31 OCTOBER 2013, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — On 1 November 2013, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) will partner with the media project of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Africa (fesmedia Africa), the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC (ECF-SADC) to deliver a workshop with SADC electoral management bodies on effective communication with the media during elections.
The workshop will be held in Johannesburg and will bring together 30 to 40 key decision makers from electoral management bodies (EMBs) in the region and resource people from the media and civil society to discuss in-depth how communication between EMBs and media can be optimized during the electoral process taking into account their respective roles and responsibilities.
“When electoral management bodies withhold information, do not provide information proactively, or do not respond to journalist requests with complete and timely information, they may bring the validity of the electoral process into question,” said MISA Regional Director, Ms. Zoe Titus.
Ms. Titus said the media has a critical role to play during elections because they help facilitate citizen participation by publishing information on the process such as how, where and when to vote; and by providing citizens with access to the information they need to make informed choices.
“It is therefore very important for electoral management bodies and the media to maintain a healthy relationship of respect and understanding of each others’ roles and responsibilities,” said Ms. Titus.
On 26 September 2012, MISA held a workshop with the same partners to help media workers develop guidelines for providing fair media coverage during elections. These guidelines have since been incorporated into national codes of conduct by media regulatory bodies and the editorial policies of media houses.