The third monitoring report on 12 news portals during the 2020 presidential campaign (October 11 – 17) released by the Independent Press Association (API) confirms previously observed trends, namely the unbalanced coverage of candidates and clear political partisanship at some portals. The monitoring is part of the work of the Civic Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (CALC)—where API is responsible for weekly reports—and will continue until Election Day and, possibly, the second election round.
Most materials on political and/or election topics published on the 12 monitored portals had one information source. Their editorial offices published unbalanced articles that did not offer concerned parties the opportunity to reply and presented candidates selectively. The frequency and context of candidates’ appearances betrayed the biased nature of most of the analyzed materials. Some portals (Actualitati.md, Aif.md, Kp.md, Vedomosti.md, and Noi.md) served as a PA system for candidate Igor Dodon and even rallied support for him directly and indirectly, and only two portals (Agora.md and Newsmaker.md) had a relatively balanced editorial policy, presenting the campaign and candidates mostly in neutral tones and observing journalistic ethics. These were the findings voiced by API’s CEO Petru Macovei at the press conference for presenting the third monitoring report that covered the period of October 11 – 17, 2020. Most materials relevant for this period referred to politics, the work of local governments with emphasis on the Mayor’s Office of Chișinău and Mayor Ion Ceban, and the election process. The protagonists were most often candidate Igor Dodon and least often candidate Tudor Deliu. The materials published on all 12 monitored outlets were strongly disbalanced in terms of gender, favoring men. Igor Dodon enjoyed the greatest visibility on the 12 media outlets and appeared in positive contexts that advantaged him most often. Candidate Maia Sandu appeared most often in negative contexts that disadvantaged her.
Following the monitoring of the editorial policy of the 12 portals from 11 through 17 of October 2020, the report authors identified the following general trends:
- Once again, md, Aif.md, and Kp.md had similar editorial policies, showing strong biases and violating journalistic ethics. All three publications massively advantaged and openly promoted independent candidate Igor Dodon supported by PSRM and clearly disadvantaged PAS candidate Maia Sandu. The other candidates were presented in a quantitatively disbalanced way, and in most cases, they were disadvantaged, gibed at, labeled, and criticized without getting the opportunity to reply.
- md, Sputnik.md, and Vedomosti.md kept favoring Igor Dodon through the tone of reports and presentation in positive contexts. Maia Sandu was most disadvantaged in the materials of these outlets.
- md kept paying little attention to the election campaign, and its news reports covered the election process mostly in general terms with emphasis on the organization of the election in Gagauz Yeri TAU.
- info reported on the election process and candidates and placed candidates Igor Dodon, Andrei Năstase, and Violeta Ivanov mostly in favorable contexts.
- mdand Newsmaker.md had relatively balanced editorial policies, the authors of materials keeping a generally impartial tone. These media outlets presented candidates mostly in neutral contexts and occasionally in positive or negative context but without clear biases in favor or against them. Agora.md stood out during this period by the most balanced approach to election activities.
- md reported on candidates equally in neutral, positive, and negative tones, but presented Igor Dodon mostly in unfavorable contexts.
- Materials published by md presented candidates selectively, mostly disadvantaging Igor Dodon and favoring Maia Sandu.
You can find more information in the third monitoring report, which is available at www.api.md and accompanies this communiqué. The report’s general conclusions will soon be available in English and Russian.
The report was produced by the Independent Press Association (API) as part of a media monitoring project implemented with the financial support of the National Endowment for Democracy (USA). The views expressed in it are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the funders.
 In alphabetical order: Actualitati.md, Agora.md, Aif.md, Gagauzinfo.md, Kp.md, Newsmaker.md, Noi.md, Realitatea.md, Sputnik.md, Timpul.md, Unimedia.info, and Vedomosti.md