Western Media Rhetoric on the Armed Conflict News coverage in Tigray region, Ethiopia: The BBC, AP and Reuters

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Addis Ababa University


This study examined how the western media framed the armed conflict which took place between the federal government of Ethiopia and Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF). The government called the armed conflict, a law enforcement operation. The armed conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray state drew the interest and attention of the entire world's media, notably the Western media. Western media coverage on Ethiopia was not studied well. Hence, this study tried to exhibit how the armed conflict was reported and framed in the selected media outlets, BBC, AP and Reuters. Three media theories were selected and studied that could support the analysis. Framing theory, Agenda setting theory and Social responsibility theory were presented. The sample period was from November, 2020 up to January, 2021. Purposive sampling was used to select the media outlets. In order to obtain the essential data and gain a better understanding of the situation, the study used a qualitative approach. The main data collection strategies employed by the researcher were content analysis and key informant interviews. The analysis found that the media sources mostly used a war frame and an ethnic-tension frame, both of which had the potential to aggravate the conflict. They presented the battle as a civil war and full scale war in the Horn of Africa, which had destabilized the region. According to the study's finding, the media focused on narratives that endangered people’s peaceful relations. While documenting and reporting the armed conflict, a number of western media failed to adhere to journalistic principles and ethics. It was a lot of skewed, uneven, and unsubstantiated information. They expressed sympathy for the TPLF while overlooking reality on the ground. The finding also revealed the government's inability to provide the proper information to the right media outlets at the appropriate time. The government was also not aggressive in effectively and efficiently dealing with the truth.



The Armed Conflict News coverage in Tigray region, Ethiopia