The Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission (PNGEC) in partnership with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) conducted two three-day workshops in the Central Province of Papua New Guinea on Elections and Media. The first workshop was held 6-8 March with the second workshop being conducted 13-15 March. Funding for this capacity building program was provided by the PNGEC. The workshop was a combination of BRIDGE module and stakeholder information with a key focus on partnerships between the media and PNGEC.
The aim of the three-day workshops was to assist participants from media outlets in Papua New Guinea to develop greater understanding of the electoral process and the vital role that the media play. Participants came from all over PNG and were reporters, journalists and broadcasters from NBC PNG, Post Courier, The National, Sunday Chronicle, Wantok Niuspepa, EM TV, TV Wan, FM 100, PNG FM, Lalokau FM, PNG Loop News and Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Deputy Commissioner Corporate Services from PNGEC Mr John Kalamoroh officially opened the first workshop along with NBC Managing Director Kora Nou with Deputy Commissioner Election Administration from PNGEC Mr Simon Sinai officially opening the second workshop. In both openings the Deputy Commissioners noted that the workshops were essential to the media understanding the electoral process and their roles and responsibilities in reporting on the election. They also noted the importance of the partnership between the Electoral Commission and the media.
Participants in the workshops explored key BRIDGE topics of the electoral cycle, the role of media during the electoral cycle and election period, media as a watchdog and balanced news coverage. The workshop also included specific information for the participants when covering elections in PNG and included the rules of media when filming in a polling place; guest speaker Dr Alphonse Gelu, Registrar of Political Parties who discussed the importance of political parties in PNG; PNGEC presented their media policy; Donatella Malfitano from IFES presented a session to the second group on voter awareness campaigns and a session was led by participants who are experienced in election coverage in PNG to provide guidance in how to practically apply their learning in the field. The first workshop also attended a simulated polling place to see first-hand how a polling place would operate during polling. The second workshop were provided the opportunity to attend a simulated count centre where they learnt how the PNGEC count votes including understanding how the Limited Preferential Voting (LPV) system works.
The workshops were facilitated by Ms Belinda Bennett (AEC) and Ms Alice Guguna (PNGEC). The participants and facilitators created a fun and inclusive environment of sharing where participants reflected openly on their specific challenges and experiences.
Participant feedback on both the workshops content and facilitator presentations was highly positive. Participants appreciated the opportunity to learn and engage with colleagues and requested more opportunities for training in the future.
Positive participant feedback included:
I am grateful to EC for the opportunity to attend this workshop as it is my first time that I will be engaged in reporting
I have learnt the roles of media in the electoral process to enable free speech and free media in a democratic country.
The 3-day workshop has been very helpful to me. It will assist me during election time as a media personnel. I learnt a lot of new things and this will help me during the election coverage.
I learnt a lot about elections and mainly my role as a journalist, the what to do and what not to do.
This workshop has helped a lot in many areas for the media to take on and incorporate in their respective mediums.
I have learnt a lot!! How the counting process goes and absolute majority to the actual declaration – thanks so much BRIDGE/PNGEC.