Lilongwe, May 07, 2019: Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has requested journalists in the country to verify electoral information before reporting it to the public with 14 days remaining to poll.
MEC Commissioner, Jean Mathanga made the request on Monday during the presiding over of two days Journalists training on Elections Reporting Workshop at Cross roads hotel in Lilongwe.
She said some of the options that are broadcasted, have potential impact of discouraging the electorates from participating in electoral activities and perpetuating contributing to voter apathy.
“We thought it wise to engage journalist from various media organizations in the country because they reach out to wide audience within a short period of time, and they have also critical role of bringing electoral information to the public,” Mathanga said.
She added that journalists should always require the pollsters to disclose how they carried out their opinion poll, sample size, which commissioned the opinion poll and when it is was done.
“Few critical questions can unearth information that can help to establish where an opinion poll was bogus or genuine,” the Commissioner pointed out.
She disclosed to journalists that elections are an emotion exercise reason because what is at stake.
Mathanga said no one goes into an election expecting to lose although the fact still stands out that there would always be only one winner.
She pointed out that reporters should be cautions on what they write for broadcast does not perpetrate hostility, violence, aggression, hatred, tribalism, unrest, conflict among others that falls in elections.
The Commissioner highlighted that MEC usually have pollsters suffering during some of whom their candidates are very questionable and always come up with questionable poll statistics. She urged journalists to question such characters before broadcasting their results.
UNDP Chief Technical Adviser in Elections, Richard Cox said they are committed to support and train journalists on good reporting electoral skills and knowledge in the country.
“In election cycle we have trained more than 400 journalists in various media organizations including the n community radios on elections reporting with support with other development partners,” he said.
Cox request journalists to apply ethics and standards when using social media such as Facebook, twitter, blogs and other platforms that have become effective and cost-effective tool for communication.
“With the convergence of the media, we have already seen journalist, newspaper and radio stations setting up Facebook and twitter pages and blogs where they posts their materials to share with the public,” he said.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), European Union (UN) UK Aid, USAID and Norwegian Embassy support the work shop.