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Media ownership and news framing: an analysis of HIV/AIDS coverage by Ugandan press

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Applying framing theory, the present research analyzes trends in Ugandan news coverage and the prominent issue frames for HIV/AIDS-related stories. In order to determine the influence of other factors, such as media ownership and journalist origin, nearly 800 articles, from 2000 to 2004, were gathered from the major private newspaper and government-owned newspaper in Uganda. After systematic sampling, 365 articles constitute the sample. The results indicate that print news coverage of HIV and AIDS followed a non-linear trajectory, declining from 2000–2002 and then increasing from 2003–2004. Curative medicine emerged as the most prominent issue frame. Higher-risk behaviour was the least prominent issue frame overall. The ‘solutions’ issue frame nearly doubled in prominence from 2000–2004, while the HIV-prevention frame decreased from 2000–2002 and then rebounded from 2003–2004. Concerning HIV-related topics, the private newspaper included more features, printed lengthier articles, incorporated a greater variety of news frames, and published more articles by foreign journalists than the government-owned newspaper. The private newspaper employed the ‘HIV-prevention,’ ‘action,’ and ‘victims’ frames more often than the government-owned newspaper. Journalists at the government-owned newspaper adopted a ‘solutions’ frame more often than their private-press counterparts. Though foreign journalists were more likely than local journalists to employ the HIV-prevention frame, additional tests revealed that the news organisation for which the journalists worked contributed to issue framing to a greater extent than did either a local or foreign reporting origin. Local (Ugandan) journalists working for the two news organisations differed in their tendencies to apply the HIV-prevention, action, victims, and tragedy frames in news stories on HIV and AIDS, with journalists at the private newspaper using these frames more often than did journalists at the government-owned newspaper.
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Keywords: Africa; content analysis; framing theory; health behaviour; journalism; literature review; longitudinal research; newspapers

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Communication,North Carolina State University, 201 Winston Hall, Box 8104Raleigh,North Carolina,27607, United States

Publication date: 2012-12-01

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