Frames and Monkeywrenching the Media in Côte d’Ivoire: How to Win a War in Françafrique
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This study revisits the media coverage of Côte d’Ivoire’s 2010-2011 electoral crisis as a case study of the political, economic, and contextual stressors that impact journalists writing in francophone Africa in times of conflict. This dissertation demonstrates how the three key political parties in Côte d’Ivoire’s electoral crisis, France, Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, all had a deep economic incentives in this civil war, and were using both hidden and public tactics to manipulate media coverage in their own interests. I explore these tactics in two locations: how the news is framed in the local and foreign news coverage of the crisis, using a textual analysis of 210 news articles; and how politicians monkey-wrenched journalists and news outlets to secretly impact news coverage, drawing on 31 interviews with Ivorian and foreign journalists. Under the umbrella of international communication, I explore how the influence of France continues to assert immense editorial control over the media infrastructure of Côte d’Ivoire. I draw on postcolonial theory, political economic theory, frame studies in social movement theory and in media literature to locate the theoretical underpinnings of this research. A political economic framework helps explain this monkey-wrenching of journalists by inspecting who exerts control over journalistic coverage. This dissertation is a critical, qualitative case study that employs a textual analysis of 210 newspaper articles and interviews with 24 journalists to explore the central questions of media imperialism and framing in Côte d’Ivoire and Françafrique. I drew articles from the local newspapers: Fraternité Matin, Notre Voie, Le Temps, Le Nouveau Courrier and Le Patriote from 2010 and 2011. From the international press, I pulled articles from Agence France-Presse, Jeune Afrique, Le Monde, Reuters and Associated Press from 2010 to 2017. Little research has been done in the English-speaking world on the media in francophone West Africa. This study helps introduce the complications of media in Françafrique- where France earns enormous profits from African economies- to the English-speaking world.