Media reform, best practice sought

15 Dec 2017

In today’s interconnected and globalised world, the media has become one of our daily needs. It plays an outstanding role in creating and shaping public opinion and strengthening both democratic processes and the peace and socio-economic development of a nation.

The media promotes problem-solving approaches and critical-thinking skills – asking questions and seeking answers, evaluating sources and making decisions, fostering a smooth flow of information and effective communication, making for confident individuals and society. It ensures transparency, protects public interest against malpractice and creates public awareness on how to build a well-informed economic and political community. In addition to reporting the news, the media serves as an intermediary between the government and the people.

The Government Communication Affairs Office (GCAO) in Ethiopia has the responsibility of ensuring the smooth flow of information between the government and the public, by enhancing the responsiveness of the government to society’s needs, through the maintenance of an efficient communication and information system. It facilitates the creation of a national consensus on the basic principles and values of the constitution as well as the national interests of the country.

To achieve its mission, the GCAO is conducting major media reform activities to transform the country’s communication and media sectors, at the Federal and Regional levels, to empower them to discharge their responsibilities by promoting the expansion of modern, accessible, and diverse media. This will help satisfy society`s ever-increasing need for information.

H.E. Ambassador Hailemichael Aberra Afework with H.E. Dr Negeri Lencho at the BBC

To develop comprehensive and convincing reform, the GCAO is seeking best experiences from the UK’s communication and media sector. In November, Dr Negeri Lencho, Minister at the GCAO, led a delegation consisting of representatives from the federal and Addis Ababa City Administration, private media, Addis Ababa University on a visit to the UK and held discussions with the Government Communications Service, Ofcom, IPSO, the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport, BBC World Service Group and think tanks and universities engaged in media and communications.

The delegation at the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s (IPSO) offices

The delegation drew lessons from the above-mentioned institutions and learnt how best to manage public and private media and community broadcast media, including social media. The visit has enabled the GCAO to address the issue of data management, message crafting and the free flow of information to the public. Furthermore, by contextualizing the lessons and experiences learnt, it will be possible to develop comprehensive media and communications policies and strategies, as well as detailed working manuals to guide the sector going forward.

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