The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on Thursday in Abuja formally presented the report of the media coverage of the 2015 general elections to the public with a call on the media practitioners to digest and learn from the recommendations.
Mr Adesina who spoke in Abuja while presenting the book, “Reportage of 2015 Elections: Monitoring Scorecard of Print and Online Media”, enjoined the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to ensure that it is widely circulated.
The project jointly undertaken by the International Press Council (IPC) and the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) was funded by donors- EU, UKAid, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development under the Democratic Governance fore Development (DGD) Project managed by the UNDP.
According to the Presidential Media Adviser, it was good that the 2015 electoral process was measured and evaluated, saying it would guide media practitioners in the coverage of future elections.
While noting that there were lapses in the media reportage of the last general elections, Mr Adesina however, posited that “the negatives and positives are work in progress”.
The UNDP’s Media Advisor, Toyin Gabriel, who also represented the DGD Project Director, expressed delight that after a long process, the IPC and NPC were able to produce a world class report that can stand the test of time.
Mrs Gabriel said the project was undertaken meticulously with a view to proving that there are Nigerian institutions that can deliver high value project.
She said the stake was very high to deliver a product that the sponsors can be proud of and thanked the contributors for a job well done.
In his review prior to the presentation, the Director, International Press Centre, Lanre Arogundade, said the scope of the project covered six-month period from November 2014 to April 2015.
He said 12 national newspapers were monitored during the period. They were- Daily Sun, The Nation, National Mirror, Vanguard, The Punch, ThisDay, Daily Independent, The Guardian, Nigerian Tribune, Daily Champion, Leadership and Daily Trust.
Also monitored were 10 regional newspapers – Nigerian Chronicle, Daily Star, Nigerian Observer, Nigerian Pilot, Abuja Inquirer, Peoples’ Daily, Blueprint, The Gleaner, Desert Herald, and Fresh Facts.
In addition, four online newspapers – The Tide, The Cable, Sahara Reporters and Premium Times as well as three social media platforms – Enough-is-Enough Nigeria, Reclaim Naija and INEC were monitored.
Mr Arogundade said: “The period covered meant that it was possible to assess the performance of the concerned media outlets, prior to, during and immediately after the elections in the five topical areas of use of sources, conflict sensitivity, language use, coverage of issues and coverage of the election management body”.
The general findings are as follows:
- The monitored media outlets accorded varying degree of priority to public interest issues in the 2015 elections; while there was high interest in conflict related issues, the development content of the election reports were quite low;
- The monitored media outlets exhibited different levels of professionalism in the reporting of political parties and candidate but media access was generally in favour of the biggest two political parties while the other political parties were often overlooked;
- The monitored media outlets made noticeable efforts to comply with the legislative and the institutional frameworks on the media coverage of elections, but there were significant areas of non-compliance.
- The media should in future elections guarantee fair access and equitable coverage for all registered political parties especially in order to enable the electorate to make informed choices at the polls. The reporting should not continue to be focussed exclusively on the so-called frontline or prominent political parties;
- The media should continue to base its agenda for the reporting of elections and democratic governance issues on the public interest for credible process, development and democratic accountability;
- Media owners, editors and reporters who cover elections should develop deliberate strategies to ensure that women politicians are properly projected;
- Regulatory agencies such as the Nigerian Press Council, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) etc and media professional associations/bodies like the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Nigeria Guild of Editors, RATTAWU, etc should strengthen and enforce their industry regulatory instruments, including election guidelines and professional conduct to ensure that media organisations deliver on equitable coverage of all political parties and women candidates;
- The media should embrace the philosophy of gender responsive reporting by giving greater projection to female politicians and women issues generally while also seeking commitment from women politicians and women led organisations as sources for stories affecting the female gender and democratic governance;
- Journalists should ensure that their reports on the electoral processes in general and democratic governance issues in particular are more inclusive by improving on the use of experts, women, youths, ordinary citizens, the civil society, etc, as sources;
- Online media platforms operated by media practitioners should continue to uphold media ethics in their reportage of electoral and democratic governance issues in order to enhance their rating as dependable sources for engagement in subsequent elections and especially to draw a distinction between online media and other online activities by individuals who are not journalists;
- The use of social media has some cross cutting advantages, as such, the civil society should plan to use and equally encourage other election stakeholders to use social media in subsequent elections in Nigeria and in engagements that deepen Nigeria’s Democratic governance;
- INEC should sustain and improve on its engagement and use of the social media as a political communication and voter education tool in Nigeria;
- Development partners should continue to support and fund local NGOs and media support groups on capacity building and knowledge sharing initiatives that contribute to deepening the democratic process in Nigeria.
Prof Nosa Owens-Ibie of the Media and Development Department, Caleb University, delivered the keynote address on the topic: “Ethics in Election Reporting: Looking into the Future”, while the NUJ National President and NAWOJ President, Abdulwaheed Odusile and Ifeyinwa Omowole, delivered goodwill messages respectively.