The news media and democracy in Ghana (1992-2000)

Dzisah, W.S. 2008. The news media and democracy in Ghana (1992-2000). PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design

TitleThe news media and democracy in Ghana (1992-2000)
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsDzisah, W.S.

The study critically examines the role played by the news media in a modern African democracy. The issues of democracy and the theories that drive them are mostly either Euro-centric or Anglo-American. The perspective offered by this thesis showed that Africa has a unique system which calls for a hybridised approach to the study of media and democracy. The functioning of a state-owned media, insulated from
governmental control by the 1992 Ghana Constitution alongside privately-owned media is a phenomenon worth the undertaking.
What the study has done was an engagement with normative theories of media and democracy to determine whether or not the news media and more particularly, the newspaper media contribute to democratic development of Ghana. In this context, a comparative analytical study of the Daily Graphic and the Ghanaian Chronicle, state and private entities respectively, underpinned the enquiry into the possible influences on elections, checks on democratic accountability and promotion of multiparty politics. Crucially, Ghana's return to the path of multiparty constitutional democracy since 1992, has potentially equipped the news media with muscles to engage the state managers in ways that may significantly reduce the incidence of power abuse.
With some degree of democratic consolidation, the focus of the news media, and even political activists, has significantly shifted towards the ensuring of democratic accountability and responsibility, and administrative transparency. Undoubtedly, the newspaper media as the `Fourth Estate' has a constitutional mandate in Ghana, for ensuring that political power-wielders operate within the standards required for `good governance'. An insight into how the exploits of the newspaper press acts as a catalyst for debate, deliberation and argumentation leading to opinion formation, in the political and democratic sphere in Ghana has been undertaken. This arguably has had an influence more widely in the continent of Africa.
Within the framework of unearthing the dynamics of the newspaper press role in the democratic process for the period 1992.2000, a combination of methods were employed to analyse the research data. Importantly, the findings arising from the investigation, informed by the methodological strategy of triangulation, has assisted in addressing most of the research questions using the critical comparative framework. The effectiveness of the Ghanaian media in the democratic process is circumscribed by deep partisanships that wash over the political landscape. However, the bifurcation in the newspaper press offered by private/state ownership and control has arguably been a major contribution to the development of democracy as it allows for pluralism and diversity. This therefore defies the Western-held view that state-owned newspapers are an anathema to democratic development and progress. A major finding emerging from this study has been the combination of two different models of news media ownership contributing to the building of democracy in an African country. The emergence of findings in relation to the role of the state/private dichotomy in newspapers all promoting multiparty democracy in Ghana in particular constituted modest contributions to this field of study and may open the door into wider channels of enquiry into the news media and democracy paradox.

PublisherUniversity of Westminster
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