Africa News Channel

Media History in Ethiopia

The history of media sector in Ethiopia dates back more than a century. The modern printing machine arrive in Africa in 1600.  Some historical evidences suggest that the printing materiel produced in 1586s. The written news sheet produced by Blata Gebre Egziabhere around 1890 probably preceded both of the above printing papers. Le Semeur d’Ethiopie (1905-1911) and Aimero (1902-1903) are widely considered as the original news papers.

Emperor Minilik, who is the founder of modern Ethiopia, played a significant role in establishing diplomatic relations with European states. This helped many foreigners to establish printing presses in the capital city, Addis Ababa. The starting of Minilik II School, first in the country had its share of increasing the literates among the people to enjoy the printed word. 

Haile Selassie I evinced interest in the establishment of a printing press as well as the publication of newspapers and educational materials. During World War I, with the help of the allied powers, he disseminated the news to counter the German propaganda through an Amharic newspaper called ‘Yetor Wore’ “War News”. 

Berhanena Selam an Amharic newspaper was also founded in 1923 with its circulation to 500 copies and first monthly magazine consisting different European Languages including an Amharic section was founded by Mr. Weizinger. Until the invasion of Italy, many small hand presses were continued to be imported from various countries of Europe. The government press published at least 30 books in Amharic. 

‘L’ Ethiopie Commericale; a French business weekly, was established in 1932. In 1935 two newspapers were established, a quarterly Kasate Birhan (The Light Giver) and a political weekly Atibiya Kokeb (The Morning Star) but short-lived only for brief period. 

During the Italian invasion the printing facilities were put disordered and it took some time to restart it after liberation. However, after taking some shape a number of weeklies, monthlies and periodicals stared being published in Addis Ababa and in Asmara. News papers such as Addis Zemen, Sendek Alamachen were launched in 1941. Publication of other popular two papers (Ethiopian Herald and Ye zareyito Ethiopia) was started in the subsequent years. At this point the traditional means of message dissemination to the masses, drum biting and verbal shouting, totally replaced by news papers. In 1942, an official Negarit Gazetha was founded. Until 1990’s running the mass media in general was the responsibility and function of the government. 

The World federation of Lutheran Churches broadcaster, Radio Voice of the Gospel aired religious and entertaining materials. Short wave broadcasting was resumed in 1941 and then in the subsequent years Radio Ethiopia operated from three locations –Addis Ababa,Harar and Asmara- broadcast in six languages. The Italians handed over the installation, but retrieved it soon following the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1936.  The first provisional radio station was inaugurated in 1933 in a contract signed with an Italian Company.   Educational Media Agency owned by Ministry of education broadcasts educational programs in @@uy�Z�