Media matters: Evaluating the role of the media in Ghana's 2000 elections

Type Journal Article - African Affairs
Title Media matters: Evaluating the role of the media in Ghana's 2000 elections
Volume 101
Issue 405
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2002
Page numbers 585-605
The role of the media, both state-owned and private, is an important and often overlooked component of any election, particularly those occurring in developing countries. Unfortunately, the existing academic literature on the subject is thin, especially concerning the recent flurry of democratic elections in Africa. This article briefly reviews the history of the media in Ghana's Fourth republic and then examines the crucial role the media played in Ghana's historic 2000 presidential and parliamentary elections. It details how the media contributed to the general success of the elections in which John Kufuor's New Patriotic Party defeated Jerry Rawlings' incumbent National Democratic Congress. Then, drawing on untapped public opinion survey data from the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, the Afrobarometer in Ghana, and the University of Ghana, it demonstrates how the various forms of the mass media are ‘consumed’ by Ghanaians, and how they affect citizens differently. Despite persistent romanticizing of the role of the media in many quarters, it concludes that, while the media are extremely important to certain segments of the Ghanaian population, they are virtually irrelevant to others.

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