Media and Elections
Credible and fair elections are an essential element of democratic societies. During electoral periods the media play a particularly vital role. They act as a watchdog, ensuring greater transparency and accountability during the election process, providing citizens with information on their candidates, party policies and the elections process, and enabling them to make informed decisions when they cast their votes or engage in public debate.
To play their role, the media need both access to information and the freedom to freely and safely communicate their findings. Media and electoral bodies, therefore, need to work together to recognise the roles and responsibilities of each party and to acknowledge the necessity and importance of each other’s roles in delivering fair elections.
MISA’s role in Fair Elections
MISA regularly convenes missions to observe the conduct of the media and electoral bodies during elections and MISA’s network of Chapters play an active role in monitoring freedom of expression violations in their respective countries during election periods. We have also advocated for governments to uphold journalists’ safety and rights to freedom of expression and access to information in their election reporting.
We would like media practitioners to rise to the occasion and adhere to the ethics of the profession as they carry out their duties before, during and after the elections. For this to be a reality, there is need for stakeholders such as political parties, the Police, the Electoral commission and other government agencies to respect, support and promote the role of the media in the holding of peaceful, free and fair elections.
MISA Zambia, with support from its partners, will be monitoring media coverage of the August 2016 elections; the monitoring will also track political party promises during the campaigns for them to be easily held accountable if they form government. The nation will receive regular updates of the media monitoring process from the monitoring team.