Leadership & Management

The Influence of China's International Media in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Influence of China's International Media in Sub-Saharan Africa
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  1 The Influence of China’s International News on Mass Media in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Critical Assessment Doctoral Thesis Elisabet Helander A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for a degree of Doctor of Philosophy Principal Supervisor: Professor Colin Sparks School of Communication Hong Kong Baptist University October 2016  2 Acknowledgements I owe gratitude to a great number of people for their support, guidance and contributions towards the completion of this study. My supervisor Professor Colin Sparks and second supervisor Professor Steve Guo have given valuable academic guidance towards the research and the analysis for this thesis. I thank my colleagues and friends at The School of Communication, Hong Kong Baptist University, for their cooperation and encouragement throughout the work as a doctoral student and teaching assistant. Professor Helge Rønning and Dr. Shubo Li at Christian Michelsen Institute in Oslo were instrumental in enabling my first research field trip, for which I am thankful. All the media practitioners, who have shared their insights and personal experiences, have contributed to this research for which I am also very grateful. For my son and daughter Nils and Christina    3 ABSTRACT This thesis conciders the issue of news reporting in post-autocratic African nations, and  places focus on Chinese media’s influence on the local journalism and media system. The question of how much influence China’s international media has in Africa has been brought up by a few communication scholars. Based on an overarching theoretical framework of how the structure of the media system dictates the practice of journalism, this research enquiry scrutinises the mass media coverage and framing of the news that involves China and Chinese engagements in Africa. The research question concerns whether China’s investment efforts in the area of media, culture and education have discernible impact on journalism and mass media content in Africa. The context which gives rise to the research question consists of a collection of sometimes instrumentalist literature, describing the nature and the intention of China’s expanding engagement in Africa, as well as an academic debate about what consequences the relationship has for social and political development in African countries. In such debates it has been discussed whether the Chinese commercial investments or direct aid is benefitting social justice in Africa or rather serve to widen existing inequalities. It is assumed that while Western countries have, since the end of the Cold War, promoted a democratic development model on the African continent, China is currently advertising an alternative model for development. However, there has not been any study to date, which tests this assumption. This study was conducted to gather empirical evidence for a better understanding of the scope and implications of Chinese international media and cultural exchange in Africa. The research study is based on interviews with media practitioners in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, and content analysis of newspaper articles that include specific search terms. The methodological approach forms two separate parts, which both help to answer the research question. By triangulation of the results from the two-pronged study, a number of relevant findings have been drawn. The media practitioners display an overall critical view towards Chinese international media as source of information and forum for debate. The content analysis indicates that the direct influence o f China’s international media on local reporting is limited to certain publications in certain nations. Academic qualifications of this thesis author, Elisabet Helander: Received the degree of Bachelor of Social Sciences in Economics from Lunds Universitet, Sweden, June 1993. Received the degree of Master of Global Media and Post-National Communication from SOAS, University of London, UK, November 2009.  4 Table of contents 1. Introduction ____________________________ 5 2. Literature review _____________________ 15 2. 1. Background a) China's foreign policy and its relevance to Africa China’s relationship to African nations ______________________ 17  b) Two case studies exemplifying Sub-Saharan Africa _____________ 22 Kenya, East Africa Outline of Kenya’s mass media system  ________________________ 25 South Africa, Southern Africa ________________________ 28 Outline of the South African media system c) News bureaus and Confucius Institutes ______________________ 34 Xinhua News ____________________________ 36 The projection of a positive Chinese image through the media _______ 38 2. 2. Theoretical Approaches ____________________________ 40  Soft power Political economy of mass media _____________________ 48 Media systems theory ____________________________ 52 The Public Sphere ____________________________ 55 Summary and discussion of literature review _________________ 63 3. Methodology ____________________________ 64  a)   Framing analysis  b)   Theory and procedure regarding interviews with media practitioners 69 c)   Building the data for content analysis ______________________ 73  5 d)   Theory and procedures of content analysis __________________ 80 4.   Findings from content analysis _______________________ 83 a)   Sample of papers in Kenya and South Africa _____________ 85  b)   Xinhua news clippings from Kenyan and South African newspapers 87 c)   Degree of concurrence of the framing in Xinhua with the framing in Kenyan and South African papers 90 5.   Findings from interviews with journalists ______________ 93 a)   The perception of Chinese news material in English found among the Population _____________________ 94  b)   The context of the media landscape in Sub-Saharan Africa and the place of Chinese media therein _____________________ 99 c)   The noted difference between answers depending on media organization and country _____________________ 105 d)   Summary _____________________ 118 6.   Discussion of findings in relation to theory and research question 118 Summary and concluding remarks _____________________ 126 References _____________________ 128 Appendices
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