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MMA launches final elections report

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), a leading media research organisation in Africa, today launched its final report as part of a series analyses, evaluating the coverage of the 2019 National Elections in South Africa. You can find the full report here.

On May 8, for the 6th time since the advent of democracy in 1994, South Africans went to the polls to cast their ballot in the 2019 National and Provincial Elections. With an unprecedented 48 political parties contesting on the national ballot, choices for political representation were extensive and spread across ideological lines. In its role of being the watchdogs of society, the media thus inherits the arduous task of having to stretch itself wide, amidst rising challenges, to report on an equitable scale the many political parties and to do so in a free and fair manner. It is of vital importance then that the information that the electorate receives and boasts integrity, credibility and quality. In the absence of accurate, insightful and balanced news, centering on issues of critical importance to the lives of citizens, the agenda of the country remains decided upon and dominated by an elite few. Media therefore have a key role to play in facilitating the type of informed decision-making required for every potential voter to mark their ballot for their party of choice.

To hold the media accountable to these high-level principles, MMA analysed the media coverage of elections over the past 2.5 months. This research report is the third and final in a series of analyses that unpack the quality of media coverage in the 2019 elections period. While this report specifically focuses on the quality of reporting in While our previous reports focused specifically on media coverage in March and April 2019 with deep-dives into gender and land respectively, this report analyses all data captured over the whole three-month period. Critically, we see a positive shift towards a bigger representation of citizen’ voices, climbing to second place after having reached an all-time high of 14% coverage never before recorded in all previous elections. However, there is still work to be done as we also see coverage, voice and focus given to women and to issues affecting women and girls, especially gender based violence, remains profoundly marginalised.

We also see how politicized mainstream media narratives remain as political issues, such as party politics and party campaigning, remain the most common subject of elections stories. For the first time, though, we begin to see a citizens’ agenda emerge with citizens’ voices climbing to the second spot of the second most accessed voices.

The previous reports examining all elections coverage from March – May 2019 are available on www.mediamonitoringafrica.org

For more information, please feel free to contact Sarah Findlay on (011) 788 1278 or on sarahf@mma.org.za