Elections 2020: MFWA Commences Campaign Language Monitoring Project

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The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has, from June 1, 2020, commenced monitoring of 35 radio stations across the country under its flagship elections campaign language monitoring project. The project, themed Issues Not Insults, will name and shame persons who use abusive campaign language on radio stations that will be monitored under the project.

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Referred to by many as the “naming and shaming project” it is intended to discourage the use of hate speech and other forms of abusive language in the electoral campaigning processes ahead of Ghana’s general elections scheduled for December 7, 2020.

A monitoring instrument, which was jointly developed and validated by all stakeholders (political parties, media groups, language experts, CSOs) and used for both the 2012 and 2016 elections language monitoring project, is being used for this year’s monitoring.

Campaign language monitors (one monitor per station) have been trained on the use of the monitoring instrument. Each monitor has been provided with a digital recorder to enable them record all programmes they monitor on the respective radio stations. The recordings are used to verify reports from the monitors and provide evidence to persons who deny having made abusive comments after they are named in reports.

The MFWA will be producing bi-weekly reports that will feature the names of people who use hate speech; insults; pro-violence and provocative expressions; unsubstantiated allegations; tribal slurs; and other forms of inappropriate language for purposes of campaigning. The reports will identify the political party affiliations of such individuals and also name the radio stations on which such expressions are used.

“The campaign language monitoring project, which comes with naming and shaming of perpetrators of hate and pro-violence speeches in the electoral campaign process, has proven to be an impactful intervention to get politicians to focus on issues instead of insults,” said Sulemana Braimah, Executive Director of the MFWA.

In the 2016 electoral campaigning, incidents of abusive campaign language reduced from 343 incidents during the first three months of the project, to 97 incidents mid-way into the project and 24 incidents in the last three months into the elections. There were significant reductions among the top five radio stations with the highest incidents of abuses – incidents on Montie FM reduced from 83 at the beginning of the project to four incidents at the end; incidents on Oman FM reduced from 54 to five; that of Happy FM reduced from 30 to two; incidents on Ash FM reduced from 24 to three; and that of Radio Gold from 21 to zero.

Apart from the campaign language monitoring project, which is being implemented with funding support from OSIWA and STAR Ghana Foundation, the MFWA is also implementing a fact-checking initiative that is aimed at helping the public to have access to factual information ahead of the elections.

In addition, as part of efforts to ensure professional, ethical reporting by the media, the organisation is monitoring ethical violations among 10 newspapers, 10 local language radio stations and five news websites.

“It is our hope that these interventions will contribute to ensuring peaceful elections and also enhance professional standards among the media in Ghana,” said Braimah.

This year, the MFWA will be implementing the campaign language monitoring project in Cote d’Ivoire and Niger ahead of the elections in those countries. The project will be implemented in partnership with the national partner organisations in the two countries.

Below is the list of radio stations in Ghana, that constitutes the initial 35 radio stations that are being monitored:  

  1. Diamond FM (Northern Region)
  1. Radio Justice (Northern Region)
  2. Eagle FM (North-East Region)
  3. Tain FM (Bono Region)
  4. Royal FM (Bono Region)
  5. Classic FM (Bono East region)
  6. Hello FM (Ashanti Region)
  7. Ash FM (Ashanti Region)
  8. Kessben FM (Ashanti Region)
  9. Angel FM (Ashanti Region)
  10. Fox FM (Ashanti Region)
  11. Obuoba FM (Eastern Region)
  12. Hot FM (Greater Accra)
  13. Adom FM (Greater Accra)
  14. Asempa FM (Greater Accra)
  15. Atinka FM (Greater Accra)
  16. Top FM (Greater Accra)
  17. Rainbow Radio (Greater Accra)
  18. Power FM (Greater Accra)
  19. Oman FM (Greater Accra)
  20. Class FM (Greater Accra)
  21. Peace FM (Greater Accra)
  22. Happy FM (Greater Accra)
  23. Okay FM (Greater Accra)
  24. Accra FM (Greater Accra)
  25. Ahutor FM (Greater Accra)
  26. Radio Progress (Upper West)
  27. A1 Radio (Upper East)
  28. North Star FM (Northern Region)
  29. Pad FM (Savannah Region)
  30. Space FM (Bono Region)
  31. Beyond FM (Oti Region)
  32. Pink FM (Central Region)
  33. Skyy Power FM (Western Region)
  34. Jubilee Radio (Volta Region)

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