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

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

8.0 Introduction 239

8.0 Introduction 239 Chapter Eight Conclusion The research study was organised around two main research questions. The first was to compare and contrast the emergent or issue framing of political issues between newspapers and parliament. The second was to find out how ownership of newspapers and its alignment to political parties would affect the framing of political issues across three case studies spread out over a period of ten years. The investigation compared the way three sets of newspapers differentially performed in their commentary on the political issues in three post election periods against parliamentary framing in the same periods. The underlying aim was find out whether or not the newspapers‟ commentary on political issues would mirror framing of the political parties to which the newspapers owners were aligned as they were represented in parliament. Framing suggests that news media plays an important role in making certain public issues more salient than others while also providing a specific news angle that characterises those events (Entman, 1993, 2004; Gitlin, 1980; Iyengar, 1991; Shoemaker & Reese, 1996 and Tuchman, 1978). In this respect, the study has sought to address the extent to which press ownership is pivotal to framing of a post election period, and whether or not the press‟s role in a society undergoing democratisation is enhanced or hindered by its owners and those owners alignment to political parties. The four components of a frame as conceptualised by Robert Entman (1993) were central to the analysis of the data as frames were being detected in the corpora. By comparing press framing against parliamentary framing, the study sought to expose the convergence and divergence of framing in both corpora. In doing so, the study sought to

240 understand how the press have mediated the democratic debate in the emerging public space in Malawi. The study also demonstrated these similarities and differences, and how alignment of ownership to politics influenced the emergence of these frames. The general thrust of this chapter is that the frames emerging in the two arenas are a reflection of ownership interests and the shifting political interests of these owners. This is especially true for the first two case studies. Largely due to these elements of ownership and their political alignment, the press in Malawi since 1994 have been visible sites of contests between opposing political interests usually pitting the state against the opposition. Further, the chapter argues that this state of affairs has given rise to two types of journalism: “government” journalism and “opposition”. These were highly visible during the first two case studies. By the time of the third case study, a third type of journalism had begun to emerge. This is the “national interest” journalism. Further, the chapter will examine the implications of the findings on the press‟s role in a democratising society such as Malawi. It will examine the challenges in journalism as a profession which could make the profession vulnerable to political pressure. It will also discuss proposals that could free the press from the clutches and vagaries of ownership and its alliance with political parties. 8.1 Review of the Main Findings The newspapers under study framed the post-election periods in ways which were largely consistent with their owners‟ political alignment. The study has demonstrated that the coverage falls into three categories of “government”, “opposition” and “national interest” journalism. These forms of journalism are noted in chapter two of this thesis. By comparing the press‟s framing against that of the National Assembly, the study has been able to demonstrate that these categories represented contending centres of power

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