The Coverage of Africa in the Mainstream Western Media – Examining the Times Coverage of the D.R. Congo’s First Free Elections

Chongombe Djongana

Abstract


This paper seeks to investigate the on-going complaints from both African and western scholars
that Africa is still negatively represented in the western mainstream media more than 50 years
after independence even when hopeful signs and baby steps towards democratisation and
development are obvious in the continent. The study employs both content and discourse analysis
approach. The Times, which used to be one of the leading western newspapers and the British
newspaper of record, was selected. Content and discourse analysis were used to evaluate and
categorise the news items published in the sampled year (January to December 2006), to
distinguish the emerging themes, identify the sources, and to interpret the language used in the
coverage. The findings show that news stories throughout the coverage of the D.R. Congo first
free and fair elections in 2006 were written by western journalists and correspondents from The
Times and associated correspondents, while three other news agencies namely Agence France
Press (AFP), Associated Press (AP) and Reuters were the main sources for The Times
newspaper. Recurring themes such as tribal clashes, civil wars, corruption, child exploitation,
poverty, refugees, witchcraft, dependency, spreading diseases and mismanagement prevail in the
reporting. The findings reveal that the reporting of the Congo in The Times has avowedly been
through western eyes, and, as with much journalism, has not offered any real context to the
stories.
Key Words: Western Media Coverage, The Times Newspaper, African Stereotypes, The
Congo.

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