The Framing of Homosexuality by Two Ugandan Newspapers: An Analysis of New Vision and Daily Monitor
It is the general view that homosexuality is an issue that both society and the media find controversial. In Uganda, press reports mostly echo the negative attitudes towards homosexuality as demonstrated by the studies about the 2009 anti-homosexuality bill. This thesis addressed itself to the framing of homosexuality in the two Ugandan newspapers of New Vision and Daily Monitor during the period 2007-2011. The purpose of the thesis was to investigate the frames that the two media houses apply when they cover homosexuality issues, as well as to examine the changes and/or consistencies in reporting patterns during this time. The study period encompassed two years prior to the introduction of the 2009 Anti-homosexuality bill, the year of the introduction of the bill, and two year after the introduction of the bill. Specifically, the thesis investigated the frames, tone, story formats, story placement and the sources. A content analysis of New Vision and Daily Monitor was undertaken, and included all items/articles about homosexuality during this period. Framing theory informed this study. The key results indicate that from 2007-2011, the two newspapers rely on the human rights frame, followed by the religion frame, to cover homosexuality. As such, homosexuality is treated was a rights and morality issue, which is consistent with findings from studies in other parts of the world. A negative attitude by the two newspapers towards homosexuality was also observed. It also emerged that the majority of stories were hard news stories, implying that homosexuality issues are covered as routine stories with marginal use of more detailed formats such as features and interviews. Furthermore, the Ugandan perspective was promoted through the reliance on Ugandan sources vis-à-vis foreign sources, by both newspapers. Moreover, the issue was treated as an elite issue, given that most stories were placed in the national pages. By placing the most stories on the national pages, the news reports promoted the elite views and downplayed the views from the peripheral, which are carried in the regional pages. Although some changes were observed in the reporting patterns, the overall observation was that although the two newspapers do not necessarily ignore homosexuality, their coverage was biased and homosexuality was treated negatively regardless of the topic or context. The thesis concluded that the nature of reporting reflected the dominant views of the Ugandan society, which are negative towards homosexuality, making it challenging for homosexuals and their supporters to make their views known through these two media houses, and limiting the views that the audiences have about homosexuality. It is proposed, however, that hope lies in the view that since the political position on homosexuality (especially that of the president) has changed on several occasions, it is only a matter of time before the public view will change and such change reflected in media reports.