Trivialisation and then about Ethnic media


By Ankob Zuta,Blogger of De Birhan Blogspot


News International
phone hacking scandal continues to sequel in a funny way. Imagine this scandal happening in Ethiopia. What would have happened?

That is food for thought for you to ponder. But ask me what my opinion is about the Murdoch scandal. My answer would be based on Jurgen Habermas’ thought(t19 97)p opular for his stewardship and writings on public sphere, for him, in the ideal public sphere ,private issues aren’t discussed and therefore people develop their own thoughts on them unspoiled by already knowing what other people think. In short, he describes such a form of sphere where the focus is on individuals as trivial. Thus, News International’s type of journalism, a privacy invading p.p. hacking form of journalism, never been practiced since the times of penny press, could in short be assessed as trivialisation.

Let me head to the main issue for today: ethnic media.

I am reading a brand new book on a brand new topic. Written by Matthew D. Matsaganis, Vikki S.Katz and Sandra J. Ball-Rokeach in 2011, Understanding Ethnic Media Producers, Consumers and Societies, brings us this very new topic of ethnic media.It has five parts and nine chapters.

The preface begins by introducing us to the Gazette de Leyde,one of the very first ethnic newspapers published in the 1600 by French protestant refugees in Holland. Then goes to define ethnic media; it says, ethnic media are media that are produced by and for (a) immigrants, (b) racial, ethnic and linguistic minorities as well as (c)indigenous populations living across different countries.

On page 32, the book goes on to discuss about Fredrick Douglas’ North Star first published in 1847 and was instrumental in the enlightenment of African Americans and abolition of slave trade. On the same page, it cities the applaudable case of Native Americans, especially the Cherokee who had fought relocation in 1828.

It states that ethnic media play two major functions, connective function; connecting the immigrant to news and events in the home country and orientation function; orienting the new comer to their new community and country.

Ethnic media also play a huge role in the formation of ethnic identity and in how that identity is defined over time and in different geographic contexts. In chapter seven, it divides ethnic media organisations into six typologies; small scale, local operations (Addis Dimtse, Netsanet Le Ethiopia and Sweden and Negat Ethiopian Community Radio are some examples from our own ethnic media), Large ethnic media Corporations, the Multinational Media Enterprise , Transnational or Global Ethnic Media (Zee TV of India is an example in this case .We may take ESAT as a prime example of ours too), Public and non Profit Broadcasters, and Virtual Media Organisations. Then it says that when state policies support ethnic media, they do so through one of the five models: Integrationist Model-integrative model, Economic (Shallow Multiculturalism)-superficial, Divisive Model-state uses ethnicity to create tension and rivalry, Preemptive Model-state creating anti-immigrant unity media or pro integration, and Proselytism Model – the state or religious organisation forms a media via the lingua of minorities to do its aim. Geo-ethnic media are ethnic media that serve residents of geographically limited communities. As to the writers the major challenges of ethnic media are; attrition and poaching from the mainstream media, access to sources and resources, and discrimination. Finally the book forecasts that both from a producer’s and consumer’s perspective, ethnic media have a huge role to play. In their study conducted on some 10 countries on the availability of ethnic media in their respective countries, Sweden had the highest.

Some three years ago, I used to write for an Eastern European ethnic newspaper, and then all of a sudden I stooped, due to personal reasons. I mostly wrote about African and Ethiopian issues. At the point in time, I was in discussion with one of the founders of that Paper to begin our own ethnic media to but to no avail….

One of the highly budding and promising Ethiopian ethnic media is Ze Habesha Newspaper, found in Minnesota, United States. Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) is another. But I don’t know of any Ethiopian owned ethnic media in any part of the world that focuses on the larger immigrant population i.e. Africans or all immigrants at large. Language seems to be one of the major hindrances; although the intention itself is not there from the start.

Issues of my everyday concern such as freedom, equality, global justice, comfort and the like aren’t only a lacklustre of Africans in Africa – although Africa is in perils as a continent ; Africans, in the Diaspora are abused as well especially in the case of host – immigrants relationship. Ethiopians have historically led and fought for the rights and freedom of all oppressed people in Africa and beyond. Today, we are tiring with the nuts and bolts of our private life and our ‘starvingly repressive’ nation. But but…there is still a room in our head that thinks beyond that poor nation and families…we/I still think of my rights and equality in the West.I do want Africans in the diaspora to be connected in information and communication with their homes always,I want Africans to be aware of what is going on in the new countries that they have adopted as their new homes, I want Africans to debate, deliberate, discuss and enhance their civil and democratic rights as citizens of the world and their refugee countries, and finally I want us all as human beings to respect each other and live in this world in Liberté, égalité and fraternité. Therefore, should establishing an inter-continental ethnic media be a good solution ?

NB : This piece is not about the non Diasporic mainstream ethnic media which mostly are seen as conflict and narrow agenda spreaders.I will in the future write about ethnic media and conflict. The above one was solely about ethnic media founded by emigrants in their second homes.