A TV news program in Peru that focuses on regional voices is proving that it can better gauge the pulse of voters than some national networks.
The TV program Enlace Nacional ("national liason"), on air for four years, is also the testing grounds for the country's first national broadcast journalism training scheme which aims to boost political coverage for the upcoming presidential elections.
In the April general elections, Enlace Nacional viewers understood the results because the program had been reporting on the strong support for the top two vote-getters outside the capital, Ollanta Humala and Keiko Fujimori.
This is one of the takeaways from the training project headed by Knight International Journalism Fellow Hena Cuevas, a Panama-born award-winning producer/reporter with extensive experience working in the United States and Latin America. Since August 2010, Cuevas has been training journalists to report from around the country.
"By allowing the provinces to have a voice and by explaining the popularity of the candidates, we did something that the other media outlets did not do," Cuevas said in a video interview. "Whereas most of the TV stations and news outlets were surprised at the outcome, the producers at Enlace Nacional knew what the trends were because we had been covering these stories for months...and we knew that [these candidates] were incredibly popular even though people in the capital city didn't see it and could not understand it."
The upcoming face-off between the two candidates in what Newsweek called a "hotly contested presidential election" will be an excellent proving ground for the Enlace Nacional project.
Ultimately, the project aims to improve multimedia political coverage as well as provide a permanent institution for enhancing political coverage in a country that is the linchpin of the Andean region.
A version of this story appeared on the website of the Knight International Journalism Fellowships, a program of the International Center for Journalists.