Malawi Electoral Commission independent Media Monitoring Unit Report
(20 Apr 2009)
Malawi Electoral Commission independent Media Monitoring Unit Report for the period 27th December 2008– 16th January 2009.
This, the first published report from the newly formed Media Monitoring Unit, sets out to present the recent performance of Malawi’s print and broadcast journalist in their coverage of political matters. The Unit has been set up by the Malawi Electoral Commission to monitor the performance of the nation’s media in the run- up to the coming elections. The standards by which MEC’s media monitors are already assessing the performance of the broadcasting and print media houses were established in April 2008 when the leaders of all the main companies voluntarily drew up their own self-regulating Media Code of Conduct.
This Code, which was signed publicly in June 2008, is comparably with accepted international best practice. 12 Malawians
are trained to monitor the media in a highly professional way.
The Code calls upon the media to be fair and accurate in its reporting at all times and to give equitable coverage to political parties. Since, well before the official campaign period, parties and individuals have long since begun de facto campaigning, the media recognise the need to democratically serve the people with a balanced a picture of the issues emanating from all sides.
The system by which the Media Monitoring Unit is assessing the performance is by recording virtually all the political output of all national broadcasting, both public and private and by dissecting the content of every issue of the national daily papers. Every political item, whether it be news or comment, interview, discussion, debate, press conference, walk-about, convention or rally is measured for broadcast time or newspaper space.
Each pie chart shows the percentage share of positive coverage given by the named media house in the 3 week period. “Positive” signifies of positive electoral advantage. Since any coverage that brings the name of a party or a candidate to public attention is a publicity advantage, unless there are specific sections that reflect badly on that party or candidate, any mention that has no negative connotation needs to be categorised as essentially positive. Negative coverage (coverage of negative advantage to the party concerned) is perfectly proper where the reporting is delivering a true picture. Providing negative coverage exclusively is obviously
unfair and contrary to the Code’s call for balance.
Care is taken in the process to separate and exclude anything that is basically government business. However the Media Code specifically points out that if an event that is on the surface government business is used in total or in part for openly promoting the electoral interests of whichever party is in power, such use of an electoral opportunity should be included in the assessment of what constitutes balanced coverage.
See http://www.sdnp.org.mw/2009-elections/mec-media-monitoring-up-to-16-Jan-09.pdf for full report
|| Monitored Dates