The Press and Political Culture in Ghana

Jennifer Hasty

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Paperback (216 pages)

Indiana University Press


Editorial Description

Since democratization in 1991, the media scene in Ghana has exploded, with a slew of opposition newspapers challenging the authoritative voice of the state press. But how do journalism and democracy connect with local African practices of discourse, politics, and sociability? Examining the mix of distinctly Ghanaian discourses with imported styles of journalism, Hasty describes how state journalists reinvent the interpretive role of a chief's "linguist" (okyeame) while private journalists invoke the oppositional voice of young men's organizations (asafo), heavy with military metaphor. Nevertheless, Ghanaian journalists passionately embrace global discourses of free speech and human rights; while their everyday practices reveal crucial contradictions between global ideals and local realities. For instance, news sources typically dole out favors and cash gifts (called "soli," short for "solidarity") to journalists on assignment, indicating a complex gift economy that ritually binds journalists and politicians in hierarchical relationships of mutual need and obligation. Thus, while journalism is a global genre of discourse, emphasizing transnational professional and political ideals, this book demonstrates how the discourses and practices of journalism in Ghana are profoundly shaped by local political, historical, and cultural processes.