How accessible are our politicians?

Date: January 1, 1970
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Do politicians serve the public by making themselves available at times other than elections?

This article may be used in training to:
  • Demonstrate how gender can be brought into mainstream political debates, in this case coverage ahead of presidential, parliamentary and regional elections in Namibia, through the selection of sources.
  • Demonstrate how election reporting does not have to be event based, and on the mercy of political parties’ agenda.
 Trainer’s notes:
The story has an excellent mix of sources (13 sources – 6 males, 5 females and 2 unnamed departmental sources): citizens, politicians. Women’s voices as both citizens and politicians are strong in the story, which sends a message that women are part and parcel of the public.
This story is told from the perspective of those in power, as well as those who are not in power and who elect politicians to be public servants. Also the story provides the rural/urban perspective through sources interviewed in both locales. The wide variety of voices in this story does not lead to one voice dominating. Many sides of the issue come through in this story.
There are several ways in which this story breaks traditionally-held views-Women are represented in the story as spokesperson of parties and as politicians on a key issue; and women are sought out as citizens to speak on an issue that often carries mainly the voices of men in mainstream media. This sends a strong message that women are interested in politics, are active participants in politics, and as citizens, they do have views on the role of politicians.
Training exercises:
With reference to the case study discuss in groups:
  • What sparked off this article and in what way can it be regarded as a news analysis?
  • Who are the main sources? What other sources could have been consulted, and with what effect?
  • Is a story like this likely to spark debate? In what way are debates of this nature important? Are stories like this only appropriate during elections? What kind of impact could this story have if it was published between elections?
Links to other training resources:
 Gender in Media Training, a Southern African Tool Kit”, chapter twelve: Elections, Democracy and Governance


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