This study presents a discourse analysis of images of women in newspapers of West Africa. A total of 869 news articles were studied from five different newspapers published in Ghana, Cameroon, and Nigeria. The discourse analysis was performed in two stages. In the first stage, all of the news articles were subject to a close reading to determine if the articles described or mentioned women. It was found that the majority of news articles, roughly 2/3 of the sample, did not mention women in any way. In the second stage of the discourse analysis, those news articles which mentioned, described or cited women were subjected to additional close readings. It was found that women were characterized in relatively patterned ways, and nine themes eventually emerged from this analysis. These nine themes can be categorized as positive or negative in their portrayal of women. Three of the themes were positive: (1) women were described in a variety of leadership positions; (2) women were portrayed as entertainment and sport stars; and (3) women were portrayed as fighting for women’s rights. Six of the themes were negative: (1) women were portrayed as victims, and frequently as victims of strange misfortunes; (2) women were portrayed as engaging in deviant sexual practices; (3) female criminals were highlighted in several stories; (4) women were either described or charged with professional misconduct; (5) women were charged with witchcraft; and (6) lower class women were described as engaging in a variety of survival activities. These positive and negative themes are illustrated in this paper by examples from the news stories. The authors conclude that women play only a minor role in West African news accounts and that the West African press has strongly ambivalent attitudes towards gender equality and towards women in general.
|Keywords:||Discourse Analysis, West African Press, Images of Women|
Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA
Associate Professor, School of Atrs and Sciences, Department of Communication, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA