International Journal of Humanities and Social Science
Vol. 2 No. 17; September 2012
Agenda setting and Framing of Elections during Musharraf Period in Pakistani Print Media (1999-2008) Naveed Iqbal Chaudhry Lecturer Institute of Communication Studies University of the Punjab Lahore-Pakistan Amna Ashraf Lecturer Media studies Dept 93-Kinnaird College Lahore-Pakistan Abstract This paper presents a content analysis of editorials published by the elite English press of Pakistan during Pervaiz Musharraf’s regime (1999-2008). It examines the trends of editorial agenda, policies of the selected press and diversity of issues regarding dictator led elections in Pakistan. The study considers the postulates of ‘agenda setting’ and ‘framing’ to examine the editorial coverage of elections by three English dailies. The time against each election under study is divided into ‘pre-poll’, ‘polling’ and ‘post-poll’ periods. The analysis deals with six categories of the contents. It explores that what are the major issues and events regarding elections that got attention of the press. How media gives priorities to cover electoral issues. It further investigates the consistency of editorial policy and the watchdog role playing by the selected press through their editorials. It unpacks the frames being used in the editorials to picture a certain image regarding these electoral issues.
Key Words: Elections, Pakistani print media, Pervaiz Musharraf, Framing, Agenda setting. 1. Introduction Studying elections through analyzing media coverage, regarding diverse range of electoral issues, is one of the popular and fascinating domains of research in the field of political communication. Elections are considered central to the process of democratization and involve a larger number of people in a country than any other social activity. Media ought to be responsible in connecting the election commission, contestants and electorates regarding the issues of the electoral process. The media of a sovereign state plays important role to inform, to educate, to guide, to entertain, to discuss, to mirror, to campaign, to judge and watch-dog during the elections. Democracy demands fairness, freeness, and openness of both the media and elections. In promoting the democratic values and culture in a society, free and responsible role of media is ever demanded. The press with such values not only raises political consciousness among public by selecting certain issues and framing them, but also puts an extra legal check on the electoral system by criticizing and discussing the issues. Political instability in Pakistan has been one of the major problems since its birth. Many times in its history, democracy has been sabotaged by the Army dictators who used the tactics of elections to prolong their rule. Pervaiz Musharraf took over in 1999, followed the footprints of previous Army rulers and conducted many elections that are resulted in the spread of his rule around ten years. The present study intends to examine that what were the major issues and events regarding Local Govt. Elections (2001, 2005), Referendum (2002) and General Elections (2002, 2008) that got attention of the press during Musharraf regime? How media set priorities to cover these electoral issues? It further attempts to gauge the consistency of editorial policy of the selected press while covering each type of elections and the role of press as watch-dog. 274
© Centre for Promoting Ideas, USA 1.1. Rationale for selecting elections during Musharraf regime (1999-2008)
All elections that are conducted during Musharraf regime are significant in the political history of Pakistan as these elections were known as process of ‘restoration of democracy’. As a dictator, Musharraf practiced a variety of elections types like Local Govt. Elections, Referendum and General Elections as tactics to legitimize and prolong his rule. The Musharraf regime was considered as the era of...
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