Malawi online media urged to censure readers’ comments- Electoral Commission

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has appealed to interactive media and online publications to censure readers’ comments and ensure that there’s sanity in the road to 2014 tripartite elections.

MEC Commissioner Elvey Mtafu made the appeal Monday in Blantyre when she opened a BRIDGE seminar for media managers in Blantyre, the first that MEC is organizing for the media as part of capacity building ahead of the Tripartite Elections in 2014.

BRIDGE, short for Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections, and its curriculum is an internationally reputed project and an authority in elections curriculum, Mtafu explained.

She noted that Facebook,  micro-blogging site Twitter, blogs and other social media platforms “have become effective and cost effective tools for communication.”Mtafu: Let there be sanity

Mtafu said the media are a “crucial partner in elections” and therefore asked journalists to apply “ethics and standards when using social media.”

She said those with interactive platforms such as online news where readers can post comments “ought to exercise care and responsibility that the comments being posted are palatable and that they could run in their papers or radio.”

“If newspapers edit letters to the editor, why should you not exercise the same with comments from readers for their online publications?” she asked

Mtafu said the media have a responsibility of building a well informed electorate that is motivated and interested to participate in elections.

She said “elections are an emotive exercise because of what is at stake and no one goes into an election expecting to lose although the fact still stands out that there will always be only one winner in an election.”

“You should be cautious that the material you broadcast or publish does not perpetrate hostility, violence, aggression, hatred, tribalism, unrest, conflict or anything that falls in this class.”

She also cautioned against reporting opinion polls by those lacking proper credentials as they “always come up with questionable poll statistics.”

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