Home > City Journal > Angry at the war and at the media

Angry at the war and at the media

It is not hard to know how people in Addis are angry at the war with Somalia, which most say is bizarre and senseless. Many say they haven’t the slightest clue what this war is all about. Invading a country and heading to its capital with a lame excuse of maintaining territorial integrity seem to convince few.

 People are no longer as naïve as they used to be about honor or blind obedience to orders, which have long been proven morally wrong, but senselessly unreasonable.

But Addis residents are also angry with the press-the government and the so-called private-that are slanted in favor of EPRDF and the war.

A newspaper vendor at Arat Kilo that I was talking to this morning was telling me that how his customers were disappointed and annoyed at the papers that are available now which are full of propaganda, diabolizing ‘the fundamentalist group comprising elements that have hidden agenda.’

For middle-class Adissers who could afford satellite dishes and Internet, update about the war come into their living rooms. (The BBC TV is doing a wonderful job with its constant update, apparently convinced that this has a potential to turn into a regional crises). For the majority that is not the case. They have to depend on the information they get from their transistor radio and state TV that is full of puffery.

The few ‘private’ papers that are in the market never offend the government and sound as if they are enlisted in what the government calls ‘ the battle for development’. Information remains a government monopoly.

Many have begun looking back nostalgically to the time when the hugely poupular private papers that have gone with the election which were effective in providing a relay of news and commentaries on significant events. Whether those papers contained balanced or exaggerated report, Addis residents use to cherish them and read and interpret every item with varying degrees of interest, curiosity, shock, trepidation, and triumph. The papers had such an influence and power to create animated conversations and exchange among the public. This is not happening any more. What people are getting now is a dull and monotonous propaganda similar to what they hear in the state media.

Of course, in order to survive the existing papers have to enforce strict self-censorship on themselves and one has to weigh one’s words very carefully, and to think of the possible repercussions before committing them to print, as is the case for bloggers.Yet for others it has become a contest to show loyalty and allegiance for the regime and consequently win affection in bid to get a reward of some kind. So much so that, an acquaintance who works in one of the paper told me recently, that two papers in the town are attaching each other with the aim of proving it is them who are closer and faithful to the ruling party, not the other one.

Some will wait for the night to turn on the Voice Of America Amharic service, which at least is not as dull and inaccurate as the medias here.

Categories: City Journal
  1. M.B
    December 28, 2006 at 1:50 pm

    It’s been tough over the past couple of days not to stand up and do a little dance of joy over Ethiopia’s so far masterful efforts in Somalia. Ethiopia very correctly recognized that the United Islamic Courts, the al Qaeda-backed Islamist movement that took control of Mogadishu and most of Somalia this past summer, represents a threat. So Ethiopia acted. And now Bill Roggio reports that Mogadishu has fallen to the Ethiopian and transitional Somali government forces.Read the rest at

  2. January 5, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    I was wondering what the relation between Addis Ababans and the large Somali comminity there is like in light of this situation.


    great blog by the way!

  3. Fofi
    January 29, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    People are angrty at the media!
    Oh my!This is how the media has been operating in Ethiopia as far as I remember.So why the anger now?
    And there is no any country in the world where there is no media censorship.Even here in the U.S, without the goverment lifting a finger, informal pressure and news room careerism is enough to make reporters toe the line.The former CBS news anchor Dan Rather once wrote that conservatives are ‘all over your telephones, all over your email’.So if American medias are not free from imparitlaity, how do you expect Ethiopia media to be objective?

  4. October 21, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Great blog as for me. I’d like to read something more about that theme.

  1. December 28, 2006 at 11:37 pm
  2. January 2, 2007 at 11:49 am
  3. January 2, 2007 at 5:59 pm
  4. April 30, 2007 at 12:28 pm
  5. May 31, 2007 at 9:11 pm

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