Opening Remarks of Election Coverage Workshop
“Just the Facts; Covering the 2017 Elections”
Regional English Language Officer Eran Williams
July 3, 2017; Thies
It is great to be with you. My name is Eran Williams and I am the Regional English Language Officer for the State Department and based in Dakar.
I want to begin by thanking CJRS, in particular President Papa Ndiaye whom we’ve successfully collaborated in the past. It’s great to be working together again.
An unorthodox quote, but one that I like is from the band U2’s very own Bono. “The less you know, the more you believe.”
And that’s exactly right. When people don’t have the facts, they make them up. And that creates unstable environments, rife with rumors, gossip and lies.
And you, a reporters, make sure this doesn’t happen, by providing information, by researching, by interviewing, and then educating the electorate. That is why your role is so important.
The people of Senegal rely on your unbiased and accurate coverage of the elections.
It is both a burden and an opportunity as members of civil society. You shine light where there might be darkness; you educate voters where there is confusion. Journalists are an integral part of a vibrant democracy.
Senegal has long been hailed as a bastion of democracy in an unstable region. When those have tried to undermine it, civil society, armed with the facts you provide, have been quick to thwart any effort to undercut stability, transparency and rule of law.
And today, we hope we will play a small role, with the support of the CJRS, to give you the tools to reveal and educate voters — not sway them — but educate them when they go to the polls on July 30.
So again, thank you for joining us here today. These are unique elections with a record number of candidates. They are also the first elections since the changes to the electoral code in 2016. Our hope today – in collaboration with you and CJRS, is too find more about what the changes mean in terms of reporting on the elections and the aftermath.
Thank you for coming.