The political economy of the media in Malawi: news coverage of agricultural input subsidies
The issue of media ownership is perceived to be of great significance in the consolidation of democracy and good governance in developing democracies, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa. However, this has often been thrown into question because the journalistic practices may be influenced and controlled by their media owners who may have links to those in political power. In this article, media coverage of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) in Malawi as was reported in the Weekend Nation newspaper between 2005 and 2012 is examined from a critical political economy perspective. The FISP aimed at subsidising inputs for low income rural farmers. The Weekend Nation, a political weekly, was established by a key politician during the advent of democracy in 1995. Through institutional in-depth interviews and qualitative content analysis of editorials and opinion columns, the paper finds that overall, the political ownership of the newspaper had no bearing on editorial content on the issue of the FISP policy. This suggests that the coverage of a critical agricultural policy concerning, to a great extent, rural livelihoods of Malawi, was presented independently without political ownership influence.