Editor’s note: the author is a first-year graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts. Prior to coming to Fletcher she worked for several months in Ethiopia. She was recently back to visit over winter break.
Keeping true to our word about staying plugged in to the broader “real world” of media outside of Tufts’ doors, for this week we’re going international – to Ethiopia, to be exact. We thought it’d be interesting to get a perspective on the media there, and hopefully later in the semester we’ll be getting some perspectives from more far-afield places like the Czech Republic.
The media world in Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, the mainstream media is highly-influenced by ETV, the government-owned television station, which broadcasts three channels and is a major source of news for the TV-owning population. ETV broadcasts nightly news in Ethiopia’s four major languages: Amharic, Tigrinya, Afan Oromo, and Somali, as well as English. In addition, the network broadcasts talk shows, question and answer shows, and other popular entertainment, in particular music videos. The Ethiopian music industry is thriving and has one of the most loyal domestic fan bases on the continent; both modern and traditional Ethiopian music is extremely popular across generations, as well as music from the “Golden Era” of Ethiopian jazz in the 60s. Virtually every region has developed its own traditional dances and musical forms, which are popular with Ethiopians across the country.
The Ethiopian privately-owned media sector is still relatively nascent, and it is unclear exactly what role private media will play in the future. The radio and newspaper sectors are also growing. Though there are relatively few radio stations across the country, they broadcast in several of the local languages. There are a variety of print newspapers, particularly in the capital, Addis Ababa, and they can be found in Amharic, other local languages, and English.
Another widespread form of mass media is billboards, displaying everything from advertising campaigns to government campaigns. There are currently massive billboards around the country in memory of the former Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, who passed away last fall.