Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2004


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Janie Harden Fritz, Michael Dillon

Committee Member

Margaret Patterson


Benin, culture, democracy, freedom, journalism, narrative, objectivity


Benin, a West African republic of six million people, has had multiple influences shape its cultural and historical landscape, including the French colonization, a multiplicity of dictators, and a 17-year period of Marxism. During the early years of the colonization, the print media was particularly dissident, always advocating an end to the colonization, which greatly disrupted the regions core pan-African values. In 1990, the National Conference heralded a conversion to democracy as well as a boom in the number of privately owned newspapers.

This dissertation addresses at the concept of freedom and how it is defined from both a Western perspective and a Beninese perspective. As a Western journalist with 25 years of experience, the author utilizes an esoteric ethnographic study to determine how each director of publication at Cotonou's (Benin's largest city) daily newspapers defines freedom and then asks how well those directors believe their newspapers are upholding that concept. Each chapter engages the narrative paradigm of Walter Fisher to further illustrate how freedom is defined.

Additionally, to offer a micro look at the print media, the author visited one newspaper, Le Matin, for a three-and-a-half-week period, to observe how journalists performed their daily tasks. During this visit, the journalists and editors commented on how they reported, photographed, edited, and presented the most controversial story of 2003: a stampede at a Cotonou concert in which 15 people were killed.

The dissertation concludes by offering suggestions on how the print media can further improve such issues as objectivity and professionalism, thus offering a form of journalism that both informs as well as educates its audience in an ethical manner.