What role does the media have to play during elections?
Do smaller parties get the same coverage as the big three political parties in the country? How do newsrooms decide which party to report on or not?
A Media Monitoring Africa report into the 2016 local government elections shows the ANC received much more media coverage than other political parties.
In terms of news coverage of the 2016 polls the MMA said the ANC received 43.5%, followed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) at 24.0%, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) at 12%, the National Freedom Party at 4.7%, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) at 4.3% and other political parties at 11%.
Eusebius McKaiser engaged Director of Media Monitoring Africa William Bird on how the media covered the 2016 elections and improvements to be done this year.
In the 2016 elections, we had 26/28 registered parties, this year we have about 30 to 35 registered parties. Now media with the best will in the world can't give equal coverage to all parties.— William Bird, Director - Media Monitoring Africa
What determines the news agenda? Just because a politician speaks doesn't mean we have to cover them because by large we know what they are going to say even before we cover them and yet media flocks to these things.— William Bird, Director - Media Monitoring Africa
Bird says that the EFF's media strategy works well for it because everytime it calls a press briefing everyone seems to want to attend.
Even though we are not necessarily sure about what they are going to say, even though what they may say a lot of the time may be nonsense or even not newsworthy.— William Bird, Director - Media Monitoring Africa
He concludes -
The media coverage of political parties is fair.— William Bird, Director - Media Monitoring Africa
Listen to the full conversation and find out where the media can improve...