Pɔhim Zuɣu: Understanding indigenous language news audiences in Ghana

African Journalism Studies. 

Wunpini Fatimata (Forthcoming).

Abstract: Although there is scant audience research in media studies, audiences continue to be key drivers in the political economy of media in Africa and elsewhere. The study explores the dynamics of indigenous language news audiences’ listening habits, how their information seeking habits are shaped by personal values and the ways in which their participation in civic engagement reinforces their media consumption habits. The study focuses on Dagbanli and Gonja news audiences living in Ghana’s Northern and Savannah Regions. The objective of the study is to explore the way that Dagbanli and Gonja news audiences use the news they receive by parsing out these uses within this socio-cultural context. Through in-depth interviews, the listening habits and civic engagements of news audiences are brought to the fore. Through a uses and gratifications approach, I argue that indigenous language news audiences are active agentive consumers whose habits are shaped by contextual factors, personal and social values. The findings of the study demonstrate that the news shapes the political behavior and voting decisions of audiences. The study also finds that many audiences use the news as an avenue for learning more about education, agriculture, the environment and pervading conversations in the public sphere.