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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 is more important than ever, this comes at a time when the journalism professionand media industry coming under sever scrutiny for playing double standards and unbalanced reporting of transpiring stories.

The media industry is increasing facing a lot challenges that have greatly hampered its progress and development over the years.

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

According to a report published by the Uganda Human Rights Commission, police brutality ranks highest among list 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 and media houses in the land choosing to take on a different trend of reporting so as to market their products, this she said was tainting the image

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

"I congratulate you all upon this celebration, thank you very much for the work you do, the stories you tell, and the debates you moderate" said Hon. Minister for ICT, Mr. Frank Tumwebaze who was the chief guest at the celebrations.

He informed the journalists present of the government's commitment to protecting their rights and that a legislation was in the pipeline to regulate the operationalization of the sector.


Awards ceremony

Speaking At separate event held to celebrate World Press Freedom Day 2017, Golf Course Hotel in Kampala on Wednesday, the EU head of Delegation to Uganda representative Mr. Mogens Pedersen, urged the relevant authorities to respect the diversity of the press and media.

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

Dr. Tayeebwa, Head of Department of Journalism and Communication at Makerere University, made this call when delivering 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.' He said that the paradigm shift, sometimes called 'peace journalism' or 'conflict-sensitive reporting', will enable journalists to frame news in a manner that values and promotes communal harmony, dialogue and reconciliation.

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

Dr. Tayeebwa acknowledged that the media in Uganda faces several challenges that make it difficult for them to promote inclusive and peaceful societies through proactive reporting. Among them, he said, is "the inability by media institutions to surmount the challenges posed by imperatives of the market, as well as the deliberate actions by the state to curtail freedoms of expression and of the media through restrictive laws."

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

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

Barbara Kaija, the Editor-in-Chief of Vision Group, who discussed Dr. Tayeebwa's paper, said all challenges facing the media are secondary to the funding challenges currently being experienced.

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

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

"The audience wants news and information; they want it in real time. They want it well packaged and accurate; and this is at no cost to them!" she noted.

Ms Kaija called on media consumers and buyers who believe in media freedom to create businesses to fund it and to work together with the industry to innovate models "that foster development journalism without compromising independence."

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



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