On February 8, 2021, the United States Embassy in Addis Ababa launched the first of 25 week-long media trainings throughout Ethiopia to enable the journalists cover the upcoming general elections of the country professionally.
This comprehensive media capacity project will train approximately 500-700 journalists across the country. The U.S. Embassy has invested $450,000 (17,730,000 million birr) in this project, the Embassy said in its press statement. “The overall goal of these trainings to empower and educate journalists on their roles and responsibilities throughout the election process, which includes educating voters on diverse issues, and monitoring and reporting on electoral activities to increase the transparency and accountability of all parties involved,” it said.
“At the launch, Amanda Jacobsen, Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, underscored to journalists, “Your role as media professionals is critical in both uncovering and addressing the needs and challenges of citizens, as well as questioning sources, diversifying the types of people you interview, and countering mis- and disinformation as part of your daily responsibilities.”
Election-related topics to be covered include effective elections reporting; identifying mis- and dis-information; and COVID-19 reporting techniques. The workshops will be facilitated by experienced Ethiopian journalists and professors from leading Ethiopian schools of journalism. An American media specialist developed the curriculum for the five-day sessions.
The initiative is implemented by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communications Programs, with support from the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia, and in partnership with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) and Addis Ababa University’s School of Journalism and Communications.
In addition, experienced American media specialists will provide hands-on, tailored training at various Ethiopian newsrooms on investigative journalism techniques beginning in March 2021.
The United States has invested nearly $35 million to support Ethiopia’s efforts to organize, administer, and conduct free and fair elections. U.S. assistance is helping build the capacity of the NEBE, political parties, civil society, and independent media to contribute to a free, fair, and
peaceful electoral process, ensuring greater transparency and promoting meaningful participation among all citizens—with a focus on women, youth, and other traditionally marginalized groups. The United States is also supporting an international election observation effort.