The media play an important role during election periods – they help voters to make an informed choice. That’s why the EU EOM Malawi 2019 has established a Media Monitoring Unit, which began its work 5 weeks prior to elections.
The Unit is composed of the EOM Media Analyst, Laurens Teule, and six local media assistants. They assess the coverage of the campaign by a sample of Malawian media outlets, including TV channels, radios and newspapers and produce an analysis of the distribution of media airtime and space given to each political contestant, and the tone of coverage.
The Media Analyst is also conducting meetings with journalists to gather more information on their role in the election process.
For broadcast media, the media monitors follow the main programmes and primetime broadcasts during the campaign. Television and radio programmes are recorded by the EU EOM and analysed on a daily basis, until the end of the election campaign.
This assessment considers:
- whether political parties and candidates are given fair and equitable access to the media;
- whether political parties and candidates are covered in a balanced and unbiased manner;
- whether the media and the authorities adhere to the rules on coverage of an election campaign; - whether the media give sufficient coverage of electoral issues to provide for the electorate making an informed choice on election day;
- whether public (state-owned) media fulfil their specific obligations.
The media analyst also looks into online media and internet-related freedoms.
The findings of the media monitoring will be included in the Mission’s Preliminary Statement, to be issued two days after the elections.
The Final Report of the EU EOM will comprise a more detailed analysis of the Malawian media environment and may include recommendations to improve media coverage in future electoral processes.