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Political communication in an emerging democracy: a comparative analysis of media coverage of two presidential administrations in the fourth republic of Ghana

By Margaret Ivy Amoakohene

Abstract

This thesis compares newspaper coverage of two constitutional governments in Ghana's Fourth Republic: President Rawlings' National Democratic Congress (NDC) and President Kufuor's New Patriotic Party (NPP). It puts coverage in perspective using The Four Theories of the Press as an overarching background to examine and discuss the socio-political environment of news production highlighting some antecedent factors capable of influencing the process. The study uses the sociology of news production with emphases on the social organisation o f news work focusing on source-reporter relations to explain news-making and influences exerted on the media. Grounded in these theoretical models, the study investigates whether and how differences between the two administrations' media relations affected the\ud quality and amount of political news coverage by the two newspapers.\ud \ud Content and document analyses are employed to gather data from two newspapers: the state-owned Daily Graphic and the privately owned Ghanaian Chronicle, and some documents of selected state and government organisations. These documents contain important material relating to the media and government such as legal instruments and other constitutional provisions governing journalistic practice in Ghana. Using these newspapers and documents as the main sources of data, the study analyses the relationship between the mass media and government during parts of the NDC and NPP regimes: 1993-1994 and 2001-2002.\ud \ud On the whole, fewer political stories/items are published in Period 1 (1993-1994) than Period 2 (2001-2002), and the Ghanaian Chronicle carries more political items than the Daily Graphic. The study finds that measurement of indicators such as size, direction and tone of political stories suggest systematic bias of the two newspapers. Whereas Graphic's bias favours ruling administrations, Chronicle's does not necessarily favour any of the two regimes but is rather against the NDC as a political party and regime.\ud \ud The study finds newspaper coverage concentrates less on key political actors than on their political parties. Furthermore, in both newspapers and for the two study periods, "journalistic newsgathering" exceeds "information subsidies" especially in the Ghanaian Chronicle and more so during the second period of the study. The study finds relations between Ghanaian political news sources and reporters fit into the separate source-reporter role option of Gieber and Johnson's (1961) three-role typology: neither characterised as negotiations/mutual exchanges nor manipulation but as a relationship of mutual mistrust and suspicion. Evidence of this is the minimal use of official news sources implying low incidence of information subsidies. The study thus indicates that relations between political sources and reporters do not constitute cardinal determinants of political news.\ud \ud In conclusion, the study shows that political news and the prominence given to it are more the result of relations between political systems (environmental factors) and the media than anything else. Consequently, analyses of newspaper content must be contextualised within local environmental conditions even if conceptualised within global perspective

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/7409

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