A free and independent press is a cornerstone of democracy, as it
helps promote political debate and keeps government accountable to an
informed citizenry. A free press is also crucial for credible elections,
as it fosters the open exchange of ideas and provides reliable
information on the electoral process. This is particularly important to
counter disinformation and inflammatory speech as it relates to
political parties, candidates and their platforms.
As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day and this year’s theme of “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation,” we highlight the important work done by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) to promote the fundamental principles of press freedom.
- In Panama, IFES organized a workshop on “Electoral Coverage in an Era of Disinformation” for journalists, candidate representatives and Electoral Tribunal staff. The workshop was designed to be responsive to Panamanian journalists’ needs while remaining objective and providing a comparative perspective.
- In Haiti, IFES trained journalists on advanced investigative journalism, the inclusion of persons with disabilities, women’s representation and violence against women in elections. The participating journalists represented diverse media sources, including TV stations, radio stations, newspapers and social media.
In Fiji, IFES facilitated a workshop for journalists on the importance of reporting on elections accurately and impartially throughout the election cycle. The training included a session on gender-sensitive reporting that looked at barriers to women’s participation and explored media’s role in countering gender stereotypes and promoting women as political decision-makers.
In Ukraine, IFES organized a study trip for investigative journalists to gain hands-on experience in monitoring political finance and investigating cases of corruption. The 2019 presidential election was the first national election held under new campaign finance rules and provided the journalists with an opportunity to apply the information and knowledge they gained during the study trip.
In Tunisia, IFES built a mobile radio station ahead of municipal elections on May 6, 2018, broadcasting radio programs in remote and hard-to-access areas. As the mobile radio station traveled the country, IFES invited radio journalists who participated in an earlier training to host radio shows to inform voters about the elections.
- In the United States, IFES is hosting the Press Secretary of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Armenia Hermine Harutyunyan as part of the American Councils Professional Fellowship Program. In this Q&A, Harutyunyan describes the CEC’s approach to countering disinformation and the most effective methods of sharing information with reporters covering elections.
- Globally, IFES released a new paper, Disinformation Campaigns and Hate Speech: Exploring the Relationship and Programming Interventions, that outlines how the latest generation of technology-fueled disinformation campaigns is amplifying the scourge of hate speech and offers a framework for democracy and governance practitioners to consider when designing interventions to effectively counter these dual threats.
We remain committed to supporting a free and independent press and its critical mission of informing citizens on all aspects of the electoral process.