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

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

157 newspapers attempted

157 newspapers attempted to subvert the core of this frame by apportioning some of the blame to opposition leaders who were contesting the outcome of the elections even though this subversion was negated by the overwhelming consistence of the BNL newspapers and Chronicle‟s arguments. 5.2.4.4 Human Interest and Empathy Just as the Electoral Process Frame, the Consequences Frame exhibits careful construction. The fact that it is only six paragraphs less than the Electoral Process Frame may indicate that this too was the preferred frame of the BNL newspapers and the Chronicle. The NPL stable did not contribute to this frame. This is not surprising considering that the frame was highly critical of the UDF and anticipated hardship for the citizens as an unfortunate outcome of the UDF‟s return to power. The frame was a collection of manifest problems in the post-election period which the newspapers traced back to the UDF. These problems were properly and neatly attributed to the UDF-led government. The problem definition and causal attributions permitted the BNL newspapers and the Chronicle to negatively evaluate the government from an ethical point of value. Even more important it permitted the newspapers to portray the ordinary citizens as the ultimate victims. For example, the escalation of violence, home invasions and robberies in urban neighbourhoods was presented as an outcome of the UDF‟s laxity on matters of security whose main victims would be the citizens. The rise in the prices of essential commodities would only hurt the ordinary citizens as well. Further, some citizens living in constituencies whose MPs were not UDF could not look forward to development due to the UDF‟s ". . . selective development mainly in constituencies where there have been UDF members of parliament.” (Daily Times, 1999e, p.2) In

158 addition, the UDF was reported to be “. . . firing civil servants who did not show enough support during the campaign period.” (Undani, 1999, p.6). The human interest aspect of this frame especially regarding the security aspects and the economic aspects including loss of livelihood must have made this frame particularly relevant to the newspapers‟ readers. Research in western media indicates the importance of „consequences‟ (including economic consequences) either as a news value or as a generic frame in the presentation of news. Further, such research suggests that news about politics and the economy is often framed in terms of conflict or in terms of the economic consequences of events, issues, and policies (see Gamson, 1992; Graber, 1988; McManus, 1994; Neuman, Just, Crigler, 1992). Semetko & Valkenberg (2000) According to Neuman, Just, Crigler, 1992, p.63) news producers often use the consequence frame to make an issue relevant to their audience (Gamson, 1992). It is worth noting that the most of the studies cited in the above paragraph used the Consequences Frame or the Economic Frame as generic frames rather than issue specific or emergent frames as used in this study. However, the power of the frame is still the same. The real consequences of economic hardship, lack of personal security and the loss of jobs were highly relevant issues that were intended to key into the empathetic aspect of the readers. Thus, this frame placed a human suffering aspect to the UDF victory encouraging empathy with those who were and would be victims. 5.2.4.5 Summary In framing the post-elections period in 1999, the newspapers revealed the political binaries that characterised the political context in Malawi. The BNL newspapers‟ commentaries continued to reveal a strong anti-UDF and anti-government slant. In this respect, they were joined by the Chronicle. Contrary to the conclusion which other

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