Media election manual launched

2011-03-30 10:47

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the Open Society Foundation for SA (OSF-SA) launched a local government elections manual for journalists and civil society today.

They said the manual, titled A Touchpad to Our Future, aimed to build journalists’ capacity to prepare for, monitor and report on the municipal elections while educating voters on elections and democracy.

“Moreover, it highlights the importance of media in a democratic state, and offers a holistic and practical approach for journalists to report on South Africa’s political system.”

The manual was endorsed by the SA National Editor’s Forum (Sanef) and the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

It was targeted at print, broadcast and online media and consisted of four sections: an introduction to the Constitution, government and the law; elections and election law; media law and using the media for elections; and practical guidelines for journalists.

IEC chairperson Brigalia Bam said the media played a significant role in “deepening democracy”.

“Elections are essential to any democratic order. It is therefore fundamental that the environment in the build up to the elections is free and fair for all candidates to campaign whilst at the same time ensuring that the electorate has access to information that will enable them to make informed decisions,” said OSF-SA executive director Zohra Dawood.

She said the manual gave journalists a wealth of election data and research that could be used to explore more interesting news angles.

This would help educate society and enable them to make an informed decision when voting and debating political issues.

“This local government election manual serves as an excellent tool to help journalists in the quest to tell balanced stories during an election,” said Sanef deputy chairperson Mary Papayya.

“It certainly contains data that is in keeping with Sanef’s mandate for a free media in our country as enshrined in our democracy.” 

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