Written by Enock Balakasi
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on Tuesday engaged media managers and editors across the country, calling upon their media houses to adhere to media ethics and refrain from sensationalizing stories as the country draws closer to tripartite elections next year.
The meeting was held in Lilongwe.
MEC Chairperson Justice Dr Jane Ansah feared that with the proliferation of uncensored social media, undesirable information would likely go viral and plunge the nation into confusion and violence.
She noted that established media houses have the duty to counter such misinformation by swiftly giving the public what is necessary, thereby averting turmoil.
” The media must be able to fight against rumors, conjecture and false news that are being fueled by social media. They must do thorough research before writing the stories to avoid confusion and mistrust among electorates,” she said.
Since it is difficult to regulate the social media, people pass false information which can cause a lot of problems in the election cycle. People mask names when reporting information and post sensational information.” she observed.
In his remarks, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Chief Technical Adviser for elections Richard Cox conquered with Ansah, adding that the media needed to familiarize themselves with the electoral process and other necessary information for effective reporting.
He said: “The media has a powerful role to play in the electoral process. We want a common understanding between MEC and the media in terms of the work undertaken to deliver electoral services. We understand that the media is biased all over the world but there should be a key understanding of the work that MEC is doing in the electoral process.”
Commenting on the issue, Joy Media Station Manager Blessings Cheleuka promised his media house to strive to give the public factual and balanced reporting throughout the election cycle. He said, this would enable the electorate at the grass roots level to make informed decisions on who they should elect as their leader.