Elections may represent an affirmation and consolidation of the democratic process but may also become a threat to peace and stability. The path that each country follows depends to a great extent on the level of commitment to the electoral process of all those with a stake in the outcome – media, government officials, institutions, political parties, civil society and the population at large. An election campaign is an especially sensitive phase in a nation’s political life, during which journalists may be targets of intimidation and manipulation, and may be diverted from their mission of informing the public. Pressure and harassment have marked many elections. In other cases, journalists have become mere transmitters of partisan messages and propaganda.
Produced by Reporters Without Borders and the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) he Handbook for Journalists During Elections aims at helping journalists assume their responsibilities and cover elections successfully. It is meant for journalists working for media of every category (radio, television, print and online), scale (local, national or international) and form of ownership (state-owned, privately owned or community). It is vital that journalists be trained and imbued with the appropriate professional and ethical values so that they can transmit fair and balanced information about the candidates, their programmes, and the electoral process. Journalists have to be able to give citizens the tools they need to understand their country, what is at stake in the vote, and help them make their electoral decisions.