Addis Standard: the magazine that can speak its mind

431959_475199105894784_1538702168_nRepeatedly since 2005, Ethiopians have witnessed the closing of many newspapers, arrests and imprisonments of some prominent journalists and bloggers, and exile of others. This year, the country ranks 137 out of 179 in Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index, going down 10 ranks partly due to the excessive use of the 2009 anti-terrorism law which terms are so vague that it is repeatedly applied to prevent journalists from reporting.

In this context, the monthly publication Addis Standard is a real curiosity. Created in early 2011, published only in English and sold at a fairly high price (15 ETB), Addis Standard seems to never miss an occasion to question all things wrong about the government’s decisions and failures. Its publications have indeed recently dealt with corruption, political exploitation of the Muslim community, women’s rights, and restrictive developmental laws. Far from hiding its agenda, the magazine, available all over Addis Ababa and online, features these topics on catchy front pages.

On September 24, the latest of a series of pieces on authoritarianism and totalitarianism offered a lengthy definition of totalitarianism which, argues the columnist Taye Negussie, fits Ethiopia in many ways. Last August, the editor-in-chief wrote a piece about Prime Minister Meles “the despot”, as described by a professor of political sciences at Addis Ababa University who would rather remain anonymous “for fear of reprisal (anticipated or eminent)”. These, and many other examples, don’t reflect the usual content of an Ethiopian newspaper.

The objective of the magazine is soberly defined as to “focus on current socio-political and socio-economical aspects of both domestic and international affairs”, yet in the Ethiopian context, it does more than that: it provokes a debate that is otherwise rather not permitted. Although one can only celebrate this initiative, it remains to be explained how the publication and its contributors are capable of expressing themselves so bluntly when The Reporter‘s editor-in-chief, for instance, was arrested on October 9 on unknown charges. Addis Standard‘s aura is limited by its English only (rather than Amharic) version but is it enough to justify the “special” treatment?

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9 Responses to Addis Standard: the magazine that can speak its mind

  1. Dear Sir/madam,

    we would like thank you for your fair and objective assessment of our publication, which comes as a huge boost to our moral to work hard and better! While we are at it, we also would like to assure you that our courage to write doesn’t justify any “special treatment.” To our knowledge this tricky subject need a deeper and honest reflection. Thank you again.

    • gtspcb says:

      Dear Addis Standard Team,

      Thanks’ for your comment. As for the “special treatment”, I’m sure we will all agree that speaking one’s mind in Ethiopia’s current political context is tricky and often leads to downright detention. This being said, it is true that your courage is refreshing and we all hope that you are always given the chance to carry on, and that critical thinking never fails you to deal with complex issues.
      In the meantime, I’ll definitely keep on reading Addis Standard!

      • Dear Sir/Madam,

        Thank you again. The issue of how best to apply freedom of the press is something we all need to get into an unambiguous conclusion, no matter how hard it may seem. We hope our continues engagement with people like you help us redefine that. Please do stay in contact with us. We would also love to read more of your blogs.

        Addis Standard team

  2. Yigerem says:

    It is nice to see someone who truly understood the values of Addis Standard magazine has decided to speak up. Addis Standard is the only media outlet in Ethiopia of today that is living to the values of its name. Its spirit is jerking our media gurus off from the tiny bubble they have built around themselves and found their comforts in. There are other publications trying to follow suit too, which should be lauded as a steady progress in media trend, but they need to do a proper study of who they are established for and who their journalistic integrations are serving. For the last 21 years we have had media professionals come and go but unable to work free due to the politics surrounding their work, but most importantly unable to break free from their self-imposed little knowledge which is obsessed with what is going bad in this country. Addis Standard takes the courage to call a spade a spade too, but the difference is its courage goes far beyond that to show how things can be done better. If we care about a better Ethiopia, then it is this kind of media that we should let to thrive. Go team Addis Standard!

    • gtspcb says:

      Thanks’ for your comment and the many good arguments you’ve raised. A deeper analysis of where the Ethiopian media stands today needs to be done and it will probably be the topic of a future post on this blog.

    • Dear Yigerem,

      Thank you for the positive vibe. It is readers like you that help us become better. Stay connected.

      Addis Standard team

      • Getachew Kassa says:

        I found Taye’s articles very interesting in terms of addressing timely issues affecting Ethiopia and providing empirical observations based on sociological theories. I say continue doing this.
        Getachew kassa N. , Social Anthropologist in African Studies Centro, AAU

  3. Samuel says:

    Dear Addis Standard Team,

    I enjoyed reading your monthly publication. I am not used to other publications, but Addis Standard grabbed my attention through its scholarly and researched articles along the journalistic ethics. The titles are bold, current and balanced based on prevailing facts. I specially like Dr. Taye’s social, cultural and globalized themes in the country. I apperciate Dr. Taye and the editorial team courage to cover sensitive issues which are left untouched or as taboo to talk are my favourite articles.

    • Thinking South says:

      Dear Samuel,
      Thanks for your comment. You might want to comment directly on Addis Standard’s website in order to get a reply from the team. Anyway, thanks for visiting the blog!!

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