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Uganda celebrate World Press Freedom Day

Thursday, 11th May 2017

Uganda celebrates World Press Freedom Day

The struggle for press freedom ismore important than ever, this comes at a time when the journalism professionand media industry coming under sever scrutiny for playing double standards andunbalanced reporting of transpiring stories.

The media industry is increasingfacing a lot challenges that have greatly hampered its progress and developmentover the years.

Among some of the challengesaccording to the president of Uganda Human Rights Commission Mr. Meddi Kagwa,are poor remuneration, brutality from the police force.

According to a report publishedby the Uganda Human Rights Commission, police brutality ranks highest amonglist of has is increasingly being trumped upon by ‘the powers that be’ and oand the sector alone has become progressively more risky to venture in.

“Have truth in what in what youchoose to publish out to the public, do not bring out the negatives only”advised Ms. Kamateka who was commenting on the recent spate of newspapers andmedia houses in the land choosing to take on a different trend of reporting soas to market their products, this she said was tainting the image

Newspapers choosing to carryheadlines with Scandals rather than post  representing parliament during the celebrations.

“I congratulate you all upon thiscelebration, thank you very much for the work you do, the stories you tell, andthe debates you moderate” said Hon. Minister for ICT, Mr. Frank Tumwebaze whowas the chief guest at the celebrations.

He informed the journalistspresent of the government’s commitment to protecting their rights and that alegislation was in the pipeline to regulate the operationalization of thesector.


Awards ceremony

Speaking At separate event heldto celebrate World Press Freedom Day 2017, Golf Course Hotel in Kampala onWednesday, the EU head of Delegation to Uganda representative Mr. MogensPedersen, urged the relevant authorities to respect the diversity of the pressand media.

According to Dr. WilliamTayeebwa, the Ugandan media industry needs a paradigm shift which deconstructsmedia values that hinder performance and promote conflict.

Dr. Tayeebwa, Head of Departmentof Journalism and Communication at Makerere University, made this call whendelivering a key note address during the celebration to mark World PressFreedom Day titled, ‘The role and challenges of the media in Uganda inpromoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.’ Hesaid that the paradigm shift, sometimes called ‘peace journalism’ or‘conflict-sensitive reporting’, will enable journalists to frame news in amanner that values and promotes communal harmony, dialogue and reconciliation.

He further noted that mediainstitutions need to work towards more professional and friendly workingenvironments to ensure retention of senior journalists.

Dr. Tayeebwa acknowledged that themedia in Uganda faces several challenges that make it difficult for them topromote inclusive and peaceful societies through proactive reporting. Amongthem, he said, is “the inability by media institutions to surmount thechallenges posed by imperatives of the market, as well as the deliberateactions by the state to curtail freedoms of expression and of the media throughrestrictive laws.”

The journalism lecturer cited the example of KTN anchor JoyDoreen Biira, who was arrested and charged with abetting terrorism last yearfor reporting about the confrontation between Ugandan security operatives androyal guards of Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere in Kasese which left over 100people dead.

“Given the many challenges thrown their way in Uganda,individual journalists easily burn-out and leave the profession to juniors wholack the professional competences to do a good job on complex subjects such aspeace, conflict and violence,” Dr. Tayeebwa said.

Barbara Kaija, the Editor-in-Chief of Vision Group, whodiscussed Dr. Tayeebwa’s paper, said all challenges facing the media aresecondary to the funding challenges currently being experienced.

“Media freedom is dependent on sufficient funding. Goodjournalism costs money. Good journalism depends on good quality people and goodquality people cost money,” she said.

Ms. Kaija said media around the world are grappling withdwindling advertising revenue and insufficient support.

“The audience wants news and information; they want it inreal time. They want it well packaged and accurate; and this is at no cost tothem!” she noted.

Ms Kaija called on media consumers and buyers who believe inmedia freedom to create businesses to fund it and to work together with theindustry to innovate models “that foster development journalism withoutcompromising independence.”

The World Press Freedom Day Kampala conference was organizedby UNESCO, African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) in conjunction with othermedia and human rights organizations, with support from the U.S. Mission in KampalaHivos Eastern Africa, theEmbassy of Sweden in Uganda and the Democratic Governance Facility. It was part of a series ofevents to mark the day that started with a dialogue in Gulu last Friday andwill end with a similar event to be held in Mbarara on 5 May.





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