Voice and issue representation in Daily Monitor and The New Vision newspapers' coverage of the constitutional amendment debate September 2003 - September 2005.
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It seems research on media representation in Uganda has largely been limited to women and political elections campaigns. This study investigated voice and issue representation in newspaper coverage of the constitutional amendment debate from September 2003 to September 2005. The specific aims were to discover the dominant issues and voices in the debate; notice any similarities and differences in the coverage of the debate between Daily Monitor & The New Vision newspapers; and find out the implications of one issue and a few voices receiving disproportionate media attention on the democratic process in Uganda. It was presumed that newspapers had tilted their coverage of the whole process majorly on one issue (lifting the presidential term limits locally termed as third term) and that the voices of the male elite dominated the debate. The study employed a triangulation approach that encompassed content analysis, personal interviews, and review of appropriate documents. The researcher purposely selected two national newspapers (The New Vision and Daily Monitor) and two years, randomly sampled six months that resulted into 73 news articles as a whole, selected 11 key informants, and reviewed several relevant documents. The study found that the removal of presidential term limits (third term) dominated the debate on constitutional amendment with 97.3% frequency; government elite, male and urban sources (Members of Parliament, Ministers, and Presidency) dominated as news sources (voices). Both The New Vision and Daily Monitor almost had similar coverage and to a greater extent, the media did not fulfill their democratic role. They did not offer citizens a wide variety of opinions and perspectives, but just the narrow spectrum represented by political elite. The study concludes with a call towards localizing news values, a deliberate move toward public communication and community media, training of journalists, emphasizing civic journalism and convincing commercial media to publish and broadcast relevant public information that breeds informed citizenry.