16.09.2013 - UNESCO Office in Amman

UNESCO Amman celebrates the International Day of Democracy with the launch of a Road Map Strategy to improve journalistic coverage of elections

Elections are a key component of any democratic system as they facilitate the participation of the civil society in the political game and media is vital to channel that interaction. The event organized by UNESCO Amman and Albany Associates on the International Day of Democracy initiated with this assumption and emphasized the need to enhance professionalism of the media in the coverage of elections.

“Elections are a major tool to promote democratic participation and the role of media is essential not only to inform the public about the electoral process and the programs of the different political parties but also to report that elections run smoothly and that the voices of the different communities are heard. The Project ‘Enhancing Professional and Accurate Media on the Electoral Process’ funded by the European Union, tries to facilitate the exercise of the journalists during elections and this Road Map is a working tool that could contribute to this process” said Rut Gomez Sobrino, Project Manager in charge of the initiative.

The need to Increase awareness about the electoral law, the possibilities to develop a code of conduct and of ethics and continuing capacity building efforts of the journalists were some of the topics raised during the discussions. The event included a lively debate with stakeholders which were involved in the electoral process, such as the former spokesperson of the Independent Electoral Commission, Mr Hussein Bani Hani, Mr Daoud Kuttab, Director General of Radio Al Balad and Mr Yasar Durra, Head of Training at Jordan Media Institute. Journalists who joined the trainings organized by UNESCO in the last months were also present in the debate.

“It is important to regulate not only public media but private media as both affect voters behavior; during the elections we saw that some candidates who are also media owners used their outlets in marketing campaigns. There should be a code of ethics to regulate that,” commented Mr Daoud Kuttab, from Radio Al Balad, partner at the UNESCO Media and Elections Project.

A relevant part of the event was dedicated to the presentation of the Road Map, its findings and strategies proposed. This tool, which will be available in the coming weeks, has also an online version to facilitate its use. "The Road Map Strategy that we are building through this Project, based upon the research conducted in the past few months with the media community in Jordan, will be a working tool not only to assess how they feel about their own efforts in covering recent elections but also to develop future projects that will lead to improved professionalism of media during campaign periods to come. The Road Map Strategy sets out key recommendations, including increased consultation with journalists in developing the rules that govern their work during elections," clarified Mr Douglas Griffin, Director of Albany Associates, partner at the UNESCO Media and Elections Project.

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