Investigation into Social Media Effects on Digital News Reporting: The Case of Ethiopian News Agency (ENA)

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Addis Ababa University


Social media is rapidly changing the communication setting of today’s World. It creates a shared view of the world to the world. The emergent of social media is significantly influencing professional life of journalists. The main purpose of the study was to assess "Investigation into Social Media Effects on Digital News Reporting: The case of Ethiopian News Agency (ENA)". Data was collected using quantitative and qualitative (mixed) methods. Questionnaire, In-depth interview and document analysis were deployed in the study. Sentiment analysis on Facebook and Twitter platforms of ENA accounts were organized in the study during April 1-April 30, 2021. Based on purposive sampling technique, in-depth interviews were applied to collect data from three editors and director of the New Media and Website Department of ENA. According to the findings, 41 (85.4%) have experience of using social media more than 5 years. More than half of respondents spend at least 2 hours per day on social media. ENA has rich potential capacity and access to disseminate news for more than half a million audiences at once in its social media accounts. The finding shows respondents prefer using smart phones to access social media. The study reveals journalists mostly use social media for news sources, current affairs, and news releases. The finding shows the infrastructures of ENA are suitable for using social media. This is fact that social media is part of them especially in this era of emerging technology. From the finding, social media have opportunities and challenges in journalistic practices. Most Journalists are interested and they are using different social media platforms as an opportunity. There are many direct and indirect factors related to advancement of both coding in computer application programs and tools in digital media having various levels of consequences. According to the study, social media supported respondents in information gathering, reporting and disseminating as a new media opportunity for journalists. It is a new way of communication with different professionals without geographical border barriers; social media facilitated to clarify current affairs in different perspectives from different places without interference. Further the study shows social media in creating new media business, very fast feedback, and audience interactions. The study reveals negative aspects of social media according to the respondents. The respondents think social media affected their journalistic practices broadly categorized in lack of trust and credibility, ethical and legal issues, fake news, deepfake, hate speech and savvy technological advancement. The study exposes ENA's lack of necessary training to fill the constraints of journalists. Writing for digital news platforms, media technologies, user generated contents, software generated contents, and deepfakes have changed the journalism environment. The effects can be small, gradual, and indirect but accumulated over a long time. Where as strong effects may only be apparent over the long term. Thus, the study finds out that social media have affected both journalists and ENA as a media organization in exploiting the potential of the social media to the best of journalistic practices and digital news reporting for digital public interest. Therefore, it needs critical training, awareness and guidance from different actors including the media house, journalists, researchers, media experts, educational institutions and policy makers.



Social media, Digital news reporting, Fake news, Deepfake, Hate speech, Digital divide, Users Generated Contents, Software Generated Contents