Election Campaigns Framing in an Emerging Democracy: Horse race versus Issue Framing in Ghana

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Journal of Communications, Media & Society
Political communication literature has repeatedly documented various forms of framing election campaigns across democracies, although that on Africa, including Ghana, are few. Matters of interest to such studies concern issues, horse race, coverage tone and presidential candidates' media visibility. This paper presents some findings from a qualitative content analytical study that explored political campaign coverage of elections in the Ghanaian media and implications thereof within the context of political communication. Grounded in framing and gatekeeping theories, the study specifically focused on the relationship between two broad categories – issues and horse race framing – in the 2008 and 2012 election campaign coverage in Ghana. And with data from two state-owned and two privately-owned Ghanaian newspapers, the study analyses which categories dominated the press presentation of the various election campaigns. The study demonstrates that coverage of the two elections was issue-based with peace as the most covered issue. However, the data also appears to indicate that horse race has the potential to dominate Ghana's coverage of future elections.
Research Article