Media in BiH put to the ‘election test’ ahead of the October 7 general polls

Media in BiH put to the ‘election test’ ahead of the October 7 general polls

In the first two weeks of the election campaign, Bosnian media, and especially the public broadcasters, did not offer enough information to the citizens so that they could decide whom to vote. A significantly higher presence of governmental political subjects in the media and the simultaneous nearly total absence of new parties and movements in BiH, has been noted. These are some of the results of the preliminary analysis of the Media Monitoring during the 2018 election campaign, that was presented on Monday in Sarajevo.

Monitoring is being carried out in order to determine whether and how many media contribute decision making of citizens after they have been properly informed, and whether media reports are in the interests of the politicians or the general public’s.

Lejla Turčilo, professor at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Sarajevo, author of the methodology and preliminary report, presented the key observations of media monitoring in the period from 7-21 September.

“Out of the 10 602 analysed media content parts, published in this period, 2,261 bits or 18% of it corresponded to election material. Private media (TV stations, press and portals) reported more about the electoral campaign than public media”, Turčilo stressed.

A disturbing indicator represents the fact that politicians who are holders of public office occupy a much room of media space, and it can be said that they are privileged in the context of having obtained it within the pre-election campaign time.

“Of the 2 261 election content parts, it has been noted that a large part of the media space is occupied by parties that are in power in the entities – as much as 35.1%. Based on the number of appearances, SDA holds the first place, followed by the SNSD and the HDZ”, said Turčilo, adding, as mentioned above, that independent candidates and new political options are almost invisible in media reporting.

Of the individual candidates, Milorad Dodik has appeared disproportionately more times than the other two candidates, and, appearances wise, he has even “crushed” all his SNSD party colleagues. According to the report, Dodik has appeared in the media 650 times in the two weeks of the current campaign. He is followed by Željka Cvijanović (282), Dragan Čović (242), Mladen Ivanić (216), Vukota Govedarica (145), Željko Komšić (121), Šefik Džaferović (105), Fahrudin Radončić (93), Denis Bećirović (87) and Diana Zelenika (37).

Even in electronic media, there were 205 alarming cases of biased reporting that have been noticed and noted. In the review of public broadcasters regarding reporting on political subjects, it is noteworthy that the Republika Srpska Radio TV (RTRS) shows the biggest level of a non-professional stance – in 45 cases, the medium in question has said to have adopted a biased angle towards a political subject.

Inappropriate speech was recorded in 11 percent of cases in relation to the total number of election content, which is a smaller percentage compared to the monitoring in 2014, when it was almost 15 percent. Furthermore, gender issues have also been detected since the findings showcase that female candidates have been underrepresented in the media.

“Although access to candidates is mostly neutral, the number of women’s appearances has to be boosted”, Turčilo underlined.

Monitoring of the media is carried out on a sample of 30 media (5 daily newspapers, 10 news portals and 15 electronic media), with the intention of creating recommendations for improving media legislation and specifying what exactly media should be obliged to do during election campaigns…. / IBNA