In This Review

The Press and Political Culture in Ghana
The Press and Political Culture in Ghana
By Jennifer Hasty
Indiana University Press, 2005, 216 pp

The importance of a free press to democratization in Africa is often asserted, but remarkably little is known about African media organizations and how they function in the region. Newspapers are not only cultural producers and political players; they are also businesses that can be quite lucrative. The latter dimension is unfortunately absent from this book. Instead, Hasty provides us with a cultural view of the Ghanaian newspaper industry in the late 1990s. Her analysis is often trenchant when she deconstructs the rhetoric used by the media to comment on national events. Amusingly, she shows that the government press often improves on the speeches of officials it covers, to align them better with official policy. But Hasty is generally more critical of the more sensationalistic and less professional opposition press. This seems unfair: without government subsidies, private newspapers are under added pressure to promote sales, a reality in which Hasty seems uninterested. She also downplays the role of the press in Ghana's democratization.