On the second day of the Media Training Forum jointly organized by Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) and the Jordan-based Amman Centre for Human Rights Studies (ACHRS) the participants discussed three working papers: the first was on the assessment of the electoral programmes; and the second on the role of media in covering the elections while the third dealt with writing electoral propaganda.
On the evaluation of electoral programmes, a working paper prepared by journalist Magdi Hilmi, focused on the objectives of media coverage of the elections which, the paper maintains, are not limited to just covering the event but are also extended to examine the prevailing laws and the protection they provide for freedom of expression within an integrated electoral system designed to protect human rights, which include the right to information both in their traditional and electronic forms.
In this context, the paper, stressed that information is now the most important source of political awareness, especially so in light of the tremendous development in various types of media forms of expression.
The paper also dealt with the role of the media in enabling the electorate to make a free and a studied choice of party or candidate based on both the credibility candidates and their electoral program.
In the second paper also presented by Mr. Magdi Hilmi, the focus was on methods of raising interest when drafting press reports intended to promote candidates or their electoral programmes-a process that depends to a large extent on the content of the press in review.
Mr. Magdi concluded that reporters need to be highly qualified, technically and academically so as to be able to produce integrated reports that will synchronize with the other performers in the context of the electoral band which includes among others the electorate, their constituencies, candidates and other factors involved in the process such the electoral will, and the general atmosphere engulfing the whole polling process.
In the second part of this paper, journalist Hilmi tackled the process of monitoring and evaluating electoral procedures in the pre-election phase and vote counting.
In the third working paper, journalist Yahya Shuqair dealt with the "Role of the media in covering elections," focusing in that regard on the importance of developing a plan for media coverage of elections before the start of the election campaign so as to block parties or candidates that may intentionally create a media stunt aimed at stealing the limelight away from others to serve the objectives of themselves or their parties.
In this context, it becomes stark clear that media has a key role in exposing violations of the electoral laws such as bribery or vote rigging; the media also monitors government performance during the poll, to ensure that the administration is meeting their obligations towards facilitating equal access for all parties and contesters to government-controlled media, on one hand, and toward providing the necessary protection for journalists, where required.