"The Hopeless Continent?" A critical comparative analysis of 2007/2008 representations of Africa in Time, The Economist and Financial Mail

Botes, Janeske
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Abstract This study investigates the representations of Africa in three magazines; Time, The Economist and Financial Mail. Time and The Economist are American and European publications, whereas Financial Mail is South African, enabling a comparison of their coverage to be undertaken. The study focuses on representations of politics, economics and HIV/AIDS. A multi-faceted, complementary theoretical framework of critical political economy of the media, theories of news production and cultural studies is utilised. This study triangulates quantitative and qualitative content analysis as a methodological approach. The findings of this study reveal that representations of Africa fall within three typologies: negative, positive and mixed. Negative and stereotypical representations dominate, with very few positive representations detected. Many mixed representations of Africa are presented, which offer both a negative and positive view of the continent and its countries. Overall, local media perpetuate a majority of negative frames of meaning around Africa and so support traditional and current foreign representations of the continent. As much of the language and images used in African stories focus on negative issues, Africa is consequently presented as a largely hopeless continent.