Candidate representation and media biases in Tanzania
The promises of democracy in Tanzania underscore a wide range hopes for the nation, notably with regard to media freedom and freedom of speech. However, the intensifying privatization of the media that has characterized the last two decades of Tanzania’s emerging democracy has shifted the focus of professional journalists towards high-impact coverage of known government officials (Schudson, 2008), narrowing the breadth of news and political coverage. The agenda-setting effect of this kind of journalism reflects the often biased interests of media shareholders (McCombs & Shaw, 1972) and also affects the visibility of political candidates, hindering just and fair representation in the electoral process. This study used qualitative and quantitative content analysis of the election news coverage in six Swahili mainstream newspapers to examine the relationship between newspaper election coverage and voting outcomes in Tanzania’s 2010 Presidential election. The newspapers were studied during the three months just prior to the Tanzania Presidential election of 2010. The results of this analysis reveal some major shortcomings of electoral media coverage, including prevalent biases and uneven representation. In addition, there appears to be a significant relationship between newspaper election coverage and voting outcomes.