Ethiopia Media Authority DG calls on UNESCO’s Partnership through a Holistic Media Support Program
The Ethiopia Media Authority (EMA) Director General Mr. Mohammed Idris has reiterated the Authority’s commitment to partner with UNESCO, through a holistic media support programme. He has further decried the ongoing pocket support by different media development partners, through adhoc single activities and short term interventions which overall make no impact, while consuming too much financial and human resources.
Speaking in Addis Ababa during a courtesy call with Prof Hubert Gijzen, Regional Director and Representative UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, The Director General of the EMA singled out the urgent need to build the professionalism of Ethiopia Journalists in conflict sensitive reporting. Furthermore, strengthening the community media sector and strategic engagement with the social media users with a view to addressing the ongoing hate speech and misinformation is urgently required.
The DG further outlined EMA’s new project which is focusing on the role of students in countering hate speech and mis information in Ethiopia. Explaining the focus of the new EMA’s project which targets youth in all the regions of Ethiopia the DG stressed its importance in enabling them understand how to balance freedom of expression and the hate speech. To achieve this, the project will commence by a thorough analysis of the root causes of hate speech and misinformation in the country, the tools and skills needed to address these challenges, with the hope that this will inform the right and strategic approach.
In responding to the DG’s call, Prof Gijzen outlined the new UNESCO’s regional support strategy, which focuses on larger consolidated flagship projects rather than fragmented smaller projects. He further made a commitment to enhancing the partnership between UNESCO and EMA, by jointly developing a Media for SDGs proposal for the country.
While ensuring that the media is a key partners in the country’s achievement of all the SDSs, Prof. Gijzen emphasised on the need to propose long term and sustainable interventions, to address the gaps in capacity of journalists, through institutionalised training. In addition, the project should also aim at strengthening the media regulatory frameworks and with a special focus on community media sector as well as contribute to addressing the challenges of misinformation and hate speech.
This engagement comes in the backdrop of the new Declaration of Intent signed between the UN in Ethiopia and the Ethiopia Broadcasting Corporation (EBC). It builds on the recent support by UNESCO, aimed at transforming the EBC –Training and research centre to a National Media Centre of Excellence for building the capacity of both print and broadcast journalists.
Furthermore, within the framework of the Ethiopia Media Sector Alliance bringing together the national and international media partners, UNESCO through its Multidonor Programme on Freedom pf Expression and the Safety of Journalists and in partnership with the British Embassy in Ethiopia, has supported the EBC Training and Research Centre, develop a middle level curriculum targeting print and broadcast journalists. This partnership has further benefited through exchange of good practices with the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication and Makerere University school of Mass Communication Kenya in Uganda.
Building on these gains, Prof Gijzen has reiterated UNESCO’s commitment to support the EMA and all the national media partners, in developing and further sharing with development partners, a comprehensive media program. The joint program will include a regional exchange of good practices and sharing of experiences with other countries.