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

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

133 evidence presented

133 evidence presented in this chapter indicates that the press in Malawi was largely unable to break free from the suffocating stranglehold of its owners and their alignment to political parties. Despite the promise held by the ushering in of the Second Republic, the press mediated the political issues of the day by reflecting the same political biases of their owners and these owners political alignment. This, in turn, constrained the ability of the press to provide the nation with sites for critical-rational debate for citizens. 4.6 Conclusion The first research question in this study relates to the frames used by both newspapers and parliament to frame the post-elections period in 1994. In this respect, six frames were identified in the newspapers and the parliamentary corpora in the 1994 post elections period. These are the Unity Frame, the Governance Frame and the Leadership Frame in the newspapers corpus. The parliamentary corpus had the Unity Frame, the Governance Frame and the Failed Government Frame. The chapter discussed the Unity Frames and the Governance Frames together revealing how both corpora reflected the political binaries that existed at that time pitting the ruling UDF against the MCP/AFORD alliance. Both sides were backed by sympathetic newspapers with the Nation and the Chronicle revealing partiality for the UDF‟s position, and the BNL newspapers revealing partiality for the MCP/AFORD alliance. Both sides also attempted to use frame construction devices that could have made their frames resonant. These frame tools drew on cultural values and news values. Further, the narratives in the frames revealed strong presences of problem definitions and moral evaluations. However, the frames revealed worryingly low levels of treatment recommendations to identified problems.

134 The second research question in this study relates to the influence of owners and their political alignment in the construction of frames in the newspapers. In this regard, the chapter has demonstrated that the press in Malawi, in the wake of the 1994 elections, remained captive to their owners‟ political alignment. The newspapers understudy closely reflected the framing of the relevant political parties in their own framing. There was a clear divide between those newspapers which supported the agenda of the new government and those supporting the agenda of the opposition. Further, the dominance of elite cues in newspapers‟ editorials reveals the dominance of elite discourse in democratic deliberation. Clearly, the political binaries reflected in the frames restricted the quality of debate and constrained those who contributed to it.

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