President Joyce Banda and her ruling People’s Party (PP) continue to enjoy massive media coverage in almost all news outlets in the country during this campaign period, a report by Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) has shown.
This is the second report issued by the institute and it analyses media coverage from April 2 to 22 after the first report, released in March, also showed that the President was getting a lion’s share in the media.
According to the newly released report – which monitored 641 newspaper articles published by The Nation and The Daily Times; 1 783 stories aired on 13 radio stations; 535 stories on MBC and Times televisions; 665 posts on Facebook, 226 posts on Twitter and 425 articles on news websites – there was no significant improvement in balancing coverage of all political parties in the election’s race.
Speaking when presenting the report last week at Protea Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre, Chancellor College lecturer Edrinnie Kayambazinthu said despite calls for the media to ensure they give equal space to all political parties, the findings show no improvement, but a decline in neutrality on the tone used on Facebook and Twitter.
“Our focus was to monitor balance in reporting between presidential, parliamentary and local polls; parties mentioned; voice of parties quoted and number of issues discussed. The presidential race is getting more time with PP dominating space in most news outlets,” Kayambazinthu said.
She, however, said they are happy there is a minor improvement in covering small parties, noting that PP, United Democratic Front (UDF), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) have been joined by Mark Katsonga Phiri’s People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) as parties being prioritised by the media.
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi chapter chairperson Anthony Kasunda urged journalists to focus on issue-based reporting and improve on coverage of local government elections which scored very low in all media outlets.
With funding from Usaid and DfID, the data was collected by Polytechnic, Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) and Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) while Chancellor College, with guidance from IWPR, analysed it.