Role of independent press in elections [Archives:2006/979/Opinion]

August 7 2006

Yasser Al-Mayyasi
Along with holding any elections in Yemen there emerges a need for independent and impartial media to play a positive role instead of negative. Also emerges our need as journalists to recognize our role we have in free and fair elections in a country where democracy is emerging.

Journalists are important and vital and we can realize the meaning of “free and fair elections” and how to evaluate the process. We have to know the rules and criteria they are going to use in the elections and the degree of fairness of the rules themselves.

Holding free and fair elections is the cornerstone of democracy. The essential characteristic of a democratic society is the ability of citizens to choose their representatives with freedom, transparency and without any pressure exercised on them because in such a case the principle of “rule of the people” depends on the possibility of the conscious selection. This role of the media is the instrument in covering events of elections.

Journalists participating in free and fair elections need a strong will for reporting and conveying facts without bias. It is the right of the citizen to obtain information and to be able to monitor those responsible for the state. In accordance with this understanding the media coverage of the election is an endless process and to cover the elections in a professional manner we need to be impartial. We should not be biased towards any political party.

As representatives of independent media we have to always remember we are in service of the citizens. Elections are considered an important event in the media and an occasion to prove credibility. We need to remember that in emerging democracies, such as our country, the citizens believe the press and other media instruments are the mouthpiece of the government and follow only the government. Our role as independent press and journalists is to be a reliable source for news trusted by all citizens. We have to prove a our fairness and convey opinions of different viewpoints and seek to present media coverage of elections related to all concerned. Our writings and reports need to tackle the reality of daily life rather than platforms prepared by vying political parties.

As independent journalists we have to focus on issues, solutions and realities. The importance of the media coverage emerges through playing double role, but for the same reason We inform the citizens and give them the information to make informed decisions and we question the candidates so the public can get all the information.

Yasser Al-Mayyasi is a Yemen Times journalist and human rights activist.