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Framing Political Communication in an African Context: A Comparative Analysis of Post-Election Newspaper Editorials and Parliamentary Speeches in Malawi

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posted on 16.09.2011, 10:32 by Japhet Ezra July Mchakulu
The study compares and examines parliamentary rhetoric against newspapers editorials in Malawi to establish whether or not there are parallels in the way political issues are presented in both arenas. The study intends to establish whether or not newspapers in Malawi provide critical and analytical voices for newspaper readers or whether or not they simply reflect the political positions of their owners’ political parties by reflecting those political parties’ rhetoric in parliament. The study uses three case studies. Specifically, these are the one hundred days following 1994, 1999 and 2004 elections. Newly elected governments tend to use the early days of their election into office to articulate and lay the foundations of implementing their policies. The study uses frame theory analysis as a theoretical and analytical tool. The four main components of a frame: Problem Definition, Causal Interpretation, Moral Evaluation and Treatment Recommendation are used to detect frames in the corpora. Data were coded in accordance with the grounded theory method. Findings indicate that in 1994 and 1999, newspaper editorial writers framed political issues by reflecting the positions of their owners. However, in the 2004 case study, while the newspapers’ framing of political issues did not differ from parliamentary framing, changes in ownership and owners’ political re-alignment affected framing. The newspapers no longer reflected the position of the political parties, there was no division along political party-lines, and they did not take cues from parliament The study contributes to the study of political communication in Malawi by studying frames emerging from editorial and parliamentary discourse. Further, it contributes to a further understanding of linkages between issue-specific frames and generic frames in the African context.



Campbell, Vincent; Gunter, Barrie

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University of Leicester

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