Assessment of Conflict Sensitivity in the Ethiopian Media Editorial Policies
We are in an era when conflicts are prevalent in Ethiopia and when it is important to develop maximum sensitivity should the country solve the conflicts in peaceful dialogues. The role of the media is vital in either conflict resolution or exacerbation through war propaganda. Editorial policies are also meant to shape the narrative, set standards, and draw lines of ethics that media outlets are to expected to establish. However, the nexus between the Ethiopian media outlets reporting and their editorial policy has not been studied enough. The orientation of Ethiopian media outlets in terms of conflict sensitivity and the extent to which their editorial policy can moderate it has not been a stakeholders’ discourse agenda.
The Center for the Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD) is a civil society organization that is envisioning to see Ethiopia where democratic mass culture is flourished with human rights values; our mission towards the vision is empowering citizens and groups of citizens to ensure their ability to promote and defend human rights and build democratic governance in Ethiopia. CARD recognizes vibrant media with a safe space as well as a highly professional and ethical standard is vital for any democratization. Therefore, it has been running a Media Literacy Program since its foundation in July 2019.
Under the Media Literacy Program, CARD’s two pillars have been the promotion of the media space and the safety of journalists as well as the professional and ethical integrity of media practitioners. To this end, CARD has commissioned the development of multiple research, facilitated dialogue platforms for media practitioners, and offered a series of training. To curb the escalation of disinformation and inflammatory discourse within the context of conflicts and the advancement of technology facilitating a fast flow of information, CARD has continuously monitored, documented, and reported online and legacy media narratives, run awareness-raising campaigns against disinformation, produced materials to raise disinformation countering skills of practitioners, engaged with social media platforms for improved content moderation, and advocated for professional and ethical reporting. However, the challenges still persist to be broad and seek more interventions.
As part of countering disinformation and hateful sociopolitical discourse, CARD strongly believes it is important to shape the policies of media outlets to improve their conflict sensitivity to enable them to play constructive roles in their reports concerning conflicts in Ethiopia. Therefore, CARD has commissioned the development of studies on editorial policies, and their conflict sensitivity, as well as an overall review of conflict-sensitive reporting in Ethiopia. The findings of these studies help us identify the gaps of the media in policies and implementation over their roles in promoting contextualized sensitivity in times of conflicts and design the proper interventions for the professional capacity building of media outlets and their practitioners. The research will also be followed by a panel discussion with media leaders and experts as well as a series of training to editors and reporters.
This project is generously financed by the Open Society Foundation and US Embassy in Addis.