Journalists without Standards

For a long time, the well-known state-run national TV broadcaster, Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), now called ETV 57, has been fodder for mockery. In its news reporting and coverage, the broadcaster has been biased and shallow.

Things seem to have changed lately, though. Anchors have become less stiff, and there are roundtable discussions and a little bit of investigative reporting. But there remains a long path to walk before it can be said that the station has taken journalistic standards to heart.

Media houses may make missteps, which they later have to address by retracting or correcting it. This is understandable given the inflexible deadlines that have to be grappled with. However, accuracy,  the disclosure of important information, the relevance of the news and fairness must never be sacrificed on the justification of inconvenience.

More than just getting the facts right, it is important not to leave the audience with more questions than answers. It is even more intolerable to make the same mistake over and again due to lack of efficiency and research.

Having recently started to watch public TV news broadcasts, I frequently come across court reports which make little sense. It is hard to comprehend how such mistakes keep eluding reporters, producers and fact checkers (if there are any).

Beyond accurate and unbiased news coverage, it is vital to present relevant and clear news to the public. Recently, one of our public broadcasters reported on a court case where individuals were acquitted. The reporter mentioned one name, and called the rest “others.”

Why this particular piece of news was crucial to the public and what charges the defendants were acquitted of was any viewers guess.

News items should inform audiences on happenings that are bound to affect them, even indirectly. This is why we are drawn to international broadcasters. They employ clarity, assess the subject from different sides and present in a way that is attractive.

What makes the likes of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Cable News Network (CNN) or Al Jazeera unique is that they are able to cater on any given subject to both laymen and experts. The depth of knowledge that informs their coverage is matched by their ability to not over contemplate. Audiences are never left with more questions than answers but a well-rounded picture of hapning.

Court cases are amongst the trickiest to report on. It needs to address all sides of the argument, walk tight lines to prevent from reporting on ongoing-cases and still remain relevant in the eyes of laymen. This also applies to a range of fields that require sensitive analysis.

How such matters are covered by the media thus needs profound attention to ensure that there is no room for misleading audiences or being vague about the matter.

The public media houses ought to offer training before giving them assignments. This will ensure that they are best equipped with reporting and researching skills to present relevant information to the public. Journalists are not mere echoes – regurgitating whatever one official or public figure has said. They rather are influencers as how they report and what they present can have a substantial impact on politics, the economy and, more importantly, society.

The journalists working in public media houses must recognize this fact, and stand tall by their responsibilities in delivering news that informs, instead of just channelling happenings. Any report must be well understood by the reporter before that reporter can report it on the air.

Every news content must answer what, who, why, when, where and how to make it easy for the audience to understand the news fully. As the state-run stations are heading towards improving their recognition under the public’s eye, it is crucial to constantly find ways to make news informative. The insights reporters glean from sources and events can easily be turned into a useful platform that enlightens the public.


By Eden Sahle
Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied Law and International Economic Law. She can be reached at

Published on May 19,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 942]



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