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Elections: Media Impact

In our ongoing series on elections we take an in-depth look at the role of the media.

Gyimah Boadi is the executive director of the Center for Democracy Development (CDD) in Ghana. In an interview with VOA English to Africa Service reporter Angel Tabe, Mr. Boadi explained the media’s role in ensuring free and fair elections.

“What the media do is help make the electoral process a lot more transparent and there are many ways they can do this. Still related to transparency is the media’s ability to independently monitor and serve as an early warning facility for the elections, pre-elections, and especially on the heady election day.”

Boadi recounts instances of the media’s positive involvement in Ghana. He says journalists reported missing polling materials and early exit poll results, which created the basis for vote tallying and dispelled suspicions.

The CDD official says the media must be professional to remain objective and positive in their reporting.

“In Ghana, we have been able to get the media to abide by a constitutional requirement…. Once the Ghana Journalists Association began to enforce those rules, the media began to be a very positive force...and I think the experience in Ghana, Senegal, and Benin confirm how important media is, especially FM radio, in ensuring election fairness.”

Boadi says with proper support, the media will continue to play a constructive role in fostering democracy.

“The media can really be a tool for democracy, free, transparent and credible elections, but there has to be some investment. We just need to have variety. If the state media is unfair, then you get the private media to balance it. What you get is a great, great synergy, to ensure free and fair elections.”

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