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

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

49 newspapers perceived

49 newspapers perceived to be too critical to government. Further, Cammack (2000) and Patel (2000) note the government‟s removal of advertising from these newspapers and the Chronicle because of this perceived critical stance. Another aspect of this set of literature is an attempt to establish impartiality and critical analysis of the political issues in the editorial policies of various newspapers in the country. Patel (2000, p.158-185), using a qualitative content analysis study, attempted to establish the independence of individual newspapers during the 1999 election. In the end, she determined that only the Nation could be termed as being editorially independent of its owner‟s political alignment. The third set of literature covering the media and coverage of political issues relate to content and discourse analysis that focus on particular political problems. Usually the aim of these studies was to understand how a particular problem was covered. Chimombo & Chimombo (1996, p.155-180) concluded that in the transition period between 1992 and 1994 political cartoons had increasingly began to reflect the political debate in the democratic space and that representation of political debate through cartoons would continue to be a general feature of Malawian newspapers. Chirambo (1998, p.195-216) studied discourse in cartoons and concluded that cartoons complement the press in its role of facilitating the democratic debate. He concluded that political cartoons in newspapers are akin to editorials contributing significantly to the culture of democracy. Thus, political discourse in newspaper cartoons was seen as an extension of the newspapers‟ democratic function and a manifestation of freedom of speech and expression. However, even this finding was tempered by the manifest political bias reflecting ownership alignment with political parties.

50 Chipangula (2004:23), in her comparative study of discourse in the single party era and the multiparty era, found a more diverse critical analysis of political issues in the multiparty era than in the single party era. Rubin (2008) examined the Malawian press discourse of the government‟s handling of the famine in 2002. He concluded that: . . . Malawi could be characterized as a liberal democracy - albeit a poor democracy in monetary terms. Most democratic problems were related to a lack of resources rather than manipulation, coercion and violence. . . . citizens were enjoying the basic civil liberties and the political culture in Malawi seemed to thrive comparably well relative to other countries in the region. This also holds true with respect to media freedom which enjoyed a high degree of constitutional protection, and the press has been given room to diversify by a government that in general has kept an arm‟s length (p. 57). The fourth cluster of studies in the literature on the media and coverage of political issues is related to quantitative, and a few qualitative, content analysis studies on the coverage of elections. Every election beginning with the 1994 to the 2009 elections have been examined in this manner by media scholars or other media professionals. Findings in the literature generally argue that the state run MBC is generally biased in favour of the ruling party and the incumbent president (Patel, 2000, p.174-177; Neale, 2004, p.185; Manda, 2004, p.175-176; Chiyamwaka, 2009) found that media coverage of the 1999 election on the state run MBC was generally in favour of the ruling UDF and the incumbent President Bakili Muluzi. These scholars attribute this state of affairs to the desire by governments to control the most powerful media. Chiyamwaka (2009, p.6) quotes Tim Neale, Commonwealth of Nations advisor to the MEC Media Monitoring Unit, as saying:

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