Most media outlets didn't 'pass campaign coverage test'

A fair share of the media outlets in Moldova departed from journalistic norms and some of them even used manipulation to favor certain contestants during the recent parliamentary race, as found by a group of media NGOs that monitored 35 media organizations.

Petru Macovei, of the Independent Press Association, noted that while the 8 monitored newspapers did well in terms of numbers of published electoral stories, they performed not so good at offering their readers electoral literacy articles, with only 28 such stories published in the course of the entire campaign. “This shows that the press concerned itself little with matters of electoral education”, remarked Macovei.

The online media didn't fare any better, according to the monitoring report. Most of the controversy-related stories published by the 10 news portals under scrutiny were strongly biased, with one in four stories published being partial. Politicians were the main sources used, and very seldom the general public's opinion was asked in online outlets.

Nadine Gogu, of the Independent Journalism Center, said that the public radio station Moldova 1 had the greatest number of electoral materials among the 5 monitored radios, and while most of them contained controversy, they were fairly balanced too.

Ion Bunduchi, of the Electronic Press Association, said that the 12 monitored TV channels broadcasted 34% news reports based on a single source, and 15% of reports contained the reporter's personal opinion. In TV news reports, politicians were used as sources in 40% of the total cases, public officials in 25%, members of the public in 27%, and experts in 8% of the total cases. The Democratic Party was the leader in terms of TV appearances, with 4 channels covering its campaign intensely.

Dinu Ciocan, the president of the Broadcasting Coordination Council, said the watchdog agency imposed 27 sanctions during the election season, which meant that 8 TV channels didn't pass the test of a fair campaign coverage. He stressed that the last week of the race indicated that the situation in the Moldovan audiovisual was “disastrous”, as electoral contestants were blatantly promoted in newscasts.

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