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Ethiopian government urges media to practice professionalism during the upcoming election

Practitioners in the media and communication sector need to be exercised professional and ethical journalism so as to play a constructive role in the May 2020 General Election and to advance their role in speeding up the national democratization, a journalism and communication expert said.

Approached by The Ethiopian Herald, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Communication at Addis Ababa University, Dr. Mulatu Alemayehu said that the media has an irreplaceable role in building informed society about the election process through actively engaged in voters’ education.

Dr. Mulatu noted that the media ensure the public is educated in the political agenda of all participating parties and candidates and equally provided information necessary to fully evaluate the candidates, election officials, and the election process at large.

The expert stated that Addis Ababa University, Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority, UNESCO and -the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund – Sylff Association of Japan have been jointly offering capacity building training for journalists in election reporting, voters’ education and civic education.

The pieces of training aimed at enabling media to play a crucial role in enhancing society’s political conciseness thereby witnessing active public participation in the upcoming election. “Through voters’ education, the media could build the electorate’s knowledge about the election process and make them believe in the legitimacy of election results, thus curtailing post-election violence.”

Noting that Ethiopia’s objective reality has been dramatically changed compared with the previous elections, the expert pointed out that the mainstream media has to play a big role in limiting the disastrous conflict fake news and hate speech could incite during the transition period.

According to him, the media have also a contribution to serve as a platform to political discourse and debate and should avail a proportional coverage for the ruling and contesting political parties to publicize their political programs and agenda among the electorate.

Dr. Mulatu highlighted that through providing a neutral and balanced information, the media could support the public’s decision making and help them to exercise their right in determining the fate of themselves and the country at large in an informed manner.

Availing a timely and accurate information for the public at hand would also enable the media to create a strong public mobilization that hasten the democratization of the country. “This would create concerned society that would play pivotal role in supporting government’s efforts to make the forthcoming election fair, free and credible.”

The media have also a watchdog role in the upcoming election and journalists need to report both the successes and failures of stakeholders in the election process such as the government, contesting political parties as well as the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia for the benefit of the general public, the expert remarked.

The Ethiopian Herald, November 19/2019

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