A STUDY of media coverage of the 2004 Namibian Presidential and National Assembly Elections found that elections did not appear on the radar until three weeks before polling day, according to a report in New Era.

The study was carried out by The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa)’s Namibian Chapter, Misa Namibia, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and Media Tenor South Africa.

Compared to non-election political content, the volume of articles dealing with elections, parties and politicians was extremely low, the study established. The volume of statements, however, peaked during the second and third week, then stabilised to around 3 500 statements per week.

Newspapers, the study further established, did not have favourites as all parties got coverage from most if not all papers often in near equal proportions. Newspapers did not report with value judgments and most statements were without clear positive or negative slants, thus no party had any reason to complain as none was systematically slanted.

With more than a month to the polls and with elections campaigns yet to heat up, no final assessment can be made on media coverage on the current election, as yet. Nevertheless, New Era spoke to three personalities in the media fraternity to gauge their views on whether the media is doing justice in its coverage of elections thus far, and if not what they are not doing right.

Emily Brown, Head of the Department of Media Technology and lecturer at the Polytechnic of Namibia is of the opinion that the reporting of elections in the local media is based on events and speeches.

“Thus, it’s largely leaders and officials that are speaking. You don’t hear the voices of ordinary people,” the lecturer adds. Brown says elections should be about the people and what they want.

She goes on to say that 80 percent of sources used by the media are male and very few females feature or are heard on political issues.

Click here to read the full report, posted on New Era's website.