The practice of development journalism in the Ethiopian media landscape

Master's Thesis, 2017

95 Pages, Grade: 4.00


The Practice of development Journalism in the Ethiopian media landscape
Abayneh Tilahun
Addis Ababa University, 2017
This research attempted to study the practice of development journalism in Ethiopian media
landscape, through comparing the development issue coverage and challenges of government
and private owned media. It was informed by public serving development journalism and social
responsibility theory of theoretical frameworks. Its focus was on a practical nature of
development news coverage and challenges in Ethiopian media. The research emphasizes on the
ownership, actors, nature, sector, aim, source and trend of development issue coverage and the
challenges of the coverage. A Content analysis and in-depth interview was conducted on the
news carried by the four selected media to explain the extent and explore the challenges of
coverage of development issues respectively. The analysis shows that both the government and
privately owned media in Ethiopia had their own kind of problems in their practice of
development journalism: The government media, Focuses on the government development
actor's success only. They are not applying critical journalism. To the worst, the government
media are not considering the development contribution of non state actors . The government
media are event oriented They luck professional integrity for the public interest by ensuring
transparency and accountability by exposing corruption and investigating crimes that hinder the
national development process through ethically participation in the development activity in a
process oriented manner and are not finding solutions for development problems through
participating the grass root. Structural censorship, Self censorship of journalists, unethical
conduct of journalists, professional limitations, law commitment of media leaders to enforce the
policy, lower level of Public culture of information exchange, trespassing of editorial policy and
government official's perception of DJ as a development success only reporting are challenging
the practice. In contrast, privately owned media in Ethiopia covered less development issues than
the government media, gives very little time and space for the development issues of Ethiopia

compared to the government media. But, in that little amount of coverage, they focus on
government development actors failure and dissimulate non-state actors failure. Paradoxically,
the private media in Ethiopia similar to government media are not applying investigative
journalism and watchdog the public property. They have no role in exposing corruptions and
crimes committed on public properties. Practically, they are also event oriented and Addis Ababa
based one side story tellers more than the government media. Resource limitation (human,
Material and financial), wrong perception of government PR officers and officials towards
private media and prohibition of information, government tax and null incentive for private
media, lower level of public culture for information exchange and freedom of expression are the
top line challenges which affected their coverage of development issues of the private media.

I would like to express my gratitude to my advisor Dr. Agaredech Jemaneh for her
important suggestions and comments in the process of development of this thesis.
I am indebted to thank my parents, brothers and sisters, who encouraged and supported me to
Special thanks goes to people who gave me materials, and to all my informants who have
given me important suggestions and comments.
last but not the least, I am thankful for EBC, which made everything possible to complete my

Acronyms /Abbreviations
DJ: Development Journalism
DIN: Development Issue News
DINC: Development Issue News Coverage
EBA: Ethiopian Broadcast Authority
EBC: Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation
ENA: Ethiopian News Agency
EPA: Ethiopian Press Agency
FDRE: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
GNI: Gross National Income
GOM: Government Owned Media
GTP 2: second Growth and Transformation Plan
LDC: Less Developed Countries
MOFED: Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
PASDEP: A Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty
POM: Privately Owned Media
SDG: Sustainable Development Goal
SDPRP: Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction Programme
UNCT: United Nation Country Team
UNDP: United Nations Development Programme
UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization

List of Table
Table 1: The coverage of different specific actors caused development issue ... 42
Table 2: Coverage difference by general nature of the story ... 45
Table 3: The specific sector the DIN is dedicated for ... 51
Table 4: The DIN aim and source combination ... 56
Lists Charts
Chart 1: Overall coverage of development issue news ...39
Chart 2 : coverage of development news by general sector ...50
Chart 3 : The source of the covered development issues ...54
List of Graphs
Graph 1: The coverage of different general actors caused development issue ...40
Graph 2: Coverage difference by general nature of the story ... 44
Graph 3:The DINC by General development actor type and nature ...47
Graph 4: The aim of development news ...53
Graph 5: Development issue coverage trend from July-December,2016 ...57

1.1 Background ... 2
1.2 Statement of the problem ... 4
1.3 The objectives of the study ... 6
1.3.1 General Objective ... 6
1.3.2 Specific Objectives ... 6
1.4 Research questions ... 6
1.5 Theoretical frame work ... 7
1.6 Significance of the study ... 7
1.7 Scope of the study ... 7
1.8 Limitation of the study ... 7
1.9 Organization of the Study ... 8
1.10 Operational definition ... 8
2.1 Introduction ... 10
2.2 Development ... 10
2.2.1 Development in Global Context ... 10
2.2.2 Development in Ethiopian Context ... 13
2.3 The Three classic Development approaches and role of media in national development ... 15
2.3.1 Modernization Paradigm (1945-1960's) ... 16
2.3.2 Dependency Paradigm (Late 1960s to 1980s) ... 17
2.3.3 Multiplicity Paradigm (Since 1980s) ... 18
2.4 Development Journalism... 19
2.4.1 Origin of Development Journalism ... 19
2.4.2 Definition of DJ ... 20
2.4.3 Purpose of Development journalism ... 23
2.5 A Free Press for Development ... 24
2.6 Contents of News stories in Development Journalism ... 26
2.7 The Ethiopian media and Development journalism ... 28
2.7.1 The Ethiopian news media landscape ... 28

2.7.2 The Ethiopian development journalism policy ... 29
2.8 Theoretical framework ... 33
2.8.1 Public service development journalism model of Banda ... 33
2.8.2 Social responsibility theory ... 34
3.1 Quantitative Content Analysis ... 36
3.1.1 Universe of content analysis ... 37
3.1.2 Content analysis Sample ... 37
3.1.3 Unit of analysis ... 37
3.1.4 Categories of content analysis ... 37
3.2 Qualitative method ... 40
3.2.1 In depth Interview ... 40
4.2 The Coverage of Development Issues by Ownership Difference ... 42
4.3.1 Coverage Difference by General Actor ... 43
4.3.2 Coverage Difference by Specific Actors ... 45
4.4 Government and Private media difference in development issues coverage by general and
Specific Nature of the development ... 47
4.4.1 Coverage difference by general nature ... 47
4.5. Coverage by General Actor and General Nature ... 50
4.6 Development News coverage by General Sector and Specific sector ... 53
4.6.1 Development News Coverage by General Sector ... 53
4.6.2 Development News coverage by Specific sector (percentage) ... 54
4.7 Aim of the Development news coverage ... 56
4.9 The aim of the news versus the source of the news ... 59
4.10 Trend of development news coverage by month ... 60
4.11 Qualitative data analysis ... 61
5. 1 Summery of the Analysis ... 67
5.2 Conclusion ... 73
5.3 Recommendations ... 75

1.1 Background
Different literature of Development Journalism notes, a development journalist unlike liberal or
authoritarian and totalitarian journalists is expected to participate in reporting and promote the
success stories in order to help the change and wellbeing of the society.
The function of all journalism is to furnish the people ultimately
responsible for that policy with the facts-the shocking as well as the
flaccid, The ominous as well as the reassuring, The dissenting as well as
the agreeing.(Simon and schuster,1966,p.291)
Likewise, Melkote and Murthy further assured that development journalism is very committed
for the public interest.
In the contemporary world, to a greater extent than ever before, the mass communication media
have increasingly become central to every aspect of human lives. With the immense power of the
electronic media, enhanced by The advanced computer and satellite technologies, media have
assumed key position in the political, economic and socio-cultural activities of a society, making
media indispensable to governments and the public, principally in a democratic political setting
where government power emanates from the people. Most importantly, in developing world,
where majority of the citizenry suffer from undesirable socioeconomic and political conditions,
the media have long been recognized as engines of development (Melkote, 2001 and Murthy,
So, Media whoever its owner is expected to work for the development of the developing nation
for best interest of the public. But the Ethiopian media seems working against this Principle of
DJ. Different scholars agree with the siding nature of media in Ethiopia. There is polarization of
media where the private media often negates the development efforts of the government and the
government media mostly cover favorable news about its activities (Nigussie, 2011).

Principle of Development journalism does not prohibit the coverage of failure stories and
critically report the story to encourage public participation in solving the problem and come up
with solutions, unless it could be difficult to say development journalism is practiced.
Banda (2006) notes that development journalism is "an intellectual enterprise in which the
journalist form a kind of free intelligence and should critically examine the aims of national
development and the applicable instruments in a rational discourse and solve them by reasonable
criteria free of social constraints."
What Mairegu said Ethiopian private media due to its nature of opposition of the government is
always stands against the government development programs.
As far as the private media is concerned, generally, it seems to take
antigovernment position, and as it is said, the private media has been owned or
sponsored by opposition groups or some other vested interests. (Mairegu, 2000,
Negeri (PHD) recommended by his study that, DJ is a crucial practice which has lot of
contribution to the people. This means it is the duty of media to cover all the success and failure
stories in developing countries who they want to see positive changes for them.
Development journalism is one which prioritizes the actual development
problems of the people, i.e. pressing the socioeconomic, political and good
governance issues so as to bring about improved living condition for all.(Negeri,
In the researcher's observation as working journalist and audience, both government and private
media are on two extreme positions in covering development issues. In both of the ownership
models the profession is the same; it is journalism, so it is expected to be applied in a way that it
can create the betterment of the societies change and wellbeing. Blind support or hatred of
development issue is not the nature of ethical, critical and independent media.

1.2 Statement of the problem
Different scholars' studies in different perspectives development issue coverage and came up with
strong findings in showing the challenges of development journalism in Ethiopia at its start up.
Negeri (2010) also studied and conclude that the two media are in the two extreme positions:
Ethiopian journalism, whether practiced by public or private media journalists,
needs to have shared values in order to address the real development and governance
problems of the people. Ethiopian journalism has to serve the right purpose in the
right context and should never operate as `hired guns'. To this end, we have to
decolonize our mindset from adoring irrelevant journalistic perspectives
and promote our own ways of thinking, solving problems and also embrace relevant
models from elsewhere so as to deal effectively with the pressing problems of our
country. (p.135)
Geremew Chala also has done a comparative study on a government Owned and a private media
(Ethiopian Herald and The Reporter) and show differences in their development issues coverage.
The commitments of newspapers are usually conditioned by their ownership
status. The privately owned newspapers coverage is relatively more direct in
their reports. They usually give coverage to issues which they think might make
them acceptable and help them to be profitable. Thus, they relatively report true
stories; they usually tell the story as it is without fear or favor. Perhaps, that is
why some of them are more enthusiastic in criticizing the government policies,
and report some possible drawbacks of development projects, making their
relationship with the government challenging. As a result, some of them are
pursued and neglected by of the government. In contrast, in the government
newspaper, the opinion and involvement of the government are more important
than the development projects themselves. The government media in Ethiopia
are blamed to be as servants of the government.(Geremew,2012,p.90)

Even if This study has highlighted that the selected private newspaper (The Reporter) covered
less development news than the selected government newspaper it doesn't show weather the two
news papers are biased when the issue is success or failure and when the cause of that failure or
success is government actors or actors other than government (like individuals, NGOs, corporate
companies, civic associations etc)
The above two researches done by Negeri (PHD) and Geremew (MA) strongly shows the
Ethiopian media are not practically working in all side of public interest. But the previous
researches do not show the extent and the nature (BIAS) of the Development issue coverage,
When the issue is success or failure of development and, when the cause of that success or
failure is government actors or not. And also don't clearly justify the reason for such framing and
coverage varies when the nature and the actor of the development varies. Therefore, this study
explains the extent of development issue coverage and investigates the challenges on both
government and private media in covering development issues, When the development actor and
nature varies.

1.3 The objectives of the study
1.3.1 General Objective
This papers aims at examining the Practice of development issues reporting in Ethiopian media
1.3.2 Specific Objectives
Explaining the nature of government owned media coverage of development issues.
Exploring the nature of private owned media coverage of development issues.
Identifying the level of difference between government and private owned media in
reporting development.
Pin pointing the reasons why the Ethiopian media cover development issues in a certain
1.4 Research questions
How do the government owned media give coverage for development issues?
How do the Private owned media give coverage for development issues?
What is the difference between government and private owned media development issue
Why Ethiopian media cover development issues in a certain way?

1.5 Theoretical frame work
Banda's public serving Development journalism theory and social responsibility theory of press
informed this research.
1.6 Significance of the study
This study by finding the fact how media in Ethiopia covers development issues ,It will provide
possible recommendations what Government and private Media, policy makers, the society and
journalists should do to make development journalism contribute to the betterment and wellbeing
of the peoples of Ethiopia.
1.7 Scope of the study
The study will carried out in news items of the four Addis Ababa based media outlets on
assessment of development issue coverage. Data will be collected Using quantitative and
qualitative research method from Addis Zemen Newspaper, The Reporter Newspaper, EBC TV
station and Sheer 102.1 FM. In-depth individual interviews are carried out with editors and
reporters of those media.
1.8 Limitation of the study
The issue of study needs to address from various perspective. To come up with more
comprehensive outlook and wide application it needs to conduct in many places and contexts.
But due to time and resource constraints, the research was limited to collect data from only
4 national media.

1.9 Organization of the Study
This thesis consists of five chapters. Chapter one presents a general background of the study,
statement of the problem, research objectives, and research questions, significance of the study,
scope of the study and limitation of the study. Chapter two focuses the essence and concept of
development with theoretical frame works. It also deals with the challenges to development.
Chapter three is about methods, procedures and sampling techniques employed in the research.
The fourth chapter entirely discusses the data obtained through quantitative and qualitative
content analysis of the study in light of the introductory chapters and the theoretical perspectives
in chapter two. The chapter also forwards the results of the data. The last chapter focuses on the
conclusion and suggested recommendations based on the outcome of the research.
1.10 Operational definition
Operational definition of the following key terms has been essential to properly understand the
notion of this study.
Definition of development success and development failure
Development is a complex terminology which is defined by different views, This study takes
Tudor's argument.
Development must be seen as multidimensional process involving major changes in social
structure, popular attitudes, and national institutions as well as the acceleration of economic
growth, the reduction of inequality and the eradication of absolute poverty. (Tudor ,1977)
As Miriam Webster's Definition success means, The correct or desired result of an attempt,
someone or something that is successful and, failure mean a failing to perform a duty or
expected action . This study claims the combined meaning of the above meanings of
development and success/failure to define Development success and development failure.

Government owned media versus State owned media
Government owned media:
State media or state-owned media is media for mass communication which is controlled
financially and editorially by the state. the news outlets may be the sole media outlet or may
exist in competition with corporate and non-corporate media. State media is not to be confused
with public-sector media, which is funded directly or indirectly by the state, but over which the
state does not have tight editorial control.
private owned media:
The fact of being owned by a private individual or organization, rather than by the state or a
public body.
Government actors versus Non government
actors This study accepts the website based teachers association definition
of government/state actors and non state actors.
A person or organization that plays a role in politics and directly represents the governing power
of a state and/or receives direct, obligatory direction from a state.
Non-State Actor:
Non-state actors are non-sovereign entities that exercise significant economic, political, social,
power and influence at a national and in some cases international, level. This includes
multinational corporations, NGOs, and super-empowered individuals.

2.1 Introduction
Development journalism as philosophy of media practice is introduced in 1960's in East Asia.
As literatures reveal it takes different forms and approaches in supporting, ensuring and
contributing for national development in different parts of the world specially in Asia, Latin
America and Africa.
The definitions of development and the arguments of Press philosophies makes Development
journalism very complicated concept to understand and practice. Not only development
journalism, but also development itself is a very complicated concept different scholars defined
it differently.
In this chapter the legacies of previous literatures which deals with history, definition, roles,
contents, approaches, debates, critics, and policy issues of DJ are discussed, and also the debates
and dilemmas of DJ are critically discussed to evaluate the practice and its challenges in
The draft policy document which is entitled 'Basis and directives for an operational philosophy
of our democratic and developmental media'
is also scrutinized to understand the policy issue of
development journalism in Ethiopia. This study tries to discuss Development journalism in a
social responsibility media theory and Public service DJ model of Banda theoretical framework.
2.2 Development
2.2.1 Development in Global Context
The term `development' is very broad, complex and multidimensional which varies
according to the context.
Mostly international inter-government organizations (IGO's) are seen defining development at a
global level. As UN agencies development is directly related to the achievement of sustainable
(skjerdal,2011) furthermore has detail information

development goals ( SDGs) which substituted the agenda of millennium development goals
(MDGs) . MDGS were more poverty reduction centered and SDGS focuses on sustaining those
MDGs results in a more human centered and environment conservation manner (UN, 2015). It,
therefore, has a much more instrumental element which is likely to be favored by practitioners
within the development community notably in international development agencies. Poverty
reduction objectives in general and the MDGs in particular, now play a major role in the
thinking of the international agencies (Tovar and Smith, 2009).
As Gore, in (Geremew,2014) The key feature of MDGs is, it is focused on the outcomes of
change so that it has a relatively short-term outlook, labeled it as `a historical'. This is
somewhat problematic to many of the more academic members of the development
community because it presupposes a set of (essentially bureaucratic or government) goals
or objectives which may not be shared by many of the people who are supposedly benefiting
from development.
This means that there is a paternalistic assumption as to what is good for people's
wellbeing based on a set of universal values and characteristics. This raises the question of
`ownership' not so much in the context of governments or of countries but more in the
context of peoples, and the poor in particular. There is a concern that this short-term and
instrumental view of development loses the (grand) vision of societal transformation that
Gore, (2000) highlighted, and separates the conception of development from socio-economic
structures, social relations and politics and That is why SDGs (relatively long term and
transformative) substitute MDGS (UN, 2015).
These overall multiplicities of definitional debates include a general agreement on the view
that `development' encompasses continuous `change' in a variety of aspects of human
condition. The dimensions of development are extremely diverse, including economic, social,
political, legal and institutional structures, technology in various forms(including the physical
or natural sciences, engineering and communications), the environment, religion, the arts and
culture (Serves, 1999).

Other scholars such as, Holder (2000) defines development as an economic, social and
political process which results in a cumulative rise in the perceived standard of living for
increasing proportion of a population. Such a definition suggests that an increased standard of
living involves a social and political process as well as an economic one; that a rise in the
standard of living must be cumulative rather than just temporary; and that it has to be
significant enough to be perceived by an increasing numbers in population.
Clearly, this kind of definition holds the concepts of equality and equity as a crucial aims in
any development process. And it is highly alienated with sustainable development goals.
Brundtland Commission's brief definition of sustainable development as
''the ability to make development sustainable--to ensure that it meets the needs of
the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their
own needs'' (Kates et,al , 2005,p.10)
As Geremew (2014) also stated, it is difficult to state development within a single
definition. The difficulties of trying to embody all possible criteria in a simple definition of
development are immense, and one way of avoiding this problem is simply to describe
the characteristics of less developed (LDC) economies that (Todaro and Smith,2009) note,
LDC economies are characterized by low levels of living, reflected in
such indices as low income, high inequalities, poor health and inadequate
education, low levels of productivity, high rate of population growth and
dependency burdens, high and rising levels of unemployment, substantial
dependence on agricultural production and primary export products, the
prevalence of imperfect markets and limited information, dominance,
dependence and vulnerability, in international relations. (p. 40).

According to Seers (1979), the purpose of development is to reduce poverty, inequality, and
unemployment. For Sen (1987), development involves reducing deprivation or broadening
choice that represents a multidimensional view of poverty which includes hunger,
illiteracy, illness and poor health, powerlessness, voicelessness, insecurity, humiliation,
and a lack of access to basic infrastructure (Narayan et al. 2007).
As Todaro and Smith (2009) contend, development is the process of improving the quality
of all human issues. Three equally important aspects of development are:
(1) raising people's levels of living-their incomes and conceptions levels food,
medical services, education, etc., through relevant economic growth process;
(2) creating conditions conducive to the growth of people's self-esteem through the
establishments of social, political, and economic systems and institutions that promote
human dignity and respect; and
(3) increasing people's freedom by enlarging the range of their choices, variables as
by increasing varieties of consumer goods and services.
So, based on the above development definitions, development should generally be sustainable,
human centered, transformational, inclusive, broad based (all sector round) and work for
positive change of the society's life.
2.2.2 Development in Ethiopian Context
The Ethiopian government proclaimed the second growth and transformation plan as a
national development focus:
As a vehicle towards the realization of Ethiopia's vision of becoming lower
middle income country by 2025, the Second Growth and Transformation Plan
(GTPII) is built on Sectoral Policies, Strategies programs, lessons drawn from
the implementation of the first GTP, the post-2015 sustainable development goals
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The practice of development journalism in the Ethiopian media landscape
Addis Ababa University  (College of Journalism and Communications)
Journalism and communiction
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Abayneh Mihret (Author), 2017, The practice of development journalism in the Ethiopian media landscape, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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