Media, elections and good governance
MISA Zimbabwe subscribes to the notion that ‘elections define democracy while the media enlightens and sustains it.
The media’s traditional role is to inform the public on issues of the day accurately and fairly and need to do so while respecting a professional code of ethics.
This obligation is more critical during elections where citizens vote in leaders for central or local government authorities. Voters look up to the media to inform them factually and fairly on the various parties, policies, personalities and programmes at play.
This places a big responsibility on the media and on the journalists, underlying the fact that the election story “begins yesterday and not today” – It begins months before polling and can continue way after the votes have been tallied.
Although the election story could be regarded as a “set piece” easier to report, in practice covering elections requires more professional skills than the usual run-of-the- mill story.
Through its Media Support and Media Defence Fund, MISA-Zimbabwe conducts election reporting and journalism safety and security workshops as part of efforts to capacitate the media to fulfil its role of reporting accurately, truthfully and fairly in the pre-election and post-election periods.
This also involves the production and updating of its election reporting and journalism safety and security handbooks.
Through its Media Freedom Monitoring, MISA Zimbabwe strives to ensure the emergency of a conducive environment that ensures the safety and security of journalists which is of critical importance during elections.
Another major primary concern during elections is that journalists covering elections must be able to work as safely as is possible if they are to get their stories out. This is done through the issuance of alerts on cases involving media freedom violations.