Use of anonymous news sources by The Ethiopian Herald and Fortune newspapers: a comparative study

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Addis Ababa University


This thesis presents an examination of the use of anonymous news sources by The Ethiopian Herald (a government daily) and Fortune (a private weekly) newspapers that are in current circulation nationwide. A triangulation of quantitative and qualitative research methods was used to gather the extent and reasons for the application of such sources in their news dispatches. Via quantitative content analysis, the study has procured the frequencies and kinds of anonymous sourcing incorporated by the newspapers. Via the qualitative (individual in-depth discussions with the concerned media practitioners), the study has collected detailed elaborations upon their stands of why, where, and how the news organs operate during the course of news gathering, writing, and printing. The news editions were systematically sampled; and the interviewees purposively. The data from both newspapers and the interviewees were then thematically analyzed. Moreover, although not with a thoroughly critical scrutiny of the agenda setting theory, the media’s role in setting public agenda whilst quoting anonymous tippers is an interspersed framework featured in this research. As well the working legal-cum-ethic grounds under which the aforementioned media organs function is due attended and reflected through the source protection paradigm. The findings in general indicate that there is a significant difference between the uses of news sources by the two media houses in question. Fortune has made a much greater use of anonymous news sourcing exhibiting plentiful and frequent anonymous sourcing than its counterpart in this research. Fortune’s basic rationales turned out to be that relatively the Ethiopian society has an inexplicable reluctance to go on-record at large, apart from fear of retribution. The Ethiopian Herald staff maintains that in-depth and analytical investigative reporting not only takes much more time and researching than what this daily broadsheet is basically designed for, but also would be at odds with the main concern of the newspaper. The Federal Constitution, the press proclamations, and the editorial policies of the two newspapers (i.e., the press statutes and policies regulating news sourcing means) are largely braced by provisions for press freedom; nonetheless they are not sufficiently elaborated. Further, the news and all other media are decreed to enjoy the state press provisions which are, however, followed by intricate verbose of contending enactments that put indirect restrictions on them



Herald and Fortune newspapers