Norwegian Report about Journalists Launched in Addis Ababa

Report Launch.PNG

On Thursday 30th March, Dr. Terje Skjerdal, Associate Professor at NLA University College launched his report “The Ethiopian Journalist: Loyalist and Change Agent”. The official launch took place in Ras Mekonnen Hall at Addis Ababa University (AAU), and was hosted by the Dean of AAU’s School of Journalism, Dr. Getachew D. Godana.

Dr. Skjerdal has been researching journalism in Ethiopia since 2002, and has a long-standing cooperation with the AAU School of Journalism. Present at the launch were representatives from different Ethiopian media outlets, such as Ethiopian News Agency (ENA), Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), Addis Fortune, Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) and Ethiopian Media Women Association (EMWA), as well as academicians and students. Dr. Skjerdal’s presentation of the report was followed by a panel discussion and questions and comments from the participants. The debate was chaired by Dr. Chris Wales, Associate Professor at NLA University College of Norway.

The report represents the very first quantitative study on journalists in Ethiopia. It is a part of the global World Journalism Study, which has mapped journalists and their characteristics in 66 countries worldwide. For a summary of the report, see below.  

Terje Skjerdal (2017): «The Ethiopian journalist: Loyalist, national supporter and change agent».

Until now, little has been known about the Ethiopian journalist population as a whole regarding its demographic profile, ideology and personal attitudes. This report, which is part of the global Worlds of Journalism Study, gives a comprehensive picture of a professional group often referred to in the news, but less investigated. The report is based on interviews with 350 journalists from all parts of the Ethiopian media.

The study detects some important changes which have occurred in the Ethiopian journalist fraternity lately. In just a few years, the local journalist population has become one of the most educated in the world, with 97% having at least a bachelor’s degree. The female proportion is also on the increase, and soon every third journalist in the country is expected to be a woman. At the same time, Ethiopian journalists are among the youngest and least experienced in all countries, with an average age of 30 years. Illustratively, around 90% of today’s Ethiopian journalists were not in the profession during the 2005 elections.

The study detects significant differences between journalists in the state media and journalists in the private media, but also some similarities. Journalists in the private media experience high degree of professional autonomy with 71% perceiving ‘a great deal of freedom’ in selecting news stories, compared with 41% in the state media. Both groups have high trust in the government – indeed one of the highest trust levels of the 66 countries investigated in the Worlds of Journalism Study – but nonetheless low trust in political parties and politicians in general.

Most journalists in the study identified themselves halfway between the government and the opposition when asked about their political view. There is a slightly higher proportion of reporters supporting the government in the state media than in the private media.

In terms of professional role, Ethiopian journalists have some distinct features which set them apart from their counterparts in the north. Ethiopian journalists expose strong commitment to national development and supporting government policy. They also regard advocacy for social change as an important part of their work.

The report further contains details about perceived influences in the newsroom, current changes in journalism, ethical viewpoints, salary, ethnicity, and more.