Executive Director, Centre for Free Speech, Mr Richard Akinola has urged the media to make conscious effort to ensure they are not depriving political candidates adequate coverage in the media space.
Akinola made the call during his review of the media monitoring report of the electoral process between September and December 2018 published by the International Press Center.
Akinola stressed that the media is giving more prominence to the two major political parties and depriving other political parties that do not have huge funds the opportunity to have appropriate media coverage.
He explained that, “When you look at the percentage difference in terms of mentions, APC got 55.9% of mentions, PDP that came second in terms of mentions got 29.12% and all the other “smaller” parties got insignificant percentages of mentions.
“This aspect of the report poses a major challenge to the press and the responsibility of the press to the people. If we have to be real, political actors – candidates and parties alike – must have a heavy financial war chest for them to be well reported and projected in the media, as we have seen in this report.
“This is an issue which we have to critically address, otherwise, we are invariably shutting the doors against candidates who are not financially buoyant. To me, this is the main issue that resonates in this report. This has put the smaller parties in a disadvantaged position.”
The Centre for Free Speech Director also highlighted the subtle gender discrimination in the reportage of the 12 newspapers that were reviewed.
He buttressed that, “Of course, we cannot close our eyes to the subtle gender discrimination in terms of visibility given to female candidates and even in the process of interviewing news sources, where there have been a disproportionate percentage against women.”
He commended the International Press Center witnessed the support of the European Union Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria for the report, adding that “this is a very good report and l must commend the International press Centre for this initiative and its team of researchers for this laudable initiative, which would no doubt help the press to rethink its coverage of electoral issues and hopefully improve on its performance.”
Reacting on the low coverage of the female candidates by media houses, Sekinat Lawal, Chairperson of the National Association of Female Journalists, Lagos State Chapter urged women to make themselves available for the media. She stressed that there are numerous programs that would love to feature women but oftentimes women decline.