Vienna International Center, Austria -- Today’s sessions revolved around the following topics: the roles of media and civil society campaigns in the removal and resignation of corrupt leaders; framing anti-corruption messages for multiple stakeholders; and getting citizens to differentiate between real corruption and rumors of corruption.
The last topic listed above centered on citizens' perceptions of corruption, especially perceptions that are misinformed, which has often been found to be the case in various countries. The gap between real corruption and rumors of corruption is created and exacerbated by communication-based factors, such as using imprecise language to describe corrupt practices; publication of exaggerated figures and the media’s lack of willingness to do retractions; and erroneously equating administrative inefficiency and delays with corrupt behavior and intent.
Efforts to narrow the gap between perceived and real corruption are also communication-based. These include proactive public engagement via media and civil society so that citizens might be better informed about corruption issues and cultivate more realistic expectations of what might and might not be feasible results of anti-corruption efforts.
One of the participants from an international government agency stated that corruption will never be eradicated completely, and that the public should know this. Another participant working for an anti-corruption commission in a developing country countered by saying that they’re going to keep trying anyway, and that the public should also know this. Communication approaches and techniques can help make sure our expectations are realistically set somewhere in between.
In photo (left to right): Catherine MacQuarrie, Asst. Commissioner, Policy & Communications, Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Parliament of Canada; Eric Yang, Independent Commission Against Corruption, Hong Kong; Emmanuel Akomaye, Chief Deputy, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nigeria; and Kayobo Ng'andu, Director, Prevention and Education, Anti-Corruption Commission of Zambia