Frames in News Discourse on Nelson Mandela’s illness and Hospitalisation: A Study of Nigerian and Zimbabwean Newspapers

Christian Chinedu Odoemelam, Jakobe Bhekinkosi Ncube, Emmanuel Okorom


This study is a cross-national investigation in the use of frames in news coverage of an event which has international significance-the flashpoint of Nelson Mandela’s illness and hospitalization in South Africa. The study is anchored on the framing theory as espoused by Erving Goffman (1974). While studies examining frames in news coverage have gained significant ground in literature, there is paucity of studies examining news frames of events with health-cum-political undertones and how differences in national communication policies may influence frames in media discourse on such issues. To meet this gap, this present study analyses the news report of the illness and hospitalization of Nelson Mandela in leading newspapers in Nigeria and Zimbabwe. The study will also examine if major differences in frame choice emerged in the coverage between the countries. Qualitative content analysis methods will be employed in analyzing the coverage in the year 2013. The reliability of the inter-coded data will be tested using the Holsti’s index. The categories for measuring frames in the coverage are based on frames found in extant literatures. The expected contribution of this study would be an understanding of the congruence or disparity in the pattern of frames in the news coverage of similar events cross nationally. Understanding cross-national news discourse on the issue might be important for situating communication policy matters within health-cum-political contexts.

Keywords: Frames, News, Discourse, Nelson Mandela, Illness and Hospitalization, Newspapers, Political, Policy, Cross-national

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