News / Africa

    Journalists Should Target Malawi's Election Issues, Not Personalities

    United Democratic Front presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi answers question by Capital Radio reporter Rhodes Msonkho. (Photo Courtesy Rhodes Msonhko)
    United Democratic Front presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi answers question by Capital Radio reporter Rhodes Msonkho. (Photo Courtesy Rhodes Msonhko)
    Lameck Masina
    Political reporters are learning how to focus their coverage of Malawi’s next national elections on issues of health, schools and roads that will affect voters in the rural areas of the country.

    Experienced journalists conducted a series of sessions on how to have more impact in their reporting of the coming political campaigns that will select the next president and members of parliament in elections scheduled for May, 2014.

    Two workshops have been run by the Institute on War and Peace Reporting and are funded by the National Democratic Institute. A third will he held in April.

    “I am sharing ideas on how we can make reporting of elections look more on real issues that affect voters, more in particular rural voters,” said Ivor Gaber, a journalism trainer from the journalism department at City University in London.

    Gaber wants journalists to concentrate “... on issues of health, education, transport as well as doing the normal political stuff." He wants to give them ideas, tips and exercises and "to make the coverage of elections more relevant to Malawian voters.”

    Critics say report on issues

    Malawi journalists have at times been accused of focusing their reporting on personalities rather than issues affecting members of the general public. Observers say the tendency reaches higher levels during an election campaign when most journalists fall prey to politicians who give out freebies to advance their political interests.

    Cheu Mita is the War and Peace Reporting program manager in Malawi. “What prompted us to do this [training] is that in the past, election coverage has mainly being on people or the political horse races," she said.

    “We want to change that mindset," she said. People shouldn't vote on political or regional  lines. " .... we want them to vote for people who they feel will be able to bring them development.” This can only be achieved if journalists base their reporting on issues affecting the electorate rather than promoting personalities.

    The language of political reporting

    Rhodes Msonkho, a senior political reporter for privately owned Capital Radio, describes the workshops as an eye opener. “We have seen that in previous elections there were some [misleading] words which were used in our reporting.”

    Msonkho gave examples: words like ‘so and so are winning’ are often misleading, he said. Leading means a temporary condition, but winning means you have declared that candidate a winner, he said. 

    “We have also learnt the specifics of preparations themselves and how to challenge those taking part. For example, the issue of a manifesto; What is it that is contained in the manifesto that people want?”

    Too much bias with incumbents

    Another journalist, Chikondi Juma, reports for the local daily newspaper, The Daily Times. She says from her past experience covering elections that journalists have sometimes been accused of bias toward other political parties.

    She said covering the political party preparations is complex. “For example, when you have written a story that probably doesn’t speak well about them [party leaders], they think you belong to the other party or you have received some kick-backs from a rival party.”

    Another challenge is intimidation from party supporters during press conferences, Juma says. “Especially governing political parties.

    "During their press conferences they have supporters there. They boo you and you don’t feel safe and you don’t ask the right questions because you fear they may view it as you just wanting to embarrass their leaders.”

    With the new skills, she says it will be easier to cover the forthcoming election.

    Besides the new skills, all journalists agree that the stumbling block remains the absence of an access to information law. Such a bill has long been awaiting debate in parliament. If passed into law, this would give the journalists a mandate to get information from public officials.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora