guidelines for election coverage

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Guidelines for election coverage in Kenya

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  • 2 Guidelines for Election Coverage

    NAME INSTITUTION SIGNATURE

    ANDERSON WAWERU MEDIAMAX

    DOREEN RUKARIACOMMUNITY RADIO ASSOCIATION OF KENYA (CRAK)

    FARIDA KARONEY ROYAL MEDIA SERVICES

    JOHN BUNDOTICH STANDARD GROUP

    JOSEPH ODINDO NATION MEDIA GROUP

    JULIUS MAINA NATION MEDIA GROUP

    LINUS GITAHI NATION MEDIA GROUP

    MACHARIA GAITHO KENYA EDITORS GUILD

    MAINA MUIRURI MEDIAMAX

    MARTIN MASAIALTERNATIVE MEDIA NETWORK (AMNET)

    Adherence to the Guidelines Stakeholders Commitment

  • 3 Guidelines for Election Coverage

    MICHEAL MUMO CAPITAL GROUP LTD

    NJUKI GITHETWAKENYA COMMUNITY MEDIA NETWORK (KCOMNET)

    OLEWE OWITI JOSEPH KENYA NEWS AGENCY

    OMWA OMBARAMEDIA LIASON AND ADVOCACY CONSULTANT

    OWINO JULIUS - MAJIMAJI

    GHETTO RADIO

    PATRICK KONGOTIIMANI RADIO AND TV MINISTRIES

    PAUL WANYAGAH MEDIAMAX

    VICTOR OTIENO JUMA RADIO NAM LOLWE

    WAITHAKA WAIHENYAKENYA BROADCASTING CORPORATION

    WILLIAM OLOO JANAKKENYA CORRESPONDENTS ASSOCIATION

    WILLIAM PIKE RADIO AFRICA

  • 4 Guidelines for Election Coverage

    CONTENTSAcknowledgement

    Preamble

    Summary of the guidelines

    1. Editorial principlesq Media and the voter q Media and the candidatesq Media and the nation q Values

    2. Journalists Rights and Responsibilitiesq Integrity q Knowledge q Skills and tools q Safety

    3. Harm and offence q Hate speechq Language q Taste and decencyq Gender balanced election coverage

    4. Content and formatsq Social mediaq State mediaq Opinion pollsq Phone-ins and talk showsq Political advertising

    5. Implementing the guidelines q Editorial codes/Station guidesq Complaintsq Media monitoring

  • 5 Guidelines for Election Coverage

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTWe would like to thank the Editors Guild, Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ),

    Kenya Correspondents Association, Media Owners Association (MOA) and the

    Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), for their contribution in

    developing these election coverage guidelines. Special thanks goes to Internews for

    their support in publishing the guidelines.

    We would also like to acknowledge the contribution of the following Media houses

    and organisations in the development of the guidelines, particularly during the

    stakeholders forum: the Nation Media Group, the Standard Group, Article 19 and the

    National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).

    Finally, we wish to thank the following international organisations, from

    whose guidelines we have borrowed: the Commonwealth Broadcasting

    Association, African Centre for Media Excellence, International Centre for

    Journalists (ICJ) and Media Monitoring to promote democratic Elections (National

    Democratic Institute), International Media Support and UNESCO.

    The Media Council of Kenya

    April, 2012

  • 6 Guidelines for Election Coverage

    Preamble

    We editors, journalists, practitioners, media owners and managers,

    Recognising the importance of general elections,

    Guided by the desire to facilitate a free, fair and democratic election process,

    Aware that our Constitution provides for freedom and independence of all types of media; and guarantees all citizens the

    right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom to seek,

    receive or impart information or ideas,

    Acknowledging that media freedoms come with responsibilities,

    Determined to assist voters make informed choices,

    Resolve to adopt and abide by the following guidelines during the coverage of the General Election:

  • 7 Guidelines for Election Coverage

    Summary of the guidelinesThese guidelines are the result of an on-going collaborative effort between the

    media and various organisations that have a stake in ensuring the smooth running

    of a credible, peaceful and democratic general election and its proper coverage by

    the media. They include: the IEBC, NCIC, KUJ, the Editors Guild of Kenya, the Kenya

    Correspondents Association and Internews.

    The guidelines were compiled following contributions from key stakeholders, which

    culminated in a three-day workshop to discuss and finalise the document a process

    facilitated by the Media Council of Kenya.

    The guidelines reflect existing codes of conduct and the requirements of the new

    Constitution. The booklets arrangement is simple and logical for ease of reference by

    media professionals covering the elections.

    The guidelines cover a wide range of issues, which include:

    q Balance and fairnessq Corruption (as it affects journalists)q Gender balance and diversity of voicesq Conflict-sensitive journalismq Opinion pollsq Equitable coverageq Voter educationq Phone-ins

    The guidelines are aimed at helping journalists to provide comprehensive, accurate,

    impartial, balanced and fair coverage of the elections, thus enabling the voter to make

    informed choices. The guidelines will apply to all media houses whether private, or

    State-owned as well as the authorities involved in or policing the electoral process

    and, that have voluntarily adopted them.

  • 8 Guidelines for Election Coverage

    EDITORIAL PRINCIPLES

    At the heart of every election are three interlocking sets of rights:

    q The right of the voters to make a fully informed choice;q The right of the candidates to put their policies across; andq The right of the media to freely report and express their views on matters of public interest.

    1. Media and the voterDuty to the voterThe role of the media in an election is to ensure that the citizen is empowered to make an informed choice. The media, therefore, have a duty to provide election coverage that gives the voter sufficient, accurate and reliable information and knowledge on all-important electoral matters. These include voting, campaign issues, political parties and candidates. This information will also help to ensure that the voters know and understand their right to exercise their

    democratic duty free from fear, intimidation or coercion.

    2. Media and the candidatesDuty to the candidateThe media must maintain a balanced and impartial coverage of the election, which means they must not favour or show bias against any party or candidate. The media should be able to demonstrate that the main parties or candidates vying for office are given equitable opportunities to be heard or questioned and, that minor parties or candidates are not treated unfairly. Fair and balanced coverage also means that individual stories, and their pattern over a period of time reflect the views of different parties or candidates.

    3. Media and the nationDuty to the nationMedia houses are corporate citizens of Kenya; they have a stake in the future and wellbeing of the nation. There is need, therefore, for the media to

  • 9 Guidelines for Election Coverage

    use the opportunity offered by the elections to work for unity and, prevent or reduce conflict and polarisation by promoting the rule of law. Similarly, the media should establish in-house structures and mechanisms of overcoming internal conflict that could negatively influence or compromise election coverage. The media has a duty to reflect a diversity of voice in its coverage, including minorities and marginalised communities. The reporting should be gender-balanced, treating women and men equally as news subjects and news sources.

    4. ValuesIn covering the elections, the media must at all times observe the core values and principles of journalism:

    q Accuracy The media must ensure that their election reports are factual, accurate, well sourced and based on sound evidence.

    q Impartiality The media should produce fair and balanced reports, reflecting a breadth and diversity of opinion that ensures no significant strand of thought is missing or under-represented.

    q Sourcing The media have an obligation to the people they report about and to the society they report to. The journalist should, therefore, protect confidential sources of information. However, they must not use the cover of unnamed sources to hide personal opinions.

    q News coverage Editorial opinion must be clearly distinguished from news to avoid the danger of misleading audiences.

    q Right of reply A fair opportunity to reply to inaccuracies contained in a report that has been broadcast or published should be given to aggrieved individuals or organisations. The right of reply must be given within at least 24 hours in a

    programme of similar weight and audience or space of similar prominence.

  • 10 Guidelines for Election Coverage

    JOURNALISTS RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES5. IntegrityBorrowing a leaf from Chapter Six of the Constitution of Kenya, journalists should strive to exercise their duties in a manner that is consistent with the rule of law. They should also demonstrate respect for the people, bring dignity to the profession and promote public confidence in the integrity of the profession. This means that a good journalist:

    q Is not for sale;q Does not accept bribes; q Does not give special favours to any politician or party;q Does not produce reports skewed towards personal, party, ethnic or religious positions;

    q Does not defame or promote hate, malice or corruption; and

    q Does not release unofficial or unverified election results.

    6. Knowledge, skills and toolsFor proper, effective and professional election coverage, the media must ensure they are equipped with appropriate tools and skills, which include relevant training.It is the responsibility of the individual journalist to ensure th

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