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The press and political participation: newspapers and the politics of linguistic exclusion and inclusion in Ghana

Fosu, Modestus (2014) The press and political participation: newspapers and the politics of linguistic exclusion and inclusion in Ghana. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the readability and comprehensibility of English language newspapers in Ghana as a developing country. It also attempts to discover the extent to which Ghanaian readers find the language of the newspapers easy or difficult to comprehend. The findings are meant to provide insights into the effectiveness of the newspaper press in providing news information to a broad readership to enhance political participation and democracy in the country. The study employed a research design that triangulated approaches in corpus linguistics, readability and survey studies. A computer-aided Linguistic analysis was carried out on the front-page stories of four influential national newspapers of the country to assess the extent to which the language is complex. A questionnaire survey of readers was also conducted in Accra to discover readers’ opinions and aptitude about how easy or difficult it was for them to comprehend the newspapers’ message. In addition, views from newspaper editors and news writers were also sampled in interviews to support the discussion. The research established that the language used to communicate socio-political news to readers is complex and difficult for a significant proportion of readers across the educational categories of the country. The significant implication is that the newspapers may be largely ineffective in transmitting information to a wide spectrum of citizens to enhance political participation and democracy. Thus, the study suggests that newspapers in Ghana largely alienate many readers from participating directly in the discourse of the press. While this may reflect the notion that political information from newspapers is generally and ideologically suited for the political elites who then monopolise political knowledge to control their societies, it means importantly that the press may not be enabling democracy in Ghana. Consequently, I argue for the press to use simple and plain language (as proposed by plain language movements in the West) to broaden access to newspaper messages in order to include the many potential readers who may hitherto be excluded from the discourse of the press because the challenging language impedes their comprehension.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Ghanaian Newspapers, Readability and Comprehension, Democratisation, Political participation, Linguistic Exclusion
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Media and Communication (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.634263
Depositing User: Mr Modestus Fosu
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2015 11:47
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2018 13:21
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7167

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