The Relations between the Media and Political System in Ethiopia’s Revolutionary Democracy from May 1991-April 2018

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Menychle Meseret

Abstract

The study of the media’s relation with the political system is a burgeoning area of inquiry in comparative media studies. It is widely argued that a free media system independent of political interference is vital for flourishment of democracy. However, politicians in different parts of the world try to control the media. A symbiotic relationship between media and politics is hard to find in young democracies. Even though many studies have focused on Ethiopian media and Ethiopian politics, only few of them have looked at the links between the two: especially in the context of TPLF/EPRDF’s revolutionary democracy ideology. Thus, this article aims to bridge the apparent gaps by examining the interactions between media and politics from May 1991 up-to April 2018- at the peak time of the Marxist-Leninist inclined political ideology. By using in-depth interviews and consulting different documentary sources, this study concludes that the relation between media and politics during TPLF/EPRDF’s revolutionary democracy has been chaotic. The nature of the media landscape has been marked by unstable environment, lack of professionalization, low media freedom and significant polarization. This precarious media environment seems to be influenced by the ideals of revolutionary democracy that aspires to monopolize vanguardism and hegemonic power by marginalizing oppositional views. Any party that follows this type of ideology tends to see media institutions as a threat to its existence. In this conundrum, media outlets failed playing impartial roles as ombudsman on the government.

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