Media coverage of inequality is 12% – MFWA study
A study conducted by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), a civil society organisation, has revealed that the media is covering less of issues of inequality in Ghana.
Dubbed; “Baseline Study on Media Coverage of Inequality Issues in Ghana,” the study shows that out of 6,477 stories across 22 media outlets; only 783 (12 per cent) focused on inequality.
The findings of the study were presented at a public forum in Accra on the topic: “Reducing Inequality in Ghana: The Role of Stakeholders.”
The forum, which was organised by the MFWA, in partnership with OXFAM-Ghana, brought together key stakeholders such as the media, civil society organisations, government representatives, and the diplomatic corps to deliberate on the worrying trend of inequality in Ghana, despite gains at poverty reduction.
The forum formed part of MFWA’s activities under the Democratic Governance in West Africa (DEGOWA) programme with funding support from OXFAM-Ghana.
It was conducted over a two-week period (March 5 to 17) of editorial content from the selected media, namely; newspapers – Daily Graphic, Daily Guide, Ghanaian Times, Daily Dispatch, Chronicle, Finder, New Crusading Guide, Daily Searchlight, Today and Daily Heritage.
The television include Ghana Television (GTV), United Television (UTV), TV3 and GHOne.
Radio covers Joy FM, Citi FM, Peace FM and Adom FM; whereas online media were Myjoyonline.com, Citifmonline.com, Ghanaweb.com and Peacefmonline.com.
The objectives of the study were to examine the frequency of coverage of inequality issues; the forms/types of inequality issues covered in the media (social, economic, political representation) and the dominant frames used in the coverage of inequality issues (episodic, thematic).
Media content analysed in the study for newspapers and online news outlets include all editorial contents; and that of television and radio covered news, morning talk shows and current affairs programmes.
The percentage coverage of inequality per mass media was newspapers 6.1; online 14.1; television 14.3 and radio 16.
Citi FM tops the list for radio stations with 40 per cent, followed by Joy FM with six per cent; while Adom had three per cent and Peace FM one per cent.
The percentage by newspapers was Daily Heritage, 15; Finder, 13; Daily Graphic, nine; New Crusading Guide, eight and the Daily Dispatch, seven.
The rest are Ghanaian Times, six per cent, The Chronicle, four per cent; Daily Searchlight, three per cent; while the Daily Guide and the Today Newspaper both had one per cent.
The average percentage cover of inequality by television was topped by GHOne with 27, followed by UTV with 25; whereas TV3 and GTV scored 10 and two respectively.
Findings for online media were Citifmonline.com, 31 per cent; Ghanaweb.com, 17 per cent, Myjoyfmonline.com, eight per cent; and Peacefmonline.com, three per cent.
The study also shows that in the coverage of frames of inequality issues 60 per cent was through Episodic while 40 per cent was Thematic.
Madam Abigail Larbi Odei, the Programme Manager for Media, Good Governance and Democracy Programme at the MFWA, who presented the findings, said 50 per cent of the stories primarily focused on inequalities as against a secondary or tertiary focus.
She explained that this means that while the media’s frequency of coverage of inequalities was inadequate, when they do cover, they give principal attention to it.
She said the media covered more of social inequalities; 48.7 per cent, than economic inequality; 29.3 per cent or inequality in political representation; 11.4 per cent.
Madam Abigail said there appear to be a worrying level of relaxation by writers/journalists/media houses in the coverage of inequalities as nearly seven out 10 (68 per cent) of the stories were from routine sources.
One limitation of the study was that the constraint of time only permitted for consecutive days of monitoring instead a constructed week.
The study recommended that various newspapers would adopt the strategy of dedicating a page daily to issues of women, people with disabilities, and spatial opportunity differences.
It suggested that journalists and media houses should be focused on generating news through enterprise as it helps in uncovering critical issues, especially on inequalities.
Mr Sulemana Braimah, the Executive Director of MFWA, urged the media to step up their game in the fight against poverty and inequality in the country.
He said the inequality gap, which continued to swell between urban and rural communities, socially and politically, was a threat to Ghana’s socioeconomic gains attained over the past two decades.