Spill-over effect in media framing: Representations of wildlife conservation in Zimbabwean and international media, 1989-2010

E. Gandiwa, S. Sprangers, S. van Bommel, I.M.A. Heitkonig, C. Leeuwis, H.H.T. Prins

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Myths and metaphors that occur in media frames play an important role in influencing public perceptions of an issue in times of war, political conflict, crisis and disaster. This, in turn, influences policy makers and (inter)national assistance and aid programmes. We investigated whether a metaphoric spill-over of frames used in connection with political events could explain the misrepresentation in the framing of wildlife conservation. Zimbabwe experienced a severe political conflict and economic downturn in 2000 when land reforms took place. We analyzed newspaper articles on Zimbabwe's wildlife conservation published between 1989 and 2010 from newspapers in Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. We selected three issues about wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe in the local and international media, namely, the ivory ban, rhino protection, and Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources to investigate the spill-over effect. Our results show that in the 1990s, the majority of newspaper articles highlighted that wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe was largely successful. However, two major changes occurred after 2000 following the land reforms in Zimbabwe. First, the international media showed little interest in wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe as evidenced by a sharp decline in published articles and second, the frames changed in the international media with the “political unrest and land reform” blame frame becoming more dominant. This transition in reporting, frames, and low frame parity shows that there was a spill-over effect of political frames into wildlife conservation following Zimbabwe's land reforms in 2000. Metaphoric spill-over effects may thus create myths in the readership, in turn influencing policy-derived actions in a sector that is not or poorly related to the actual disaster. Keywords Framing; Land reform; Metaphors; Nature conservation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-423
JournalJournal for Nature Conservation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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