Newspaper Representation of the Debates in the 2007 Jamaican General Election Campaign
Bulletin of Latin American Research, 2012
17 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2013
Date Written: 2012
This article deconstructs the newspaper representations of three debates held in 2007 during the Jamaican General Election campaign. The theory of social representation is used in this article to explain political behaviour and outcomes. Representations are the images, words, symbols or phrases that are generated from people’s dialogic interaction that signify meanings. Content analysis of relevant articles covering the electoral campaign in the main print media in Jamaica forms the empirical basis for study. The majority of representations of the three main debates were negative, revealing that political manifestos were largely ignored and policy funding was not addressed. Significant issues such as crime, education, health, garrison politics, corruption and unemployment were inadequately addressed, and the wider global context of these matters was ignored. The consensus was that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won two of the three debates, notably the leadership debate in which the Leader of the Opposition, Bruce Golding MP, performed more effectively than the then current Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller of the People’s National Party (PNP). Social representation theory is used to assess the types of political meanings generated by media coverage during the General Election. It is suggested that the perceived success of the JLP candidates in the main debates was an important contribution to the party’s overall electoral victory.
Keywords: debate, electoral campaign, Jamaica, newspapers, politics, representations
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