The Journalistic Field in Ethiopia: Where Partisanship and Credibility Cohabit

  • Abdissa Zerai
  • Fitih Alemu


Contemporary Ethiopia has been characterized by political polarization and a resultant weak differentiation of the journalistic field from other social fields. The chapter examines how, in such an environment, Fana Broadcasting Corporate—a commercial broadcasting organization affiliated with the governing elite—has managed to carve out a unique position where it practices the kind of journalism that ensures the reproduction of the privileged worldview of the governing elite and at the same time garners a favorable reception from the audience. Using qualitative data and Bourdieu’s field theory, the chapter argues that the unequal distribution of different forms of capital resulting from Fana’s privileged association within the political and economic fields has contributed to the creation of status hierarchies within the media field, situating this particular media house at the top of such hierarchy.


  1. Binyam, Tamene. 2013. The Impact of Ethiopia’s Anti-terrorism Proclamation on Freedom of the Press: The Case of the Ethiopian Private Press. Master’s Thesis, Addis Ababa University.Google Scholar
  2. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1990. The Logic of Practice. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 1992. An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  4. ———. 1994. In Other Words: Essays Towards a Reflexive Sociology. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 1996. The Rules of Art. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 1997. Pascalian Meditations. London: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 1998a. On Television and Journalism. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 1998b. Practical Reason. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  9. ———. 2002. Habitus. In Habitus: A Sense of Place, ed. Jean Hillier and Emma Rooksby, 27–36. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  10. Bourdieu, Pierre, and Loic Wacquant. 1992. An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  11. Emirbayer, Mustafa, and Victoria Johnson. 2008. Bourdieu and Organizational Analysis. Theory and Society 37 (1): 1–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ethiopian Government Communication Affairs Office (GCAO). 2012. Developmental Media, Communications and Ethiopian Renaissance. Addis Ababa: Ethiopian Government Communication Affairs Office (GCAO).Google Scholar
  13. FBC Annual Publication. 2014. Fana Broadcasting Corporate Program Manual and Editorial Policy. Addis Ababa: FBC Annual Publication.Google Scholar
  14. Hailegebriel, Endeshaw. 2005. Ethical Issues in News Reporting with Particular Reference to the Ethiopian Herald Newspaper. Masters Thesis, Addis Ababa University.Google Scholar
  15. Hallin, Daniel, and Paolo Mancini. 2004. Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hovden, Jan. 2012. A Journalistic Cosmology: A Sketch of Some Social and Mental Structures of the Norwegian Journalistic Field. Nordicom Review 33 (2): 57–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jansson, Andre. 2015. Using Bourdieu in Critical Mediatization Research: Communicational Doxa and Osmotic Pressures in the Field of UN Organizations. MedieKultur 31 (58): 13–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Johnson, Chalmers. 1987. Political Institutions and Economic Performance. In The Political Economy of the New Asian Industrialism, ed. C.F. Deyo. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University.Google Scholar
  19. McChesney, Robert. 2003. The Problem of Journalism: A Political Economy Contribution to an Explanation of the Crisis in Contemporary U.S. Journalism. Journalism Studies 4 (3): 299–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Meyen, Michael, and Anke Fiedler. 2013. Journalists in the German Democratic Republic: A Collective Biography. Journalism Studies 14 (3): 321–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mkandawire, Thandika. 2001. Thinking About Developmental States in Africa. Cambridge Journal of Economics 25 (3): 289–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Neveu, Erik. 2007. Pierre Bourdieu: Sociologist of Media, or Sociologist for Media Scholars? Journalism Studies 8 (2): 335–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Shimelis, Bonsa. 2002. The State of the Private Press in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia. The Challenge of Democracy from Below, ed. Bahru Zewde and Siegfried Pausewang, 184–201. Nordiska Afrikainstitutet: Uppsala.Google Scholar
  24. Shultz, Ida. 2007. Context in Newsroom Ethnography: Reflexive Sociology and the Concepts of Journalistic Field, News Habitus and Newsroom Capital. Paper presented at International Communication Association, San Francisco, May 24–28.Google Scholar
  25. Skjerdal, Terje. 2012. Competing Loyalties: Journalism Culture in the Ethiopian State Media. PhD diss., University of Oslo.Google Scholar
  26. Stremlau, Nicole. 2012. The Press and the Political Restructuring of Ethiopia. Journal of East African Studies 5 (4): 716–732.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. ———. 2014. Media, Participation and Constitution-Making in Ethiopia. Journal of African Law 58 (2): 231–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Styan, David. 1999. Misrepresenting Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa? Constraints and Dilemmas of Current Reporting. In The Media of Conflict: War Reporting and Representations of Ethnic Violence, ed. Tim Allen and Jean Seaton, 287–304. New York: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  29. Sukosd, Miklos, and Lake Wang. 2013. From Centralization to Selective Diversification: A Historical Analysis of Media Structure and Agency in China, 1949–2013. Journal of Media Business Studies 10 (4): 83–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ward, David. 2011. Ethiopia Media Mapping 2011. Electoral Reform International Services (ERIS).Google Scholar
  31. Ward, David, and Selam Ayalew. 2011. Audience Survey: Ethiopia 2011. Electoral Reform International Services (ERIS). Accessed 18 Feb 2016.
  32. Webb, Jen, Tony Schirato, and Geoff Danaher. 2002. Understanding Bourdieu. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  33. White, Gordon. 2006. Towards a Democratic Developmental State. IDS Bulletin 37 (4): 60–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Willig, Ida. 2012. Newsroom Ethnography in a Field Perspective. Denmark: Sage.Google Scholar
  35. Willig, Ida, Waltorp Karen, and Jannie Hartley. 2015. Field Theory Approaches to New Media Practices: An Introduction and Some Theoretical Considerations. MedieKultur 31 (58): 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abdissa Zerai
    • 1
  • Fitih Alemu
    • 2
  1. 1.Addis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia
  2. 2.Jimma UniversityJimmaEthiopia

Personalised recommendations