PRACTICAL ORGANISATION OF ELECTION COVERAGE
- Remind your colleagues at the radio station of the electoral schedule and the issues at stake, make sure they know the legislation governing the media during the election period.
- Hold regular newsroom meetings and forecast meetings.
- Review staff, technical equipment and resources (how many of us are there, what equipment do we have, who does what, how much does it cost, what financial resources do we have?).
- Record “election special” trailers, enhance the radio station’s sound design.
- Create new programmes (“special editions”, political debates, etc.) and/or adapt existing programmes, conduct interviews with politicians, civil society organisations and experts (identify interviewees, obtain their contact details, book guests, etc.).
- Record a stock of material (to be updated if necessary). Examples of angles: voicers and actualities on the context of the elections, a look back at previous elections, results and participation rates. Also produce voicers on the political powers involved, present their manifestos and prepare portraits of their candidates.
- Compare the manifestos on offer on various issues (health, education, employment, economy). Identify local topics and issues according to the “laws of proximity”. Do not forget to also make voicers on the rules to which politicians and the media must adhere during the election campaign and polling, as well as the credibility of the polls and other surveys, or on how the elections are viewed from elsewhere.
- Give the public a voice through reports and interactive programmes.
- Organise your schedule to cover election rallies and public rallies.
- Initiate partnerships: programmes can be produced with other media, increasing your audience.
- “Pad out” your website: put online voicers and actualities from the newsroom, maintain an hourly campaign newsfeed on your website, question Internet users/voters on their expectations, opinions, reactions (this information will also be useful on the air).
- Update your contacts list (organisations and political parties, civil society organisations, regulatory bodies, authorities, experts …). A person can be put to work on this research.
- Regularly check that the air time given to different groups is equal and adjust if necessary every week. If some groups did not get to speak on air, explain why (did they refuse or were they prevented?). In this case, present their manifestos anyway. One or two people can be tasked with this work.
- Ensure that candidates or their supporters do not abuse their official capacities to carry on a “hidden” campaign. The most important criterion is the public interest.
THE EVE OF THE ELECTIONS AND POLLING DAY ITSELF
- Political campaigning is prohibited on the day before elections.
- Publication of unofficial partial results and polls is prohibited (including any compiled abroad).
- Usually, only the turnout is announced (around midday and in the evening), but each country has its own rules.
- Monitor communiqués by the national and international observers regarding the regularity of the poll.
- Deploy journalists at the offices of the main political organisations, polling stations, and within civil society organisations.
- Report reactions and the atmosphere in the streets.
- Ensure you have the technical equipment to record political statements on television and radio, on election night, and on announcement of the results.
ANNOUNCEMENT OF INITIAL ESTIMATES AND OFFICIAL RESULTS
- Report the trends, specify that these figures are provisional, that they are, for the moment, only estimates, pending publication of the official results (by the Ministry of the Interior). Draw a political map of the country, the forces present, provide turnout figures.
- Broadcast or summarise statements (reactions of politicians, national and international, observers, civil society, financial markets).
- Prepare “box” clips on the winners (portraits, past actions, manifestos).
- Also talk about the main losers, analyse the reasons for their failure, obtain their reactions.
- Explain what happens next (preliminary measures, swearing-in date, allocation of ministerial portfolios).
Discuss the “lessons learned” from the elections, with journalists and political analysts.