Reading news contents amongst Ethiopian online newspapers is a nuisance. The local dailies and weeklies printed newspapers are in even bigger mess as they never update their content regularly. I know this because I am a news groupie and I would rather buy or rent the likes of Addis Admass and Sub-Saharan Informer on street from vendors than reading them online. I haven’t found similar progress of news on the newspaper and on their online version in ages.  I even cancelled some of the papers from my favorite pages and I am sucker for convenience. But do not be misguided that I am not requiring them to do some shovelware journalism.

My relation with online newspapers went something like this: on 2006 I started to read some Ethiopian newspaper online I used to have a fleeting look at some of the pages and their headlines. When these newspapers went online, they used to inform me some good staff right there (Addis Admass is an example)  or they used to refer to something covered on other websites, radio and or television. Sometimes, they used to have some attention grabbing headlines, which had cause me to go to the next links for details.

But these days when I go to the main Ethiopian newspapers sites (with the exception of the Reporter and Addis Fortune) and browse through what interests me it is becoming tough to get some new info on their sites. It is rather easy to get the breaking news via facebook or my RSS feed. When I find an interesting story online which has something to with Ethiopia, I can read it and click through immediately to read other sources of information not Ethiopian newspapers websites.

On the rare occasion I do check on the websites of a newspaper like Addis Admas, I am always left feeling disappointed. The quality of the website and their online reporting is shocking, I don’t like their story mix, their news is not news as it is not updated at least in accordance with their weekly edition and there isn’t much else. Most importantly news is never updated online as often as the story requires .Beside these I cannot get every single piece of relevant information online that is available in a newspaper.

I am not asking to get every content for free and I do understand the pressure of operating a newspaper in Ethiopia but there must be some sort of standard for carry on their online presence. I think this is an adequate amount of problem not to click on local online newspapers. I do believe these local online newspapers will not manage a click. If they do only because internet usage is low in Ethiopia and because people living outside Ethiopia are really interested in Ethiopia’s matter even it is old. But consider this: the people who read the paper are the people who are most likely going to become internet users, if they are not ones already. Do you think these pages will manage a click? I do not think so.

I do urge you local online newspapers the next generation of potential newspaper readers is growing up with facebook as their main communication forum. You’d better start adapting it.

Online newspapers can be used to create a very targeted, efficient and result-driven campaign that would bring measurable and clear results, spread over days. And, once again, just because the target audience does not yet have access to the internet, it does not mean that it never will.

On every Saturdays I remember how people were hungry for well-reported and relevant news of Addis Neger.

I believe that never change for Addis Neger folks are smart to divert their newspaper readers to online readers.

Though it is tough to access from Ethiopia I have enjoyed reading it along with other blogs because I know the way of opening the can. Do you want me to tell you this?  No, no, I am not going to tell you these ways as I do not know who is reading this piece.

Anyway to get back to my point: just because local online newspaper readers are not as many as newspapers readers offline does not mean that the media company needs to holdup updating their websites . But this must change. It must get online, build strong presence and grab markets share there while it still can. What do you think?

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