Enhancing Professional and Accurate Media Reporting on the Electoral Process in Jordan

Workshop with ARIJ on reporting techniques to promote election transparency and accountability

Following the 2011-2012 protests in Jordan, connected to the Arab Spring uprising in the region, the state established an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in light of the 2013 Parliamentary elections, and in order to respond to the public’s reservations in the political system.

Party to key international frameworks relating to freedom of expression, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and home to a diverse media environment, Jordan remains at a standstill when it comes to media legislation, regulations and practice, as assessed by UNESCO Media Development Indicators and the Reporters Without Borders’ 2012 World Press Freedom Index. Further, with internet use increasing in the country against outdated media curricula, Jordan finds itself limited in its capacities to promote a quality education in journalism and an enabling environment for the upholding of freedom of expression, specifically in the area of electoral reporting.

In response to these challenges and a request for support by the Jordanian government and media stakeholders, UNESCO has partnered with the European Union Delegation in Jordan to develop the country’s media capacities, foster high-quality democratic governance and restore the public’s confidence and participation in the political process. In fact, supporting and promoting a free, professional and independent media environment is significantly conducive to a healthy functioning democracy.

As a follow up on UNESCO’s “Policy Advice to Government of Jordan” drafted in 2011 and through intensive consultations on the ground, this project aims to (1) develop Jordanian media’s understanding of its essential function in the electoral process, (2) build capacity by providing training for media professionals on investigative and gender-sensitive reporting and (3) support 15 pilot media institutions in the implementation of a framework to improve the quality of electoral reporting, in order to achieve a long-term impact in the country and perhaps in the region.

In line with the above, the project’s main goal is to enhance media capacity, whether print, electronic or online media institutions, reporters, editors, managers and owners, to report professionally, accurately and comprehensively on the electoral process, and to enable a free, more objective, and impartial access to information on the elections. By achieving this, the public confidence and participation in the electoral and democratic process will be enhanced.

Training workshops, debates and exchange of experiences have been at the core of the project activities, in addition to consultations within the media community. This latter pioneer exercise, composed of personal interviews, questionnaires and group discussions, will help identify the challenges that the journalists face when covering elections. The result of the consultations will serve as a base for a Road Map to address those challenges and propose strategic solutions so that the coverage of electoral processes improves professionally according to international accredited standards.

Assuming the high importance of liaising with key stakeholders already working in the country, the project relies on three local partners: Jordan Media Institute, Community Media Network and Arab Journalists for Investigative Journalism. An international partner, Albany Associates, has been selected in a competitive process to conduct technical capacity development plus the consultation with the media community leading to the above mentioned Road Map.

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