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Journalism, election campaigns and democracy in Ghana

Afful, Ebo 2016. Journalism, election campaigns and democracy in Ghana. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Political communication literature has documented various forms of framing election campaigns although that on Ghana are few. These included issues, horse race, coverage tone and presidential candidates’ media visibility leading to an incumbency advantage. These are normally attributed to news values that reflect political power such as relevance and politicians’ elite status. Hence, this study is intended to explore explanation for the trend of campaign coverage in Ghana, a developing democracy, using four Ghanaian newspapers in 2008 and 2012. Through content analysis and in-depth interviews, the thesis grounded in gatekeeping and framing theories, has demonstrated that: (1) the state-owned newspapers did not give an incumbency advantage (2), the coverage was issues-based (3), election stories were more positive in tone (4), there was media bias and (5) politicians paid money (‘soli’) to journalists for coverage. These empirical findings show that during the campaigns, gatekeeping and framing practices were driven more likely by the ‘soli’ norm rather than the norm of objective and impartial journalism. Thus the study offers a new explanation why there was no incumbency advantage, why the press bias, why coverage was largely positive in tone and why issues-based framing. However, horse race appears to have the potential to dominate Ghana’s elections coverage. The conclusions of this study, one argues, were as a result of interplay between candidates’ desire not only to dominate the newspapers but also to be projected positively and journalists’ desire to make money from politicians. Simply put: stories of elections published by the newspapers were defined by ‘soli’ journalism which promoted ‘protocol’ journalism. This means most election stories that reached electorates were from speeches of candidates. Therefore, the stories lacked critical interpretation of campaign events raising issues of capacity of the press in Ghana to function effectively as public sphere contributing to participatory democracy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 April 2017
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 09:47

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