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

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

253 corps that did not

253 corps that did not have deep ethical understanding or commitment to the ethics of journalism (See Appendix VII). Coupled with the power of politically connected owners, this lack of understanding of the journalism ethics resulted in a highly mercenary press corps willing to sell its services to the highest bidder (Cammack, 2000; Patel, 2000; Chimombo and Chimombo, 1996). The second, aspect of journalistic culture which shaped the emergent frames has to do with the mix of individual journalists, newspaper ownership and political alignment. In short, the symbiotic relationship between politicians, newspaper owners and journalist tended to place partisanship at the heart of the journalism culture prevailing in Malawi between 1994 and 1999. As noted in a previous section of this chapter, the overriding concern of civil society and political activists in 1994 was to rid the country of the single party system. Thus, between 1992 and 1993 the emerging independent press lent itself wholeheartedly to the cause of multiparty politics. The journalistic culture emerging after the 1994 elections was one that divided the press corps between the main forces - those who had campaigned for multiparty politics and those who had been employed in the state/party information apparatus before 1994. This, in turn, reflected the political binaries prevalent in the country. The result was that sharply divided framing emerged out of the framing process. The third aspect, which is drawn from western aspects of journalism culture, is a sense of greater good. In 1994 and 1999, this aspect seemed to have been markedly lacking among Malawi‟s journalists as journalists willingly or otherwise served the partisan interests of their patron politicians. This resulted in the clearly partisan framing in those post-election periods. However, the 2004 case study has revealed an analysis of the facts and a willingness to evaluate political issues in the national interest. Thus the advocacy journalism which was prevalent in 1994 and 1999 gave way to more critical

254 and analytical national interest journalism. While in 1994 and 1999 journalists were willing to voice fragmented truth and stridently present them, in 2004 they were more prepared to commit to contextualisation and depth. It is clear that in this respect, ownership played a deciding role in changing the journalistic culture by freeing journalists of their obligation to politicians. In short, as some frame theory scholars (Entman, 2004, p.11; Brown, 2010, p.46) have argued professional journalistic culture shapes the relation between the media and political actors. This, in turn, shapes the content of emergent frames. Clearly, the closeness of Malawi‟s press to centres of political power resulted in sharply divided frames reflecting existing political binaries, especially during the 1994 and 1999 post election period. Thus, as Malawian journalism evolves, it is hoped that a greater sense of objectivity and fairness rooted in sound ethics will emerge. Further, as will be noted in a subsequent section, a more diversified ownership of newspapers without political affiliation will enable a more objective press to emerge. One can also hope that deepening awareness of their ethical responsibility to the Malawian people added to the “national interest” journalism emerging out of the 2004 post-election period. 8.3 Framing Tools This study took place within the broader milieu of Malawi‟s Second Republic which is characterised by multiparty politics and regular general elections every five years. Regarding Frame theory and its use in Africa, the Cameroonian scholar Eko (2004) argues that it is difficult for researchers to use the theory in Sub-Saharan Africa the way it is used in the West because the media in most countries in that region are not free. However, Eko (2004, p.126-127) points out that in repressive societies framing takes place within the context of “defiant, combat, oppositional or guerrilla” journalism

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