Media Representation of the Ethio-Eritrea Peace Deal: the Cases of Africanews, Aljazeera and BBC Websites

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Addis Ababa University


The objective of the study was to analyze how the Ethio-Eritrea peace deal was represented by Aficanews, Aljazeera and BBC websites. For the purpose of this, media representation, stereotype and social construction theories were used as theoretical frameworks to analyze the data. The time frame of the data was from April 2018 up to December 2018 and gathered from and Mixed research design was used. Thus, quantitative content analysis and qualitative discourse analysis were employed for this study. The aim of the quantitative content analysis was to categorize and analyze the representation and sources cited by the selected media. The aim of the discourse analysis was to give detailed explanations of the words and phrases used by the selected media in describing the peace deal and to clarify the representations that couldn‟t be elaborated only in numbers. The quantitative data was categorized in line with the stories nature of positive, negative, mixed and neutral representations and it had two categories which are representation analysis and sources cited by the selected media. The findings of the study showed in percentage that Africanews represented the deal as positive in 28 of its 46 stories which is 60.9% of its total. 5 stories (10.9%) represented the deal as negative. On the other hand, this website also had mixed representation that accounted for 6 (13%) of the stories. The website had 7 (15.2%) of its stories as neutral representation. Thus, the Africanews stories representation of the peace deal mostly appears to be positive. Aljazeera‟s website represented the deal as positive in 19 of its 29 articles which is 65.6% of its total. The website represented the peace deal in 6 (20.7%) stories in a negative way, 3 (10.3%) stories showed the representation of the peace deal as mixed and 1 (3.4%) story represented the peace deal in a neutral way. Therefore, Aljazeera‟s representation of the deal appears mostly positive. The other selected website, BBC, represented the peace deal as positive in 9 of its 22 stories which is 40.9% of its total. 4 (18.2%) stories represented the deal as negative. On the other hand, 6 (27.3%) articles out of the total stories posted by BBC had mixed representation. The remaining 3 (13.6%) stories had a neutral representation regarding the issue. Concerning sources, Africanews, Aljazeera and BBC cited people and documents as their sources of information in the articles. Africanews cited total of 65 sources in its 46 articles among the 65 sources 34 which is 52.3% belongs to people while the remaining 31 sources that is 47.7% goes to documents. Aljazeera cited total of 61 sources for its 29 articles, thus 44 which is 72.1% sources were people while the rest 17 (27.9%) were documents and BBC cited 39 sources for its 22 stories. Among the sources cited 32 (82%) belongs to people though the remaining 7(18%) were cited as documents. Findings from the qualitative discourse analysis showed that BBC and Aljazeera used different words to define the Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki such as “strongman”, “secretive and paranoid” “charismatic and brutal” and “austere”. This shows that the selected media were using certain words to represent the President; this might create a picture in the heads of readers who do know or don‟t know about him. The discourse analysis also showed that the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was described by the BBC as an “astute politician with impressive academic and military credentials”. Aljazeera mentioned Abiy as “brand-new” and “young”. Africanews also called him a “peace maker”. Thus, over all Prime Minister Abiy was represented favorably by the selected media. Regarding the peace deal, Africanews, represented the deal as a source of integration, collaboration and better future for the Horn of Africa. BBC and Aljazeera also had positive inclination about the peace deal, however they also had more doubts that it might change nothing for the lives of Eritreans by reasoning out that it might reinforce President Isaias regime. Based on the findings, the researcher suggested some recommendations such as International media reports stories about other countries so this study suggests that they should give more attention to know what is happening on the ground of the other country. Moreover, historical events such as the Ethio-Eritrea peace deal should be represented correctly by the international media because in the future the international media would serve as a crucial reference for that history.