Media to be scrutinised during upcoming elections in Arab world

The media’s performance during upcoming elections in Jordan, Bahrain and Egypt will be monitored closely in a bid to promote fair and in-depth election coverage

The Arab Working Group, a network of Arab human rights organisations supported by IMS, will organise the training of local monitors to monitor the coverage of print and electronic media in the lead-up to and during November’s elections in Jordan, Bahrain, and Egypt.

Using an internationally recognised methodology, the monitors will measure and record the space and airtime allocated to different political parties, candidates and election themes as well as carry out a qualitative analysis of the coverage. The results will be compiled in a report and shared will the media, authorities and public in each country after the elections with the desired aim of generating debate in the countries.

Why monitor media?

Media play a key role during elections in providing citizens with accurate information about their electoral choices and the election process. People’s opinions and election choices are often shaped by what they read or watch.

The monitoring results will be a record of the amount and type of election coverage available to citizens through the media. not only will this provide an overview of whether a country’s media has covered its election period fairly, but the results will also reflect how freely and professionally the media work in that country. The aim of media monitoring during elections is for the results to create debate in the media and NGO sector as well as in the public and ultimately to improve professional standards of journalism in the country in question.

Monitoring media in the Arab world

The Arab Working Group has carried out similar monitoring activities in connection with presidential and parliamental elections in Egypt, and in Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Sudan, Morocco and Yemen.

Previous media monitoring reports carried out during elections in Lebanon and Tunisia in 2009 concluded that media in both countries had succumbed to partiality. In Lebanon however, the report generated a dynamic debate about the new electoral media law and how it should be improved. In other countries such as Tunisia, monitors were harassed repeatedly by authorities, illustrating the sensitivities around the control and power of the media in countries of the region. Read more about the media monitoring results in Lebanon and Tunisia here.

The results of media monitoring in Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan will be covered on the IMS website once these are published.