Mulatu Alemayehu, Samba Dialimpa Badji and Kristin Skare Orgeret did fieldwork in Addis Ababa 12-18 March 2023. They carried out qualitative interviews with eleven media leaders, editors and journalists in Addis Ababa and organized an additional round table session with another ten informants focusing on fact checking where Bruce Mutsvairo also participated online.
It is a crucial time in Ethiopia with heated discussions related to the implementation of the peace deal to end the Tigray conflict (US Secretary of State Blinken met Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed in Addis while we were there) as well as the new conflict in the very powerful and politically significant Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The latter has led the national Government to close most of the social media platforms in the country, an action that is met with most social media users connecting through VPN. It was highly rewarding to carry out interviews with media experts, editors and journalists in a situation where the public media are silenced, and the government continues to use the social media channels they officially closed down.
The current situation and the very interesting insights we got from the interviews and discussions truly emphasizes the importance of the DD-MAC project’s focus on the role of social media and its capacity to influence mass media and narratives on war and conflict. In addition to serve as important channels of information, social media has been used as a tool to stigmatize civilians from different ethnicities and incite violence along ethnic lines in the ongoing conflicts in Ethiopia.
Expect papers based on these findings!