About 35 women participated in the transformational leadership and character education for peaceful co-existence training at the Mendana Hotel last week were taught on the media role in democracy.
Ben McNair a media trainer when presenting on the role of media in a democracy said that media plays a vital role in any election process.
He said that democracy always rest on the right to freely express diverse opinion, and on the vote of well-informed citizens.
“Media organisations and journalist play vital role in the electoral process by assuring the dissemination of news and diverse opinions.
“Media make possible deeper knowledge of candidates, parties and their programs.
“Journalist contributes to the effective participants of citizens in democratic debate,” said McNair.
McNair explained that Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights guarantees all citizens the right to receives information during an election campaign.
“This means that voters must be duly informed of voting procedures and of campaign issues,” he said.
He added that in the Solomon Islands the National broadcaster SIBC has by far the greatest reach and arguably has the greatest audience.
“Two daily newspapers includes Solomon Star and Island Sun as well as a range of other publications including Sunday Isles, Solomon Times and several commercial radio stations.
“Media is the main link between voters and the candidates that seek to represent them.
“It (media) plays a number of crucial roles in the election process, including:
• Supplying accurate information on and from the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC).
• Providing society with information in an accurate, impartial and fair manner and
• Providing fair and equitable coverage of all political parties and candidates.
“Media works for the betterment of a society and anyone can express his or her opinion freely,” he said.
“Media is your voice and there are many different ways to get your voice heard.
“If you want to submit a story to the media just write to a letter to the editor and that is a great way to participate debates.
“Call a journalist if you feel strongly about a particular story that you have seen or heard.
“Engage with social media by having your say on popular online forum or issue a press release,” he stated.
A good way to contribute to a debate on behalf of an organisation, group of people or your community is to issue a press release for the media to consider publishing, said McNair.
Meanwhile, the participants thanked McNair and UNDP in collaboration with Vois Blong Mere Solomons (VBMS) for funding the program.
It is an eye opener for some of the us, they said.
They said that they learn a lot from the training and now know about the media role in democracy.
BY STEPHEN DIISANGO