The media has a role to inform the citizens about the competing political parties and their programmes and candidates, and to contribute to the formation of the opinion of the electorate.
With that might, media coverage has to be equally allotted to all political parties so that people make informed decisions on who to vote for.
This is why it’s a concern seeing that the latest report by Media Monitors Zimbabwe shows that Zanu-PF had the largest share of media coverage from 31 May to 22 July 2018. Media Monitors formally Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, is an organization that conducts media monitoring and analyses trends in the Zimbabwean media. The report which categorizes different types of media channels reflects Zanu-PF having a disproportionately larger percentage than each of all political parties in every category.
Has the media failed?
Judging by the numbers, I think media has failed, particularly the private press. Seeing the coverage gained by the biggest two political parties relative to that gained by other parties in the private press, its disappointing.
Whilst public press should give equal access to media coverage, its hardly the case. In Africa, media coverage is most often in favor of the incumbent party and the biggest opposition. Hence there is need for the private press to set a good example of doing what the public press fails, to give (almost) equal media coverage to political parties.
Although digital platforms such as social media have now been widely adopted in Zimbabwe, and now give other political parties coverage, some people (in rural areas and the outskirts) remain unconnected to the Internet. This means that these new platforms are inaccessible to the masses which in turn inhibits them to engage with many people. Therefore, traditional media, therefore remain an important platform for public engagement during elections. Which is why equal media coverage of political parties should not be taken lightly.