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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid