The Media is Failing Ethiopia

We are only a year away from a major and historic election season in Ethiopia, but is the media ready for the challenge ahead? “This opening up is sort of an ultimate test for us, and we are failing it, I’m afraid,” Tsedale Lemma, editor of Addis Standard, told The Washington Post in a recent interview. “That is damaging, not just to the industry, not just media, but to the social cohesion in a country that’s deeply polarized, ethnicized and going through a fragile moment of transition.” Below is an excerpt from The Post article published on Sunday, April 21st, 2019. (Photo: Paul Schemm/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

After years of repression, Ethiopia’s media is free — and fanning the flames of ethnic tension

Ethiopia has been a rare bright spot of increased rights and democracy on a continent more known for leaders overstaying their mandates. Its progress in media freedom — there are no longer any imprisoned journalists — has been so dramatic that it was chosen to host World Press Freedom Day next month.

The changes have also prompted conflicts and unearthed long-buried grievances, often revolving around land and ethnicity. To many, a newly polarized press is making things worse.

In the 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, Ethi­o­pia rose 40 places, from 150 out of 180 countries to 110 — the biggest improvement this year in any country.

Next year, Ethi­o­pia will hold its first free elections in 15 years, and there are fears that the toxic media environment could lead to violence.

“This opening up is sort of an ultimate test for us, and we are failing it, I’m afraid,” said Tsedale Lemma, editor of the English-language Addis Standard. “That is damaging, not just to the industry, not just media, but to the social cohesion in a country that’s deeply polarized, ethnicized and going through a fragile moment of transition.”

Read the full article at The Washington Post »


Related:
Ethiopian Selected as Official Carrier for 2019 World Press Freedom Day
Tadias Reflection on PM Abiy’s One Year in Office

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