Publication | Book

Media Guidelines for Reporting on Accessible Elections

In January 2015, the General Election Network for Disability Access in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (AGENDA) publicly launched the first edition of Media Guidelines for Reporting on Accessible Elections at AGENDA’s Third Regional Dialogue in Jakarta, Indonesia. The publication compiles international best practices and input from journalists on how to include and accurately represent the voices of citizens with disabilities participating in political life.

A critical component of advocating for the political rights of persons with disabilities in elections is ensuring that media sources provide correct information to the public. Without being aware of existing political and electoral rights, or seeing positive examples of persons with disabilities actively exercising their rights, persons with disabilities and their families may not fully understand that citizens with disabilities have the fundamental right and ability to participate in political life.

AGENDA, which is a Southeast Asia-based coalition of civil society organizations, disabled persons’ organizations and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), recognized a profound need for improving the quality of media coverage on disability and elections. The first country edition of the guidebook offers important insights to Indonesian journalists and other media agents on disability, political contexts, and the intersection of disability and elections.

Available in Bahasa Indonesian and English, Media Guidelines for Reporting on Accessible Elections includes chapters on understanding disability, an overview of the electoral system in Indonesia, the role of media as disability rights supporters in elections, brainstorming storylines, and interview etiquette when working with a person with a disability.

To maximize its usefulness to journalists as a practical guide, the publication also includes annexes with examples of good reporting on accessible elections, examples of photos of accessible elections, a glossary of accessible election terms, and a list of resources and organizations.

The content of Media Guidelines for Reporting on Accessible Elections was formulated using input from experienced journalists. In November 2014, AGENDA conducted a focus group discussion with journalists and other media representatives. The focus group discussion identified and refined the role that media reporting plays in accessible elections, and assisted in generating content for the media guidelines.

Since its introduction, the guidebook has been promoted and shared with numerous journalists in Jakarta and across Indonesia. There are also plans to create an international edition of the guidelines so they can be used and distributed worldwide.