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

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

249 national life. The

249 national life. The events in the real world arise out of, and are controlled by political and economic factors prevailing in the larger environment (Vliegenthart and Roggeband, 2007, p.299). Debates in various forums and public opinion formation do not take place in a vacuum. All kinds of larger societal developments are relevant and are likely to affect debates and public opinion. These should be taken into account to get a complete picture of the debate as D‟Angelo (2002, p.882) argues “. . . news stories purveyor issues and events based on realities that the framing process has to some extent created.” Norris, Kern and Just (2003, p.294) also identify real world events as key in the framing process. In the case of this study, the events following the 1994, 1999 and 2004 elections are the keys (See Appendix VII). For example, in 1994, the nation was preoccupied with attempting to answer the questions raised by the regional preferences exhibited by the voters at the polls. Further, Malawians were just coming to grips with the change of government and governance system. Learning the new system and issues of unity were at the fore. In the 1999 case study, the violence following the election, the poorly managed election and the economic challenges facing the nation were the issues which drew the attention of framers. In the 2004 case study, the standoff between new President Bingu wa Mutharika on the one hand, and his party and former president Bakili Muluzi preoccupied the nation. Other issues included the state of the economy and the mismanaged election. 8.2.3 Political Parties The power of political parties over the editorial writers flows through the owners. Political parties have influence over the owners because they enable the owners to access important political positions (See Appendix VII). The UDF lost an allied owner

250 when Rob Jamieson changed the Chronicle‟s editorial line to one that advocated for more human rights. However, the most important example is Aleke Banda, who was the proprietor of the NPL newspapers. Obviously, he owed his position as a senior cabinet minister to his membership in the UDF. When he became disillusioned by the UDF, the UDF‟s influence with the NPL newspapers was lost. The MCP lost its influence over the BNL newspapers when ownership passed on to the late dictator‟s family. The motive for severing ties with the MCP was not known. What is true is that none of the members of the late dictator‟s family were prominent in any political party including the MCP. Obviously, there was little to be gained by continuing to align with the MCP. The above is in line with what other media scholars (Patel, 2000, Chimombo and Chimombo, 1996 and Chipangula, 2000) observed about the press and political parties in Malawi that newspaper appeared to be established with propaganda purposes ahead of profit or serving the public sphere. Beyond the above, the study has established the role played by political parties in the actual contents of frames. The study has noted the close similarities between the frames emerging from the National Assembly to those emerging out of relevant newspapers. In particular, the 1994 case study noted the servile nature with which the newspaper editorial writers mimicked the rhetoric of politicians. As Wagner (2010, p.142) argues, in the framing of issues, “. . . political parties provide citizens the opportunity to choose between competing values.” Thus, this study found that political parties often defined the issues at stake in the framing contest, especially in 1994 and 1999. In 2004, in particular, Mutharika‟s resonant framing of his economic agenda influenced framing in such a way that newspapers were compelled to lead a discussion on the challenges of a deteriorating economy and the leadership wrangles dominating the political scene.

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