Seeking to provide balanced election coverage

03 April 2015
Seeking to provide balanced election coverage
Mizzima Editor In-Chief and Managing Director U Soe Myint speaks during a meeting to discuss effective media coverage of elections, held at the Summit Parkview Hotel on April 2, 2015. Photo: Thet Ko/Mizzima

As the elections approach, political parties and the media have identified key areas of consensus that will promote coverage of the elections that is balanced, accurate and professional.
Through a dialogue between parties and the media, supported by the Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme, in partnership with the Myanmar Press Council, held on April 1-2 at the Summit Parkview Hotel, political parties and the media jointly reviewed the commitments contained in the Myanmar Press Council’s draft Guidelines for the Media during Elections and commitments made by political parties towards the media in their draft Political Parties Code of Conduct.
The key objectives of the dialogue are to provide a forum where political party leaders can give feedback on relations with the media during elections, including the election reporting guidelines for the media; to allow representatives of the media to provide feedback to party leaders on the role of the media during the electoral cycle; to allow the media and parties to discuss how parties and the media can cooperate to ensure a constructive relationship during the electoral process, given the challenges likely to arise.
Nearly 70 people, including representatives of political parties and the leading media houses attended the dialogue. To ensure that other stakeholders are aware and engaged of the issues discussed in this dialogue, DIPD also invited the UEC and CSOs to participate in the discussions of the second day, and share how they can contribute to processes of media monitoring and dispute resolution between parties and the media.
As one speaker put it, the media fulfils an important role as a “watchdog” over elections. Parties and the media also highlighted the challenges still to be addressed, including providing information on elections to voters in areas of the country poorly served by media and communications.
The sheer number of parties, the scale of the elections and the lack of experience in covering elections will provide considerable challenges. Based on the recently-concluded dialogue, however, both parties and the media demonstrate a strong commitment to overcoming the obstacles identified.
The MMDP is a programme of the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy. DIPD is established by an act of the Danish Parliament and provides support to political parties through enhancing multi-party cooperation and dialogue, and also through enhancing the capacity of political parties to perform their democratic functions.