Covering Presidential Assignments
Covering political and presidential assignments and elections is an entirely taxing and difficult process for journalists. This is particularly because politics are often tied to issues of heated debates, a lot of movement and in certain violent cases. Journalists in developing countries and those in developed countries cover presidential assignments differently. Despite the fact that the presidential assignments fall under the same category, in developed and in developing countries, the nature of the presidential assignments differs in its nature.
First, the difference that comes in for journalists covering presidential assignments in developing and developed countries is that general politics in the developed world and in the developing world is different. When talking about the developed countries, several issues such as the economy, politics, social issues and cultural issues are well established. This means that the political scenario of these countries is set up in a rather highly organized manner because of the available resources and the laws developed to govern political issues (McCombs & Bell, 1996). This gives journalists an easy platform to cover an issue, such as presidential assignments because of the highly organized political set up of the developed countries. On the other hand, most developing countries have little organizational structures or do not have effective laws that govern political issues. Therefore, it becomes difficult for journalists to cover presidential assignments effectively because of certain issues, such as the secrecy and the might that is put on the president. In the U.S.A., for instance, presidential elections end in a run-off between two presidential candidates, one of which will end up the president. However, in most developing nations, presidential elections normally involve more than five candidates, one of which ends up the president. Therefore, covering presidential assignments in such a set up becomes difficult for journalists in developing countries than for those in developed countries (Collin & Martin, 2012).
Secondly, the freedom of the press is another factor that determines the difference that exists between journalists in developing countries and the developed countries when covering presidential assignments. Most developing nations do not reflect full respect of the freedom of the press, even when it is provided in the law. On the other hand, in the developed countries, the freedom of the press is respected and the journalists are allowed to cover anything on presidential assignments, as long as it is provided for under the law. Therefore, in developing countries, journalists face difficulties covering presidential assignments because they lack assured freedom of the press without being intimidated. For instance, in Eritrea, no foreign reporters are allowed to access Eritrea, let alone presidential assignments. In addition, all the local media groups are under the control of the government. Officials in the Ministry of Information in Eritrea control and keep a check on every details of the media coverage. As one exiled Eritrean journalist who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal told CPJ, the officials of the Ministry of Information arranged for interviews and instructed the journalists on the angles to write on when the journalists wanted to write a story. In fact, the journalist stated that they were mandated to write a lot about the president (Isaias Afewerki), so that he would be always in the limelight. Clearly, this is different from the coverage of presidential assignments in the developed nations (Committee to Protect Journalists, 2012). For instance, journalists working for media houses, such as the CNN are not mandated to cover information about President Obama on a daily basis in order for him to remain on the limelight. In fact, the journalists are not controlled by the government of the U.S., telling them what they should write and what they should not. It is the responsibility of the journalists to work within the provided law, to cover and write about presidential assignments. However, in certain developed countries, such as Iran the coverage of presidential assignments by journalists has made it difficult through censorship in response to issues of political unrest (Asante, 1997).
The objectivity of the international media houses, such as the BBC and the CNN has given journalists working for this media houses an upper hand when covering presidential assignments, particularly in the developing countries, as compared to the developed countries. This is because the international media groups set a good record with respect to their objectivity when covering news, as opposed to local media houses in developing nations (Sloan & Parcell, 2002). Journalists in the developing world face challenges due to the lack of high quality resources provided by the media houses they work for. Therefore, many people tend to prefer the coverage of international media houses, especially in developing world. In the developed world, journalists working for top media houses and international media houses or independently are given similar attention, compared to the developing nations when covering presidential assignments. Therefore, in some developing countries foreign journalists are allowed to cover presidential assignments, while in other countries they are not (King & Chapman, 2012).
In the developing countries foreign journalists, especially from developed countries, are not allowed to cover these kinds of assignments; it is assumed that these journalists are bent on providing damaging information about the presidential assignments of those countries. For instance, in Equatorial Guinea all the media is under control, whether directly or indirectly. Therefore, the journalists do not do the coverage of presidential assignments freely (Asante, 1997).
In developed countries journalists cover presidential assignments not only with the intent of informing the public about those assignments, but also with a view of helping the public form insights of the importance of the presidential assignments and maybe form a critical view on those presidential assignments. On the other hand, in developing nations, most journalists cover presidential assignments only for the informational value of it. They do not cover presidential assignments with the view of helping the audience form critical view or insights about those presidential assignments. David McKenzie covers African news for CNN. When he reports, he gives a critical look at the news, including presidential assignments in African countries (Rajan, 2005).
Journalists in developing countries also face difficulties in covering presidential assignments in terms of the constant violence and political unrest, as compared to the developed countries. Most developing nations face issues of clashes and political unrest even when it is not the time for elections. Therefore, it becomes difficult for journalists in developing countries to cover presidential assignments because of security issues and issues of intimidation. Therefore, journalists get a chance to cover presidential assignments mostly when the presidential assignments are of a public domain, for instance, public holidays, graduation ceremonies, and other public events (Rajan, 2005).
The similarity between the journalists that cover presidential assignments in developing nations and in developed nations is that they cover the assignments with a view of informing mass audiences who do not have the capacity of reaching those presidential assignments physically. However, all the other issues, such as the resources, the freedom of coverage and the safety among others are different.
In conclusion, the manner in which journalists cover presidential assignments in the developing countries and the developed nations differentiates greatly. Journalists in the developed countries mostly have better resources, freedom and a safe environment of coverage. On the other hand, journalists in the developing world have insufficient and sometimes even inadequate resources, lack freedom of coverage and in certain cases operate under environments of danger and uncertainty. Therefore, these issues make their way of covering presidential assignments different.