Go »


Appendix III

The Ethiopian Media
(As of August 1996)


National Newspapers
1. Addis Zemen--Amharic daily. Circulation 18,000.

The Private Press: The Challenges Facing Independent Journalists

The economic challenges facing private publishers include competition, a small pool of advertising revenue, and the fluctuating price of newsprint on the international market. Publishers also complain that they are crippled by an informal "ban" on advertisements placed by state-owned institutions in the private press, by the refusal of government media to accept paid promotional advertising from private newspapers, and by the reported warnings that private businesses have received about the repercussions of placing advertisements simultaneously in both the state and private press.

The State Media: The Government Press and the Broadcast Monopoly

The Ethiopian government currently publishes four major newspapers and owns and controls all broadcast media. The primary challenge facing the state-run news outlets is a public perception of irrelevance and lack of objectivity. As one journalist who has worked for both the private press and the state media told CPJ, "The government press is not even serving the government. People have stopped watching television. There is no journalism in the government media."

Appendix II

Attacks on the Press in Ethiopia


December 7
Lucy Hannan, BBC, harassed
Hannan, a correspondent for BBC, was briefly detained and threatened with expulsion by Ethiopian security officials at the airport in Addis Ababa. Hannan had gone to the airport to interview a U. S. military officer on his way to Somalia. She was stopped by an American officer and handed over to Ethiopian security. After being detained at the airport, she was held under house arrest for several hours.


Although the government claims the Press Proclamation abolished censorship, it in fact bans dissemination of information that the government deems dangerous to the society. Hence, the law is often used as a government tool for post-publication censorship and punitive prosecution.

According to Art. 8 of the Proclamation, the news media may not publish:

  • Information designated as secret by Parliament's Council of Representatives or the prime minister's cabinet, the Council of Ministers;

Ushering Ethiopian Journalism into the 21st Century

CPJ is encouraged that, while at the end of last year 31 journalists were in prison in Ethiopia, only nine journalists remain in detention as this report is going to press. Of those nine journalists, one is nearing completion of an 18-month prison term, and the rest were remanded to custody because they were unable to present personal guarantors for prohibitive bail amounts ranging from 8,000 birr (US$1,300) to 30,000 birr (US$4,800).

Clampdown in Addis
Ethiopia's Journalists at Risk

by Kakuna Kerina

After centuries of feudal rule, 17 years of communist dictatorship, almost three decades of civil war, and no tradition of an independent press before 1992, Ethiopia is at a crossroads.

As one of the African continent's youngest exercises in democracy, Ethiopia can serve as an example of a true democracy--one that does not sacrifice freedom of expression and human rights as its leaders establish order. Or, it can join the ranks of neighbors whose leaders assumed office promising respect for press freedom and other civil rights, but who have since broken these and other pledges.

Appendix I

Distribution of Print Media

Sales of private publications are concentrated in the capital, Addis Ababa. There is no organized distribution system in place. Newspapers and magazines are primarily sold on the streets by children who earn a subsistence living for their work, and, to a lesser extent, by independent contractors and newsstands. The majority of the publications offered for sale cost 1.50 birr (US$.25) per copy.


Art. 8, Sec. 1 of the Press Proclamation grants the press "the right to seek, obtain and report news and information from any government source of news and information," yet the private press continues to be denied access to government officials and their agencies. Moreover, independent journalists have been refused confirmation of information, or answers to questions posed to government representatives, in violation of Art. 19 of the Press Proclamation, which states that "government officials shall have the duty to cooperate with the press." As a result, many publishers use personal contacts and fellow journalists in both the state and independent media as sources for acquiring government information for their publications.

by Josh Friedman

IN OCTOBER 1995, TESFAYE TEGEN, the editor of a weekly newspaper in Addis Ababa, made a very costly editorial decision.

U.S.-backed insurgents who had toppled Soviet-backed dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam four years before had just held elections to legitimize their rule. Tesfaye's* paper, Beza, ran cartoons lampooning members of the new government as a submissive soccer team dominated by a newly elected, U.S.-sponsored prime minister, Meles Zenawi.

Social Media

View All ›