Coverage of parties, poll topics

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 6, 2014. 

The top three topics covered in the media during the election campaigns were, election campaigning, party politics and corruption – with a particular preoccupation with the Nkandla saga.

In contrast, the top three marginalised topics were: voter education, election results and election funding, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) said in an interim report on media coverage about the elections released yesterday.

According to MMA, of the 50 media outlets covered over a seven-week period, 85% of all their coverage focused on five “big” parties, namely and in order: the ANC, DA, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Agang South Africa and Congress of the People. This left 24 parties a tiny share of 15% of all coverage.

MMA director William Bird said in Rosebank, Johannesburg, it was also found that the biggest cities received the most coverage, with smaller areas and smaller parties being left out of the loop. The voices most largely represented were President Jacob Zuma (ANC), Juluis Malema (EFF), Helen Zille and Mmusi Maimane (both DA).

Looking at the overall range of coverage, MMA found that only 15% of all coverage was biased.

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