Framing of President Obama’s Visit to Ethiopia by Selected Local and International Media

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Addis Ababa University


President Obama is the first sitting American president to visit Ethiopia and was given much attention from both local and international media. The purpose of this study was to examine the framing of president Obama’s visit to Ethiopia. Informed by political economy and framing theories, the study was set to answer what the views of selected media institutions were on Obama’s visit (positive or negative), what the dominant frames used in framing Obama’s visit to Ethiopia were and what factors might have influenced the framing of the President’s visit to Ethiopia. The study employed qualitative method to obtain the necessary data and purposive sampling was used to select the media product for qualitative content analysis. The data were selected from The Ethiopian Herald, The Reporter (English) and Addis Admas from the local media outlets and CNN, BBC, Aljazeera, VOA and The Washington Post from international media outlets. The data was analyzed thematically on the basis of the basic research questions formulated to guide the study. The findings of the study revealed that the president’s visit was viewed both negatively and positively. The finding showed that the major focus of The Ethiopian Herald was the economic importance of the visit and Ethiopia’s effort in keeping regional stability and fighting terrorism. The visit was seen as a conformation of Ethiopia’s improvement in every aspect. The Reporter and Addis Admas focused on the influence the president had to impose on Ethiopia in its human rights violations and on the status of press freedom in the country. The international media focused on the coverage of Ethiopia’s effort in fighting terrorism in the region and its human rights record and violations of press freedom by the government. Economic frame, attribution of responsibility frame, conflict frame and prognostic frames were employed by the media houses. The study concluded that the President Obama’s visit was framed differently by the government owned and private media locally. The government owned media (The Ethiopian Herald) inclined to reporting in favor of the government while the privately owned, The Reporter and Addis Admas, framed the visit critically. The international and local media did not differ too much in presenting the issues of Ethiopia’s role in peace keeping and fight against terrorism but The Ethiopian Herald overlooked the issue of human rights and press freedom compared to the foreign press.



President Obama’s