WHAT MAKES THE FRONT PAGE NEWS IN AN ELECTION YEAR: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE DAILY GRAPHIC AND DAILY GUIDE NEWSPAPERS, 2016.

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ABSTRACT

This study content analyzed the front page issues of the 2016 Daily Graphic and Daily Guide newspapers on what made the news in the 2016 election year, as regards factors influencing selection of stories, frames used in the coverage of political news as well as ownership and the influence it had on how front page news was covered in the 2016 election year.

From all 626 issues published in 2016, a total sample of 148 issues was drawn for the two newspapers. This proportion gave a fair representation of the population. A constructed week technique was used to sample front page stories by the Daily Graphic and Daily Guide on the kinds of stories published and the dominant frames used by both newspapers in the coverage of political stories. A composite week was developed to represent each month of the year.

The findings showed that both Daily Graphic and Daily Guide gave maximum front page attention to political issues particularly in the third quarter of the year when the elections drew closer. These stories were skewed in favor of the elite who were mainly politicians. In the coverage of political news, Daily Graphic and Daily Guide gave more prominence to electoral processes and issues compared to stories that were legal in nature, those concerned with economy and governance as well as corruption. Findings also revealed that the negative element and the element of personalization in a story increased the probability of it being published on the front page.

The pattern of stories with regards to how they were framed remained same in all three quarters of the year by both Daily Graphic and Daily Guide.

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION

            Background to the Study

One characteristic that is common among definitions of democracy is the role of elections which give citizens the power to choose their leaders and representatives. Elections are central to the very nature of contemporary democratic rule and provide a means by which governments are made answerable to the citizens (Bormann and Golder, 2013). An administration is classified as a democracy if the leader of the country is elected, if the number of parties competing are more than one, and finally if an opposition party has defeated the ruling government and has been allowed to take office (Cheibub, Ghandi & Vreeland, 2009). Dahl (1995) stated a list of eight required institutional guarantee for democracy which includes freedom of expression, right to vote and free and fair elections. Even though elections may not result in alternation of power, because they are participatory, competitive and legitimate, they still contribute to democratization by strengthening civil liberties in the society (Lindberg, 2006).

Ghana has experienced extended periods of military dictatorship since independence until 1993(Ayee,1997) and after twelve years of military rule under President John Jerry Rawlings and the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), multi-party presidential elections were held to return the country to constitutional rule in 1992. Since then, elections in Ghana have been held every four years with presidential and parliamentary elections being held at the same time generally on December 7. The only exception was 1992 when they were held on different dates (presidential held on 3rd November while parliamentary was held later on December 29).