Media Framing of People With Disabilities in Local Amharic Newspapers

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Addis Ababa University


Disability is a very ordinary part of life in every part of the world. Yet the problem gets worse in developing countries like Ethiopia as a result of poverty and war. Hence this research aimed to study how this issue is framed, portrayed and covered in three local Amharic newspapers. The research looked in to dominantly covered types of disabilities and pictures used in these newspapers. Framing theory was also made central to the work. The study employed both quantitative and qualitative research methods; content analysis and in-depth interview. Of 53 newspapers in the country, the study made purposive selection of three sample newspapers (Addis Zemen, Addis Admas and Medical) with in the time frame of 18 months between December 2005 and May 2007. Through out these periods, 56 articles were coded by two trained individuals. In-depth interviews were also made with journalists and editors of each newspaper so as to get information that would have been impossible otherwise. As per the results acquired, the issues of disability in Admas and medical were covered due to the presence of a link of research finding in it. These newspapers also employed “need for cure” themes hence depicted disability as ‘synonymous with illness and suffering’. While in Zemen it was covered as news stories, depicted socially, only because it involved charities and donation links made by international organizations. Much of the stories in Zemen were framed to attribute responsibility to Government and NGOs as having the ability to alleviate the problem, although there were a number of other frames used. On the other hand, Admass and Medical persistently used empathy frames while reporting on disability depicting them as ‘helpless and needy’. All the newspapers also were engaged in selection and salience as they persistently cover one type of disability over others. Zemen and Medical dominantly reported on Visual impairments of adults over others while Admass was engaged to cover mental illness and retardations in children.



Disabilities in Local Amharic Newspapers