Social Media and Journalism: Journalists and Media Outlets’ Use of Social Media Networks in Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


The study aims at examining social media and journalism with particular focus on journalists’ and media outlets’ use of social media networks in the Ethiopian context. The network society, public sphere, and network(ed) journalism theoretical frameworks were used to inform the study. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were adopted for the study where survey questionnaire, interview and observation were used as specific methods for gathering the data. A survey questionnaire was administered to 145 journalists selected through a random sampling technique, whereas in-depth interview was held with 17 journalists, editors, and media managers working at three media institutions. Furthermore, an email interview was conducted with a media researcher. An observation was also carried out by the researcher for gathering firsthand information, and descriptive statistics was employed to analyze the quantitative data. The finding shows that journalists use social media for various purposes, such as for getting a new idea, to stay connected to the world, for personal and professional development; however, journalists’ use of the social media for professional purpose is marred with challenges. Their participation in discussion on social media is not as much of and they have no demarcation for personal and professional use of social media. The infamous traditional problem of journalists – self censorship, has migrated to online with journalists due to the new discourse of fear – surveillance and censorship. Hence, journalists kept silent, mainly, consuming social media contents while media outlets provide. As off line media outlets are not encouraging journalists to use social media, the journalists are forced to adopt a dual identity: one identity for the social media and one identity for the mainstream media. The study also reveals that although there were differences in the use of social media among media outlets, they were not exploiting the opportunity as they ought to have been owing to various problems. What is more, the study shows that the rise of social media is posing a serious challenge to state-owned as well as private media institutions in Ethiopia. On the basis of such findings, the study has suggested pertinent recommendations with the view to coping up with the fast changing global media landscape.



Journalists and Media Outlets