A Critical analysis of Media Framing and Audience Framing: Comparing the "Media”and "Audience” Agenda in the 2015 General election in Tanzania


Mwidima Peter Charles


The focus of this study was to explore the link between "media framing” and "audience framing”. The main target was to examine if there is really a direct influence of the media on the audiences. To explore this, the study used the 2015 general election in Tanzania.  Specifically, the study sought to know if there would be any similarities on the campaign agendas or issues covered by the media during the election campaign vis-í -vis those mentioned by the audiences. To explore the media agendas, a content analysis was utilized on eight (8) selected newspapers in Tanzania (the Guardian newspaper, the Daily newspaper, Uhuru newspaper, Mtanzania newspaper, Nipashe newspaper, Mwananch newspaper, Tanzania newspaper, and Majira newspaper). The units of analysis were all news articles or stories published on hard news, feature stories, and editorial comments whereby all campaign agendas published in the selected newspapers were recorded. Thus, a total of 84 campaign agendas were recorded after the newspapers review. Inorder to explore audience agendas, self-administered questionnaires were distributed to 667 respondents who were asked to list down all agendas that they knew during the 2015 election campaign. Since the respondents were the prospective voters who were registered in voters' registration books, a systematic sampling technique was used to get the 667 respondents. Both media agendas and audience agendas were coded, entered in SPSS version 20, whereby all necessary cleanings of the data were done. A simple frequency analysis was done on both sides to detect the link between media and audience agendas. Only top five agendas recorded from both sides were picked and compared. The findings revealed that there is no direct relationship between media framing and audience framing. In other words, the influence of the media on audiences is still questionable. This finding confirms that during election campaign, campaign rallies or meetings play a significant role (58%) of information the prospective voters about party or candidate agendas or political manifestos whereas the media contribute very little (23%) .