Malawi: Avoid Bias in Elections Reporting, Journalists Told

Lilongwe — Journalists have been asked to desist from biased coverage and reporting on the electoral process of the May 21 Tripartite Elections.

Director of Information in the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology Gideon Munthali made the call in Lilongwe on Saturday when he officially opened a one-day Media Training in Reporting on Elections Day and Results Management.

The media training was organized by Bwaila Media Club (BMC) with support from the European Union (EU).

Munthali said much as journalists have that choice of their preferred candidate, they should not allow that to influence their reports but rather adhere to the code of ethics and remain professional in their duties.

He said journalists are supposed to be apolitical and nonpartisan.

"Bias does not only show in the way a person writes but also in the way stories are positioned in both print and electronic media.

"I am concerned that there are times when you observe that stories for a certain political party are always taking the earlier pages of a newspaper while others are not.

"[Even] in electronic media, there are certain stories that always feature in headlines while others are not," he said.

He said such things need to be avoided at all cost if people are to trust the information that they get through various media platforms.

Munthali, therefore, hailed BMC for organizing the training saying it is important as it refreshes and updates one with latest information and is critical with respect to elections.

"The expectation is that we need to continue to review the standards at which our journalists are transacting so that the people are served better.

"There are gaps that were identified and this training has been organized basically to attend to

BMC vice chairperson Rodgers Siula underscored the fact that journalists have the responsibility as key stakeholders in elections to build their capacity through training.

"We have to offer people very credible news and be the best that we can to make sure that what we offer to the public is vital and factual... and not [mere] hearsay," Siula said.

The training which targeted journalists from the Central Region covered topics such as Stakeholder Expectations of the Media: Voting and Results Management, Understanding Results Management and Covering the Voting Day: Being Practical.

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