Media Coverage of Covid-19 in Ethiopia: Comparative Analysis of Ethiopian Television and Fana Television

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Considering the importance of media coverage in influencing attitude and knowledge of the public, this study assessed news coverage of COVID-19 in Ethiopia, comparing the coverage of ETV 57 and Fana 90. The major purpose of the study was to explore media coverage and its role in controlling the spread of the COVID -19 pandemic in Ethiopia. Media coverage was analyzed using quantitative and qualitative content analysis approach; in terms of time allocation, frequency of coverage of specific news stories and with regard to how news topics were framed in the two media. The content analysis was supported by key informant interviews with selected experts and officials from the two media. For the content analysis, a total of 70 days news videos (5 days per month for 7 months, for each media); that is, in total 3,885 minutes of news stories were analyzed. Major results indicated that the two media provided good coverage of COVID 19, but ETV gave higher proportion of coverage to COVID-19 related news than Fana Television: i.e., 23% of the total 42 minutes of ETV news than 18% of the 70 minutes news of Fana was allocated to COVID-19 related news. Immediately, after the first COVID-19 cases were reported in Ethiopia, both media - Fana and ETV news - gave high attention for the issue and coverage of COVID-19 related news was very high. However, coverage of COVID-19 news started to decline through time. The focus of the two media shifted from COVID-19 news to other emergencies due to political instabilities and conflicts. Furthermore, analysing the type of frames employed by the media, it is found that news stories of the two media were dominated by constructive framing which accounted for about 64% of the total time allocated for COVID-19 related news, while fear framing accounted only for about 28% the news stories. Constructive framing in total was reported by 111 news stories which is where Fana reported many news stories using constructive frame (57) as compared to ETV (54). The two media contributed in informing and creating awareness towards the pandemic and the public to follow recommended preventive measures. However, the decline in the media coverage through time by both media can also contribute to a declining attention by the public and government towards the disease. Hence, this study, indicating a close relationship between media coverage and the contribution they can play in controlling the spread of the disease, recommends a regular media coverage with well researched understanding of the possible spread and effects of the pandemic.



media coverage in influencing attitude and knowledge of the public