–By Funmi Falobi–
Nigerian media have been urged to do more in the coverage of women and people living with disability that are vying for political positions in the 2019 elections. The media is also tasked to report challenges that People Living with Disability (PLWD) face in their quest to exercise their civic rights before and during the elections.
The analysis of trends in the reporting of 2019 electoral process by 12 print/online newspapers for September to December 2018 undertaken by the International Press Centre, IPC, with support of the European Union, EU-SDGN revealed that men dominated the space of media reports with 1, 417 mentions, representing 50.61% as against women which have 102 mentions, representing 3.54%, while youths have 109 mentions, representing 3.7% and PLWD have 33, mentions representing 1.14%.
Reviewing the monitoring project, Mr. Richard Akinnola, Executive Director, Centre for Free Speech said, “There is gender imbalance either by those interviewed or those reported in the media. There is concentration of the big political parties in the media to the detriment of the small political parties.
All Progressives Party, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, got 85% while other parties got insignificant mentions of 25% in the monitored newspapers. As journalists, we focus majorly on big parties to the detriment of small parties.”
Director, IPC, Lanre Arogundade said that there are frameworks that govern media coverage of elections and they deal with its social responsibilities, reporting the underprivileged like the PLWD.
“Media content monitoring is very important. IPC is not the only one monitoring the media, the international organizations also do and they release reports after the elections. The public is also interested in how well the media is doing, to see to what extent we capture the public interest. If the media get it right, the electoral body will also get it right. One single report can spark up crisis via hate speech. As journalists, our duty is to go beyond what politicians say and report peaceful conduct of elections”, he said.
Arogundade however enjoined journalists on duty to be safety conscious on the elections day saying “there are some violence flash point like Lagos, Ogun, Kaduna, Kano, Zamfara, Benue, Plateau, Rivers as well as North East. Journalists should be safety conscious while covering the elections.”
On her part, Director, International Cooperation, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Elizabeth Egharevba commended the project. Egharevba represented by Mr. Nwaeze Afam, Project Officer, EU-SDGN commended the EU for supporting IPC to carry out the project in strengthening democratic governance in Nigeria.
Similarly, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalist, NUJ, Lagos chapter, Dr. Qasim Akinreti lauded IPC for working in the interest of Nigerian journalists while urging journalists not to be partisan during their coverage saying, “report the elections, in doing so, be extremely responsible and careful, so we don’t end up reporting you as a casualty of the election”, adding hopefully that, “It won’t be as much violence as people have predicted.”