273 transform Malawian democratic institutions towards a better democracy. The informal broadcast system now in place needs to be examined in its totality to learn lessons that can be applied to the press. 8.7 Conclusion During the different milieu of the three case studies covered by this study, the relationship between journalism, newspaper owners and political parties dictated the way the press frames issues of political importance. Emerging out of a single party system of governance, the 1994 case study observed that the press was highly polarised with newspapers being allied either with the new ruling party or with the opposition. In this manner, the position of the newspapers on these political issues was highly reflective of relevant political parties‟ positions as revealed in parliamentary speeches. The 1999 case study revealed the continuing influence of owners on their newspapers with newspapers continuing to frame issues along party lines. There was a reversal in the manner of framing in 2004 with MPs taking cues from the editorial writers. All this can be traced to the changes in ownership and owners political re-alignment. The above state of affairs resulted in three forms of journalism in Malawi. The newspapers which basically supported the opposition political position exhibited the “opposition” model of journalism observed by some scholars of the African press such as Chuma (2006). The newspapers supporting the ruling elite exhibited the “government” model of journalism observed by Malawian media scholars (Chimombo & Chimombo, 1996). These two types of journalism exhibited the political binaries existing during the milieu of the 1994 and the 1999 case studies. However, freed from the burden of following political party-lines, all the newspapers exhibited an analytical position that refused to take cues from politicians but actually gave MPs in the National
274 Assembly cues. This type of journalism was labelled as the “national interest” model in accordance with Chuma (2007) conceptualisation. The study also observed the power of national culture and political culture in the interpretation of the emergent frames. The interpretation drew on strong references to metaphors and religion giving credence to the principle prevalent in frame theory that in order to be resonant a frame ought to resonate with the culture. This study has also argued that in order to nurture a vibrant press that serves the interests of the newspapers reading public, changes have to be put in place at the levels of media policy and practice. The press corps must develop an acceptable level of ethics that reflects its function in the national interest. Further, the ownership of the press must diversify with more owners who do not have political connections and interest. Issues of partisan interest in press ownership must be properly discussed and defined.