Conflict and aftermath of it in Ethiopia focus of mass media most of the time, a view from a joint meeting between Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia and Broadcast Authority
January 5, 2021
Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia, which was established in 2010 with a vision to advocate for religious freedom and equality based on peace, love and tolerance, and Ethiopian Broadcast Authority had co-organized a forum to discuss challenges in connection with the media landscape in the country.
Religious leaders and broadcast authorities were among key participants in the meeting.
The assessment reflected in the meeting is that several mass media entities focus on violence and conflict while ignoring their role for peace building.
And research papers have been presented during the meeting. Among the findings from 15 media outlets in the country, 28 percent of their focus on political matters and 18 percent of the coverage is related to violence and humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of violence.
There is limitation in terms of news coverage relevant for averting violence, and that 90 percent of the coverage is related to post-violence situations.
The common understanding they reached is, according to a report by Ethiopian News Agency, that Ethiopian Mass Media are not doing their part in the direction of fostering peace and unity of the country.
It is also said, as reported by Ethiopian News Agency, media ethics is not in a collision course with religious teachings of any faith, and mass media is expected to magnify cherished values of the society.
Secretary of Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia, Kesis Tagay Tadele, is quoted as saying that mass media in the country were favoring dissemination of reports that erode unity of the people over providing accurate information. Particularly criticized was a narrative that resonates “us versus them”.
The negative impact of the biased reports on the security of citizens has been highlighted. Ethiopia has been facing recurring massacres, especially in Oromo region, South Ethiopia and Benishangul regions, since prime minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April 2018. At least 207 people have been slaughtered in Benishangul Gumuz region in the latest string of massacre which happened in late December 2020.
Mulatu Alemayehu (Ph.D), instructor of journalism at Addis Ababa University, on his part said that hate speeches from political activists are distributed to the public as news contents.
The existing Ethiopian system of government is based on ethnic federalism. Each of the ethnic-based states have their own ethnic-based media. Political activism, including in the opposition quarter, is mostly based on ethnicity too.
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