Preliminary findings of the Road Map “Media challenges in elections coverage”
In the framework of the UNESCO Project ‘Enhancing Professional Media in the Electoral Process’, funded by the European Union, the initial results of a research aimed at addressing the obstacles of the journalistic coverage of elections in Jordan were presented in Amman. The Consulation, facilitated by Albany Associates, partner in the initiative, took place during the past months and included a wide array of methodologies, ranking from questionnaires, interviews, and discussions.
“Today we present the preliminary findings of a very unique and innovative exercise. For the first time, the media community in Jordan identifies concerns related to elections coverage with the aim of improving it in future elections, as professional coverage is basic in any participative society,” said Rut Gomez Sobrino, Project Manager of the initiative at UNESCO.
The aforementioned research will help build a Road Map to serve as an action plan to improve elections’ coverage not only by media but also by citizen journalists who have showed high interest in the recent electoral process in the country.
Among the topics raised in the research, the issue of access to information was mentioned by most of the participants taking part in this consultative exercise. Yehia Shokair, trainer at Albany Associates and moderator of the session, commented “one of the most important conclusions of the survey we distributed was the difficulty in accessing information on time, in addition to another relevant finding which is the lack of awareness on the elections law and the process in general”.
Other topics mentioned by the participants in the research were the need for training journalists, the lack of knowledge about media regulations in Jordan and the absence of clear mechanisms to guide journalists during the election period. Gender-balanced reporting was also one of the subjects addressed in the research as most of those interviewed believed that women candidates and voters had been marginalized and stereotyped in the media.
Representing the European Union Observation Mission in Jordan, Ms Rula Awwad, highlighted the Mission’s work on monitoring Jordanian media during the recent Parliamentary elections held in January 2013. Ms Awwad welcomed journalists to comment on the findings of the report and took note of their remarks.
The session was also attended by Mr Hussein Bani Hani, representing the Independent Electoral Commission, who explained that "problems occurring during elections were caused by the electoral law and not related to the IEC's performance". Mr Bani Hani also referred to the distance between the politicians and the society: "there's a common perception among people working at the IEC and elsewhere that officials don't respond to questions," he said.
Different activities under the Media in Elections Project are planned for the coming months. The final results of the research and the Road Map will be published during September 2013.
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