Focus on issues in covering polls, journalists told

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/15 April) — Journalists covering the May 13, 2013 elections should focus on issues, campaign profiles and tactics of politicians to present better reports on the political exercise, an official of a media organization said.

Rowena Carranza-Paraan, president of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), said journalists covering the midterm polls should also be trained on issues related to the elections.

For their part, news executives must allot bigger budget for the reporting and carefully choose journalists for the job, she added.

Paraan was speaking at the two-day election reporting training in Kidapawan City organized by NUJP and attended by 36 journalists from south and central Mindanao.

The training also taught the participants some tips on safety and security while doing their job.

JB Deveza of the NUJP Mindanao Safety Office said reporters covering conflict-affected areas in Mindanao are prone to harassment and other abuses by various political groups during elections.

Paraan said that aside from monitoring vote-buying and other violations, the reporters should also keep watch of how the candidates are spending their money [in the campaign].

She urged media institutions to report to the Commission on Elections how much money is being spent on political ads by politicians and their supporters.

She said that those responsible for negligence and mismanagement of the election, fraud, deliberate voters’ disenfranchisement, acts of partisanship by government agencies, and all other attempts at manipulating the election must be held liable and accountable.

Ethical issues in covering elections were also discussed during the training.

NUJP Director Sonny Fernandez said it is unethical for journalist to work as “consultants” to politicians, pretend to be a supporter in order to get “inside” information, accept free travel and accommodations from candidates, rely primarily on official sources, and accept gifts from candidates for fear of antagonizing them.

“So to prevent from being accused of partisan politics, journalists are told to pay their way when covering the elections,” he said. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)