‘Freebies’ and ‘Brown Envelopes’ in Ethiopian Broadcast Media

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Addis Ababa University


As in other media cultures, the effectiveness and accountability of journalists in Ethiopia depends on understanding and following professional codes of conduct/ethics. This research examines to what extent ‘’freebies’’ and ‘’brown envelopes’’ – media bribes – dominate the Ethiopian broadcast media. Data was collected by triangulation of research methods, with more qualitative than quantitative research. The study found bribery widespread among journalists in the state-owned Ethiopian Radio and TV Agency (ERTA), often attributed to low salaries and lack of ethical training. This research also discusses how bribes affect reporting and why sources pressure journalists to accept bribes. The study also explores how ERTA journalists boast about “buche” – their particular slang for bribery – and openly share information about a practice that would be considered unethical in international media outlets. Arguably, without a change of journalists’ attitudes, ERTA’s public credibility and professional integrity will be undermined.



Ethiopian Broadcast Media