The Independent Press Association (API) has presented the second monitoring report on 12 news portals during the campaign for the 2020 presidential election. The monitoring is part of the work of the Civic Coalition for Free and Fair Elections—where API is responsible for weekly reports—and will continue until Election Day and, possibly, the second election round.
During the press conference organized to present the report, API’s CEO Petru Macovei said that from 1 through 10 of October, 9 out of the 12 monitored portals had not observed the principle of editorial balance and had been subjective and openly biased toward or against one or more presidential candidates. Most portals had not offered the right to reply in articles with accusatory content, and their materials had been strongly disbalanced in terms of gender. Together the 12 monitored portals had offered most coverage to independent candidate Igor Dodon supported by PSRM in the first ten days of the election campaign and placed him in a positive context more often than others (Aif.md—141 times). Candidate Maia Sandu for PAS had been presented more often in a negative light (Kp.md—23 times). API also pointed out to the problem of hidden campaign advertising. Thus, during the reference period, the portals Realitatea.md and Unimedia.info continued publishing clearly advertising articles that promoted candidate Violeta Ivanov for the Șor Party but did not label them accordingly.
Following the monitoring of the editorial policy of the 12 portals from 1 through 10 of October 2020, the report authors identified the following general trends:
- md, Aif.md, and Kp.md had similar editorial policies, showing strong biases and lack of detachment, and violating professional ethics. The publications openly favored and promoted massively independent candidate Igor Dodon supported by PSRM. The other candidates were presented in a quantitatively unbalanced way, mostly in a negative light. They were discredited sometimes, often labeled and subjected to attacks on person, and never offered an opportunity to reply.
- md, Sputnik.md, and Vedomosti.md mostly favored candidate Igor Dodon through the tone of reports and the presentation in exclusively positive contexts. Meanwhile, PAS candidate Maia Sandu was clearly disadvantaged on these portals.
- info placed candidates Igor Dodon and Andrei Năstase (PPDA) mostly in advantageous contexts, just as it did with candidate Violeta Ivanov (Șor Party), whom it also promoted through clearly advertising materials that were not labeled accordingly.
- mdand Newsmaker.md had a relatively balanced editorial policy, the authors of materials keeping a generally impartial tone. These media outlets presented candidates mostly in neutral and occasionally in positive or negative contexts but without biases in favor or against them.
- md covered all candidates equally in neutral, positive, and negative tones. The outlet offered advantage to candidate Violeta Ivanov, whom it promoted in articles with clearly advertising content that were not labeled accordingly.
- The material published during this period by md presented candidates equally in neutral, positive, and negative tones. The outlet disadvantaged candidate Igor Dodon most often.
- The few relevant news reports published by md and reproduced by other outlets referred to the election manifestos of some candidates and failed to present the reply of concerned parties where articles contained accusations.
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.