standards in the media sector in Ethiopia.
It analyzes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to determine what journalist associations and other media institutions need to be watchdogs of public interest and constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and information.
This report lays out a vision for media policy and interventions aiming at the development of independent and professional media institutions. It evaluates the functions and obligations of government, civil society, media owners and journalists in media policy and regulation under existing laws and planned legislative reforms and their impact in the sector.
This document explores innovative models for journalism training that open avenues for local entrepreneurs, media training and research institutions, as well as in-house training facilities for Ethiopian media. If the media landscape in Ethiopia is to improve, sustained investment in the sector to build its human resources capacity and business sustainability are critical. New reform efforts to amend restrictive laws is a positive step. Institutional resistance from government agencies to implement planned reform on access to information, free expression and media regulation calls for strong execution strategies. Institutionalizing governance accountability during political transitions is a difficult process; but it is the only way to consolidate a functional democracy.