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Does Developmental Journalism Restrict Press Freedom?
By Alula Kebede
Three Ethiopian journalists debated the development journalism that has been practiced by government media for the last several decades. Some are afraid of it, others say it is not good journalism.
Three experienced journalists expressed their views of the practice in a roundtable discussion.
The term is popularly used in developing countries where the state controls the media and discourages objective reporting of voices critical of government policies and practices.
The assistant dean of Addis Ababa University School of Journalism, Tadesse Zinaye, said,"There is indeed this fear of it limiting press freedom not only in Ethiopia but also in other countries promoting the practice." He believes that developmental journalism is very good and can only be dangerous "if used to limit the press freedom."
"I know historically it started in the 60's and how it started, I still have difficulty understanding it," says Tamerat G. Giorgis, Managing Editor of Addis Fortune.
"Journalism is just like any other profession,” said Tamerat Giorgis, editor-in-chief of Addis Fortune. Tamerat argued that there are no development dentists or development lawyers. “I don't believe on the idea of developmental journalism.”
"I think the first ten years of the State media in the current government was in state of loss of direction," Tamerat claims that it's while they were trying to find direction this idea of developmental journalism came up. He also admits that so far in Ethiopia no one has imposed it on the private media. It's limited only to the state media.
Abiy Teklemariam, former Editor-in-Chief of Addis Neger, said the media a nation promotes reflects its political philosophy. “In Ethiopia, it’s rather an extension of the politics."
He asks, "What is development anyway? Who defines it? How does it affect the lives of the people?"
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