News covering in the online press media during the ANC elective conference of December 2017.
Muringa, Tigere Paidamoyo.
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Online press plays an imperative role in the legitimation of ideas, individuals, events and interpretations. Evidence suggests that news media play a significant role in legitimising and de-legitimising political candidates, particularly in the period leading to and after elections. There is increased interest in recent studies in the field of media framing, legitimation and de-legitimising of political candidates. While scholars provide useful insights on prospective media use of frames to de-popularise political leaders, up to now, studies have not gone beyond explaining the frames used by the news media. Little effort has been made to understand the relationship between media frames and the different discursive practices that affect the construction of such frames. Drawing on Van Gorp's (2007) framing theory and Foucault's (1980) concept of discourse power/knowledge to investigate news coverage in the South African online press, this thesis examined the frames used by News24 and IOL to legitimise and de-legitimise election candidates during their reporting of the 54th National Congress of the African National Congress. Using the national congress as a case study in point, qualitative archival data consisting of 100 news articles were retrieved from online archives of New24 and IOL. The information was analysed to assess how the content reported was framed to legitimise or de-legitimise Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma's political leadership qualities both at the national and political party level. Through a critical discourse analysis approach, six broad frames were thematically organised and presented as evidence on how news frames were constructed through culturally constituted communication artefacts. The study found that the reports by both, News24 and IOL were heavily influenced by the prevailing societal discourses that shaped politics and economy in the period of their construction. Notably, this thesis reveals how both presses used similar frames in their reporting. Even though they used similar frames, there were significant differences in approaches that were used by IOL and News24 in reporting on Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa. As a result, this study contributes to the body of knowledge, by confirming how the press evokes cultural discourses when reporting on political candidates, to remind readers and allow them to interpret issues and topics using the culturally constructed reality as a frame of reference.