GJA Guidelines on Election Coverage



The guidelines highlight legal, professional and ethical issues intended to make the media or journalists balanced, fair, accurate, reliable and timely in their reportage of political activities and treatment of issues and personalities.  The overriding objective is to enable the electorate to make informed and intelligent choices during elections.


The guidelines are also intended to make the media or journalists serve as guardians and promoters of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.


In order to achieve these laudable objectives, all media houses or journalists are expected to abide by the guidelines.


Finally,  to borrow a leaf from the Commonwealth Guidelines on Electoral Reporting, all media houses “large or small, rich or poor, have a public service duty to contribute to free and fair elections.”


They can do so “by telling the truth, by investigating the hidden, by explaining the background, by presenting the facts.”




Access to Media

In the run up to an election, both state and private media have a special responsibility to afford fair opportunities and make facilities available for the presentation or expression of opinions and views by political parties and candidates.


A distinctive role is assigned to the state media as indicated in Article 55(12) of the Constitution:


                “All presidential candidates shall be given the

                 the same amount of time and space on the     

 state-owned media to present their programmes

 to the people.”     


The activities of all registered parties and candidates should be given coverage by the media to inform the electorate about their programmes for the country.  To facilitate this, parties and candidates SHOULD BE

ADVISED BY MEDIA HOUSES TO ensure that the media are given adequate notice about their activities.




Activities of Incumbents

As stated in the NMC’s Guidelines on Political Reporting,


                “Presentation of government activities during an

 Election (year) should be weighed carefully to

 ensure that the incumbent government does not

 gain unfair access to the media.  Bona fide news      

 should be covered without giving the impression of bias.”  


Accordingly, journalists in their coverage of incumbent officials should differentiate between state or government functions and political party activities.  MEDIA HOUSES ARE ALSO ADVISED TO DESIGNATE PAID ADVERTS AS SUCH.





Accuracy and Fairness

Journalists must cross-check every piece of information that they receive and be fair to all subjects of the news.  They shall not report hersay as facts even if they emanate from party officials.


In order to achieve balance, media houses should:


(a)    Ensure fair and equitable coverage of political parties such that no party or candidate is ultimately discriminated against.

(b)    Ensure that contending parties on an issue are treated in an equitable manner.

(c)    Should carefully examine all complaints and, where necessary, should rectify them as soon as possible.

(d)    Should publish results of an opinion poll only when the media house has good reason to believe that is credible.




Avoiding Conflict and Prejudice

Views that promote social, ethnic, religious and political conflict or violence, especially during an election year, should be avoided.  Similarly, deliberate presentation of scenes, episodes, actualities and facts that are means to excite passion, hatred, contempt and prejudice must not be entertained.




Political Parties and Candidates

The media have the responsibility to help the electorate to assess political parties and candidates before voting.  This requires that accurate, truthful and non-derogatory information is provided about them.




Issues-Based Coverage

Journalists should promote issue-based coverage and discussions.





Journalists must endeavour to subject manifestoes and programmes to through analysis and discussion for the benefit of the electorate.




Political Affiliation

Journalists shall remain impartial in dealing with political parties and candidates, even if they have an interest in a particular party or candidate.  They must also avoid conduct or activities that compromise their integrity or credibility.




Endorsement of Candidates

The state-owned media shall not endorse candidates for political office.  Personal preferences for candidates must not be allowed to reflect in news reports or programmes.




Bribes and other Inducements

Journalists must avoid all actions that could compromise their integrity and refuse to accept bribes and other inducements.  In furtherance of this, media houses are encouraged to provide for the travelling and living expenses of their reporters covering political campaigns.


This includes giving coverage to political activities in return for cash, transport, food, accommodation, or other favours.






The Electoral Commission (EC) is the accrediting body for the coverage of elections and journalists seeking to cover elections should obtain accreditation from the EC or any other body designated by the EC to do it.





For identification purposes, any journalist working on Election Day must be properly accredited and must carry his/her GJA or media organsation’s identity card at all times.




Interference with EC’s Work

Journalists should always exercise circumspection in their coverage and ensure that they do not interfere with the electoral process, bearing in mind that they are not Election Officers.  They may make enquiries r draw the attention of election officials to perceived deficiencies, but must not attempt to instruct any polling station staff or agency on how to do their work.




Knowledge of Electoral Laws, Rules and Norms

It is the responsibility of all journalists to seek such information and familiarize themselves with all rules and laws governing the election process.




Assistance to the Media

It is the expectation that officials and agents of the EC, political paries and candidates shall accord media personnel the necessary assistance to enable them perform their duties efficiently.




Reporting Election Dispute

Journalists shall not report any allegation about or a dispute at, a polling station without a comment/reaction from the EC or the Returning Officer.



Media houses shall not allow or grant interviews concerning allegations against any party candidate without providing an equal opportunity to the other candidate to react.


Hosts of radio and television programmes should intervene when unsubstantiated allegations are being made by panellists or during phone-ins.




Declaration of Results

Media practitioners, can monitor election results and inform or provide the public with provisional results. Under no circumstance shall they announce their results as official, or impute to the public that they are official results.


All results shall be described as provisional, pending certification by the Chairman of EC.  At the national level, official results shall be those certified by the Chairman of the EC.




Correction and Rejoinders

In line with the right to rejoinder enshrined in the country’s Constitution, any candidate or party which has been defamed or otherwise suffered injury by a broadcast or publication shall be entitled to a correction, rejoinder or both.  The correction or reply should be broadcast or published within one week from the date of the broadcast or publication, or one week from the date of a complaint being received by the media house.




Action on Attacks against Media Personnel and Property

All acts of violence, intimidation or harassment directed against media personnel or the property or the premises of a media outlet, are to be reported immediately to the Police, the National Media Commission and the Ghana Journalists Association.




Voter Education

Media houses should make an effort to provide voter education from time to time, including the dos and donts on polling day, suing material from the Electoral commission and the National Commission for Civic Education.






Media houses are advised to ensure that cartoons they use comply with the GJA’s Code of Ethics that require respect for decency and avoidance of obscenity.




Online Reportage

The GJA Guidelines on election coverage are also applicable to online journalism. Media houses are to bear in mind that while information and communications technology tools can help enhance journalism, there are security threats and the risk of their sites being tampered with.  Media houses and journalists operating in this area are therefore advised to develop capacity in the effective use of the technology and to use reliable software.




Foreign Journalists

Foreign journalists coming to Ghana to cover elections or any other events are required to register with the Ministry of Information.  They are therefore advised to contact the GJA for assistance and direction through:


The General Secretary, GJA HQ (Ghana International Press Centre), P.O. Box GP 4636 Accra, Tel. (0302) 234694; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  



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