Issue of April 17, 2016
     
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‘Media must educate voters on elections’
by Ofelia C. Empian

Stressing on its power to shape public perception, the local media is urged to use this influence to help in educating the public to make sound choices in the upcoming May 9 polls.

“The media needs to help voters make informed decisions, among other tasks,” said University of the Philippines-Diliman Professor Danilo Arao during the one-day seminar organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines on April 12.

Commission on Elections records show that about 24 million of the 54.3 million voters belong to the 18 to 34 years old age bracket, which indicates the youth will comprise about 24 million votes. Therefore, Arao said the youths are most likely to sway the votes in the upcoming polls.

He said the media needs to intensify educating these young voters about the various candidates, both national and most especially local, during the seminar-workshop entitled “Briefings on Safety Reporting for the May 2016 Elections,” participated in by around 30 journalists and broadcasters from the Cordillera, Pangasinan, and Tarlac.

Arao urged them to put more context on the issues surrounding candidates so that voters, especially the young ones, will have a background on these candidates.

Arao, an associate professor of the UP College of Mass Communication, said the media should not only do the usual reporting of statistics and data but go beyond by presenting data with analysis for the public’s consumption.

He said it is the media’s responsibility to help voters make informed decisions “based on platforms and not on personalities.”

He added the media’s aim is to encourage registered voters to exercise their right to vote and to “analyze opportunities and limits of elections in achieving social change.”

He stressed that the community press should analyze national issues in the context of local realities.

“(We should) highlight local situations and how national and local candidates are addressing community-based issues,” he said.

He said it is also worth asking local candidates on their agenda for media practitioners in promoting and upholding press freedom, ensuring self-regulation in media, ending a culture of impunity, and stopping the killing of journalists.

The seminar-workshop, backed the by International Federation of Journalists, is part of a series of NUJP to equip media colleagues on handling threats and risks during election coverage.


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