For Immediate Release: Addis Neger ceases publication
Washington DC – Following legal and political harassment and intimidation by the Ethiopian government, Addis Neger Publishing announced that its major publication, Addis Neger Newspaper, ceased circulation. (more…)
Washington DC – Following legal and political harassment and intimidation by the Ethiopian government, Addis Neger Publishing announced that its major publication, Addis Neger Newspaper, ceased circulation. Saturday November 28, 2009 saw the final edition of the paper.
“Addis Neger, one of the few leading independent voices in Ethiopia, became the victim of yet another crackdown on free speech and the freedom of the press in Ethiopia,” said Mesfin Negash, Managing Editor of the Paper. “Our newspaper was one of the country’s best examples of what independent journalists with an internal capacity to act free of constraints can accomplish in being the platform for intake and synthesis of public opinion. Unfortunately, a government which had a habit of wantonly and aggressively stepping into the locus and crystallization of public opinion as both a platform controller and dictator had made our task impossible.”
Three of Addis Neger’s editors left the country this week after the paper learnt that the government was preparing criminal charges against its top editors, reporters and owners based on the new anti-terror law and the criminal code. The decision of the publishing company to close down the publication was made to protect its owners and journalists from this massive onslaught by the government. “This is the culmination of months of persecution, harassment and black propaganda by the Ethiopian government on Addis Neger,” said Abiye Teklemariam, the paper’s Executive Editor. “The preparation to use the new anti-terror law against our journalists and editors was just throwing the last wood in the chimney.”
Addis Neger was established in September 2007 with an ideal of bringing justificatory discourse to the Ethiopian public sphere. Its twin editorial plans had been “the Idea of Public Reason” and “Integrity and Independence.” In the last two years, these pillars served as the backbones of the paper’s interaction with the public, helping it to register phenomenal growth in its circulation, influence and investment.
Addis Neger also introduced a new model of media ownership. Founded by six former journalists who were victims of the media crackdown following post election crisis in 2005, it was expanding its ownership base to other journalistic members of the paper. It was hoped that the model would bring sustainability to the press as an institution.
Addis Neger Publishing Company promised to be back to the media scene in the future. According to Mesfin Negash, the company would venture into a new multimedia media format whenever is possible. “We hope that things will change and we will be back to our country. But our immediate plan is to ensure the physical security of our staff members. Let’s keep the spirit of freedom alive.”