IPC scores media low on post-election report
Media managers have been advised to proffer ways of ensuring inclusive and electoral reporting and equitable coverage of all political stakeholders, especially parties and candidates.
While speaking at the public presentation and media roundtable on trends in print and online newspapers’ reportage of 2019 elections in Lagos, stakeholders said the initiative by the International Press Centre (IPC) would provide evidence-backed information on state of media performance in the coverage of the electoral processes and the 2019 elections.
While reviewing the report, a senior lecturer, School of Communication, Lagos State University, Dr. Tunde Akanni, said the report covers The Punch, The Guardian, Daily Sun, Vanguard, ThisDay, Nigerian Tribune, The Nation, Leadership and Daily Trust, as well as, Blue Print, The Cable and Premium Times, showcases the electoral/governance processes of pre-election, the voting phase and the post-election/governance phase.
According to him, “It noted the gaps for the purpose of using the outcome as a tool for continuous engagement with journalists, media managers and media gatekeepers on the need to ensure media professionalism. The monitoring focused on six categories of Political Parties, Aspirants/Candidates, Youths and the Electoral Process, Women and the Electoral Process, People Living with Disabilities (PWDS) and the Electoral Process and the Electoral Management Body (EMB), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Akanni said the report’s thematic areas focused upon Campaign Promises, where a total of 3,145 reports on political and governance issues were tracked between July and September.“171 reports were published on political conflicts, accounting for 5.44 per cent of identified relevant reports. 49.22 per cent of all political and governance issues reported were on election petitions with 1,548 reports. A total of 688 reports were published on campaigns by political parties’ candidates, representing 21.88 per cent. The reports were in the context of the buildup of political and campaign activities ahead of the Kogi and Bayelsa States’ gubernatorial elections on November 16, 2019.”
Out of 4,217 total reports identified as relevant and monitored, 3,710 reports were published as News (at 88%) while 204 of the relevant reports were published as Features at (4.8%). There were 23 Editorials at (0.55%); 98 reports were Opinion articles at (2.32%); seven reports were Letters to the Editor (0.17%) and 26 were photographs (0.62%). Others include nine reports published as Cartoons (0.2%); 1 as Vox Pops (0.02%) and 138 Interviews making 3.3 per cent. One Video was found relevant within the period, representing 0.02 per cent.
The report counsels INEC to issue press releases regularly in response to the concerns of parties, candidates, the media, civil society groups, the citizens, and so on, while also striving to ensure that such press releases and other information dissemination are reported in the media through monitoring.
Also speaking, Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, pointed out that criticism was key to growth, hence the commission was pleased with the initiative. He, however, lamented that the report focused more on INEC and left out substantial information around campaign promises. During the panel, Femi Awolabi of The Cable raised the issue of poor accreditation for journalists during the election at the collation centres as well as the inability of INEC to upload results immediately on the website. But Oyakanmi said it was not the commission’s intention to restrict journalists but that it was a matter of space at the collation centres, adding, “Moving forward, we will consider projecting the live events at the collation centres to journalists.”
Director, International Press Centre (IPC), Mr. Lanre Arogundade, said the report marks the continuation of a 24-month media monitoring activity covering the pre-election, election and post-elections cycles under component 4b: support to media of the EUSDGN project.
According o him, ‘’As this report and subsequent ones will show, this phase is very important not only because we are beaming torchlight on the trends of reportage but because there are emerging critical post-election issues such as conflicts, outbreaks of violence and killings, as seen in the recent Kogi and Bayelsa Governorship elections, tribunal, court cases and campaign finance, which the media must contend with. “In dealing with these issues, it is our contention that the media must continue to be ethical and conflict-sensitive in their reportage. Thus, the report serves as a reminder to the media on their role in preventing insecurity and violence during and after elections through fact-based, independent, transparent, accountable and impartial reporting.”