Election related reports jump to 50% in Cebu's English-language dailies

Written on June 15, 2010 – 6:31 am | by mediaandelections |

Cebu Print Media Coverage of the 2010 Elections
Sixth Monitoring Period
(April 25-May 10, 2010)

The final stretch of the 2010 campaign period saw the number of election-related reports in Cebu’s English-language dailies shoot up to 849 reports (April 25-May 10) from 588 in the fifth monitoring period (April 11-24). The percentage of election-related reports vis-à-vis the news hole also jumped to 52% from 40% DURING the fifth monitoring period.

The Freeman led with the most number of election-related reports at 321 (57% of its news hole), followed by Sun.Star Cebu at 284 (47% of its news hole) and Cebu Daily News at 244 (53% of its news hole). Reports about the local race (363) were still the top election news agenda, followed by elections in general (324) as the news focused on concerns raised regarding the country’s readiness to conduct its first-ever automated polls.

Placement

Eight percent of election-related reports were on the front page of the newspapers with a total of 66 reports from all three English-language dailies. Of the 66 election-related reports on the front pages, 42 were banner reports compared to 28 during fifth monitoring period – 13 in Sun.Star Cebu, 16 in The Freeman, and 13 in the Cebu Daily News. There was an increase in the proportion of election-related reports in the nation, business and community sections from 35% of  election-related reports in the inside pages during the fifth monitoring period to 41%. Fifty-nine percent of election-related reports in the inside pages were in the main news section.

From all indications, election-related reports in terms of number, proportion and placement hogged the news pages of Cebu’s English-language dailies in the last two weeks of the campaign period.

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Focus

The number of reports about the local elections (363) and elections in general (324) pulled away from the rest. Stories on  elections in general, which used to be just a few numbers above the presidential (155) election coverage in the previous monitoring periods were especially numerous. The vice-presidential race, almost unnoticed in previous monitoring periods, took the fourth spot in the rankings with 44 reports. Incidentally, the final stretch of the campaign saw Jejomar Binay’s survey numbers catching up with  those of Mar Roxas.   Coverage of the local (43), senatorial (37), and party-list (34) elections remained unremarkable.

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Topics and themes

Personality/Character/Record still led as the top topic or theme in the sixth monitoring period with 284 reports from the 198 reports in the fifth monitoring period. Other Comelect-related Issues (227) rose to the number two spot from fourth spot in the previous monitoring period. It was followed by  reports on the Campaign (183), which was the most covered theme in the previous monitoring periods,.Election-related violence/Peace (157), Cockfight/He said-She said (140), Poll automation (132), Civil society and elections (105), Other themes (90), Development/Policy issues (76), Contest/Horse race (72), Complaints/Reports of irregularities (65), Polls/Surveys (55), and the Arroyo factor (33) followed, in that order.

In general, the news coverage was comprehensive, balanced and fair in exposing pre-May 10 problems and solutions, as well as safeguards and emergency measures. The reports were concerns on automated election system (AES) readiness, power supply, peace and order, security of ballots and election paraphernalia, debate between automated and manual count, and others.

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Subjects

There were no significant changes in the ranking of top news subjects with the Comelec still occupying the top spot in the final stretch of the campaign period, followed by the PNP/Police and survey leader  Aquino III.

The Cebu English newspapers also focused on efforts by civil society and other stakeholders to involve volunteers in monitoring the election. An example of such articles was “Safety, readiness,” which featured, among other preparations, the Pagbabago! Cebu training tapping academe-NGO collaboration to train volunteers to monitor, document and witness against traditional and new tactics of electoral fraud, violence and other irregularities.

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Sources

Likewise for news sources, there was no significant change in the ranking of the top news sources from the previous monitoring periods. But the dominance of the Comelec and PNP/Police as top news sources became more stark as the focus of the election-related reports shifted from the candidates to the conduct of the automated polls. Context and multi-sourcing presented the complexity of election-related issues, which informed readers about the existing situation but did not encourage alarmist speculations and anxieties.

At the local level, some politicians’ public relations machine may have worked double-time as names like Lapu-lapu mayoralty candidate Efrain Pelaez, Jr. figured quite prominently as  news sources, quite independently from “bona fide” controversies or issues.

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Slant/Focus

The dailies’ neutrality rate in the sixth and last monitoring period was at a high 95%, as the news reports focused more on the conduct of the automated polls and less on the cockfight among election rivals. The Freeman had a neutrality rate of 92%, Cebu Daily News 97%, and Sun.Star Cebu 97%. Background was at 98%.

An example of the use of sourcing, background and context to inform readers about an election-related issue is the April 29 story of Sun.Star Cebu, “Intervention ‘unlikely,” by Pachico A. Seares. Interviewed was retired PNP general, Tiburcio Fusillero, who saw “dim prospects of military intervention in a protest against a failure of election.” Based on his participation in at least two of the seven coups against then president Corazon Aquino, Fusillero cautioned authorities to be no less vigilant about military adventurism. The article included infographics summarizing what key sectors can do to avert military intervention, according to the Report of  the Davide Commission.

Neutral reports

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Neutral vs. Slanted Reports

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Download the report here (in Word or PDF).

CMFR Monitor of the News Media Coverage of 2013 Elections

Given the special nature of the 2013 campaign and elections, the media’s role as credible and critical sources of information and analysis during the election season bears watching. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) is monitoring the news media coverage of the 2013 campaign and elections in the context of both the special circumstances in which they were taking place, and the opportunity for improved and meaningful reporting and analysis the exercise offered to the Philippine media. 

CMFR has been monitoring media coverage of Philippine elections since 1992, and in every instance has made recommendations towards the improvement of media coverage. These efforts have not been unrewarded. Changes in media coverage incorporating some of the recommendations of the CMFR monitor in 2004 were evident, for example, in the media coverage of the 2007 elections.


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