Lesotho media house aligned to political parties; Says MISA Lesotho Media Monitoring Group

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The Media Institute of Southern Africa Lesotho (MISA Lesotho) chapter’ Media Monitoring Group has issued this statement on Sunday 22nd February, 2015.

“The Media Monitoring group has observed various media houses on how they report on election related issues. The Media Monitoring Group looks at

  • frequency at which political parties fare in various media houses and whether items on political parties advance their campaign or de-campaigns them;
  • the extent to which coverage promotes electoral education,                                        MISA Lesotho Logo 2014
  • whether items on parties perpetuate or ameliorate election conflict and whether they promote peace and;

(iv)              the extent to reporting   adheres to media ethics

In its observation up to this far the team has observed 8 radio programmes and read 6 news articles. On the basis of the above criteria, the team concludes that;

  • Media houses are still fragmented and mainly aligned with various political orientations. Though some radio stations and print media are more clearly aligned to identifiable political sides, others try to provide space for different parties but still lack some ethical considerations;
  • The majority of stories are on the party campaigns where they either advance parties or decampaign them. There is little electoral education that reports provided in their programmes and news stories except where such is procured differently as an independent advertorial or special programme ;
  • Though some programmes and news items seem to be aimed at providing information and space for listeners to express their views, callers are not guided to remain on track and choose words hence the otherwise well intended programmes become a decampaign;
  • In the written material, sources consulted and the purpose of the story are not elaborate enough to communicate the message beyond reasonable doubt on decampaign;
  • Some radio stations and news houses publicise and print what the politicians said simply because they want to cover them but they have no control over the content they give;
  • The majority of reports lack professionalism as they are not fairly balanced while others clearly promote hate speech.

Besides these shortfalls, the media in Lesotho remains enthusiastically interested in political developments generally and in 2015 elections in particular. This goes a long way in mobilising the public to engage with contesting candidates and political parties thus generating necessary public interest in this important process. The Group urges media houses to take necessary measures to support their reporters to be guided by professionalism in their election reporting. The group takes this opportunity to thank media for the work they are doing and encourages them to continue playing this significant role with caution at this time when the nation waits anxiously to be informed about important development related to elections.

The Media Monitoring Group was established by the MISA Lesotho under the Peace Building and Conflict Reporting Project. It comprises of prominent people on media studies and civil society in Lesotho.”

For more information please call MISA Lesotho on 22320941 or misalesotho@gmail.com

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