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‘May 21 elections reporting biased’

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By Emmanuel Chirwa:

The Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) has said the media’s news reports during the 2019 tripartite elections focused on the presidential race instead of parliamentary and Local Government elections.

IWPR consultant, Edrinnie Kayambazinthu, made the remarks during a press briefing which took place on Thursday in Blantyre.

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“We have found that the media reported more on the presidential elections than those of parliamentary and Local Government. That partiality leads to voters making uninformed decisions. Nevertheless, there was positive reporting by the media during the period,” she said.

The report also indicates that State-owned media house coverage was biased towards the governing party while most privately-owned media houses favoured the opposition.

However, it was found that some practices are recurrent as they were also noted during studies of previous elections.

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IWPR Programmes Director, Cheu Mita, said they wanted to train more reporters in impartial reporting during elections.

“From the recommendations made from this study, we will ensure that we train more reporters, especially those from the State-owned media house so that there is impartiality in coverage during elections,” she said.

The study, which was carried out from March 20 to May 18 2019, focused on elections’ coverage and other topical issues.

Researchers found, among other issues, that agriculture, electoral processes, transportation, health and education were widely covered while those to do with minority rights, religion and urbanisation were among the least covered.

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