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Chapter Five 1999 Post-Elections Period - Leicester Research ...

Chapter Five 1999 Post-Elections Period - Leicester Research ...

113 the 1994 newspapers

113 the 1994 newspapers corpus, the Governance Frame had 25 (29.1% of 86) while the Unity Frame had 39 (45.3% of 86) (See Table 4.1). The main reason for this diminution is because the BNL newspapers basically chose to de-emphasize governance. In the parliamentary corpus, the MCP/AFORD alliance chose to ignore it altogether. The Chronicle and the Nation had a combined 19 coded paragraphs (59.4% of 32) in 17 articles (68% of 25). The BNL newspapers had 13 paragraphs (40.6%) in eight articles (9.3% of 25) (See Table 4.1). A superficial observation may not reveal much difference in the way the two sets of newspapers covered this issue. But when considering that both Chronicle and the Nation were weekly newspapers with limited circulation and that the BNL stable had a daily newspaper and a weekly newspaper, it becomes clear that the BNL newspapers played down the importance of governance issues. Of course, as already noted in the preceding discussion, the reason was that governance was being discussed in a manner that was highly negative to the MCP‟s regime. When the BNL newspapers offered comments on the Governance Frame, it was always with a view to depreciating the benefits of multiparty politics and expressing its alien nature to the Malawian situation. 4.3.3.3 Factors Affecting Magnification and De-emphasis An important issue in the question of magnification and de-emphasis is what factors were at play in these processes. One factor relates to the BNL newspapers‟ market share compared to the Nation and the Chronicle which were just appearing on the newspapers market. The BNL newspapers enjoyed considerable marketing advantages including access to all cities and major towns. Further, at this time, the BNL newspapers were the only newspapers with their own printing facilities.

114 In contrast, the Nation and the Chronicle did not have the advantage of strong financial backing enjoyed by the BNL newspapers. The Chronicle was a weekly for the rest of its life. In 1994, the Nation published twice a week. The combined effect of this state of affairs is that in terms of circulation, the BNL stable dominated the newspapers market with higher circulation. The question of numbers also played a major part in the parliamentary framing. The MCP/AFORD alliance had 91 seats in the 177 seats National Assembly in 1994 compared to the UDF 84 seats. Using their superiority in numbers, the alliance had elected the Speaker and his two deputies from amongst their own. This gave them considerable power in setting the agenda and controlling the debate in the National Assembly. Further, assuming that the AFORD MPs sympathised with some anti-MCP frames, they could not very well have promoted these because they were in a parliamentary alliance with the MCP. Thus the AFORD MPs moderated criticism of the MCP and diminished the prominence of the Governance Frame and the Failed Government Frame discussed in the section below. 4.3.3.4 Priming - Culturally Resonant Framing In order for a frame to resonate with the public, it needs to be routed in the culture of the people. Goffman (1981, p.63) notes that: “Frames are a central part of a culture and are institutionalized in various ways”. Snow and Benford (1988, p. 210) observe that culturally resonant frames provide “narrative fidelity”. In the case of the African media, what is “culture”? Bourgault (1995) suggests that some of the cultural values that inform journalistic norms in the African media include group orientation over individual orientation, continuity, harmony and balance, which “require the individual to negotiate personal needs into the framework of the group”

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