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Uganda Media Review 2013
STRUGGLING FOR MEDIA SPACE THROUGH THE DECADES
In search of a shield law to protect sources Covering the dictator Using the arts to speak the unspeakable Uganda’s resistance press 1
Editors John Baptist Wasswa Email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Moses Paul Sserwanga Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Publisher Uganda Media Development Foundation P.O.Box 21778, Kampala Plot 286, Nantale Road Bukoto Tel:+256 414 532083 Email: email@example.com Website: www.umdf.co.ug UMDF Executive Director James Kigozi Project Manager Sylvia Nankya Tel:+256778120939, Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Photo Credit All Pictures courtesy of the New Vision Cover painting by Nuwa W. Nnyanzi Copyright We consider the stories and photographs submitted to The Uganda Media Review Journal to be the property of their creators. We include their contacts so that interested parties can contact them. All reprint should credit Uganda Media Review. Acknowledgement Special thanks to The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung for their financial Support.
Contributors................................................................................................ 4 Editorial: Are we safe to speak?............................................................ 6 ARTICLES To have or not to have a shield law..................................................... 7 Journalism practices through the decades.................................... 10. Covering the dictator. Idi Amin and the media............................ 12. Veteran Journos recall practice over the years............................ 15 The arts and freedom of expression ................................................ 18 Its not yet Uhuru for the 4th estate.................................................. 22 The beauty and the beast in the UCRA act..................................... 23 Making journalism curriculum relevant........................................ 27 UBC and the future of public broadcasting................................... 30 Reporting the AIDS story differently................................................ 34 What sports journalism can teach other media sections......... 38 How media power shifted from mainstream to tabloids.......... 40 Crowd sourcing journalism................................................................. 43 Top frontiers for new media competition...................................... 45 Media owners and managers must rise to the occassion......... 49 Peace Journalism Project..................................................................... 52 Action for Transparency Project....................................................... 53 Media and Democracy Project........................................................... 53 Pictorial .................................................................................................... 54
Uganda Media Review 2013
This conviction was the main focus at the annual World Press Freedom Day in May 2013 where the KonradAdenauer-Stiftung was proud to partner with the Uganda Media Development Foundation in presenting a public dialogue. Since independence in 1962, the media in Uganda like in several other African countries has continued the struggle for press freedom to ensure that every Ugandan can enjoy this basic human right. However, transforming the way the media relates to both governments and audiences remains a challenge.. In Uganda the impact of media on government and audience in the last 50 years seems to have been quite low. Although widespread liberalisation of media has led to its explosive growth – from one public broadcaster less than three decades ago to over 300 registered stations – still many obstacles need to be faced. Corruption, legal and institutional restrictions, low payment of journalists, and many other issues are undermining the role of the media. Nevertheless, the multiplicity of commercial and community actors has transformed the media landscape, with some of the greatest changes occurring in the radio broadcast sector, which has the greatest potential to reach ordinary Ugandans.
KAS proud to support media growth
rticle 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights confers on every individual “…the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”.
The result is a fundamental shift in communication patterns with both positive and negative implications for democratic governance. Government is increasingly held responsible by a vigorous and enthusiastic media, and society is characterised by far greater public dialogue and debate as citizens converse with each other through talk shows, phone-ins, and new technologies. The interaction between traditional technologies (such as radio) with new technologies (such as telecommunication and internet) has created a new fora for public debate. Innovative technologies have led to the emergence of “citizen journalists” capable of shining a light on some of the most closed societies. As some articles of this publication show it is worrying that until today, Ugandan media continues to struggle for its rightful place in society. By tracing the chronological steps of the media struggle over the past 50 years a picture shall be drawn on how the future of this important profession and its role might look like.
The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung is honoured to support a platform through which journalists can openly share their analysis of issues in the media industry. KAS not only supports this publication but is relentlessly funding a series of public dialogues and training activities by UMDF in several parts of Uganda.
With such trainings, whose focus this year is on media and good governance, UMDF and KAS hope to create not only a pool of social accountability advocates but also a team of competent and well-equipped promoters of democratic governance within the media fraternity.
KAS herewith expresses sincere gratitude to UMDF for the productive cooperation. Special thanks goes to all the authors and contributors of the current issue of the Uganda Media Review. To strengthen and consolidate the role of the media in Uganda, KAS is looking forward to many more years of fruitful communication and dialogue to come. Dr. Angelika Klein Country Representative Uganda and South Sudan Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung
Uganda Media Review 2013
LYNN has over 10 years of experience in Radio and Television. She was News Editor and producer of Spectrum and Ekimeeza on Radio One FM 90. She is now Program Officer for Governance at Panos Eastern Africa. She holds a BA in Development Studies from Makerere University and a Diploma in Journalism and Media Management from Uganda Management Institute. She is interested in media development, media freedom and development communication. email@example.com
Adolf E. Mbaine
ADOLF holds an MA in Journalism and Media Studies from Rhodes University and has been teaching at the Department of Mass Communication at Makerere University since 1996. He specializes in media policy and regulation. He is also the Managing Director of Vachi Communications Ltd, a media and communications consultancy firm. He is a doctoral student at Rhodes University.
Mr. Peter S. Nyanzi
PETER, veteran journalist and communicator, holds a Bachelor of Mass Communications (Hons) and an MA Journalism and Communication (candidate) degrees from Makerere University. Currently the Business Editor at the Independent News Magazine, he has previously worked at the Monitor Publications Ltd in various capacities. His major interest is in new media, media research and journalism training.
GERALD is a graduate multimedia journalist and researcher. Businge worked as a print media journalist before founding (in 2003) Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd, a multimedia editorial and communications agency, where is Managing Director. Businge is also a digital journalism trainer at Makerere University Department of Journalism and Communication. He has established several new media ventures including www.weinformers.net
MOSES has 17 years working experience in Journalism having served as a war reporter and assistant news editor at The New Vision and as Saturday and Sunday Monitor Editor. He holds a LLB from Makerere University and a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre. Sserwanga is also an advocate of the High Court of Uganda with vast experience in human rights, commercial, environment law and civil litigation. He has written many articles about human rights, rule of law and good governance issues. Some of his articles can be found on his blog: msserwanga. blogspot.com he can be reached on Email: firstname.lastname@example.org DENIS ,a former United Nations media consultant holds a MA Journalism and Media Studies (Rhodes University) and a B. Mass Communications (Makerere University). He has consulted for several organisations including GTZ, Greenpeace, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation, Health Development Network, Blue Finance, and BAT among others. His mediaindustry articles have been published in books and international journals. He previously worked as a journalist and continues to publish articles in newspapers and other publications. He also teaches journalism at Nkumba University in Uganda. Denis is co-founder of www. thecatholicsnetwork.com, a social networking site for the Catholic community. djjuuko@ primetime.co.ug, Find him and follow him on www.thecatholicsnetwork.com/denisjjuuko.
JOSEPHINE commands 30 years of experience in journalism. She has reported for newspapers including Ngabo, Star, Weekly Topic and the New Vision. She was worked with Henry Gombya in the BBC Kampala office in the late 1980s. She is now Editor of Eddoboozi. Josephine diploma in journalism from the Institute of Public Administration, now UMI. She covered Parliament and Buganda Kingdom affairs extensively. email@example.com
John Baptist Wasswa
JOHN BAPTIST lectures in the Department of Mass Communication at Makerere University. His teaching areas include News Writing, Public Affairs Writing and Media Ethics and Critical Thinking. He has worked as News Editor at the New Vision, Managing Editor of the Daily Monitor, Editor of the Weekly Topic and Consulting Editor at the Pepper Publications. He holds a BA. Dip in Education from Makerere, Postgraduate Diploma in Mass Communication from the University of Nairobi, a Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from Rhodes University, South Africa and Postgraduate Diploma in French Language and Literature from L’Universite d’Aix-en-Provence, France. His research interests include journalists’ performance under public media, audience studies and representation. firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Ndawula Kalema
ANDREW, a farming journalist is a media veteran, specializing in agro journalism. He is a product of Makerere University Department of Mass Communication (1992- 94). Ndawula’s journalism career began in 1992 at the Weekly/Daily Topic. Between 1995 and 2011, Ndawula worked with The New vision as sports writer, features writer, undercover reporter, sub editor, deputy editor (Sunday Vision), and Harvest Money founding editor. . In between he hosted Harvesting Money, a farming program on Vision Voice, and Ekimeeza, a political program on Radio One. Currently Ndawula is a farming columnist with several publications, a farming consultant and managing director Talent Orchards based in Nakaseke district
JAMES is the Executive Director of Uganda Media Development Foundation (UMDF). He holds a Master’s degree in Journalism and Media Studies from Rhodes University, South Africa,an Honors Degree in Communication from Makerere University, Kampala, a Diploma in Journalism from the Institute of Public Administration (now Uganda Management Institute) as well as a Diploma in Strategic Planning from Management Sciences for Health (MSH). James has worked with The New Vision, Nation Media Group (Nairobi), Uganda Christian University (Assistant Lecturer) and Uganda AIDS Commission spokesperson on HIV coordination. He does consultancy work for NGOs S. Southern Sudan, Rwanda and S. Africa Major interests include strategic health communication, media liaison, public relations, corporate branding, and advocacy for strategic interventions. email@example.com Drake is a veteran Journalist with an experience of 48 years in active journalism. He is a renowned television producer and presenter. Among his several accomplishments is the initiation of A-WBS TV weekly investigative programme “VUMBULA” aired since 2008. He has worked with Sekanolya, Day & Night, The people, Uganda Argus, Ngabo Newspapers and also founder editor of the star newspaper. His research interests include history of the media. In 1990s he produced and presented UTV’s face the Press Programme. In 2005 he produced and presented a weekly historical documentary MUTEESA NE UGANDA with 100 episodes covering the role of the press and politicians since the arrival of the British to 1986. He holds a Higher Diploma in Journalism and mass communication and several other diplomas in related fields. He has studied at Tanzania’s institute of Mass Media, in Britain, Germany and USA. BUWEMBO is Former editor Sunday Vision, Founding Editor The Citizen, Former Managing Editor Daily Monitor, Knight International Fellow for Development Journalism, currently writer at large in East Africa. A widely read satirist, Buwembo. He holds a BA and Diploma in Education from Makerere University, Postgraduate Diploma in Mass Communication, University of Nairobi. He has also trained with the Thomson Foundation in Cardiff University, UK. He is also a published author of books.
Uganda Media Review 2013
Nuwa W. Nnyanzi
NUWA is a founder and managing director of Nnyanzi Art Studio that produces and deals in contemporary and antique African art with emphasis on Uganda. He has an MA in Design (Professional Practice) from Middlesex University, UK and a Diploma in Industrial Art and Design from CTC Kenya YMCA, Kenya. Nuwa has exhibited in major galleries and lectured in some major universities around the world. Nnyanzi has previously served as minister in the Buganda Kingdom and has served on boards of local and international organizations including the culture committee of the Uganda National commission for UNESCO. His art graces walls of presidential residences and board rooms of leading multinationals.
Wilson Akiiki Kaija
WILSON is an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Communication, Makerere University. He is also Deputy News Editor at Uganda Radio Network. He has previously worked as a Senior Journalism Trainer and Mentor for the BBC Media Action; and directed programming at Kyoga Veritas Radio in Soroti. His interest is in media policy and regulation; public affairs; media audience perspectives; electronic media programming and New Media. He holds a B. Mass Communication from Makerere University and an MA Communication Studies from the University of Leeds, UK.
THE FUTURE OF UGANDAN JOURNALISM: ARE WE SAFE TO SPEAK?
n May 3, 2013, the Ugandan media fraternity commemorated World Press Freedom Day under the theme “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media.’’ Activities for the day focused on the issues of safety of journalists, combating impunity for crimes against freedom of expression, and securing a free and open Internet as the precondition for safety online. Government officials, led by then Information Minister Mary Karooro Okurut, assured the media that the NRM government was committed to ensuring press freedom and, among other things, reeled off figures of licensed radio and television stations that have gone on air in the last 25 years as proof of government’s goodwill towards the media. However, this honeymoon was very short-lived.
Uganda Media Review 2013
A few days later, it suddenly became not so safe to speak! The challenge to the World Press Freedom Day theme was right in our midst. Police, armed with a search warrant issued by court moved in and closed two media houses, The Daily Monitor and The Red Pepper, demanding a letter written by a senior army General and Coordinator of Intelligence, Gen. David Sejusa. While the warrant authorized the search of the Daily Monitor offices, it did not authorize closure of the premises, or switching off of the two radio stations owned by the same company and are housed on the premises. For eleven days, police occupied the premises and tear- gassed activists who were protesting this high- handed action. When The Monitor sought a court order cancelling the earlier warrant, the police ignored it and altered the rules of engagement. They said they were now working under the Police Act and therefore did not need a search warrant! This disregard and manipulation of the law sets a worrying trend and exposes the press to grave danger at the hands of the state. It is even more worrying that statutory regulatory authorities appeared either impotent or even in the remotest sense to condone the Police action. We make a case for reforms that will ensure the independence of these institutions as the country nears the next general elections.
A free, independent and pluralistic media environment must be one in which journalists, media workers, and social media producers can work safely and independently without the fear of being threatened, gagged or muzzled.It needs to be an environment where attacks, intimidations, harassments, arbitrary imprisonments, and threats are the exceptions and not the norm. Journalists (as well as citizen journalists), editors, publishers and online intermediaries alike should not be subjected to political or financial coercion and manipulation. They should instead be protected to enjoy the rights honourably enshrined in the Constitutional provisions for freedom of speech and expression. The Ugandan constitution and other the existing laws guarantee press freedom, but the state usually ignores them at will. To compound the problem, the rate of impunity for crimes against journalists, media workers and social media producers remains high. Those involved in harassing media are never investigated and prosecuted..
But not all is lost. The media fraternity must make an affirmative reading of the new law that prohibits all forms of torture, including psychological torture. Under this law, The Prevention and Prohibition Torture Act 2012, offenders must bear individual responsibility for their actions and can no longer hide behind the State. Stories and commentaries about the sieges at The Monitor and the Red Pepper did not make reference to this new and beautiful law, and we believe it is time journalists explored the windows of opportunity the law provides to create an environment where it is truly safe to speak.
Press freedom is considered to be a cornerstone of human rights and a guarantee of other freedoms. It encourages transparency and good governance and also ensures that society the rule of true justice. It is a bridge of understanding and knowledge; and is essential for the exchange of ideas between nations and cultures.
In this issue of the Uganda Media Review, we argue the case for a shield law that will, among other provisions, protect journalists from revealing their sources. Critical appraisal is also made on a number of pertinent topics such as media policy and legislation, freedom of expression and, most importantly, on the future of journalism in Uganda. Any society that cherishes democratic ideals needs an independent, pluralistic, free and informed media to act as a platform for democratic discourse among its citizens.
James Kigozi Executive Director, UMDF
MOSES SSERWANGA delves into the tricky question of whether or not Uganda should enact a Shield Law to protect journalists from disclosing sources. It is a complex issue given the loose definition of a journalist, and after effects of the phone hacking scandal in the UK They have always been easy allies- the journalists and their sources of information. But this privileged relationship is increasingly being challenged by third parties including the state and its agents, raising the pertinent question whether a ‘shield law’ should be introduced to Uganda’s media industry.
TO HAVE OR NOT TO HAVE A SHIELD LAW IN UGANDA
journalists and their sources. Their argument is that such a law would ensure public accountability and good governance. The reporters’ privilege not to reveal sources is premised partly on the provisions of Uganda Constitution of 1995, Article 29 which guarantees the public free access to information that is in the hands of government and its agents. The enabling law, The Access to Information Act was operationalised in 2012 after the President assented to it.
Uganda Media Review 2013
shield law can be defined as the law which affords news reporters the privilege to protect their sources. But the privilege must be balanced against a variety of competing government interests such as the right of the government to apprehend criminals and to prevent the impairment of investigations. Still, most states have enacted shield laws, based on the right to access information which guarantee the freedom of the press as provided for in the Bill of Rights In the case of Uganda, this is in Chapter Four of the Uganda constitution. Now, more than ever before, many senior media practitioners interviewed for this paper agreed on the need to accelerate advocacy for parliament to pass a shield law that protects journalists and their sources. With this law in place, industry players argue that journalists will effectively play their traditional and democratic watchdog role without being compelled to reveal their sources of information . David Ouma Balikowa, veteran editor and media consultant makes the case for a shield law to protect journalists and their sources from being prosecuted. “Much as we have a Whistle Blower law that protects people who volunteer information in the public interest, it should be noted that not all whistle blowers are sources of information. Journalists’ sources go beyond whistle blowing. The shield law should be distinct from the Whistle Blowers law; sources of information must be determined and well defined,” he argues. Balikowa posits that journalists should only be compelled to disclose their sources of information by courts of law upon provision of hard evidence that, by doing so, national security interests will be protected. John Kakande, a senior editor at the Vision Group and Margret Sentamu -Masagazi, Executive Director Uganda Media Women’s Association, echo Balikoowa’s views, adding that that there was need for a national dialogue to discuss the enactment of a law to protect
In other words, free access to information and press freedom -can only be upheld when journalists are protected to access information even from confidential sources in a national effort to provide accurate information for the public to make informed decisions. “This is a constitutional requirement which must be protected,” says, Haruna Kanabi , Executive Secretary of the Independent Media Council of Uganda.( IMCU).
There is a provision in Section 38 of the Press and Journalists’ Act that forbids journalists from disclosing their sources except when instructed by a court of competent jurisdiction. This, however, is only a prohibition and does not amount to protection of journalists’ sources. On the other hand, those who are challenging this long held journalists’ professional privilege not to disclose their sources, argue that with the liberalization of broadcasting that led to the proliferation of electronic media outlets, the profession has over the last two decades ,attracted many practitioners with limited or no professional knowledge. This shortage of professionalism has prompted media critics within the public to question whether legal protection should be applied in an omnibus manner, even to abusive and unprofessional journalists.
There is also the emergence of the power dynamics between journalists and their sources where the professional high standards of objectivity and independence is being eroded by the powerful , dominant sources of information. As argued by scholars such as Terence Johnson in his book Professions and Power (1972), journalism as a profession loses its autonomy to the forces (read sources) on which journalists depend for information. This argument has been amplified by the recent developments in Britain where reporters attached to the then British tabloid, News of the World , misused the news reporters privilege to protect sources. The paper’s journalists and editors used crude methods including tapping phones of subjects, and at times paid huge amounts to police to obtain information about individuals to use as exclusive story content. These journalists invaded people’s privacy but could
Uganda Media Review 2013
(Left) Monitor Managing Editor Don Wanyama talking to journalists during the latest closure of the Daily Monitor Offices in Namuwongo not divulge sources of information citing the long held tradition of not revealing sources. It should be noted that the News of the World soon folded following a public outcry that led to a landmark parliamentary inquiry into the scandal. (Right) Police seal off the Monitor to look for the document allegedly written by Gen. Sejjusa passed Federal Rule of Evidence 501 concerning privileges including the qualified reporters’ privilege. The “phantom” privilege referred to earlier dates from Branzburg v. Hayes in 1972. A deeply divided US Supreme Court, while ruling against the reporter, seemed to find a basis for a qualified reporter privilege. In his eloquent and prescient dissent Justice Potter Stewart warned that without a privilege the historic independence of the press would be undermined. Justice Stewart reasoned that without the qualified reporter privilege, (qualified in a sense that there should be reasonable limitations imposed by courts of competent jurisdictions), sources of information for the public good would be apprehensive in reaching out to journalists to share the said information. This, Justice Stuart noted, would fundamentally weaken press freedom and the public’s right to access information. A number of problems have arisen, however, concerning the scope and application of this privilege. One such dilemma is determining to whom the privilege applies. It goes back to a question of definitions of whether journalists are professionals to enjoy the trappings of a professional. Unlike other professionals, privileged by scholarship, societal standing and licencing like lawyers and doctors, in Uganda many journalists are not licensed or certified in any manner. Any law that provides a privilege
Lord Justice Leveson, ( pictured above ) who led an inquiry in this public scandal has since released a report in which he states thus: “ There have been too many times when, chasing the story, parts of the press have acted as if its own code, which it wrote, simply did not exist. This has caused real hardship and, on occasion, wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people whose rights and liberties have been disdained.”
Leveson has gone ahead to question the ‘blanket’ privilege of news reporters to protect their sources and recommended for the introduction of a new press law to establish a new regulator with statutory backstop.
And yet, the professional misdemeanor, where journalists hide behind the privilege to protect sources, to distort facts , blackmail or worse still extort money from the unsuspecting public for selfish purposes is not limited to the UK. Just recently, The Chief Executive Officer, (CEO) , of The New Vision Group, Mr. Robert Kabushenga, has come clean by publically declaring that indeed, there are journalists who engaged in extortion either as blackmail or in return for guaranteeing favorable publicity. He noted that this has now become an industry-wide problem which threatens to destroy the credibility of media institutions in the country.
The nature and rationale of the Shield Law
The question then is : Should we really have a shield law enacted in Uganda to protect news reporters privilege not to disclose sources of information? This question can only be answered after an in-depth analysis of the different arguments presented by the various industry scholars in those jurisdictions where shield laws are applied.
But for better understanding of the operation of the shield law we can borrow a leaf from the United States of America where there have been more progress in the application of shield laws. Congress in 1975,
necessarily must define whom it will cover. This is a well-placed caution with strong historical perspectives on the dangers of government defining who is a journalist. Licensing and mandatory membership in press groups have been frequent and convenient ways for government to restrict press freedom. The Press and Journalists Act (2000) does not have a definitive definition of who a journalist is. In other jurisdictions a journalist has been defined as one who communicates via newspaper, is employed by a newspaper, or whose communication is classified as “news.” The other issue which arises is whether books, magazine articles, or pamphlets are encompassed in the definition of a newspaper. Most state statutes also protect television and radio broadcasts, although some limit protection to “news” programs. In addition, some courts have held that documentary films should be included in the scope of the privilege protection. There is also the question of how the term news should be defined. Statutes seldom define the term, and some commentators are not convinced that an adequate definition can be devised. Presumably poetry or works of fiction are not news, but it is a more difficult question when considering sensationalism or gossip. Some legal scholars advocate avoiding consideration of the supposed worth of the communication and making the privilege available to those who generally acquire information for public dissemination. According to John Baptist Wasswa, journalism lecturer at Makerere University, the definition of who is a journalist should encompass professionals who are in the business of publishing information . “And I think this goes beyond journalists. That’s an area which must be agreed upon by the industry players and other stakeholders when developing the shield law. We need to determine the categories of these professionals i.e film producers, playwrights , Djs, etc .Should all these professions involved in providing information be protected?,” he ashs. Another important issue that arises under state statutes that protect
journalist’s sources is whether a “source” can only be a human informant or whether it can include a book, document, tape recording, or photograph. Both Kakande and Sentamu Masagazi argue that sources who should be protected are those who divulge information in the custody of state actors. Again this should be read together with the provisions of the Access to Information Act. Others who should be protected are those sources in vulnerable positions where upon disclosure could lead to their lose of employment.
Uganda Media Review 2013
Wasswa makes the point, however, that a proposed shield law should not apply to the editor-reporter The 11 day siege, had turned The relationship. For good Red Pepper into a scene of crime journalism to flourish and in order to give the editor a certain Did the controversial missive by Gen. level of confidence in a journalist’s Sejjusa qualify as a documentary source story, journalists should disclose befitting protection? Is it still a revered their sources to their editors. The source when the author confirms he onus then lies on the editors not to penned it? Was police looking for the disclose the journalist’s sources to right source? This indeed brings forth a third parties. new dimension. As we carry forward this discussion The Uganda situation makes the it’s imperative for Uganda’s media need for more protection for sources fraternity to do a soul searching and even more urgent. Security issues determine whether it has employed the are taking centre stage, and we are ‘sacred’ privilege to protect sources in witnessing increased government service of the public good or,for selfish secrecy on matters that should be in ends. the public arena, such as petroleum Otherwise, it won’t be long when third production agreements. parties will have a just cause to render this benefit redundant. Tony Pederson ,a distinguished media scholar and a Belo Chair in REFERENCES Journalism at Southern Methodist 1. The Uganda Constitution (1995), University, states that while shield Article 29 laws are not necessarily the complete 2. The Press and Journalism Act answer to challenges on reporter (2000) privilege, this much is certain: “The 3. The Electronic Media Act loss of an aggressive and independent 4. The Access to Information Act press puts all individual liberties at (2012) risk. Even the media bashers and the 5. The Whistle Blowers Act hard-liners on prosecutorial rights 6. Journalism Code of Ethics of will have to listen at some point. Independent Media Council of Constitutional government has often Uganda been a balancing act, and a reasonable 7. Lord Justice Leveson’s Report www. balance is what is needed.” guardian.co.uk/media/levesoninquiry[Accessed on February 20th The recent police siege at the 2013] Daily Monitor and Red Pepper has compounded the shield law debate.
FLASHBACK: JOURNALISM PRACTICE THROUGH THE DECADES
Uganda Media Review 2013
From Cairo to Dar es Salaam: Media and Freedom struggles in Uganda
Over the years, there were attempts by media local and foreign to support democratic struggles in Uganda and Africa. Sometimes it was Uganda media doing it for others, other times it was foreign based media supporting Uganda efforts. There were also many cases where Uganda media did it to support local causes. JOACHIM BUWEMBO traces the history of the pro-democracy media in Uganda
independence struggle operation in Cairo under the patronage of Egyptian President Abdel Nasser, from where he coordinated funding for freedom movements across the continent. Obviously, he particularly favoured the freedom movement in Uganda, after all, he had intentions of returning home to stand for presidency/premiership under the UNC banner. So using Nasser’s cash, Kale bought modern publishing equipment for his UNC collaborators in Katwe and also bankrolled their operations. Kale did not stop at sponsoring anticolonial print media in Kampala, but also too the battle to the airwaves. In March 1958, he opened a radio programme on colonial rule and the independence struggle in Uganda. It was aired on ‘Voice of Free Africa’ hosted by the external service of Radio Cairo, with the signal easily picked in Uganda on the few radio sets then available. The producer and presenter was John Kale himself, and the initial programmes were in Luganda language. A skilled networker, Kale caused substantial coverage of the Ugandan independence struggle in the European and pan-Africanist media even as he pumped more equipment and cash into the pro UNC press in Katwe. In May 1958, Kale launched the ‘Uganda Renaissance’, a newsletter reporting the struggle of the people of Uganda to free themselves from British colonial rule. In July 1958, John Kale resolved the problem of publishing for the UNC
he use of the media to fight for freedom naturally started during the independence struggle. The base of the print media was the ‘African township of Katwe in Kampala. That is where the anti-colonial press of the Uganda National Congress based their operations in the 1950s. Several titles, some short lived, others more enduring, were edited in Katwe and the ‘compositions’ tons of metal slags, would be driven to the Catholic church-owned Marianum Press at Kisubi near Entebbe road for printing. The turning point for the media came in the late fifties, courtesy of one man whose contribution to the independence struggle has not been sufficiently documents, John Kalekyezi, popularly known as John Kale. A rebel fugitive fleeing the colonial forces in East Africa, John Kale set up a formidable
when he secured from China the then most advanced printing press machinery in Uganda. The Colonial Government then controlled Political Parties through gagging the press, imprisoning and using a new law to close the printing machine which published seditious news. In September of 1958, following evidence of documents found in possession of Otema Alimadi for carrying seditious literature and the Uganda Programme broadcasts from Cairo’s Voice of Free Africa by John Kale, the colonial government enacted a special law in the Penal Code on 18/09 1959, making it a criminal offence to carry, receive, keep or promote literature and other political information from John Kale and / or his office on Plot 5 Ahmed Hishman Street in Cairo, Egypt. Later that month, the colonial government deployed a spy called Hassan Ali [later the Director of CID in Uganda] who could speak some Arabic to infiltrate John Kale’s office in Egypt where he was recruited into the UNC system. Hassan Ali returned to Uganda in December 1958 and arrested a number of close collaborators of John Kale from all the regions of the country on suspicion of plotting a communist insurrection. These arrests greatly undermined the planned revolution to Boycott the Colonial Government and force it out of Uganda in 1959. However, Kale continued his broadcasts and printing some anti-colonial publications from abroad, which daring people like Abu Mayanja physically carried to Uganda whenever they flew home from studies and political activities overseas. John Kale died in a plane crash in 1960, the UNC disintegrated and by independence in 1962, the UPC of Milton Obote emerged as the strongest party.
Interestingly, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation under Idi Amin was to acquire powerful equipment with the expressed purpose of fighting colonialism, imperialism, zionism and other such ‘isms’ the president had issues with. So liberation movements of the day, from South African to Palestinian enjoyed the free propaganda machinery of UBC External Service that President Idi Amin put at their disposal. Ironically, Idi Amin’s government was to fall with relative ease mostly because of what another external service in East Africa did. In 1978, the external service of Radio Tanzania started Luganda language broadcasts directed at the population in Uganda to mobilize them for war against their
“ Otherwise the state has used indirect but effective methods to run down the independent media. For several years since its inception ”
government. So successful were the broadcasts that by the time Tanzania troops entered Ugandan territory, the found a willing, capable fifth column that enabled them to overrun a powerful government military in six months.
After the fall of the military government in April 1979, there was an explosion of print media representing different political factions and liberation groups. The new government started a ruthless crackdown between 1981 and 1983, climaxing with the downright closure of all critical newspapers like The Weekly Topic and The Economy. But The Citizen of the Democratic Party resisted and resiliently fought on despite physical harassment of the editors. For a long time, the proscribed Citizen was published as Munnansi – English Edition, a translation of the
word ‘Citizen’. Munansi / Citizen soldiered on during the civil, often printing using typewriters and cyclostyling machines after all printing press companies had been forced to reject its work. The paper kept listing all people killed during the insurgency and counter insurgency, giving them at least the decency of having their death recorded in lieu of burial which thousands were denied. Meanwhile, opposition leader Paul Kawanga Sseomogerere claimed he was compiling a Black Book in which he was listing all those who were abusing human rights. The Black Book in reality never existed as a physical book but it caused such anger and panic by the government that ruling party officials castigated it many times without even being sure it existed. So the mere fact that a record of abuses is being kept is enough to check the excesses of a regime, apparently. Enter the National Resistance Movement in 1986, and a honeymoon of sorts between state and media kicked off for a couple of years, even as a maverick publication, The Weekend Digest, was summarily proscribed. Since then the NRM has refrained from closing critical newspapers, although once in a while it brings out the big stick. The Monitor has been closed twice before for over a week with its offices cordoned off as a ‘scene of crime’. The Nation Television Uganda (NTV) was also shut down for a couple of months just as it was opening shop, over sins of The Daily Monitor newspaper, its sister company. The Monitor’s radio, KFM, has also had its signal jammed by the state during elections. The Monitor’s website was also blocked by the state during the 2006 elections when the paper was running and constantly updating an independent tally centre for the election results. Otherwise the state has used indirect but effective methods to run
down the independent media. For several years since its inception, The Monitor was officially denied public advertising. Making lemonade from a bitter lemon, The Monitor nurtured private sector advertising which was quite underdeveloped by then in the mid-nineties. The state has also used sinister methods like recruiting journalists as informers for its intelligence agencies. So an editor has to constantly work against sabotage of developing stories as the agencies are always aware of all the steps journalists are taking. Today, the capacity of the Ugandan media to fight for social progress and deepening democracy and transparency has been greatly diminished by such underhand methods. Ironically, the media companies themselves have also contributed to the killing of investigative journalism in Uganda. By starving the editorial departments of resources, the media managers have ensured that many ‘sensitive’ stories are not produced. Though the reasons may be basically for watching the balance sheet, this development has in effect kept the political establishment happier with the media houses. Another force that has emasculated the media in its role of watching out for the people is the power of big advertisers. A lot is done, or fails to be done, in the interests of the whims of the big advertisers. These are the biggest enemies of the free press in this respect. For sure some companies that give the worst technical service and exercise the most abusive attitude to customers also get best coverage, due to diminished weight of editorial influence in media management. One way forward out of this dilemma is for journalists to collaborate with institutions of transparency and of democracy to sponsor investigation and promote empowerment of the people.
Uganda Media Review 2013
COVERING THE DICTATOR
Idi Amin loved publicity
Idi Amin and the Media
To Amin it was unimaginable for a public function to proceed without “information people” or watu wa gazeti, as he called journalists, in attendance. He was his own media and communications manager. “The president would personally arrange transport, accommodation and meals for the journalists covering him,” recalls Kitaka. The pampering however did not go down with Amin’s illiterate security men, who out of jealousy started harassing journalists at every opportunity.
What was it like covering Idi Amin during his eight year reign of terror? ANDREW NDAULA KALEMA talked to veterans on what it meant covering the dictator, about fate of those who crossed his path, and his love for media publicity.
OON after he took over power on January 25th 1971, Idi Amin is said to have offered a bull to Fr. Clement Kiggundu, the editor in chief of Munno newspaper, as a reward for courageously exposing the excesses of the Obote l regime. The Catholic Church-owned Munno was at the time Uganda’s oldest and leading Luganda daily.
From time to time ,he would invite them to Paradise Island, his private hideout on Lake Victoria, for a game of basketball During international visits, Amin would invite the journalists to his hotel room for a drink and a chat and then give them money to go and have fun “raising the national flag” as he would put it.
As a member of the Ministry of Information film unit, Kitaka recalls several incidents when he personally clashed with Amin’s security men, during the course of his work. One incident was at Cape Town Villa, Amin’s residence and favorite hung out. After filming the president dancing, Kitaka put away his equipment.
While thanking the president for appreciating his work, Fr. Kiggundu candidly pointed out that exposing those excesses had been possible because Obote tolerated the media, and prayed that Amin would do even better. Two years later, in January 1973, Fr. Kiggundu was brutally murdered. The priest’s half burnt body was found in Namanve forest next to the burnt out shell of his red Peugeot car. There was no question over who had killed him and why. The outspoken priest had been executed on Amin’s orders, for criticizing the regime and exposing its excesses.
Fr. Kiggundu was one of several prominent journalists who lost their lives in the line of duty, during Amin’s regime. Others included Uganda Television director James Bwogi, and Voice of Uganda photo journalist Jimmy Parma. Do these killings mean Amin hated the media? Not necessarily. According to veteran journalist Patrick Kitaka, Amin actually loved the media. “As a journalist working with the ministry of information, I covered presidents from Obote I, Idi Amin, Yusuf Lule, Godfrey Binaisa, Paulo Muwanga, to Obote II, but none of them loved journalists like Amin.” he recalls.
The caterers at State House Entebbe, Cape Town Villas and Kololo Command Post, the three places Amin frequented, were under instructions to always have something ready for the media people. They had to be comfortable. But all this came at a high price. In return for the pampering, Amin expected total loyalty from the press. They were expected to carry only positive reports about him and his regime; any form of criticism would infuriate Amin. He would take it as personal betrayal and the people responsible would be made to pay a very high price – with their life. Although a critical media had in the past worked in his favor, by highlighting Obote’s excesses, Amin would never tolerate it in his regime. So he tried to win it over to his side. Aware of the power and influence the media wielded, Amin tried very hard to befriend journalists praising and pampering them at every opportunity. In return, he expected them to defend him against his enemies both at home and abroad.
One of Amin’s most feared army officers, Col. Malyamungu, demanded to know why Kitaka had stopped filming, yet the president was still dancing. Kitaka explained that he had done enough filming, which infuriated the senior army officer, who was clearly drunk. Kitaka was arrested, and was only rescued by another senior army officer who advised him to continue filming Amin, to appease Malyamungu. The trick worked and Malyamungu forgave the journalist, warning him that next time he would just have him killed. Another time, the Ministry of Information mobile filming unit received two brand new Peugeot cars to facilitate their work, which annoyed some powerful people in the army. Soon one of the cars got stolen by armed men wearing uniform similar to that of the army. Amin got to know about it, and suspected his security men. While meeting them, Amin cautioned the security men to handle journalists carefully, since some of them were armed. The second car survived. Although Amin always tried to portray himself as simple man, the people’s president with an affable
Byron Kawadwa (second left) was Director of “The National Theatre” personality, covering him was not an easy task. journalists would become a threat to their jobs, getting all the promotions, since they were more educated and had ready access to the president.
When he had just taken over power, media houses would deploy senior reporters on a “roster” system to cover Amin. The arrangement however had to be changed, after Amin started calling the editors to complain about reporters misquoting him in their reports.
Not the Queen’s English
The editors quickly figured out that language could be the source of the problem. The president’s command of English, the official language of communication, was rather shaky. “He would say ‘the house is raining’, when he meant the house is leaking,” recalls a veteran journalist. So journalists could sometimes fail to understand what exactly the President meant to say. Asking for clarification would only make matters worse. So journalists and their editors would have to sit down and make sense of the president’s disjointed remarks, often made off cuff. To play it safe, radio and TV news readers resorted to non committal statements like “the president was heard as if saying”, just in case he changed his mind. With time, different media houses identified reporters who “understood” the president and would always send these to cover him. That was the genesis of the Presidential Press Unit (PPU). According to Kitaka, serving in PPU was like serving in the army. “You had to be on standby 24 hours a day, because the president could call a press conference anytime of the day or night” Amin had actually wanted journalists attached to PPU to undergo military training. However the senior army officer tasked to organize the training did not like the idea, so he frustrated it. Army men feared that with military training, the
Amin the Source Master
As his administrative structure started crumbling due to incompetence and other reasons, Amin depended more on the media to run his government and maintain contact with the general public. In order to keep track of what was going on in the government they served, in the absence of official communications, high ranking government officials had to closely monitor the news.
Kitaka was for instance present in 1974 when a grenade was hurled at Amin during a pass out parade at Kibuli police grounds. “The president was driving away in an open military jeep, and then there was a loud explosion. I dumped my heavy equipment and fled to safety at the railway yard across the road” Kitaka recalls. (This assassination attempt was masterminded by Brig. Charles Arube, whose remains were exumed from a graveyard in Jinja in January 2013, and reburied in Koboko with full military honours in the presence of President Yoweri Museveni-ED).
Uganda Media Review 2013
To the general public, covering president Amin was one of the most prestigious and safest jobs in the country. To the journalists however, it was one of the riskiest jobs in the world. Any time you could lose your life at the hands of the president, his security men, or his enemies trying to eliminate him.
How they Died
“Press conferences became very important. That is when Amin would appoint, disappoint, promote, demote or sack his officials,” recalls Kitaka. Sometimes there would be no press conference. Amin would simply call the various media houses, and dictate which story to highlight. Depending on what effect he wanted to have, he would even dictate whom to attribute the piece of information to. These sources ranged from: government source, government spokesperson, army spokesperson, an unnamed source, army council, defense council, a source close to the president, and several others.
If Amin wanted to intimidate his army officers, he would attribute the information to a cabinet meeting, or a cabinet spokesperson. If on the other hand he wanted to intimidate the civilians in his government and the general public, he would name the army council as the source of information. During his eight year stay in power, several attempts were made on Amin’s life. Although he managed to survive all of them, some innocent by standers didn’t. Covering the president meant being exposed to this kind of danger.
Some of the prominent journalists who were killed during Amin’s regime included Fr. Clement Kiggundu. When Amin expelled Indians in 1972, Fr. Kiggundu wrote a scathing editorial condemning the action as inhuman in Munno, since the victims included children, the elderly and the sick, who all held daul citizinship (Ugandan British). N.B: Amin only expelled those with dual citizineship “Muyindi - Muzungu”, others just feared and fled. “It is like in South Africa.” He concluded. The paper meanwhile continued publishing articles about civilians being detained in military barracks. The final nail in Fr. Kiggundu’s coffin, according to a former minister in Amin’s Cabinet, was publishing the grievances of widows whose husbands had disappeared. During a conference held in November 1972 in Kampala, the aggrieved women demanded that government explains the disappearance of their husbands and that of many other innocent people. Soon after publishing the women’s grievances, Fr. Kiggundu received a stern warning from the President’s Office, ordering him to stop publishing negative stories about government. As an editor of a newspaper that had been regularly reporting the disappearance
of several public figures, Fr. Kiggundu knew a similar fate awaited him. The day before he was murdered Fr. Kiggundu visited the parish priest of Lweza church and confided in him: “I feel that they are pursuing me; they are about to take me. On the fateful day, Fr. Kiggundu intended to travel to Masaka, and had asked his driver to wait for him at Munno offices. When he did not turn up, the driver called the priest’s home in Kisubi. A colleague answered the call and reported that Fr. Kiggundu had not returned home the previous night. Concerned colleagues started calling different places, including the Archbishop’s office at Rubaga, but all in vain. At about 3 p.m, someone called Munno offices with information that a red Peugeot car, similar to that of Fr.Kiggundu, had been abandoned in Namanve forest. The entire editorial team rushed to Namanve, only to find the burnt out shell of Fr. Kiggundu’s car. About 15 yards from the car was Fr. Kiggundu’s charred body, which could only be identified from his clerical collar and shoes. At Mulago hospital, the autopsy revealed that the priest was first strangled to death and then set ablaze. A bullet was also found lodged in his chest. That was 15th January 1973. A few days later, the pathologist who performed the postmortem also disappeared. .There was no comment from government about the incident. Three years later, in 1976, government closed Munno. James Bwogi disappeared on 24 August, 1971. His disappearance is linked to a comment he made in Amin’s presence, about the possibility of starting a private radio station. Amin could not imagine a privately owned radio station operating in Uganda, and was surprised that anyone could even think about it. As far as he was concerned, only government could operate a radio station. So Bwogi became a marked man. Jimmy Parma was a freelance photographer working with the Voice of Uganda. Jimmy was murdered in 1976 after he took pictures of the half burnt body of Dora Bloch, the Israeli woman hostage who was left behind in Mulago hospital, when the
rest of her colleagues were rescued in a daring airline hostage raid by Israeli Commandos ar Entebbe. Jimmy sold the photos to a South African newspaper. His body was found riddled with bullets and lacerated by knife wounds.
Amin loved sports, especially football, boxing, basketball and motor rallying. Star football player Jimmy Kirunda recalls how the sports media performed during Amin’s time. In our days, it was easier to have the media on your side. There was only one state owned radio and television. The state also owned the biggest newspaper, Uganda Argus later renamed Voice of Uganda. There were several private papers but these knew the risks of going against a team where the President had a keen interest. Voice of Uganda Sports Editor Sammy Kateregga was one journalist who was rudely awakened to the realities of the day. Despite serving in a government mouthpiece, Kateregga dared to criticise the national team selection. Kateregga, with leanings to Express FC, was unhappy with the decision to replace Ismael Kirungi (Express) with Denis Obua (Police). He subsequently wrote before an international game that Uganda had travelled without a left winger. To Kateregga, Obua simply couldn’t fill Kirungi’s shoes. “During a visit to one of our training sessions at Kyambogo, Amin asked whether we had any problems. Obua responded that all was well apart from one journalist who was bent on defaming him. Amin promised to deal with Kateregga. In those days that was a very serious statement”. Kateregga heard about his sacking during a lunch time radio news cast and immediately fled into exile in Kenya. Those were some of the hazards of journalism at the time. Mukasa’s close shave Willy Mukasa, a senior reporter with the Uganda Argus survived death miraculously after he asked perhaps the most daring question ever put to Idi Amin. Amin had called an international press conference at his Command Post at Kololo. The Argus, sent in a team that included Willy Mukasa.
He had taken a few beers and some hard stuff. Question time comes and Mukasa is picked to ask his burning question. This is how the late Paul Waibale, described to us then at the Weekly Topic in 1994 the scene at Amin’s press conference, which he had also attended. “ Mukasa stood up straight and faced Idi Amin. He asked, “Your Excellency, my people of Nansana sent me to ask you this: Why do you kill people? Mr President, the country is weeping, people are wailing. People are losing dear ones. Why do you kill people?” Everyone was shocked. It was unbelievable. Those seated near him started distancing themselves. Amin’s security detail standing behind the press corps were visibly itching for action.” Waibale added, “Idi Amin listened attentively, smiling and rubbing his nose. He then told his security men that he did not want any of them to touch Willy Mukasa even after the press conference.”
Uganda Media Review 2013
Amin then turned to Mukasa and said, “Thank you very much. You are lucky you live in a democratic country that respects freedom of speech. If you were in America, Great Britain or Israel, you would be dead by now. I do not kill people. My government does not kill people. That is imperialist propaganda.”
Perhaps Amin wanted to impress the foreign media. None of those present, however, believed Idi Amin’s words. After the press conference, no one wanted to be close to Mukasa. He returned to the newsroom alone. Colleagues also fled the newsroom on hearing what Mukasa had asked Idi Amin. They knew it was just a matter of time before the journalist would be killed. Some prayed for his soul to rest in peace, when, not if, the dreaded hour came. Mukasa finished writing the story and put copy on the empty editor’s desk. He drove his car home alone to wait for his fate. Somehow, the hour did not come that night, not the following day, and for many years to come. Mukasa, who during retirement worked as night sub at the Weekly Topic listened to Waibale recount the events of the dreadful press conference night. “That is the day I stopped drinking. I do not know why I said what I said. Up to now I do not know how I survived.” Mukasa died in the late 1990s of old age. Many others were not that lucky though.
VETERAN JOURNALISTS RECALL PRACTICE OVER THE YEARS
Journalism is not for It was a tough start for women the faintBasalirwa hearted
What was it like practicing journalism over the years? JOSEPHINE MASERUKA one of the longest practicing journalists gives snapshots of lives and times of some veterans
Uganda Media Review 2013
fter graduating from Makerere University in economics and political science, Robinah Basalirwa briefly worked as Information Officer with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting before joining The New Vision as a junior reporter in 1986. “I have been with The New Vision since, working as senior reporter, assistant news editor, foreign news editor, deputy editor Sunday Vision and now as Supplements Editor, New Vision. She recalls that when she joined journalism in the 1980s there were limited opportunities for formal training in journalism as it was not offered at Makerere, the only University at the time. “I joined journalism by chance when I got a part-time job with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. I, however, picked interest in the profession, got job satisfaction and I don’t regret the time I have worked with the Vision Group.”
Challenges: “Many of us learnt on the job. Getting a scholarship for further training was not easy either, given the country’s political and economic situation. There was gender inequality with very few women in most media houses and I remember being the only woman in the New Vision newsroom sometime in 1987. ” Worse still, women journalists were thought to be weak, incompetent and not aggressive enough to cover big political events or stories that required a lot of researching. So women journalists were relegated to junior posts as subs and reporters covering mostly women issues and workshops. She however concurs that the profession has changed a lot today, with many women highly trained and holding top posts. Equality and respect for women are being practiced in most media houses. Highest and lowest moments: My highest moment was when I travelled to the US in September 1987, for a study tour sponsored by the United States Information Agency. I visited the Washington Post and attended a White House press briefing, it was very exciting. My lowest moment was the loss of my son and only child, Isaac Jjemba on February 14, 1998. Inspiration My role model is Rebecca Katumba, one of the first women journalists in Uganda now working with the United Nations Office in Nairobi, Kenya.
Maurice Luyimbazi Ssekawungu, founding editor of Bukedde, speaks of his 40 years in Uganda newsrooms where he has seen it all and trained legions of journalists.
Maurice Ssekawungu “ I started my journalism career in 1965,three years after Uganda ‘s independence, at Taifa Empya, then owned by the Nation Newspapers. The late Mark Kiwanuka, described me as a young but intelligent boy and sent me for training as sub-editor for two years at the Nairobi University. I was bonded to work for five years for Taifa Empya, after graduation, thwarting my plans to join the Uganda Argus. We covered the jubilations that followed Idi Amin’s coup of 1971, but the military regime was soon to turn into a nightmare for journalists. Many journalists were murdered, others imprisoned and scores went
into exile. A few of us remained in Uganda but abandoned the profession and went into other businesses.” In 1979, post Idi Amin President Yusuf Lule tasked Information Minister Andrew Kayiira to look for serious journalists who could start a Luganda newspaper. It was then that I and Ndugwa Grace Ssemakula pulled resources and some Shs 50,000 funding from friends including Rabbi Mulondo of East African General Insurance, to start Ngabo, a Luganda daily that sold out the 15,000 launch issue. The paper did well for some years until its demise due to mismagement. Ssekawungu recalls that the Obote II regime also harassed media and journalists. One time newspapers were banned for a week for allegedly publishing anti-government propaganda. In 1982, the powerful Vice President Paulo Muwanga ordered for his arrest and that of Katenda Luutu (who under President Museveni served as Resident District Commissioner). “We were taken to Saigon , a safe –house which was in Bugolobi and we were stripped naked and beaten up every after two hours. We were lucky to come out alive since very few people survived such torture.” Ssekawungu edited Uganda Eyogera and Uganda Post before being hired by The New Vision Corporation to start Bukedde, a Luganda daily that he edited until retirement in 2007. Key challenges to media practice “Major challenges to journalism practice over the years have included harassment, torture and murdering of journalists and harsh media laws. The industry has also lacked a proper training policy and for long there was no journalism school. People picked skills on the job. Lucky ones were sent to Nairobi. Opportunities were limited especially for Luganda media.” Highest and lowest moments “ I was lucky to study in Kenya, India, Russia and Cardiff in Britain. My best moments were the period i spent with William Pike at the The New Vision. He appreciated people’s efforts and listened to their problems. Lowest moments were when we worked for small papers and were never paid.”
Bring the story at all costs Nick Ssalis
The 78-year old Nick Ssali is a veteran journalist who was often voted the best dressed man in Kampala and the best photographer of the time. For some reason, he styled up his name to Nick Ssalis, and that is how he is popularly known. Nick Ssalis The sparkle in his eyes as he narrates his professional journey shows how he enjoyed his career dating back seven years to Uganda’s Independence. Starting as a cleaner in Uganda Empya he was promoted to a cub (trainee) reporter. In 1958 he briefly worked for Buggagga a Luganda weekly newspaper which promoted agriculture before becoming The Chief correspondent of The East African Standard newspaper covering political affairs. Other newspapers at the time were Uganda Argus, Munno, Daily Express Uganda Post among others which all had their own printing press. He was news editor of Uganda Empya which was a sister paper of Taifa Empya , a Luganda daily which was printed in Nairobi. Ssali got a scholarship to the United States in 1962. On return, he became a foreign correspondent for a British paper covering Congo, Burundi and Malawi. “Prior to self rule, most newspapers were protesting the colonial rule and were preparing wanainchi for self governance. We were also publishing stories criticizing bad laws”. Ssali was a cheeky reporter and recalls how his editor assigned him to get a story on prisoners living conditions at the newly constructed Central Police Station. When he failed to get the story the editor ordered him back to bring it at all costs. “I threw stones at glass windows of the CPS and broke one. I was arrested, locked with other inmates and got a detailed story on the horrible conditions in the cells, the paper sold out, “remembers Ssali” After independence he served as news director at the UTV , he later became BBC correspondent covering Uganda and, Rwanda and his best piece was on The Mukilani war- the Rwenzururu uprising. However in 1965-66 as a correspondent for the Daily Nation, he wrote an article on the imminent arrest of the five ministers by Obote showing the split in the cabinet. “Someone tipped me that I was going to be arrested for stealing government secrets so I fled to exile in Nairobi and later to Zambia where I worked for Zambia Times,” says Ssali. Ssali prides in having been the first photo journalists to take a picture of Omukama of Toro in 1960 performing a cultural function of Empalo(milking) which was last performed in 1923 by Kamurasi II. This was a secret
Uganda Media Review 2013
Inspiration Ssekawungu says that he drew most inspiration from two great editors: George Githi, former Editor in Chief of The Nation and William Pike. “Githi inspired me. He was very clean, neat and well educated. Pike brought total change in Uganda’s media industry.” If you were to return to newsroom I would try to promote creativity in terms of news content; bring in more analyses, features and interpretive journalism and context.
function and he peeped through a reed- fence to take the photo.
Challenges in the media: There was no formal policy on journalism training, no umbrella organization to fight for journalists’ rights, low esteem due to poor pay as majority journalists could not even afford paying rent. However journalists were highly regarded by security organs until the regime of Idi Amin Dada in1971. “Journalism was a calling for me to fight the injustice, bad laws and for people’s dignity and changing the society. It was an opportunity to traverse the world and meet prominent people including presidents.”
I had a mission in journalism
Abdul Nsereko is a household name for a renowned broadcaster, master of ceremony on government functions and a politician. Since 1971 when he joined the ministry of information and broadcasting as a news and programme producer, Nsereko has climbed the ladder to his current post of director political programs. He has served as a senior program assistant. In 1974 he made commentaries on agriculture programs and served as assistant controller programs. He joined politics for five years serving as secretary for Information in KCC and later as RDC for Kyenjojo. In 1971 he was among the pioneer students at the Uganda School of Journalism at the Institute of Public Administration (IPA). They would receive a certificate in information and broadcasting ethnics after threemonth training. He was later trained in Cairo. Save for five year stint in politics, Nsereko has all along been in Radio Uganda now Uganda Broadcasting Survive (UBC) and he says he has not experienced serious challenges and problems. “I was a government civil servant and we were following government policy”, said Nsereko. ‘I had a mission and I believe my programmes shaped the society the way civilization demanded eradicating vices within the communities.’
and imprisoned during the turbulent times like James Bwogi a news caster who was murdered by Amin. Some newspapers like Ssekanyolya had problems with government officials for criticizing government. The paper had published a cartoon that depicted President Obote as a clown. Its editor, Grace Ssemakula had to flee to Zambia only to return more than 10 years later to co-found Ngabo and Star newspapers.
Uganda Media Review 2013
Highest moments When I was the only journalist who managed to interview and take photographs of Jomo Kenyatta at his Gatundu residence after he was released from Kapanguria prison. “Many journalists had gathered at the residence but were barred from interviewing and photographing him. I shouted that what do I tell your brothers and sisters in Uganda? Kenyatta said allow that one from Uganda and that is how I scooped all other media organizations.” Another moment is when “ I was assigned to take a photo of Sir Edward Muteesa II in casual wear. I went to his Bamunanika palace and I took the photo but my boss ordered me back after explaining the exact pause he wanted. I had to go back to Bamunanika and beg the Kabaka for a pause which he accepted.” Inspiration Ssali draws inspiration from Manning Blackwood, a Scottish editor of Uganda Nation who had professional integrity and enjoyed the art of writing. The other is Fred Kakembo from whom he got confidence.
Inspiration: Eva Kabali Kaggwa who was the head of Luganda programmes inspired Nsereko because she was a good mentor. Mr. Kanyenjeyo, who was the head of programmes National in the English department taught him how to produce and present good English programmes particularly features.
Highest and lowest moments “I was so impressed and excited when in 1971 the ministry sponsored me to cover the Pilgrimage in Mecca. Lowest moment was when “I was assigned to present the listeners’ favourate songs,(enyimba engaanzi) something which I felt was demeaning.”
If you were to return to newsroom I would be strict on including the title of any leader instead of the current system where they merely mention their names, a sign of lack of respect. I would emphasize stories which bring cohesiveness instead of those filled with malice and lies.
If you were to return to newsroom I would interest journalists to aspire for the art of writing , professional integrity and proper dress code.
Challenges: Few chances for formal training as majority got on-job skills. However smart ones in broadcasting had the opportunity to train with BCC, in Netherlands and Germany. However such programmes were terminated during Amin Dada’s tyrannical regime. Soon after independence anyone who advocated for press freedom would easily be called an agent of colonialists. Several broadcasters were murdered
I am proud to have mentored many
Wafula Oguttu joined journalism 34 years ago starting as a reporter and Assistant Editor with Weekly Topic . He has over the years worked in opposition newspapers not mincing his words; which have often got him into trouble with even presidents within and outside Uganda. Wafula has mentored several journalists. In 1981, Weekly Topic was banned for opposing the return of Milton Obote
as President for the second time. He taught at Makerere, I also worked with Uganda News Agency as a senior editor; and with Uganda Times at the same time as senior editor. He went in exile in Dares-Salaam, Tanzania and at the fall of Obote regime in 1985, he returned to revive Weekly Topic as its Editor. In July 1992 he quit Weekly Topic in 1992 to found the The Monitor newspaper serving as Editor and from Wafula Oguttu 1992 till 2004 when he retired and later joined politics. He is the Member of Parliament for Bukooli Central, Bugiri District. Key challenges in newsroom Media freedom, harassment and intimidation from government, poorly trained and unskilled journalists, poor pay and outmoded tools of work and production equipment. “Apart from occasional harassment from government, freedom to express oneself, do any story about any one and quality mentoring were some of the things which attracted many journalists to work with Monitor with great job satisfaction even for little pay. Most of them had sense of self belonging. I was proud to be heading and working in such environment an environment”
A broadcaster’s smile nearly ended my career
Margaret Sentamu Masagazi
Margaret Sentamu-Masagazi has done all in her 25year career: radio presenter, producer, writer, editor and lecturer. Prior to founding the Uganda Media Women Association (UMWA), Mama FM and The Other Voice where she serves as executive Director, Sentamu worked with Radio Uganda, Uganda Television, Interpress services (Zimbabwe), The Nation newspaper (Nairobi) and Uganda’s School of Journalism at Uganda Management Institute.
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Highest and Lowest moments “ My lowest moment was in Weekly Topic in1992 when as Editor, I was kicked upstairs, and directed not to write nor edit the paper because I had earlier written an editorial telling off President Museveni to stop lamenting about corruption and paying lip service but to use an iron hand and to deal with the corrupt. The President was rubbed the wrong way and he complained to the owners of the paper who happened to have been also ministers in his government.” “My high moments were two. One when still in Weekly Topic I commissioned and published a world class investigative story, Operation Macarina , on the killing of Kenyan Foreign Minister Robert Ouko by government agents. It was the first serious story on the assassination which hit Kenya with awe and bang. The story drew complaints from President Moi to Museveni. The second high moment was when I. together with colleagues, founded the Monitor and made it a big success story without any money invested in it.” Inspiration: Role model? I am not sure I can answer this honestly.
Challenges: The key media issues have ranged from limited press freedom, inadequate training for practioners, media management, sexual harassment, lack of a solid organization to speak for the journalists, to women’s under representation and Margaret Sentamu presentation. Back then job satisfaction was not in the paycheck but in having a story published with a byline. As a television announcer on Uganda Television in the late 1980s, she prided in speaking impeccable English, and occasional compliments from people whom she met on the streets. “ I like the way you speak English,” they would say. Women’s under-representation in media, especially in senior roles prompted her to mobilise female journalists and to conduct training in media and public speaking for women journalists at Radio Uganda. Highest and lowest moments We successfully lobbied the World Bank to fund a landmark training for 85 women journalists. In 1996, we secured support from Norway to set up a secretariat for UMWA. Misplaced smile The signing off smile any television anchor has to make almost put me in trouble in 1985. I read the news of the tragic death Army Chief of Staff Lt Col. Oyite Ojok in a helicopter crash. At the end of the bulletin as i signed off, I put on the usual smile, prompting a serious rebuke from my bosses and government officials.
If you were to return to the newsroom: If I returned to the newsroom I would ensure that I have the best knowledgeable staff and I would give them 90% freedom to do beats of their best choice.
Inspiration: I drew inspiration from two news readers on BBC Africa Service. I liked the way they articulated issues, their intonation and keeping it simple. Back home, Mr Tom Ndugga and Ms. Irene Zikusooka were my role models. I also admire Oprah Winfrey a lot.
“ Is artistic expression an effective communicative tool in times of repressed media freedoms? Nuwa Wamala Nnyanzi, a fine artist, examines the way expressive, visual and performing arts have provided a platform, from independence to now, to communicate public issues and democratic concerns in more powerful ways than traditional media can even fathom ”
While events to mark the golden jubilee were going on two prominent theatre companies, Afri-Talent and Bakayimbira Dramactors wrote and staged a play; ‘The State of the Nation’ (Ejjirikiti), which was an indictment of the government for its failure to curb corruption and sectarianism among many other ills. The play attracted the ire of government, which through one of its agencies unsuccessfully attempted to ban it.
THE ARTS AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Uganda Media Review 2013
Ironically the immediate post independence era witnessed a cosy relationship between the government and artists. Artists produced works lauding those who had successfully fought for independence, among them was ‘Ye yekka Obote waffe’. (It is only Obote, the clear leader).
significant number of artistic productions reflect the contemporary State of affairs of society, in relation to past events / traditions or customs and at times predict their likely impact on the future.
As Uganda marks 50 years of political independence since 1962, it is worthy to reflect on how artists have fared in the freedom of expression arena.
Unfortunately the honeymoon did not last long because between 1965 and 1971 Obote’s government became increasingly intolerant of dissenting political views. Those who expressed opposing views ended up in detention without trial under the infamous “Detention Without Trial emergency law of 1966. The emergency laws followed the usurpation of power by Obote following the ouster of President Sir
Edward Muteesa and the attack on Muteesa’s main palace at Mengo. Muteesa was then also the Kabaka of Buganda. Thereafter artistic compositions critical of the prevailing political and social atmosphere were cleverly crafted and disguised as social commentaries. Many were camouflaged in idioms and symbolisms. Among them was Robert Serumaga’s “Majangwa ne Nakirijja” a play that portrayed a lunatic musician couple who earned their living from entertaining crowds on Kampala’s streets. Their musical and dancing antiques climaxed into sexual acts to the amusement of many and disgust of others. The bold critics like Rajat Neogy the editor of Transition magazine and Abu Mayanja a prominent politician ended up in detention for publishing Mayanja’s article critical of Obote’s excesses. In 1970 Dan Mugula a kadongo kamu (single guitar genre) musician released Enkomerero Etuuse ( The end is near) in which he implored people to repent because according to him the end of the world was at hand as predicted in the Holy Scriptures. It turned out to be prophetic because the
Joseph Mayanja also known as Dr. Jose Chameleone
Robert Kyagulayi aka Bobi Wine
Ronald Mayinja of “Tuli ku Bunkenke”
following year 1971 Obote was deposed by General Idin Amin making the song even more popular. Musicians who had been silent found their voices and released numbers condemning Obote’s rule of terror while pouring praises on Amin for ridding them of the tyrant.
The post bush war era (1986 - 1996) saw the ascendancy of more bold freedom of expression tendencies among Ugandans especially those in the media and the arts
The Cranes Band released Twawona Okufa. Loosely translated; ‘we survived death’. Christopher Ssebadduka released Kyaali kyetagisa a song criticizing the common man’s charter which Obote had launched as a move to the left (Socialism). Traditional musicians also composed songs in praise of the regime until Amin’s excesses became apparent and unbearable so much so that any slight detection of dissent resulted in the suspect’s incarceration or disappearance without trace.
Among the victims was Byron Kawadwa then Artistic Director of the Uganda National Theatre for his play Oluyimba Lwa Wankoko that was performed at the Lagos Festac. It is alleged, Kawadwa’s professional rivals told Amin that the play was a disguised criticism of his regime, which incensed Amin. Others claim that it was a rivalry over an affair with someone well connected. Curiously, no artistic voice to date has been raised to protest his disappearance or demand for an inquiry to establish his fate. Robert Sserumaga another seasoned playwright who was increasingly becoming world famous through his theatrical productions had to flee Uganda in 1977 after being tipped off that his plays Renga Moi and Amayirikiti were creating unease within Amin’s circles.
Following the liberalization of media practice through the licensing of privately owned media houses artists are able to reach a wider and diverse audience unlike before. The FM Radio, T.V Stations whose editorial policies are not determined by bureaucrats, who are always mindful of “orders from above” have somehow emboldened artists to express themselves freely. Market forces too have influenced some artistic productions which appeal to a particular target audience. As a result artists have become increasingly bold and purposeful in addressing issues that affect society negatively. Ronald Mayinja’s Tuli ku Bunkenke (We are on tenterhooks) resonated well with the opposition politicians who exploited it to the maximum. The song illustrates the tension in the nation occasioned by the economic crisis and other institutionalized injustices. Another of Mayinja’s compositions “Ani Agula Africa” attacks rulers and their cronies who have mismanaged and squandered Africa’s resources and sarcastically suggests that Africa be partitioned into several parts and sold to the highest bidder. He followed it with Ssebo Land Lord, in which he amplifies the feeling that indigenous people are being disenfranchised by those who have amassed wealth fraudulently and are using it grab tranches of land and displacing bona fide occupants. However, artists in Uganda have not only been in trouble with government but have also faced the wrath of business moguls too. A prominent Kadongo Kamu musician was recently imprisoned for his song, which decampaigned a wealthy businessman’s products. It is alleged that the rivalry was caused by a shared lover. Fortunately the matter was resolved through the mediation of the Buganda Kingdom leadership but the song remains banned on public media.
Cranes Band Performing in 90’s Dan Mugula
Uganda Media Review 2013
Although performing arts appear to be more prominent in the crusade for freedom of expression by virtue of their traditional appeal to wider audiences, visual arts too have had their contribution albeit in limited measure due to the nature of their products, which has limited scope of distribution. One song when played on radio can be heard by more people than one mural in a public place.
The most recent bold artistic outburst has been directed at Executive Director of Kampala Capital City Authority, Jennifer Musisi evicting hawkers and traders working from makeshift
Uganda Media Review 2013
State of the Nation (Ejjirikiti) by Afri - Talent
structures in the City. Singer Robert Kyagulayi aka Bobi Wine composed Tugambire ku Jennifer, (Tell Jennifer to use less harsh methods of evicting the poor) The song referred to the anti-people approach of demolishing small income earners’ structures and confiscating their merchandise in the guise of streamlining city operations. and means to address them. It is important to take into consideration the circumstances under which these two professions operate. Many a media house is run as business entity with the intention of making profits while serving the community. Many of them are answerable to their share holders and boards of trustees. Besides government is either the owner or majority share holder in major media houses. Professional journalists who own media houses are mindful of the fact that running a successful and sustainable media house, revenue from advertisers is more important than individual subscriptions and street sales. In Uganda’s case the Government happens also to be the biggest advertiser followed by big businesses who in most cases are keen not to offend government for obvious reasons. Yet artistic creations in Uganda are individually conceived and produced with the help of others who may not significantly influence the outcome. Since most artists are not corporate entities they have less red tape to contend with although some have sponsors who in some cases may impact on the final product. Suffice to mention that artists depend on the media to generate and disseminate their ideas to the public. While artists may have been credited with championing the freedom of expression they have on many accessions been at the forefront of praising governments, which governments have been a major obstacle to freedom of expression.
While musicians have done their part in voicing out people’s grievances, dramatists and visual artists too have made their contribution. The nineties experienced a host of political plays among them: Omuyaga mu Makoola by The Black Pearls, which depicted a head of state who assigned conflicting tasks to his ministers with the intention of making them fail. Order (Kiragiro) by Afri-Diamonds gave a soldier’s point of view and highlighted the dangers of genetically manipulated promotions in professional armed forces because it undermines the institution’s ability to operate efficiently. Bukedde Bannyanike by Bakayimbira Dramactors addressed corruption and wondered why it should not be legalized after all since little was being done to curb it. Visual artists have expressed themselves through various media such as paintings, sculptures and cartoons that have been used to caricature people’s complaints against government albeit in a subtle manner to avoid possible victimization. The most prominent one being Ekanya cartoon strip in the 1990s which blamed the silence of a prominent opposition politician after joining government on table manners where you are not expected to speak with food in the mouth. Although it is widely believed that artists have outshone the mainstream media in the crusade for freedom of expression by audibly articulating the people’s grievances to those they believe have the mandate
Their roles therefore are complimentary and the issue of one doing more for freedom of expression than the other should not arise, as long as they are both championing people’s rights. ADOLF MBAINE gives a critical look at the proposed
IT’S NOT YET UHURU
Uganda Media Review 2013
FOR THE FOURTH ESTATE,
By Drake S. Sekeba
ganda celebrated fifty years of independence from British colonial rule. But for the media industry, in my view, it is ‘not yet uhuru’. Like the many Ugandans who are still stressed by disease, ignorance and poverty, the media is haunted by some traditional pressures passed on from the British administration to independent Uganda. These pressures include a regime of anti-media laws that had been brought into statute books to ensure that the media in the Uganda protectorate, does not upset the status quo, through promotion of African sentiments for self-government. One of these was the law of sedition.
Drake S . Sekeba
fundamental shift in attitude towards media. With due respect, Museveni as a person, been one of the most tolerant presidents towards the press in the history of independent Uganda. His popularity with media grew with the radical move in 1992 to liberalise and privatise key sectors of the economy and public life, including broadcasting. It was then that he ended government monopoly of broadcasting, opening door to private radio and television operators. Todate there over 250 registered radio stations and over 30 TV stations. The new stations ushered in era of talk shows, widening the space for political debate. The print media also reorganized itself to face the competition for audiences brought by radio especially. Major newspapers redesigned to bring in more attractive content. Indeed almost all newspapers introduced full colour publishing. Journalists also started earning decent salaries. We all thought we were headed for exciting times, for it is a fact, our media was the envy of the region. Alas, we were wrong. It was not yet uhuru! Soon the Museveni government realized it had opened up airwaves without adequate legal and policy frameworks. The media vibrancy appeared more than government could comprehend. It began a process to introduce laws to restrict media freedoms. In 1994, Information Minister Paul Etiang twice fronted a bill, The Press and Journalists Bill, which sought among other things; • • • • • • To have editors and publishers of newspapers registered, To set a degree as minimum qualifications for journalists, To give an official definition of a journalist, To require annual registration of journalist, To institute a National Institute for Journalists as official body representing journalists and whose membership was mandatory, To set up a state media council, as the overseer and professional disciplinary body for journalists
After independence, the politicians who took the reins of power did not create meaningful changes for a free press. The laws remained, this time to serve the interests, often partisan, of the new leaders. Indeed, the first republican government led by President Milton Obote, went further to create situations and legal provisions that further made journalism a risky profession. Since then journalists have experienced a catalogue of miseries that include arrests, torture, killings and exile. Some of these are eloquently described in other articles in this issue especially during the successive governments, save for the brief reign of Prof. Yusuf Lule in 1979. It is instructive to note that all this time, there were no anti-media laws repealed. The 1986 armed rebellion and bush war that brought the National Resistance Movement (NRM) to power ,established some fundamental positive changes to the press. Although the NRM government, led by Yoweri Museveni did not initially make or change any media laws, it, at least, unshered in a climate of tolerance for a free and critical press. Criticism of government was allowed, mainly as a strategy to use media exposure of misdeeds in government at a time when the police and thwe judiciary were weak, corrupt and understaffed. At the same time, the civil service was patronized by people whose mindset was still locked in the olden times. One significant move was the mandate given to the new government newspaper, The New Vision. It was mandated, among other things, to publish criticism of government, without necessarily becoming an institutional opposition to government of the day. However, nowhere in the law that set up the newspaper, was it mandated to publish unwarranted praises of government or the leaders. Indeed this was a
After a series of showdowns with media leaders and associations, a new bill, done with minimum input of journalists was passed into law in 1995. Since then many other laws have been passed directly or indirectly impacting on media practice. These include the Anti-Sectarian Act; The Anti-Terrorism Act; the National Drug Authority Act; the Broadcasting Act; the Uganda Communications Act; the Interception of Communications Act. Harsher amendments to the Press and Journalists Act have also been proposed. These were just additions to the infamous Sedition Act, Criminal libel, and Publication of false news and others provided for in the Penal Code. It was indeed not yet uhuru because the official language of government tactics of its agents gradually turned against media. The President’s criticism of media became harsher, often followed by Police interrogation of subjects of such criticism. Since 2000, the country witnessed temporary closures of The Monitor, Kfm radio, Kyoga Veritas, CBS radio, Radio Sapietia, Akaboozi ku Bbiri radio and Suubi Fm. Several key broadcasters were also barred from WBS TV and Radio Simba. To add to this, the Police also brought in new tactics of dealing with those considered to be errant journalists. Various charges were slapped on those journalists forcing them to spend endless time reporting to police stations. Police also created a Media Offences Desk as a permanent feature in its establishment. Police was for three times in a row, named by the Press Freedom Index, among leading violators of press freedom and enemies of the media.
To prescribe offences related to breach of aspects of the proposed law.
In an increasingly mediated world, no government, indeed no politician would do without the media. The flipside is that no media will successfully operate without government. There must some political order to provide for an environment conducive for media practice. This then calls a for a culture of mutual respect and the need for mutual preservation.
Uganda Media Review 2013
Where the press freedom is strong, one finds justice stronger; where the freedom of the press is fragile, justice would also be weak. The sum of current pressures on media is reflected in the state of fear and self-censorship in all media houses. The level of fear to criticize can only be likened to where censorship boards officially exist. And that is not healthy for the either media or the country. So have successive politicians helped the media? Far from it. It is disturbing to hear politicians in opposition always advocating for a free press. They praise the press for its boldness, nationalistic spirit. When they come to government, however, they turn hostile to the press and the new opposition. The media is seen as an enemy, tribalistic, anti-people, imperialistic driving western agendas and anti-development. Though for all the years, many editors respected and followed professional ethics some slipped along the way. All in all, many especially in private media, exercised fairness.
Despite these developments, journalists have continued to play their watchdog role. Indeed, the media has had its share of blame but that is a subject of discussion for another day.
The media’s struggle for its rightful existence has realized some remarkable successes. Journalists succeeded in getting courts to scrap the laws of sedition and of publishing false news from the Penal Code. This was no mean feat. However, the fight continues with more pressure piled on media from the Executive, Judiciary, audience, advertisers and proprietors.
Journalists, however, also give due attention to the needs and aspirations of the audience in their work. Obviously a lot leaves to be desired in the way we journalists operate. .Journalists no longer hunt for news (except when they go for scandals) otherwise it’s the news that looks for them. The press waits for debates, conferences or releases. A few still operate on beats. Brown envelopes are order of the day. These vices have contributed to lowering standards, morals and ethics of journalists. The trend must change. Lastly, Micheal J. Robinson and Norman J. Ornstein on their work on a public-opinion survey in 1990 at Georgetown University USA, said “The recent press obsession with questions of Personal Scandal, from the public’s point of view, is out of proportion, voyeuristic and sloppy. A couple of decades ago the press was much more sensitive to the line between professional and private lives. A self propelled return to the more rigorous standards of old would be both desirable and effective with the public”.
Each category continues indirectly or directly to order or influence editors to suppress certain information for often private interests. In government circles, the phrase is often “order from above” a vague expression to hide ill motives. In democratic societies, the media is a dominant force in the process by which ideas are formed and opinions expressed. In view of its importance in formulating public opinion, the media can be an extremely valuable partner of a national institution which is vested with a responsibility to promote awareness of human and civic rights.
Ugandan press has to borrow a leaf from others. The press as the fourth estate has to fight for its rights and independence, but at the same time strictly and jealously observe their code of ethics. This is crucial in building genuine democracy, credibility of the press and individual journalists in future. Keep it forever. Do not relax. It is not Uhuru as yet.
POLICY AND : S E U S S I L LEGA
Uganda Media Review 2013
The beauty and the beast in the new ‘UCRA’ Act
ADOLF MBAINE gives a critical look at the proposed Communication Regulatory Authority Bill and what it entails for media practice At the time of writing this paper, there was no information yet as to whether H.E. The President of Uganda had assented to the Uganda Communications Regulatory Authority Act 2012, which would make it law, effectively. However, there seemed to be nothing objectionable in the new act, as passed by Parliament towards the end of 2012, for the State in the larger scheme of things. Additionally, there has been no noise generated over any particular section(s) of the Act by either the media or the telecommunications industry, or even civil society. The assumption therefore is that the President will in due course assent to the Act. Converged Regulator In the chaotic policy and regulatory environment that followed Uganda’s liberalization of the airwaves in 1993, two separate but related pieces of legislation had been enacted to regulate the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors; the Electronic Media Act (originally enacted as the Electronic Media Statute in 1996) and the Uganda Communications Act 1997, respectively. The Electronic Media Act created the Broadcasting Council which had been charged with issuing licences to broadcast operators and generally managed the regulatory aspects of broadcasting. The Uganda Communications Act also had created the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), which managed the technical aspects of broadcasting, specifically frequency allocation and management. Separate regulatory bodies for broadcasting and telecommunications had increasingly become outdated the world over because technology had necessitated the convergence of both sectors. Simply put, the difference between broadcasting and telecommunications is no more, as radio and television are now integral parts of the mobile phone, for example. As Murdock (1990) has stated, the ‘digital revolution’ has opened up a range of possibilities for new kinds of activity, in addition to convergence and interplay between media sectors, while initiatives like privatisation have extended the frontiers of freedom of action for the media. Some countries that are fairly well advanced in broadcast and telecom regulation have led the way towards a converged regulator. The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) was for instance created in 2000 by the ICASA Act to regulate both the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors in the public interest. Broadcasting in South Africa had been regulated by the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), whereas telecommunications was regulated by the South African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA). Rapid technological developments led to the convergence of broadcasting and telecommunications services, resulting in the merging of the IBA and SATRA. The ICASA amendment Act of 2006 included the Postal services, previously regulated by the Postal Authority into ICASA’s mandate. This also led to the increase of Council members from seven to nine to accommodate the new members from the Postal Authority (www.icasa.org.za).
n its short title, the Act seeks to consolidate and harmonise the Uganda Communications Act and the Electronic Media Act; to dissolve the Uganda Communications Commission and the Broadcasting Council and reconstitute them as one body known as The Uganda Communications Regulatory Authority (UCRA); and to provide for related matters. At the outset, the most significant import of the new law is to converge regulation for both the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors, which had been the subject of contention in many media policy and regulation debates.
In the UK, the Ofcom, the communications regulator, handles the TV and radio sectors, fixed line telecoms, mobiles, postal services, plus the airwaves over which wireless devices operate. Ofcom operates under the Communications Act 2003, a detailed Act of Parliament that spells out exactly what Ofcom should do. Accountable to Parliament, Ofcom is involved in advising and setting some of the more technical aspects of
regulation, implementing and enforcing the law (www.ofcom.org.uk). Nearer home is the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), established by the TCRA Act No. 12 of 2003, which is an independent Authority for the postal, broadcasting and electronic communications industries in the Republic of Tanzania. It merged the former Tanzania Communications Commission and the Tanzania Broadcasting Commission. The TCRA is accountable to the Communications and Technology Ministry (www.tcra.go.tz). In the case of Uganda, there were several arguments in favour of a converged regulator for broadcasting; the first was the general feeling that in the era of convergence, with examples of other jurisdictions cited above, a converged regulator was the conventional way to go. Secondly, there was the view that a one stop centre for broadcasting regulation was convenient for broadcasters, instead of having to deal with two bodies (the UCC and the Broadcasting Council), which wasted time. Thirdly and closely related to the second, having two regulatory bodies responsible for key aspects of broadcasting was proving more expensive for broadcast operators as they had to pay fees to both. Regulation Theory Howitz (1997) has come up with instructive theories of regulation that discuss the nature and structure of regulatory agencies, which in turn determine their efficacy. The theories; public interest, regulatory failure, conspiracy, economic captureconspiracy, organisational, and capitalist state have both strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately provide helpful ideas about what regulatory bodies should or should not be. The public interest theory is helpful in understanding the basis of regulation, particularly the necessity for the protection of the consumers of media products, especially the general public, against harmful corporate practices. The regulatory failure theory is critical in analysing the failure of regulation as it “confronts the rhetoric of public interest with the reality of empirical fact”. Regulatory failure is for instance mainly blamed on overidentification of the agency (regulator) with the industry it is intended to regulate, which is held to be one of the major weaknesses of many communications regulators. Organisational theory, on the other hand, helps us understand the structure,
Godfrey Mutabazi UCC MD
autonomy (or the lack of it) and other organisationally-rooted imperatives of the agency.
The independence of Uganda’s media regulators in terms of the law, financing, structure and procedures is still a matter of contention between media policy scholars and analysts. Suffice to say that there is still a long way to go for these institutions to be seen to be independent, and the new UCRA is no exception.
authorities to report directly to more autonomous bodies like Parliament, but Uganda seems to still be way off such progression. To cap the complete submission of the Authority to the Minister, section 6 provides that the Minister may, in writing, give policy guidelines to the Authority which the latter shall comply with. Furthermore, the Minister is also vested with the power to appoint all the Board members of the Authority, with the approval of the Cabinet. Quite clearly, there is no opportunity for the public to participate in constituting the Board.
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Key Broadcasting Issues In The New Law As mentioned earlier, the new law does well to converge regulation for both broadcasting and telecommunications for reasons that now need no elaboration. This merger was in fact long overdue. Licensing and frequency allocation and management will now be done by UCRA, as the Broadcasting Council and the UCC cease to exist. Indeed the Broadcasting Council had not been in actual existence since October 2010 when the Broadcasting Council was subsumed into the UCC by administrative fiat. The convergence then is where the beauty begins and ends. A closer look at the provisions of the new law relating to broadcasting shows that most of the provisions of the old Electronic Media Act were lifted into it, without any significant moderation for the better. Broadcast regulation is supposed to be intended to promote pluralism and diversity, and generally enhance freedom of the media, expression and openness. Like in the old law, the power of the Minister in written all over the new law. Under section 4 (2), the Authority is enjoined to submit periodic reports to the Minister, who then lays annual reports of the Authority before Parliament. It has become a progressive idea for such
The Minister also approves the remunerations or allowances to be paid to the Board members, in consultation with the Ministers responsible for Public Service and Finance. What this means is that the UCRA is as good as its predecessors, the UCC and the Broadcasting Council, in terms of lack of independence from the executive, even if this (independence) is provided for under section seven.
The new law also links the licensing of radio and television operations to the Media Council, created under the Press and Journalists Act, for purposes of ascertaining the eligibility of Producers (Editors) that the operators should employ, among other issues. The existence of the Media Council is a contentious matter in the Ugandan media industry, and its work has been the subject of criticism from advocates of media freedom. The media industry would prefer to associate with the Independent Media Council of Uganda (IMCU), although IMCU’s presence is yet to be felt. The Electronic Media Act contained provisions for television licence fees, which became impossible to operationalise because of opposition from the public, beginning with Parliament. The new law re-introduces what it calls registration of television sets under section 33, which means
that in good time the Authority may re-introduce TV licences. It is not clear why the government is obsessed with TV licence fees because, first, it is not necessary as Uganda does not have a public broadcaster (UBC falls short of such description) to which the TV licence fee would be deployed. Secondly, in a country where the existence of TV sets is meager (less than 25 TV sets per 1000 people), more efforts would be channeled towards incentives to people to purchase more TV sets than discouraging them through the burden of a TV tax.
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Provisions Open To Abuse Under section 45 (2), licence renewals for operators are to be done in consideration of the ‘performance’ of the operator during the duration of the licence. Under section 93, the Authority may during a state of emergency direct operators to operate in a specified manner to alleviate the state of emergency; and also take temporary possession of any communication station within Uganda for a specified period not exceeding six months. There is nothing objectionable in determining renewal or otherwise of a licence on the basis of performance. There is also no problem, on the face of it, taking unusual measures relating to freedoms of expression and the media, in a state of emergency. The problem, with good precedents, is that such occasions provide governments especially in less democratic jurisdictions to abridge freedom of the media or settle scores with operators whose stations are critical of the actions of governments. In other words, these provisions are essentially bad law because they are open to abuse. Thus a number of the provisions of the new law, which now just awaits presidential assent, are antithetical to media freedom and it is surprising that the entireBill was passed by Parliament without many voices being raised as to the danger these provisions pose for media freedom. As Duncan (2012) has opined, this is the kind of statutory regulation that can lead to government control of media content, either through direct intervention in rule making or the enforcement of punitive sanctions for reporting that is critical of the government, or through indirect means through, for instance, control of appointments processes. Breath of fresh air In an unusual development, the new law provides for a Uganda Communications Tribunal in Part XI to be comprised of a judge and two other persons, who shall be appointed by the President, on recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). The work of the Tribunal, which is vested with the powers of the High Court, is to hear and determine all matters relating to communications services arising from the decisions of the Authority or the Minister under the Act. This is a good countervailing force against the likely arbitrariness of either the Authority or the Minister or both in handling matters of a sector as important and controversial as communications. However, the success of the Tribunal largely depends on the quality of its composition and the resources it is availed to carry out its work. CONCLUSION The process of merging telecommunications and broadcasting regulators into one body provided the opportunity to straighten up certain issues that were lacking in the earlier, and separate, regulatory regimes for a better law. The new law would perhaps have achieved much
Uganda Communication Commission Headquarters in Bugoloobi
more if it had been informed by a Broadcasting Policy – a Draft of the Broadcasting Policy for Uganda has been under Cabinet consideration for more than five years now! There should also have been more interest in the Bill, while before Parliament, by more key stakeholders in the broadcasting industry. As it is, the provisions for broadcasting in the new law are largely the old ones that existed in the Electronic Media Act, while some potentially dangerous ones have, indeed, been added. Save for the converged regulator, there is very little or nothing to smile about for those who wanted to see a more robust broadcasting sector for Uganda, free from the shackles of arbitrariness and state control. REFERENCES: Berger, G. 2009. The struggle for press self regulation in contemporary South Africa: charting a course between an industry charade and a government doormat. Unpublished.
Buckley, S. et al. 2008. Broadcasting, Voice and Accountability. The World Bank Group. Washington DC. Duncan, J. 2012. Political Economy of Press Selfregulation. Unpublished. Government of Uganda. The Electronic Media Act. Chapter 104. Government Printer. Entebbe. Government of Uganda. The Press and Journalist Act. Chapter 105. Government Printer. Entebbe.
Government of Uganda. The Uganda Communications Regulatory Authority Bill 2012. Bill No. 4. Government Printer. Entebbe. Golding, P. Murdock, G. 2000. Culture, Communications and Political Economy. In Curran, J. Gurevitch, M. (eds). Mass Media and Society. Arnold. London Horwitz, RB. 1997. Theories of Regulation, in Political Economy of the Media. Edited by Golding,P & Murdock, G. Cheltenham. Edward Elgar. Human Rights Watch. 2010. A Media Minefield: Increased threats to Freedom of Expression in Uganda.
McChesney, R. (2008). The Political Economy of Media: Enduring Issues, Emerging Dilemmas. Monthly Review Press. New York.
ith the proliferation of media houses especially radio, and the rapid technological changes, PETER NYANZI takes a critical look at journalism training, and its challenges for a rapidly evolving newsroom environment. Many in the journalism fraternity would concur with the assertion that “journalism education in Africa is at the crossroads.” Amid the rapidly changing media landscape coupled with the technological, political, social and economic changes, as well as the constant evolution of educational, informational and communication systems globally, a review of journalism education and training is continually becoming inevitable (UNESCO, 2002). At the centre of the call for re-appraisal of training programmes is the realization that the curriculum should be suited to the prevailing circumstances and the social and economic realities of the society where the media practitioners operate. While the arguments supporting the adoption of this approach are strong and solid, the challenges to overcome impediments to achieving it are quite daunting and mean that the struggle will last a little longer than everyone would have desired. Prior to 1986 when President Yoweri Museveni’s NRM government took over power, media practitioners in government service were a mere conduit for government information. Media practitioners then were not supposed to ask questions, analyse or make sense of the news. All that was required of them was to have the technical skills required to relay news and information about government programs to the public through the only available traditional media channels such as Radio Uganda, Uganda Television and the various government – controlled print media. In those circumstances, training media practitioners was quite easy and straight-forward. But since 1986, a process of liberalisation has
JOURNALISM EDUCATION: Making The Curriculum Relevant
seen the media industry expand exponentially. The Internet and mobile phones are now adding to the way the news media are integrated in the social, economic and international usage of public information. The rapid technological advancement and competition for audiences has spurred the emergence of various media genres and presentation. This inevitably calls for review of curriculum at training institutions. Makerere University has, since 1988, been the vanguard of professional journalism training in Uganda. The framers of Makerere’s curriculum were cognizant of the fact that unlike in the colonial and pre-liberation eras, modern journalism education required much more than pouring technical knowledge and skills in the minds of its practitioners. De Beer (1995) posits that those who practice the profession need an “internally organised body of knowledge, which reflects a clear understanding of their society and culture and a personal repertoire of intellectual and imaginative skills.” While those who look at journalism as a craft or a vocation are keen on ‘proper’ skills, another school of thought argues that giving the students a solid theoretical foundation in communication theory, the social sciences, economics and political science is of paramount important. Those who look at journalism as a vocation or a craft contend that the products of universities are too theoretical and not suited to the job market where technical skills and the ‘ability to do things’ in the newsroom are important ingredients for success in the profession. These divergent schools of thought are not new and have defined the debate about journalism training and practice even in developed countries over the decades. More than a decade ago, UNESCO was called upon to be the arbiter. The UN body has side-stepped taking sides and appears to have taken both schools of thought on board. It said the goal of communication training in Africa in the 21st century should be to produce competent practitioners in the different communication areas who are steeped in the culture of their societies and knowledgeable about the political, economic and social realities of their countries, region and the world. They should also be conversant with and adept at using new communication and information technologies (UNESCO, 2002). UNESCO has pushed for the expansion of curricula at journalism schools because today’s journalist must go beyond reporting and writing. Today’s journalist must in addition learn to facilitate social dialogue and participation to enable the audience to know how issues in media affect their lives. In Uganda, for instance, journalists and editors are regular panelists on both national and international media and at forums where the level of intellectual participation and engagement clearly is more important than just reporting and writing skills. The argument is that those who practice the profession need a body of knowledge that reflects a clear understanding of their society and culture and a personal repertoire of intellectual and imaginative skills in ways that ensure social stability, transparency and public accountability. That is why UNESCO developed a ‘model curriculum’ to serve as an ideal yardstick that institutions may adapt to suit their needs to ensure quality journalism education. More knowledge, more skills? Several editors and media trainers have argued that with the drastic changes in the journalistic processes of newsgathering and production comes the urgent need for reforms in the education routine of journalists (Witschge & Nygren, 2009).
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Today’s journalist must be prepared to identify more with technological determinism. Increasingly, journalists are being required to do production work and other highly technical duties, which were previously done by technical staff. It is now the norm at many Ugandan television stations for reporters also do their own camera work, and sound engineering in the field, edit their own stories do voice-overs. The need for multimedia skills increases as more media houses go digital. The Vision Group, the largest media institution in Uganda, is a multimedia institution with online, radio, TV, print and even mobile platforms. Its reporters must now possess multimedia skills to contribute content to all platforms. This multimedia skilled journalist is what Editor-in-Chief Barbara Kaija, calls the Umoja journalist. Unfortunately, Kaija says no training institution in Uganda is producing this kind of journalist that the market wants “There appears to be a clear mismatch between the product and what the media industry is looking for,” says Kaija. But just as Nolan (2008) argued, the bigger responsibility for academic institutions is to produce public subjects - individuals who are knowledgeable about issues of public concern and have the ability to articulate them for the benefit of the community and society as a whole. The technical skills can be acquired gradually in the field, for after all, an average person should be able to acquire and master those skills in a matter of weeks. In light of the high costs of equipment and low interest in active journalism, why spend too much on skilling students majority of whom will eventually end up with careers in public relations, marketing, or in academia?
would be honed during internship. Those genuinely interested in journalism will elect to pursue careers in newsrooms. “It is more like driving. The driving school will give you basics of driving, but continuous driving hardens skills, and enables one to handle any types and models of vehicles,” says Were.
Speaking at a media dialogue organized by Makerere University’s Department of Mass Communication for journalism students, practitioners, media managers, media trainers last year, William Tayeebwa, a senior lecturer at the department suggested that the thinking that professionalization in journalism was solely the duty of training institutions was flawed. He said it would take much more hands on training in the newsroom at the media houses than lectures at the university. Marjorie Niyitegeka, another member of faculty, said Makerere’s curriculum had been reviewed to align it more with market demands. A bachelor’s degree now lasts four years, up from three, to allow for acquisition of skills. In addition, new course units such as a local language and sociology had been incorporated into the curriculum. But Ouma Balikoowa, one of the architects of the first curriculum, is saddened by the burgeoning numbers of students admitted by universities for commercial purposes. Ouma, one of the founders of The Monitor says: The institutions are looking for numbers that will bring them more revenues. Students that do not deserve to be there easily get enrolled. Which shouldn’t be much of a problem if the institutions invested into getting the right people to teach and in the numbers that match the students’ intakes. This is not the case most of the time. The institutions have fewer staff who are stretched by the large numbers of students. The staffs are also poorly motivated and have to do several things to earn additional incomes. This distracts their teaching and the students hardly get value for their money. Ouma’s concern is not so much the curriculum, but the “flood of students” coming out of the universities who are hardly absorbed for internships at the media houses because they are simply too many for
a struggling industry to accommodate. Pre-entry exams? A suggestion was floated at a media dialogue at Makerere late 2012 to subject applicants to the Journalism course to a pre-entry examination as is the case for courses such as Law. The argument was only deserving students would be admitted. The idea was discouraged on two grounds: first, that universities need the numbers for revenue; secondly, that the industry should not be selfish by limiting the number of applicants. Participants made the case that the university’s role was to prepare students to be analytical and critical thinkers who can fit anywhere and more so given the uncertainties of a struggling media industry. Were says he is a firm believer in newsroom training as the best training ground for journalists. Indeed, Were admits that the caliber of students from the universities has always been an issue of concern:
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For the last 15 years of training young journalists in the newsroom, I haven’t seen any new reporter who was prepared for the task. Most of the universities here impart the knowledge and not the skills of the craft so when the students come to the newsroom they have the knowledge about journalism but not the skills of the craft. He says that universities, limited by time, equipment and human resources, cannot adequately prepare an all round journalist, and that is where media training organizations should come in to offer skills that journalism schools do not give. Digital journalism is one example.
Joseph Were, managing editor of The Independent, and a former training editor at The Monitor Publications, says this is one of the several challenges that journalism education faces. First, the rising admission figures at universities make it difficult to invest limited resources in expensive equipment and human resources to skill every student extensively. University journalism departments will tend to introduce everyone to the basic hands-on skills with the hope that the students
Were also stresses the centrality of attitude in the formation of journalists. “A journalist’s performance has very little to do with what they know – their abilities and skills. To a large extent it has to do with their attitude. This is formed in the newsroom based on the attitude of the media owners and top management,” he says. Not good headlines but good bottom lines Were’s other concern is the emergence of market driven journalism, that has subordinated editorial considerations to the profit motive. “Media institutions are now managed not by professional
Inside the NewVision newsrooom
journalists but by administrators, human resource managers and marketing executives. Unlike in the US, a Ugandan journalist is trained to focus on good journalism and not to look at the business of. So an important module of journalism education must focus on journalism as business so that journalism professionals can be able to interpret a profit and loss statement. If that does not happen, we are in trouble.” Indeed, Ouma argues that the problem in today’s journalism industry is much wider than simply looking at the curriculum or teaching institutions. He says the government must plan for its young people given the fast-growing population where about 70% are aged below 24 years. This, he says, is “creating a flood” at learning institutions yet less than 30% of the population is in the taxable labour force. To address this, the country will have to undergo a demographic transition if it is to solve challenges of quality education at the universities. the craft, but also to recognize that today’s students will be among the people who develop tomorrow’s journalism business models. We’d discuss for-profit and notfor-profit methods, and look at advertising, marketing, social networking, and search-engine optimization, among many other elements.
for the “teaching hospital” model of journalism education — learning by doing in a teaching newsroom where students use digital media to inform and, hopefully, engage a community. Just the way doctors learn the practice in a teaching hospital dealing with real life cases. Newton urges that journalism and communication schools must begin to change radically and constantly. Meredith Artley, Managing Editor of CNN Digital Division, gives insights that journalism schools might consider worthwhile. It is not enough for schools to impart skills. They need to enable journalism graduates to market themselves. This is what Artley had to say: It’s a far more competitive market than even five years ago. That’s great for me and my peers in the industry who are hiring. But for the applicants, it places a premium on not just showing us that you have the skills, but showing what you uniquely can bring to the job. The job goes to people who don’t just have the skills, but to those who demonstrate knowledge and curiosity about the job, the company and the broader digital landscape. Indeed journalism schools, even here in Uganda, must rethink the relevance of their curricula and perhaps, as Newton suggests, be willing to destroy part of themselves and recreate themselves to be part of the future of news. REFERENCES: Artley, Meredith (2012) Here’s What We Look for When Hiring Journalists, grads or not. Nieman Journalism Lab. http:// www.niemanlab.org/2012/09/ meredith-artley . Accessed on March 15, 2013. Banda, Fackson et al (2007), Contextualising Journalism Education and Training in Southern Africa, Ecquid Novi, African Journalism Studies. Berger, Guy & Matra, C. (2007), Criteria and Indicators for Quality Journalism Training Institutions & Identifying Potential Centres of Excellence in Journalism Training in Africa, UNESCO, Paris. Berger, Guy (2007), In search of Journalism Education excellence in Africa: Summary of the 2006 UNESCO Project, Global Media Journal-Africa Edition.
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Views from elsewhere
Many ideas continue to come from leading media scholars and journalism foundations on how to make journalism education more relevant today’s challenges. Some of these insights are summarised below. Dan Gilmor, one of the doyens of American journalism education makes several recommendations to make journalism training more relevant. Below are two of these suggestions: •
Require all journalism students to understand business concepts, especially those relating to media. This is not The Knight Foundation, together just to cure the longstanding with several other leading journalism ignorance of business issues in foundations in the US now advocate
Jeff Jarvis, of the City University of New York offers the following advice in rethinking journalism education. He says that journalism education needs radical innovation in three areas: The teaching of tools and technology (itself accomplished through new technology); Teaching through practice (learning through doing — that is, the teaching-hospital model) and Study (understanding journalism’s role in society). In addition, educational institutions in journalism need to contribute to innovation in the field through research and incubation. Eric Newton of the Knight Foundation makes the point that universities must be willing to destroy and recreate themselves to be part of the future of news. Noting that college journalism education was not changing fast enough, Newton says that journalism and mass communication education would get better if it could change faster. Schools that won’t change risk becoming irrelevant.
Require all students to learn basic statistics, survey research, and fundamental scientific methodology. The inability of journalists to understand the math they encounter in their reading is one of journalism’s — and society’s — major flaws.
fter the passing of the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation Act 2005, the then state-owned Uganda Television and Radio Uganda were merged to form one Public Service Broadcaster, the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC). In principle this marked the end of state/government ownership and control of broadcasting, at least legally, and ushered in an era of the three-tire broadcasting system as per the Windhoek Declaration (1991) and the African Charter on Broadcasting (2001) among other international and regional charters promoting free speech.
UBC AND THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC BROADCASTING IN UGANDA
By Wilson Akiiki Kaija
It is in this spirit that the much-talked about liberalization of the media in Uganda came about in the early 1990s and in the same spirit, the UBC Act was born in 2005. Just a year before the act was passed, the Uganda government drafted a broadcasting policy seeking to “introduce a viable, independent, professionally-run public broadcaster accountable to the public to ensure efficiency and quality programming’ The policy proposed a public service broadcaster that would create a platform for informing, educating and entertaining the whole country; offering a high percentage of local content; offering programming of a high standard; enriching the cultural heritage of Uganda through support for the indigenous arts and cultural diversity; contributing, through its programming, to a sense of national identity and unity; ensuring programming that will cater for the poor and vulnerable; ensuring that the public has access to information; and serving the overall public interest, being impartial in reporting and programming in regard to religion, political orientation, culture, race and gender. This article seeks to examine the contribution of UBC to achieving the above, almost 10 years after the law establishing the public broadcaster was passed. understand Bantu languages in central, Mid-western and western Uganda. These include Runyakitara, Luganda, Rwamba, Rukonzo, Urufumbira and Ruruli. Butebo Channel, on the other hand, caters for listeners in the greater East. The languages include Lusoga, Nyakarimojong, Ateso, Kumam, Lumasaba, Lunyole/Lusamia, Lugwe, Adhola, Kupsabiny and Lugwere. The broadcaster also set up FM stations including Star and Magic among others to cater for the interests of specific audiences. For instance Star FM is a Luganda station while Magic is purely English in its programming.The language distribution distinguishes UBC as a broadcaster with the widest audience reach, at least 80% of the country. This, though, pretty much reflects the pre-2005 structure though it was more enhanced after 2005.
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The Windhoek Declaration, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 1991, pushes for the establishment, maintenance and fostering of an independent, pluralistic and free press. Parties to the Declaration say this is essential for economic development and growth of democracy. The kind of media advocated for here is one that is independent from “governmental, political or economic control; or from control of materials and infrastructure essential for the production and dissemination of newspapers, magazines and periodicals.”By a pluralistic press, the African Charter calls for an end to monopolies of any kind and the existence of a variety of media outlets/channels reflecting the widest possible range of opinion within the community.
Programming And Diversity
The African Charter, which came 10 years after the Windhoek Declaration, pushes for a three-tier broadcasting system that caters for public, private and community interests. The Charter calls for state and government controlled broadcasters to be transformed into public service broadcasters, and that regulatory frameworks should be based on respect for freedom of expression, diversity and the free flow of information and ideas.
To reflect cultural diversity in its programming, UBC broadcasts on three broad channels including Blue, Red and Butebo. Red Channel caters for English, Alur, Kakwa, Kinubi, Lugbara, Madi and Luo. Blue Channel or UBC West broadcasts to people who speak or
Uganda is a multi-ethnic society with up to 65 different ethnic groupings with distinct languages and norms. To meet the demands of the African Charter on Broadcasting, the National Broadcasting Policy 2004 and the UBC Act 2005, UBC ought to reflect cultural diversity in its programming. But at the same time, it has to design programmes that “sell”, programmes that appeal and win audience in order for it to survive. In here lies the dilemma UBC finds itself in. There is a clash between the demands of the changing market environment and the orthodox understanding of public service broadcasting. And the public broadcaster appears to be moving towards commercial broadcasting.
I now turn to the source, method and level of funding for the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC). The national broadcaster is still funded directly from government and through commercial advertising just like private commercial radios. The Uganda Broadcasting Policy 2004 talks of government adequately funding public broadcasters in a manner that “protects them from arbitrary interference with their budgets” (pg 19). The same view is clearly captured under Article 6 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa 2002.
It is highly doubtful, however, that UBC will be able to achieve the above without being pulled back by the same strings that pull funding to the broadcaster. Besides, the regulatory framework does not clearly define mechanisms on how the funding should be channeled, providing room for abuse. The UBC Act itself simply talks of funding for the Corporation consisting of grants and loans from the government; funding from organisations or individuals; revenue through commercial activities; donations; TV licence fees and advertising.
elections in 2001, 2006 and 2011, I highly doubt that 2016 would be different. African Media Barometer proposes media reforms in the run up to 2016, including reforming UBC to reflect true public service broadcasting and establishment of an independent broadcasting regulator among others.
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Independence And Impartiality
In comparison, for instance, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), on whose structure most public service broadcasters in Africa were modeled, is funded by the public through subscription in the form of Licence Fees.
As a media house, and a public broadcaster, UBC (like the BBC) is expected to provide a public platform for debate, and extension of the theoretical public sphere as par the demands of the African Charter on Broadcasting. The Charter was adopted by Unesco in 2001 to celebrate 10 years of the Windhoek Declaration. Among others, the Charter demands that state and government controlled broadcasters should be transformed into public service broadcasters. The charter further demands that regulatory frameworks should be based on “respect for freedom of expression, diversity and the free flow of information and ideas” (cited in Lugalambi, et al 2010: 99).
Indeed, most recent debates on the performance of UBC have pointed to the fact that almost 10 years after passing the law, the broadcaster still runs and acts like a stateowned entity. Two days after the February 18, 2011 general elections, European Union election observers accused UBC of “extreme bias” before and during the elections. Edward Scicluna, the then chief of the EU observer mission, said the amount of broadcast time UBC gave to President Yoweri Museveni during the campaign period amounted to nearly 14 hours, with Kizza Besigye, Museveni’s main challenger in the race, getting only 56 minutes. The same matter was to force Besigye to sue UBC in April 2012 seeking compensation for what he called paid-for campaign messages that were never aired by the broadcaster. This to me is a case of a public broadcaster in form, but a statecontrolled entity in substance.
The main dominant themes that cut across international and regional charters on human and people’s rights are free speech; free, independent and pluralistic media; and promoting free and democratic debate and citizen participation among others. For
instance the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa adopted by the African Union’s Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2002 says that state control of the media is incompatible with the idea of freedom of expression. It calls for a public service broadcaster to provide access to information and ideas; independent coverage of and report on issues; contribute to economic, social and cultural development; provide a credible forum for democratic debate; hold those in power in every sector of society accountable; and empower and inspire citizens, especially the marginalized groups. It also pushes for diversity in programming to cater for all interests of the general public as well as minority audiences, irrespective of religious beliefs, political persuasion, culture, race and gender; and reflecting diversity of opinions on matters of public interest and of social, political, philosophical, religious, scientific and artistic trends. The Declaration also calls for
Article 19, in their 2005 publication, A Model Public Service Broadcasting Law, propose a broadcaster insulated from political and commercial interference. “…that is to say that they must be independent and that their editorial independence must be respected…their programming should serve the public interest and, in particular, be balanced and impartial” (Article 19 (2005: 1). From the above examples, UBC is neither independent (politically or financially) nor impartial. Considering that the issue of biased reporting has been raised variously especially during the past three
promoting the principles of free speech and expression as well as of free access to communication by enabling all citizens, regardless of their social status, to communicate freely on the airwaves; promoting and developing local content; and providing universal access to their services.
The other documents that emphasise the above include Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948; The Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (enacted by the United Nations in 1966); The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (adopted 27 June 1981); and African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (adopted 2007) among others. This places UBC at the centre of the democratization process in Uganda through providing a platform for debate; producing and airing programmes with a wide appeal; being impartial in its editorial decisions; and highlighting the needs of the minority groups. To put this into context, let me refer to the role of the broadcaster during major political events in the country. As the biggest broadcaster in the country, and as a public service media house, UBC ought to have taken a leading role or steered the debate on the September 2009 riots in Buganda. One would expect the broadcaster to spearhead debates on the 2011/2012 Walk to Work protests in Kampala. On the contrary, UBC was either missing in these debates or was promoting the official government line in the pre2005 style.
March 2012, up from £4.99bn the previous year. At least £3.6bn came from the licence fees. While it is not enough or the only source of income for the broadcaster, it did contribute a substantial chunk of its income. And while it’s not exactly fair to compare the two public broadcasters in two different economies, payment of licence fees would have been one of the ways of pushing for selfsustainability and “independence” for UBC.
But when Dr James Nsaba Butuuro, the then information minister, started the debate on TV licences it was narrowed (unfortunately) to focus only on whether it made economic sense. The idea, first introduced in 2004, was for each household with a TV set to pay Shs 10,000 annually. This was condemned as ill-thought, ill-timed and not workable in Uganda. The main newspapers, The Monitor and The New Vision, both joined the discussion saying the then state broadcaster ought to be autonomous first. A comparison was made between UTV and Radio Uganda and the BBC and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). In the UK and South Africa, the two broadcasters worked for the public while in Uganda, they argued, state/ government interests took centre stage. One year later, UBC was born as a merger of UTV and Radio Uganda, but almost a decade later, it’s seems only the name that has changed!
Parastatalism And Lack Of Accountability
Yet the debate on TV licences is not exclusive to Uganda. World over, questions keep coming over the quality of public service broadcasting, performance assessment, need for accountability and the position of public service broadcasters in a changing media environment. There is a question, for the case of Uganda, on the relevance of public service broadcasting in an environment where media services (especially) radio have penetrated deep into the rural communities, speaking the language of the communities and highlighting issues within the localities. I believe UBC is facing this dilemma, of penetrating the rural areas where other commercial and community radios are also reaching. In this regard, it would be difficult to convince an average TV viewer to pay that annual licence fee. Can viewers do without UBC? Or to put it the other way, what does an average viewer lose if they don’t watch UBC TV or listen to UBC radio?
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Part Of The Crowd
The Narrow Tv Licence Debate
One important aspect that barely featured in the 2005/6 debate on the introduction of TV Licences was the relationship the licences had with the needed independence of UBC. In the Broadcasting Policy 2004 and indeed the UBC Act 2005 itself, the push for government funding is very prominent. But as Lugalambi et al (2010: 100) argue, the initial idea was for the broadcaster to be self-sustaining within a short time after 2005. It was hoped that UBC would start generating its own income as a public broadcaster through such methods as licence fees. The BBC, for instance, whose model UBC borrowed, generated total revenue of over £5bn in the year to 31
In its March 1, 2004 edition, The New Vision carried an opinion piece indicating that since both UTV and Radio Uganda competed “for commercial advertising” with other media houses, they “should not be eligible for subsidy through a television licence fee”. Both Uganda Broadcasting Policy 2004 and the UBC Act 2005 talk of commercial advertising as one of the ways to generate income for UBC. At least 183 radio stations and 20 TV stations were on air by mid 2012, according to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). UBC with all its radio and TV channels is also part of this crowd, competing for the same advertisers and to with the same audience. Turning it into a public broadcaster has not necessarily made it stand ahead of, or lead the crowd.
As I have argued earlier, what changed after the passing of the UBC Act in 2005 was the name, not the content of the state broadcaster. It continued to be run like a government parastatal. The suspension in 2011, of the board and managing director over financial impropriety and illegal sale of UBC land, put UBC in an awkward situation. The UBC Act does provide guidelines on the management of the broadcaster’s resources. Section 19 of the Act empowers the board to send audited annual accounts of the broadcaster to the minister who is supposed to present them to Parliament. It is this same board that was suspended and some of the board members arrested. The minister, Kabakumba Matsiko, to whom the audited reports were to be sent, was forced to resign later that year after it emerged that she had taken equipment belonging to UBC to set up her own radio station in Masindi.
Current Chief Executive Office Paul Kihika has taken some tough steps to arrest the theft and asset-stripping of UBC. Apart from having former executives to account, Kihika has pursued those who have encroached on UBC properties to leave, pay-up or even face prosecution. Former Information Minister Karooro Okurut was cited in the illegal sale of UBC land in Kampala. Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka’s radio stations were switched off for two days for reportedly enchroaching on and erecting radio masts on UBC land.
As African Media Barometer summarises it in its 2012 report, UBC still operates and acts like a state-owned broadcaster, whose board is appointed by the Minister of Information and National Guidance. The independence and transparency are compromised and there is “no accountability to the public” This, coupled with the silence of the UBC Act on issues of the political, financial and commercial interests of Board, says the Media Barometer, means the broadcaster continues to be exposed to internal pressures that affect its activities and undermine its competitiveness.
They packaged their programs to appeal to the local person and in the languages they understood (for the case of CBS, Voice of Toro). Not to be left behind Radio Uganda soon ventured into FM broadcasting by launching two channels, Star FM 100 and Green Channel on FM 98. Thus the direct competition between commercial and state broadcasters was born. UBC has since opened more commercialbased channels to try and remain in the market and win over the audience. It is this competition that has seen UBC sometimes provide the same entertainment-heavy content that attracts viewers and listeners “and thus can be easily sold to advertisers instead of innovative and unique programming that would justify public funding” (Lugalambi et al 2010: 101). Heavy reliance on advertising revenues also exposes the public broadcaster to attendant economic pressures that armtwist commercial broadcasters, and brings UBC’s editorial independence further into question. There lies the dilemma of where to negotiate a softer landing between a rock and a hard place. REFERENCES African Media Barometer 2012 available at http://library.fes. de/pdf-files/bueros/africamedia/09427.pdf. Accessed on February 20, 2013.
entertaining, more interactive and audiencecentred. Other new private radio stations followed suit to change the broadcasting environment.
‘TV licence plan turns off Ugandans’, BBC Online, March 25, 2004 from http://http://www.news.bbc. co.uk/2/hi/africa/3564225.stm/ africa/3564225.stm. Accessed on March 1, 2013.
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Nakamura Yoshiko (2009) “Accountability in Public Service Broadcasting: The Evolution of Promises and Assessments”, NHK Broadcasting Studies No. 7, 2009 http://www.nhk.or.jp/bunken/ english/reports/pdf/09_no7_04.pdf. Accessed on February 24, 2013 Uganda Broadcasting Corporation Act 2005
UBC Accused of Extreme Bias in Election Coverage. News story on Uganda Radio Network http:// ugandaradionetwork.com/a/story. php?s=31729. Accessed on February 20, 2013. Lugalambi G., PG Mwesige & Hendrik Bussiek (2010) Public Broadcasting in Africa Series, Open Society Foundations
BBC Facts and Figures http:// stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/ consultations/psb/responses/ mceihil_annex.pdf. accessed on February 17, 2013 BBC spending: where does the licence fee go? Article in the Guardian July 17, 2012 http:// www.guardian.co.uk/news/ datablog/2011/jul/12/bbcspending. Accessed on March 1, 2013. Kabann I.B Kabananukye & Dorothy Kwagala (2007) Culture, Linguistics and Minority Rights in Uganda: The Case of the Batwa and the Ik. HURIPEC Working Paper No. 11, June 2007. Available at http://www. chr.up.ac.za/chr_old/indigenous/ documents/Uganda/Themes/ General/Culture%20Minorities%20 and%20Linguistic%20Rights%20 in%20Uganda.pdf. Accessed on March 2, 2013.
Liberalisation And The Public Broadcasting Dilemma
The birth of UBC in 2005 came almost 15 years after the first private commercial radio and TV stations went on air following the much talked about liberalization of the early 1990s. Both UTV and Radio Uganda appeared to have been caught unaware when Radio and TV Sanyu went on air with a new brand of programming that was more informative, more
London: Article 19 (2005) A Model Public Service Broadcasting Law: http://www.article19. org/data/files/pdfs/standards/ modelpsblaw.pdf. Accessed on March 1, 2013.
THE FUTURE OF
The Future Of Journalism
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gainst the background of a general dumbing down of the HIV/Aids reportage with no cure in sight, infections are rising. The threat to humanity still looms large. JAMES KIGOZI, who worked with the Uganda Aids Commission for 11 years urges for new strategies to return the HIV/Aids beat to the media agenda. When stories of a new strange disease started trickling into the Ugandan media in the early 1980’s, they were characterized by a lot of controversy and myth. Some media attributed the killer disease to witchcraft by Tanzanian traders, whom some unscrupulous Ugandan businessmen had allegedly cheated.
HOW THE UGANDAN MEDIA CAN REPORT THE AIDS STORY DIFFERENTLY
However, the proliferation of the media outlets has not necessarily resulted into wider dissemination of health-related messages, with particular emphasis on HIV and AIDS. I particularly picked out HIV because it remains a leading cause of mortality in Uganda. According to the Ministry of Health, prevalence rates have increased from 6.4 percent to well over 7 percent over the last few years (MoH 2012). THE COMMERCIALIZATION OF AIDS CAMPAIGNS Doug Underwood, a former Seattle Times reporter now teaching communication at the University of Washington, in his in-depth book “When MBAs Rule the Newsroom,” uncovers how investigative and informative reports are being replaced by demand for high -profit journalism (Underwood, 1995). This trend is very evident in Uganda’s current HIV sector.
When the first AIDS Control Programme in the Ministry of Health was set up under the leadership of Dr. Sam Okware, one of the main groups that were identified as partners were the media. By then, there were only three regular English newspapers (New Vision,The Star, and Weekly Topic) with Radio Uganda and Uganda Television the sole electronic media outlets in the country. I was part of the small group that was trained and is still actively involved in HIV and AIDS communication. Today, more than a quarter of a decade later, the country boasts of over 240 operational radio stations and over 20 television stations (UCC 2012). There are also new forms of media outlets which have widened access to all types of information, including HIV and AIDS.
It has been noted that while initially the media was interested in vigorously reporting the AIDS story, this has gradually waned and inquisitive investigative journalists have been edged out and replaced by aggressive media advertising executives who quickly discovered that the AIDS sector was a gravy train which they had been missing out on. So, rather than journalists seeking for interviews or questioning the country’s authorities on the AIDS pandemic, sales executives from prominent media houses, sometimes accompanied by their managers, line up outside the offices of HIV managers looking for sponsored supplements, advertisements, radio and TV spots; which of course would only tell the public what the AIDS managers and their sponsors want them to hear. As the media positioned themselves to cash in on the AIDS dollars windfall, they inevitably lost the initiative to question the country’s HIV managers why Uganda, for example, was one of the few countries in the world that had failed to reduce new HIV infections in the last three years. When Uganda was in the late 1990s internationally acclaimed as a “success story” in combating the disease, numerous delegations from all over the world trekked to Uganda to learn how Uganda had done it. Many delegates looked on in awe as Ugandan officials extolled the reasons why they had progressed. Top on the list of factors, was the high level political commitment by President Yoweri Museveni, who was personally involved in sensitizing the nation about the pandemic. He travelled from community to community, warning people about the dangers of the disease, using anecdotes and local examples that captured wide media attention and helped to drive the HIV messages home (UAC, 2006). This personal involvement of the President further propelled Uganda into the international limelight, as the “success story” was flashed on CNN, BBC, Reuters, and a plethora of other international media. However, as he became busier with matters of state, this leadership waned and a feeling of complacency gradually set in, after all everywhere it was known that Uganda was a success story! WHY UGANDA SUCCEEDED It has been noted that Uganda was able to set up a credible HIV national response in the late 1990s with meager resources, particularly because then, genuine efforts were being made by all parties-government, civil society organizations such The AIDS Support Organization (TASO), faith-based organizations to fight the pandemic (UNAIDS, 2010). However, it has been argued that this commitment was gradually eroded when millions of dollars started flowing into the country from international donors, especially the World Bank, the US Presidential Emergency Fund for AIDS (PEPFAR), Global Fund, and USAID. It is peculiar that nobody, especially the media , has ever questioned why , in spite of this increased external funding, the pandemic was spiraling out of control and less than half of people who needed antiretro viral drugs are getting them(Epstein, 2007) .
would rather have a big advertising contract with AIDS institutions than pursue a story that investigates how AIDS resources have been used. One such media manager argues: “Let us face it, today media houses are run as very competitive commercial ventures, if we miss out on the AIDS money, how shall we be able to pay taxes and other overheads? The story can always wait; after all even if we report it nothing will be done.”
The impact on news coverage about the pandemic is quite evident. it is becoming increasingly rare to see a genuine investigative article about HIV and AIDS in Ugandan media. What is commonly seen are reports released by bureaucrats such as those about HIV testing becoming mandatory in all public health facilities. It is very telling to note that there has been no investigative follow up on how this is likely to impact on the AIDS response in a national health setting that is usually characterized by chronic shortage of even basic equipment like testing kits, reagents and even qualified staff to man these facilities. In the mid 2000’s while working as a Communications Officer at the Uganda AIDS Commission, the national HIV and AIDS coordinating agency, I held my breath when the Ministry of Health launched a grandiose plan to avail AIDS services to all people who needed them. This was in spite of the fact that even basic medicines such as Aspirin are often missing from health units(a report by a State House Health Monitoring unit said some health workers were stealing them). I waited for inquisitive journalists to embark on ascertaining if this was effectively done; nobody turned up. Yet at national conferences Ministry bureaucrats would churn out figures showing huge sums spent on the program. Why has the media become so complacent in covering one of the country’s worst disasters? Today, journalists end up being jacks of all trades and masters of none. During my tenure at the AIDS Commission, we trained several journalists in HIV and AIDS reporting, but at every training you would get a completely new team, with the previous ones having moved on. It has been noted that largely because of poor remuneration, there is a very high labor turnover in media houses (UMDF, 2013). Therefore it was very difficult to build a team of scribes who would competently report on the pandemic and make regular follow ups. At the same time, there is a worrying absence of a science culture in newsrooms. There are very few science writers, even fewer or no- specialized medical reporters. Moreover, there is a growing juniorisation within newsroom ranks, where older experienced journalists keep quitting newsrooms for better paying jobs in the public relations sector or are pushed out. MISSING OUT ON THE AIDS DIALOGUE The media needs to start actively engaging in the HIV dialogues instead of covering AIDS events, such as attending opening and closing ceremonies of conferences. At the UAC, I would always ask the
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Today, because most of the new media outlets are commercial, media managers/ proprietors
journalists why they only covered ceremonies and not wait for the discussions where the real issues came up, and the answer was invariably the same- they had other assignments to cover. Would I please prepare a press release for them? Over time, I discovered that many of the young journalists that were assigned to cover the AIDS stories especially those from the FM radio stations ,either lacked the skill to understand the AIDS epidemic, or the knowledge and competence to question the managers about the statistics that were being churned out. This was exercabated by the lack of specialized health reporters who could analyze and understand scientific data. Moreover, at every function, a different reporter would be sent, so there was no continuity in appreciating AIDS stories.
This trend was very evident, when at several national conferences and launches of strategic plans, journalists would only appear at opening and closing ceremonies, where routine speeches about renewing commitment to the response would be read by bureaucrats; and miss out on the DISCUSSIONS where the actual news was, as partners told of the challenges and frustrations at the implementation level. The real news would be in the breakout sessions where thematic discussions were heldunfortunately; the media would be long gone by then! Only to return to the closing ceremony, and ask for their “facilitation!” However, among this disinterest, there was one exception- NTV Uganda! Reporters such as Leah Bwanika and later, Florence Naluyimba would always seek exclusives, and indeed, they would always report the AIDS story differently… HOW TO TELL THE STORY DIFFERENTLY? Instead of waiting to report about HIV events such as World AIDS Day on December 1, the media should demand for accountability in terms of effective programs from the AIDS implementers. For example, it would be very revealing to track how the billions of AIDS dollars given to Uganda over the last five years have been spent. Media training institutions should strengthen data analysis and interpretive journalism skills. The media needs to hone its investigative capacity to ask for accountability from AIDS managers, especially on how the huge cash inflows have been translated into viable programmes at the community level. It has been noted that for every AIDS project that is implemented, more than half of the total cost is used to pay for foreign consultants and procurement of expensive four wheel vehicles, IT equipment and air-conditioned office premises. The media needs to ask, for example, how much of the total cost of project funds actually go towards the implementation of activities. There are some fundamental questions that need to be lined up and addressed here: Do we really need to bring HIV/Aids coverage back on the media agenda? I am convinced that the media needs to once again make HIV and AIDS major topic on their agenda because there are new, worrying developments in the sector that warrant such a move. Today, HIV prevalence rates have once again grown from 6.4 percent where it had stagnated for the last five years to over 7 percent. Yet today, the country has access to far greater resources than ever before. Logically, there rates of prevalence should be gradually reducing instead of growing.
WHICH NEW PLATFORMS? At the same time, the media needs to reflect on how it should make a difference (not just a living) by reporting the AIDS story differently. One way of doing this is by embracing new forms of communicating HIV information, for example through social media. Facebook, twitter and other social media are now synonymous with young people, a majority of whom find it very interactive and more user -friendly than supplements in newspapers. It has been noted that since the rise of the internet in early 1990s, the world’s networked population has grown tremendously. In Uganda, Social media have increasingly become a fact of life, especially for young people, civil society, the corporate world, faith- based organizations, even in government. As the communication technology landscape develops, more opportunities are available to engage in public speech, information sharing and enhanced ability to take collective action (Shirky, 2011). This should be extended to the HIV sector.
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One of the most popular pass-times on Ugandan electronic media, especially the FM radio stations, is relaying and debating the hugely patronized European football, especially the English Premier League matches. Everything else has to wait while the stations give a running commentary in local languages to their audiences as the sports presenters watch the game from pay TV screens installed in their studios. In the townships and even in villages, fans cluster in makeshift video halls to watch the game, often sipping alcoholic drinks. Nobody talks about HIV. This has been identified a s a missed opportunity to pass on critical HIV messages by the country’s HIV managers. As part of their corporate social responsibility, and also partly as a requirement by the regulatory Uganda Communications Commission, can’t the media houses use this opportunity to offer gratis airtime for some innovative radio spots on the disease? The regulatory Uganda Communications Commission(UCC) is coming out with a new policy that will demand all private media houses to provide free airtime to public service messages and selected programs, but the challenge will be in ensuring that the policy is implemented(UCC,2010).Uganda is known for its numerous , well-articulated policies which rarely get fully implemented. In fact some neighboring countries would pick such policies, tweak them to suit their own situations and implement them successfully. Finally, the media needs to seriously question the traditional ABC approach (Abstinence, Being Faithful, correct and consistent Condom Use) that informs Uganda’s HIV communication. It has been argued that this package has grave limitations, especially for women who are not empowered to act on the messages (Kigozi, 2012). In this MA Thesis submitted to Rhodes University, S.Africa, the researcher explored why, in spite of millions of shillings spent on HIV communications annually, infection rates remained high, especially among women. Based on a qualitative research approach and using focus group discussion as well as key informant interviews, the researcher discovered that the women had very limited engagement with the messages because they are not empowered to act on them.
Since questioning policies is part of the media’s cardinal ethical principlesSteele), I firmly believe that it is time to question the effectiveness of the official ABC policy that informs Uganda’s HIV communications.
It has been observed that such campaigns have made little impact on rural women’s experience of living with the disease. The media needs to reflect on its own role and how it has impacted on such women’s lives through the educational HIV and AIDS campaigns conducted through its outlets. By playing its traditional watch-dog role, the media can help keep the AIDS managers on their toes as well as monitor transparency and accountability in the sector. While journalists are not-and should not- be mere activists or health promotion campaigners, they have a special responsibility in an epidemic. HIV and AIDS has infected and affected the media industry too. The media cannot afford to stand by the fence this time. Clearly, Uganda’s future is being undermined by HIV and AIDS and we should all be committed to preventing new infections, ensuring transparency and accountability in the sector. Uganda successfully pioneered an effective HIV response in the early 1990s, infact many best practices were adopted by UNAIDS from Uganda. Once again, Uganda can provide such leadership, this time by getting the media to creatively engage with other stakeholders-to
re-launch the AIDS response. There is need for a new awakening by media managers, owners, other partners and government to make it succeed. We all share the challenge equally. REFERENCES: Underwood,D: When MBAs run the Newsroom; Columbia University Press, 1995 Epstein,H.The Invisible cure: Africa, the West and the fight against AIDSPenguin Books, 2007) Kigozi,J: An investigation of how Ugandan rural women engage with HIV and AIDS programmes broadcast on community radioMA Thesis, Rhodes University, 2012 Ministry of Health, AIDS Control Programme, HIV and AIDS Surveillence Report, 2012). Kampala Shirky, C. The Political power of social media: communications technology will help promote freedom, but it may take a while. US Foreign Affairs Journal, January/February 2011; Volume 90, No.1 Steele, B.: Guiding Principles for Journalists,Bob Steele, Poynter Institute Uganda AIDS Commission: The story of AIDS in Uganda… And Banana Trees provided the shade 2006,Kampala Uganda Communications Commission: National Broadcasting policy: a new broadcasting aspiration for Uganda2010 Kampala UNAIDS, 2010
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WHAT SPORTS JOURNALISM CAN TEACH OTHER MEDIA SECTIONS
College journalism as it is offered now is irrelevant to sports journalism. It still dwells on old tools and theories. Old approaches and styles in a 24/7world. The inverted pyramid in a Twitter generation, long form in a networked environment? The 5Ws and H in an age where information that is delivered in real time. University journalism, as it is offered today, is irrelevant to sports journalism. Apart from the instinct and passion, all our writers are talented and learn how to write the story the reader will enjoy.
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JB: So do you recommend the introduction of sports journalism at university?
FK: Journalism schools should consider a course in sports journalism. That would be great. Sport is a big thing. Very lucrative, big earners, big celebrities! For a long time, sport has not been given the attention it deserves. It comes last, is on back pages most of the time, it is the last item on broadcast news. We need to end this back-burner mentality towards sport.
JB: How does the sports audience influence the writing?
Sports Editor Fred Kaweesi (FK)
What can journalists and editors do to audiences that keep shifting, that get much of the content from new and social media and whose attention span for stories in mainstream media keeps reducing? Sport is one area where audiences appear to continue growing, and follow every bit of detail whether in print, on radio or television. JOHN BAPTIST WASSWA(JB) went back to the New Vision newsroom, where he was News Editor for nine years, to learn from Sports Editor Fred Kaweesi (FK), what the sports desk was doing differently and what the sports press corps can teach other journalists.
JB: What distinguishes sports journalists from others in the newsroom?
FK : Just passion. You must have the passion. The passion to go the extra mile. It is this passion that influences the writing. You want the reader to feel what you feel. You have the passion to go beyond mere reporting. In sports reporting you want to share the feeling with your audience. Contrast this with the reporting from routine beats like Parliament: mere reports, flat, emotionless.
FK: We always assume the audience knows much more than we do. We sit in same stadia; watch same matches, at same time as readers or viewers. Most sports fans now have smart phones; they follow teams and players before, during and after the match. They read commentaries written by foreign media. You will not just report what you saw. They know that. You must explain the why. You must add value. You have to go beyond reporting. Reporting sport means you must act like an expert, not a mere reporter. Being a mere reporter is just acting like a tape recorder. In the Twitter and Facebook age, it does not add value. “How do we win their confidence that we are still relevant? We have to think outside the box in the way we report with authority, the way we curate stories, the way we package -overall reportage of an event, the way we use all tools at our disposal.”
JB: How do you ensure accuracy in the fast-paced sports journalism?
FK: With this sort of audience, there is no room for error. So the sports journalist must get out of the comfort zone; be precise with facts. 73 minutes of a match are just that, not AROUND 70 minutes. You will be immediately challenged. You lose reputation. All must be accurate: dates, people names, place names. Accuracy in the present and accuracy of historical facts and events.
JB: And on opinions and commentaries? There is less of this in other sections of your newspaper.
JB: So how do you identify the people to work on the sports desk?
FK: I think it is the instinct. For sports journalists, you feel you naturally belong to that field. The sport chemistry within you converts you there naturally. As you know, there are no courses in sports journalism anywhere in Uganda. Those with sports instinct learn the rest on the job.
FK: We value opinions whether in-house or from sports fans. Everyone in the stadium is a fan, but also an expert of sorts. Each has an opinion which each wants to share. Sharing opinion is different from imposing your opinion on others. Sport is one of the few remaining public spheres in Uganda, where people can freely hold and exchange opinions without fear. Social media has tremendously increased people’s thirst to hold, express and share opinions. We are dealing with an audience used to trading in opinions, so we have to factor this in our reporting. Huge amounts of feedback keep us in check.
JB: Which other factors dictate the style of reportage?
FK: Sports fans have become researchers of sorts. Sports betting has pushed fan interest into searches and research about players and teams and interest in games of probabilities and chance. A fan can put his bet on a little known team in Russia, having researched its profile on the field. These are no longer the passive audience to whom we used to report match results. They want much more than that.
JB: Where does the sports writer derive pride given such an informed audience?
Sports celebrities are persons who earn status through hard work, individual and collective discipline, and operating on world standards. People respect this sort of celebrity status. Of course there are some really deserving celebrities in Uganda, but our media often create and promote to celebrity status people who have little honest achievement to show. We need to look out for and promote deserving achievers to celebrity status in all fields of coverage.
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JB: Suggest some strategies for newsrooms to raise standards
FK: The sports writer must feel proud of writing. The reader must identify the article with the writer. The byline must be a signature of good artistic production and not just an appendage to any average stuff. That is what an informed, alert, and questioning audience expects. When writing about sport, there is no room to play second rate. It must be perfect, nothing but the best. You must always keep that audience in mind. Research facts that an ordinary reader will not have; look for rare facts, the rare angle; read deeper; think beyond the immediate situation; study the latest trends on the subject; know the latest debates and issues about your subject.
JB: How is your section organized for best results?
FK: Satellite television and other media channels have exposed Ugandans to high standard international sports. This has led to huge drops in attendance of local sports events. For journalists, these high standards impose challenges to raise the level of sports reporting. But new media exposure is not limited to sport. Ugandans watch much journalistic reportage of other issues including politics. Indeed other fields of journalism can raise the level of reportage to world standards. We need to approach the modern audience with the same attitude that they are likely to know more about a subject than we assume, that they have opinions they want to share and that they demand more and better all the time.
FK: The reporters, photographers, sub-editors and editors must work as a team to play midwife to the story. All our subeditors are former sports writers. They know all it takes to put up a good story. They notice the extraordinary, smell the angles, spot the loopholes and the gaffes, the inexactitudes. Passion must run through all members of the sport editorial team. And this is reflected in the pages we print. This is different from trends in newsrooms where subs handle stories and select matching photos by journalists they do not even talk to, or subs that have never covered that particular beat as reporters. For us, you must have a sports reporting history.
A changed world The world has changed and people must realize where the world is going. The world increasingly adores individual creativity, enterprise and achievement. Olympic medalist Kiprotich is a case in point. Societies need to create environments where individuals can tap and grow their potential even outside mainstream school environment.
JB: How do the passion, instinct, talent all translate in a captivating story that an informed audience will read to the end?
FK: Sport always involves competition, conflict, high emotions and above all people. Writers must strive to bring stories to life, using action pictures, descriptive power, capturing the powerful moments that best describe the human condition at that moment in time… the shot, the foul, the pass, the goal, the miss, the win, the loss, the injury, the audience reaction. Even pictures and stories about sports personalities outside the field, in their other life must be equally powerful. Don’t we have similar high moments elsewhere: in court, parliament, everywhere? Why don’t we capture them to light up stories?
JB: Sport is full of celebrities. How differently do you handle these people?
FK: It is human nature that people look for role models, for heroes and heroines, for success stories, for inspiration. Sport provides that, so can other forms of journalism.
TABLOIDIZATION: HOW POWER SHIFTED FROM THE MAINSTREAM
JOACHIM BUWEMBO uses the Red Pepper case study to examine the social and political roles tabloids have come to fulfill in Uganda. Tabloidism, Buwembo argues, has brought both big business and immense power to the tabloid journalists with serious concerns on their capacity for judicious use of such power.
When the Red Pepper opened shop ten years ago proclaiming itself as Uganda’s first tabloid, not many readers gave it even a fifty-fifty chance of surviving beyond its first birthday, given the notorious infant mortality rate of publications in the country. That Red Pepper has grown from strength to strength can be attributed to two main factors, one internal, the other exogenous. First, Red Pepper stuck to and remained true to tabloidism. The majority of observers had written off the Red Pepper in the beginning because they underrated the genius and tenacity of its founders who happened to be A-students in their school days. The New Vision that had employed them failed to recognize and tap the young men’s potential when they tried to put life into Orumuri, and tried to leave them to grow into wasted old men somewhere in Western Uganda like other upcountry newspaper correspondents. But the young men led by Richard Tusiime jumped ship and chose the daring option to set up their own outfit, a true, undisguised tabloid. Red Pepper exploited the ‘Triple S’ formula of Sex, Scandal and Sensation to the maximum. To this they added Mystery (of who was their backer in the power establishment) which left the public confused as to where the Red Pepper’s source of power lay. By the time they turned to glance back five, ten years later, Red Pepper had accumulated so much raw power they could take on anybody in the country. Their challenge now is actually how to exercise that power with caution. This is not to say that Red Pepper was the first Ugandan attempt at tabloidism. Others have been there before but they mostly employed only one of the S’s and as such, the faded and withered into oblivion. Around independence time fifty years ago, one daring man called GW Jingo came up with a periodic sexual publication called Ekitabo ky’Ekyama (The Secret Book) which used to give sex education in raw, adult language. It survived for many years. Then after the fall of the military government in 1979, the most sensational publication ever to hit the Ugandan stalls was launched. It was The Economy newspaper by Roland Kakooza Mutale. Mixing investigation with an excessive dose of sensation, The
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Economy took Kampala by the storm. It could even publish coup d’etat plots complete with verbatim transcriptions of the conspirators’ conversations. Probably the most memorable Economy headline which became a Kampala cliche and is used by people who do not even know its origin was “Bad News!” followed by a kicker “Akena Adoko is Back’. It was breaking the news that the former chief of intelligence under the first Milton Obote government, Naftali Akena Adoko had quietly returned from his exile to start laying ground for the second Obote coming.
In the mid nineties, the Kampala Bureau Chief of The East African, the most serious and prestigious regional newspaper, Edmund Kizito resigned his post to go and found Chic, a soft porn weekly. Teaming up with the former business manager of the extremely political and very serious Weekly Topic, Ali Balunywa, the duo shook the conservative Kampala society at the roots with their sleek magazine. It was an overnight success, so much that the money was too much for them to handle. They fought and Chic collapsed, giving rise to other short lived soft porn magazines like Spice. But the signal had been given that sex and sensation sell. So in the mid nineties to the early 2000s, the mainstream newspapers tried to do some tabloid sections using scandal and gossip, which were reasonably successful in the beginning. The Monitor had its ‘Monitor Gossip’ that did well exposing the scandalous activities of prominent people, without naming names. Monitor Gossip forced prominent people to become careful with their social escapades. The New Vision went a notch higher when they launched the Saturday gossip section Have You Heard? which named names, and employed the journalistic principles of verification, fairness and balance. It is Have You Heard that bears the biggest portion of responsibility for creating Kampala’s wannabe society and ‘celeb’ culture. At the height of Have You Heard success, some wealthy parents had started lobbying staff at the New Vision corporation to have gossip stories published about their children.
public morality is not a top priority. The conduct of public figures is far more lax and permissive, with most dignitaries not bothering to hide their loose morality. In an ironic sense therefore, Red Pepper is more sincere than the mainstream media about reflecting the society we live in. When they started publishing pictures of teenagers messing up on beaches, they claimed they were out to fight the evils by exposing them. They have also driven prominent homosexuals out of town, something human rights activists are of course opposed to. In the matter of morality, you cannot even accuse Red Pepper of sensationalism because what goes on in PUBLIC places in Ugandan towns in the new era is far more shocking than what Red Pepper publishes. When the ‘kimansulo’ dances (raw nude dances) first started in the early nineties in Kampala, police first a made showoff fighting them but soon gave up. Today nobody even talks about them as they are more widespread and an everyday thing. Similarly, prostitution is more widespread and because it is not legal, it does not happen in any gazetted places but everywhere, and sex is sold both on the street and on the internet and phones from university campuses. The second and exogenous factor that has led to Red Pepper’s becoming an influential media in Uganda has been the mainstream media’s abandoning investigative journalism which would have differentiated it from the mushrooming sources of information under the wildfire of growing social media that gets cheaper and cheaper everyday. The people really have less reason to buy the mainstream newspapers which are no longer the primary source of news. Although the decline of investigative journalism is partly a global trend, in Uganda it has been a complete process. For instance, when a young MP died recently of apparent poisoning, the mainstream media was full of speculation and reports of all manner of claims by different relatives and political forces, but no journalist bothered to take even a minute to investigate the matter. The collapse of investigation in Uganda’s newsrooms has reached such absurd depths that journalists who report what goes on in Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee have been crowned stars for their ‘secretarial’ work, because there are no other heroes to recognize in the media. The unfortunate result is that the media can now only scream louder, using bigger headlines n reporting what others like the Auditor General and PAC have investigated. Inevitably, they have now moved towards sensation as the only way to appear different. It gets a bit embarrassing to see mainstream newspapers, trying to learn rather late in life, trick of sensationalizing a headline by putting some words in red colour. The take-over of supremacy over the newsrooms by bottom-line watching MBAs has led to the starving of editorial departments of resources to investigate. Moreover, investigative reporting also hurts both the state establishments and big business advertisers. So the CEOs who are judged by the profits they make rather than the societal change brought about by a crusading editorial are not about to prioritise funding
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For a while, Uganda Confidential newsletter took on a tabloid character after. But it lost the plot when its brand of tabloidism took a malicious tone, concentrating on naming which regime opponents had contracted HIV, whose ageing mother had wet her bed or which prominent person had had a romantic liaison with someone in high school. Then finally at the turn of the century the Red Pepper came with a mixture of bang and mystery. They got a veteran military general to launch the publication, and then used key sources names as bylines. A lead story could be labeled ‘By Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi’ for example. They also gave sex in full measure, publishing pictures of holidaying school kids messing up at beaches. And then as they turned their spotlight on politics, the Red Pepper took sensation to new heights with their “secrets leak” and “plots revealed”. Whenever a big national story broke, Red Pepper left the rest of the media to publish the obvious while for them they looked for the sexy, sensational angle to the story. The Red Pepper would of course not have survived and thrived had it not been a reflection of the society and times we live in. Its era coincides with the new era where
for investigative reporting. So under pressure to sell copies in such an atmosphere, the editors are left with little option but to ‘tabloidise’ their products.
The attempts to ‘outpepper the Red Pepper’ can sometimes look really sad. Recently, the usually moderate Observer run a screaming headline of ruling party heavyweights being under pressure to retire. But the entire story was so anti-climatic that it read like a clever and veiled advert for men like foreign minister Sam Kutesa, whom it said was being asked by family members to concentrate on his vast business empire…
when South Sudanese President John Garang died in his plane and Red Pepper sensationalized the incident, and instead castigated Daily Monitor for publishing minutes of an SPLM meeting when Garang was quarrelling with Salva Kir, has further consolidated this mystery image. The truth is that even the President treads carefully when handling Red Pepper, not being sure how they would react to an attack even from him. If the state thought they would use Red Pepper they way they used Uganda Confidential, they discovered too late that instead of the dog wagging the tail, it is now the tail wagging the dog. The own, institutional challenge now facing the Red Pepper is to continue strategically playing the underdog in a field where it is now the pace-setter. The wider national challenge the paper faces is to how to exercise its enormous power for the good of social progress, transparency, democratization and reform. The New Vision Group has not been a bad student. They have nurtured the growth of the country’s most successful tabloid media, the Luganda language Bukedde. By keeping clear of national politics, Bukedde newspaper is easily the most popular publication, though not as influential as Red Pepper. Bukedde concentrates on the bizarre like ritual murders, petty theft, and witchcraft. The Bukedde television goes a step further with its ‘dustless news’ Agataliiko Nfuufu.
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It now looks like a very long ago since the Red Pepper used to be sold under cover and respectable people used to read it hidden inside other newspapers. Today, people who used to fight Red Pepper are trying their damnedest to be its best friends. An example are the religious people. Pastor Martin Sempa, the Pentecostals’ supremo at Makerere University hill, actually dragged Red Pepper in its infancy to court over their ‘immorality’. Today, he loudly proclaims Red Pepper as the biggest ally and promoter of morality. This follows Red Pepper’s effortless flushing a wealthy homosexual who used so many football players out of the country. Yet Sempa and three other pastors had just been handed a criminal sentence by court for alleging homosexual abuse of boys by another pastor. Sempa and colleagues must be saying that if they had taken their fight to Red Pepper rather than other media institutions, their story would now be quite different.
The tabloids have created a whole new social class which is variously called ‘wannabes’, ‘socialites’, ‘celebs’ or simply ‘happening people’ and also includes what are called ‘corporates’. If it wasn’t for the tabloid culture for example, a simple hooker called Bad Black who was accused of stealing a huge sum of money from her British lover would never have become a national ‘celebrity’ who kept reporting her every action as she splashed money around town. Little wonder when she was released on bail from prison, life in Kampala was temporarily paralyzed as crowds came out to cheer her.
It is this raw power that Red Pepper has accumulated over the years which its editors and founders must decide to use judiciously. It has not been easy for Red Pepper. They have survived several attempts to shut them down, including outright arson when armed men tried to torch down their plant at Namanve. At one time, there was a plan by security operatives to mobilize ‘a hundred’ different ‘victims’ of Red Pepper to separately petition the statutory media council which would award a few million shillings to each and bring financial ruin to the paper. But Red Pepper fiery treatment of anybody who takes them to court killed the plot as the operatives could not get anybody to take Red Pepper to the council. It is hard to pinpoint when the balance of power tilted in favour of Red Pepper, but it had to do with their exploitation of mystery. By attacking the President of the Republic and getting away with it, Red Pepper left many convinced that they are part of the state security apparatus. The President’s own hesitation to condemn Red Pepper, even during his moment of devastation
It is no longer possible to imagine life in Uganda without the tabloids. If Red Pepper were to fold today, another similar tabloid using its formula would immediately spring to fill the vaccum, one which society cannot, according to the laws of nature, tolerate. There is also a potential for the tabloids to play a transformational role in society. This may or may not be their intention but they certainly have the potential. The example of Makerere’s Pastor Martin Sempa who set out to fight the Red Pepper’s explicit reportage of sexual malfeasances, but ended up as their staunchest supporter is a case in point. Sempa now lauds the Red Pepper as the most pro-people publication in Uganda. By the time of going to press, some ideas in this article had been over taken by events.
The Red Pepper was closed down for 11 days following the publication of a controversial letter allegedly written by an army general accusing the President of grooming his soldier son to succeed him.
CROWDSOURCING JOURNALISM B
Uganda Media Review 2013
y Denis Jjuuko
ne of the FM radio stations I listen to has a traffic update session on its flagship morning show programme. The traffic session is presented by a man who moves around on a motor cycle that the station bought mainly for this purpose. At one stage, the presenter in the studio calls him to give an update. The traffic presenter goes ahead to mention which places are clear of motor vehicles and which are not. It all sounds nice and innovative until you realise that the places mentioned are so many kilometres apart. With Kampala traffic, one street is clear now, two minutes later it is clogged and vice versa. This means that the presenter drives through these places and reports back 30 or more minutes later. How reliable is this information? Anybody who has lived in Kampala for a couple of weeks would know that this information given is not up to date.
On another day, I listen to another radio station and its presenter involves lots of his audience through Twitter. Those who are following the particular hashtag are mentioned sometimes. After each mention, you even see more Tweets from those mentioned and how they are enjoying the radio show. They continue to provide information on a given topic, make suggestions, and how to make it more fun.They have made that particular hashtag popular. A hashtag is a word or phrase prefixed with a symbol # that is used on microblogging sites especially Twitter to group messages together in a thread so that they are easily searchable for user to follow a particular topic . If we are to continue with radio, there is need to note that every time a listener calls into a programme, there is a chance that they are asking for a song or want to be more involved. However, usually, the listener is told this is not a radio song request programme. Tune in again in a couple of hours’ time when Presenter A comes in. Apparently, that is the only time you allowed to listen to what you want. Radio in Uganda is still stuck in the 1990s programming.
What could be the solution for media programmers given the two scenarios highlighted above? The answer is in the Twitter example, which in other words is known as crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees . Online in this case may mean anybody with a telephone line or could find their way to a place where they are needed to provide the service. Sometimes, media scholars who suffer from political correctness prefer to use the phrase User Generated Content instead of crowdsourcing but it all means the same thing. A programme manager for the radio stations with a traffic update mentioned above could use a crowdsourcing model where he/she doesn’t have to ensure that the listeners get information that is no longer necessary. The programme manager could save motor cycle expenses by simply opening the studio line where listeners could call in and give live updates. There is also a social media alternative, where listeners simply go to Twitter or Facebook and
make instant updates about the traffic situation as it is. Even though crowdsourcing as a way of gathering information existed long before the internet, the media has only recently come to recognise the possibilities and advantages it affords .The BBC, through its User Generated Content (UGC) was one of the first organisations to do so. Executives were initially sceptical about whether it was worth pursuing. However, shortly after a trial was launched, the 7/7 London bombings (July 2005) took place and the BBC was flooded with videos and photos taken by people at the scenes. This marked a watershed moment for the BBC and the UGC remains a permanent feature of its operations .
neighborhoods. It allows, and encourages, regular citizens to submit stories, photos and videos related to any breaking news . But the first time this became a major issue was with the Asian Tsunami of 2004 and the London bombings in July the following year. It is now common practice by international media outlets to request people in particular locations where news is breaking to supply them with stories and images.
HOW TO APPROACH CROWDSOURCING Hemida (2011) identifies three broad layers that lead to crowdsourcing in journalism. The first one is general observation. “This involves collecting data from people about things they come across in their daily life, and then aggregate the information. The news organization is tapping into the eyes and ears of its audience,” Hamida (2011) argues. It is not uncommon to find media houses asking audiences to send in images of things that interest them. The Grocotts Mail, South Africa’s oldest newspaper has a newsroom where residents of the small town, Grahamstown, where it operates turn up and write their own stories.The newsroom equipped with 10 computers and portals for easy download of photos from cell phones is not used by other journalists employed by the Mail. This newsroom, the first of its kind in Africa, is dedicated to crowdsourcing. Bukedde TV’s AgataliikoNfufu is another example, where anybody with a camera can send in human interest but most times bizarre footage that makes it into the bulletin. The second layer, according to Hemida (2011), is breaking news. “In this case, newsrooms ask audiences to send in their photos, video or eyewitness accounts, usually in cases of breaking news.” CNN International’s iReport comes to mind. iReport is an initiative that allows people from around the globe to contribute pictures and video of breaking news stories from their own towns and
The last layer as advanced by Hemida (2011) is investigative journalism. This approach allows a journalist to “enlist the help of readers analyse information, crunch numbers or pore over documents. The tasks of sifting through piles of documents is divided among the audience. The journalist’s role is to collate and analyse the findings.” Media houses turned to their audiences to find out what was in documents that were being released by Wikileaks. Media houses openly encouraged their audiences to review these documents. The UK newspaper, The Guardian, adopted a similar approach with the scandal involving the expenses of Members of Parliament. It posted 458,832 pages of documents. After the exercise, The Guardian wrote the following on their website: Many thanks to all those readers who contributed to our crowdsourcing exercise on the release of MPs’ expenses last week. Here we publish a consolidated list of the best finds from a team of 20 Guardian reporters and several hundred readers – an A-Z guide to MPs’ expenses claims for their second homes from April 2008-June 2009 (The Guardian, 2009). This approach to crowdsourcing exposed journalists to information that they could not have been able to do themselves had they not sought for public help. How many journalists would The Guardian have to employ to review almost half a million pages of documents? HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY BENEFIT FROM CROWDSOURCING IN JOURNALISM You need to study your audience and know how they get involved,
what information they need, and how they usually share it. How engaged are they? Do they trust you with their information? If the answer to all those questions is yes, then you are ready to succeed in crowdsourcing. Steve Buttry (2011) argues that “crowdsourcing works best when the crowd is listening to you and trusts you with its information. Don’t expect that you are going to get much response to a crowdsourcing request on Twitter if you have only 100 followers and most of them are journalists and friends.” If you are not conversational in your newspaper column, people may not return the favour. Be mindful to the fact that crowdsourcing in journalism is usually related to Web2.0 technologies. Being in Uganda, there is need to unpack this and include other technologies like phone calls and text messaging. Or any other thing that somebody can use to reach you. If you have access to Web2.0 platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, the better. What you should also know that not a single shot approach will work. You need to be on so many platforms so that nobody feels left out. In an article published on Journalism.co.ug, a popular website for journalism information in Uganda, I challenged media owners why none of them has a Skype address that people can use to call into their studios yet so many of their audiences are always Skyping. There is another popular application called Whatsapp that a lot of Ugandans are using to text each other. You hear no media house asking their audience to use this particular platform to text in. Most media houses publish tips and ideas on all sorts of issues. It maybe business, health, sport, or insurance. The common trend in Uganda is to publish what a journalist could easily find through Google Search. A lot of times, that information may be tailored to a different market. Check our newspapers and you will see exercising and dieting tips that may not be appropriate to our situations. However, this can be crowd sourced where people can share what has worked for them and what hasn’t. IS THE INFORMATION GIVEN FACTUAL? Crowdsourcing is the same as any form that journalists may get information from. If you receive a phone call from a Member of Parliament giving you
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an audit report of a certain ministry, you have to still verify if the report is not forged. It is the same with crowd sourced journalism. Buttry (2011) writes thus: Crowdsourcing is an essential place to ask the most important question in journalism: How do you know that? Especially in investigative or sensitive stories, you can’t crowdsource yourself into publishing rumours and false stories. Out of malice and misinformation, people will pass along information to you that is false.
One way through which journalists can verify information is by’retweeting’ what has not been confirmed by asking questions so that facts can be nailed down. If you tweet asking whether a Police Station has been attacked in Entebbe, those in that area will confirm or not as they are on the ground. If the Minister of Health says health centres in county A have been stocked with drugs, you can find that out by people asking those at the scene whether it is true.
However, verification can be very hard to do, which is the most significant drawback in this process. David Clinch,
who left CNN’s International Desk after more than 20 years to help launch Storyful, “the first news agency of the social media age,” says verification is now very important because of the unprecedented volume of content and real-time information available online. News organisations have a responsibility to ensure the accuracy of what they use “because if that line between reliable media and unreliable media is eroded any further then nobody will trust anything” he said (Clinch in Hemida, 2011). However, verification should not be an issue that stops media houses from using this engaging alternative in finding this information. Audience engagement is one of the most important ways through which media houses can stay relevant with their audiences as opposed to giving them what editors think is wanted. The top down model, from editor to audience, worked in the 1990s. What works now, like we have seen with CNN’s iReport or BBC’s User Generated Content hub, is the ability to use horizontal communication approaches that turn an audience form a passive one to a participatory one.
REFERENCES Buttry, S (2011). The Buttry Diary. Retrieved on February 27, 2013 from http://stevebuttry.wordpress. com/2011/06/06/tips-oncrowdsourcing-news-feature-andinvestigative-stories/ Grocott’s Mail Citizen Journalism Newsroom. Retrieved on February 28, 2013 fromhttp://www.grocotts. co.za/cjnr Hemida, A. 2011.The Impact of Crowdsourcing on Journalism. Retrieved on March 1, 2013 from http://www.reportr. net/2010/10/15/impactcrowdsourcing-journalism/ Jjuuko, D. 2013. Uganda Media Wish list for 2013.Journalism Uganda. Retrieved on March 1, 2013 from http://www.journalism.co.ug/ uganda-media-wish-list-for-2013/
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The Guardian, 2009.MPs’ expenses – what you’ve discovered.Retrieved on March 5, 2013 from http://www. guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/ dec/16/mps-expenses-what-welearned
Traditional Media institutions
including newspapers, television and radio stations are increasingly appreciating the importance of New Media tools in creating, producing, distributing and sharing content, and ultimately reaching out to and engaging a bigger audience. Many media houses in Uganda have set up online and mobile platforms to generate and distribute content. From websites to sms, joining and being active in social media platforms and web based mobile applications; some traditional media outlets are trying what they can to achieve better audience influence and revenue success in the new media age.
But the technology enabled new media tools and platforms that media houses are utilizing are also open to anyone. We see many individuals and groups setting up their own blogs, websites, platforms, social media presence and mobile applications to better reach community members. Some of those who used to communicate solely through the media now have alternative direct channels to reach out to members of the public. This means traditional media are not only competing with their usual suspects- the
10 TOP FRONTIERS FOR NEW MEDIA COMPETITION
By Gerald Businge
established media outlets, but many players, some of whom are not easy to define or categorize, and some the ones they target for revenue generation. The fact that internet and mobile are multimedia- can carry text, video, audio, photo, graphics and all nature of visualizations has presented an interesting spectrum for content competition on these platforms. Whoever the competition is, and whatever the tools you decide to deploy, here are the 12 frontiers I think you need to excel at in order to compete better in new media led journalism and communications.
1. USER FRIENDLY PLATFORM Whichever platform or application you decide to deploy or utilize online and or mobile, it is good to ensure a user friendly and easily navigable interface. Your websites and applications need to be made with the best interest of the user in mind so finding the content the user wants or what you want the user to consume is easy. User friendly designs and menus will go a long way to help your targets consume news and information easily, and consider you ahead of the other many similar websites and applications available. Remember alternatives are always a click or press away. Good functional design needs also to ensure easy search for content on your website of application, in addition to good visual display.
relationship seekers, admissions, marks etc can be uploaded by those availing it directly if you put up the platform for them to do so. Those job, directories and product listing platforms are easy to design and automate for public submissions, while the integration with social networks and personal effort of those publishing them and needing to share them will build you an audience you can market. You could take it a north further to even provide custom social networks or offer free websites as we do at www. thecatholicsnetwork.com and www.newinformers. com respectively.
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2. CONTENT: More people are taking to digital tools and platforms to meet their information entertainment and education needs. Just like in traditional media channels, you need great content, the quality and quantity of which will make people come and keep coming to your platforms. The content you are offering on your online and mobile platforms is better useful, appealing and in the best possible media (text, audio, video, photo, graphics, etc). Internet and mobile devices are multimedia platforms and you have a chance to provide your content in different media as is relevant for particular content so you ensure better usability, understanding and appreciation of messages. Beyond editorial content, you might want to consider carrying other content (information) from those that want to use your platforms to reach a wider audience. Many businesses, donors, civil society organizations and some individuals have lots of content that you could run, whether it supports their agenda than public interest concerns. The success of supplements for print media and self produced documentaries can be reincarnated online. Presenting such content with value addition like linking, producing and packaging multimedia content will ensure more success not just with more people interested, but with your finances as well. 3. BUILDING PLATFORMS Having emphasized the importance of content, it doesn’t mean all content has to be produced and published by you. Some of the most demanded information online like jobs, scholarships, events,
4. PRODUCTS AND SERVICES Just producing content in the “to who it may concern” form that most news and information is produced in traditional media might not cut it for you online. Just writing what has happened where, who is involved in what or what a new trend is widely noticeable will not make functional sense to many online visitors, as an extended compilation and packaging if all helpful information on the topic at hand. I’m talking about making that content real products of functional services and products that people will be interested in consuming and sharing. Turning those stories on inflation, university cut off points or disease outbreaks into visualized trends of different product prices, compilation on interest rates by different banks, profile of university course across universities and admission requirements or facts on causes, symptoms and treatment of a particular disease –will make your content more useful than simple snippets of the latest developments or commentaries by the who is who.
In new media, we believe in and tap the power of others in the news and information cycle. There are many people out there more knowledgeable about some topics than we are as journalists or more varied views than moderated commentators can bring forth. There are also people wanting to sell their goods and services, make announcements affordably just as there are many people who daily need such functional information. Look at people’s information needs in health, education, entertainment, business, agriculture and build specific platforms for to access or contribute information and news.
Remember unlike traditional media where news and information hits (finds) people assumed to be tuned into a particular radio or tv, or reading a particular newspaper, people hit (find) the information they want in new media platforms, or at the very least want to know as more on the topic of interest when they find a recent development on a particular topic. Participation The more you involve people in the creation, production and sharing of content on your online and mobile platforms the more you will achieve better content and mileage. We are not talking about just enabling people to comment (it is good also) but genuine involvement of people in writing, production and sharing of your content. Building new content from crowd sourcing, curating, or expert/interest
5. MOBILE INTEGRATION Mobile is key to any communication strategy today. Many of the people who question the feasibility of more efforts in targeting communication online mention the “not so impressive numbers” of people who access internet in Uganda. The 2011 Uganda Communication Commission report put the number of people accessing the internet in Uganda at about 4.4million people. Without emphasizing that even that is impressive when you compare newspaper, radio or tv access figures, remember that those accessing internet on their mobile phones and other mobile gadgets are not included in that number. With more than 12 million active mobile phone subscribers and the majority of phones including those as cheap as 40,000/= (fourty thousand shillings) enabling internet access, there is huge potential of reaching more people with your digital content if it is optimized for online and mobile access. Whether you need a mobile application or a mobile phone friendly platform (especially websites), or to produce content specifically targeted at mobile devices (phones, ipads, e-readers, ipods etc) ensuring mobile access of your digital content is a key strategy in new media success. From sms, services like games, directions, exchange rates, etc there are custom value added products and or services you can offer to people via mobile to meet their functional information needs. 6. SOCIAL NETWORK STRATEGY
based comment on topical issues are all practical strategies for content and audience success.
7. MULTI SKILLED WORKERS Every time we talk about media houses should do this to tap digital platforms, do multimedia content and distribute it online and mobile, it is almost assumed this is easy to do because some tool has been designed. At the end of the day, a media organisation needs real human workers who are multi-skilled and enthusiastic about the content and the particular tools. Such professionals are not easy to come by in Uganda (and even in many developed countries) as many practitioners in journalism and communication were trained to focus message reach out through traditional media channels (tv, radio, newspapers). It is a challenge that media houses that want success in new media should continuously rise to. But will you retrain their staff in these new media tools, get information technology trainees (these are many) or recruit and offer specialized digital journalism training to a new breed of informers who understand that multi platform nature of today’s information cycle? 8. PARTNERSHIPS So if success in new media requires new skills that are currently not readily available, more investment in innovations and maintaining platforms, where does the money come from when new media is challenging the advertising revenue stronghold of the traditional media? Partnerships can help. In the traditional media business, content is generated and distributed independently (assumed) with perceived public interest the key focus. A lot of this thinking will be carried online and mobile, but doing the kind of stories (projects) that are good for people on these platforms might need much more effort than most media houses are able or willing to invest in.
But as I have emphasized before, just setting up accounts and engaging on the popular social media networks is not enough strategy to tap the power of social media. Since we know from research that most media effects take place at the social level, and that many people get to learn what they do from others, all media should indeed be social. You can take this to mean ensuring your content on the particular platform or application is sharable. Yes. But, I’m talking about setting up custom social media networks to enable more specific and especially professional groups in your community (ies) to interact, network and share at a social level. It is not difficult to design and run a custom optimized social network say targeting Baganda, Acholi, Bagisu or professional groups like engineers, doctors, teachers –to enable them communicate and share about their specific issues more effectively than they would in the bigger crowd of facebook for example.
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Many media houses and journalists have made efforts to be active in social media, but a clear strategy will determine whether you archive good results. It is good many more people are realizing the importance of social media networks like Facebook or twitter that is where many people are spending their time, conversations are going on there. But opening up accounts on social media networks is not enough. You need to continuously communicate there and engage your followers there in active conversation to get the best out of them and tapping their extended sharing of your content.
Success is about meeting goals or interests, and there are many organizations who share some of the goals and interests we want to achieve through new media. Just like the advertising helped you dearly in the traditional media channel, partnerships where there are there other interests you help propagate in return for investment into your efforts might be the key difference between you and the competition. From companies, government bodies, donors, civil society organizations, there are possibilities
9. LIVE COVERAGE One of the key advantages of online and mobile is the ability to do timely reporting or communication of messages. But it is Live coverage especially of events, occasions and key developments that will set you apart from the other competition. There are many tools, free and paid for that enable you to do smart live coverage of text, audio or video and livecast on your website, application or even integrate with social media. Live is better and as anyone gets the power to report, more, multimedia and comprehensive live reporting will give you an extra edge beyond the many that are just aggregating or reporting from other online reports.
of tapping finances to generate the kind of multimedia content for online and mobile. Companies like The New Vision who last year partnered with WaterAid to cover more sanitation related stories, started a fundraising campaign for the Uganda Cranes, and more recently the Coca Cola sponsored music starsare showing us you can get some goals met through key partnerships. Of course The New Vision is focusing their strategy on their strong traditional media channels but similar efforts targeting online and mobile might give more vantage. If you want to do that tool to cross check facts automatically, interactive map of UNEB results, health centers and available health workers, data visualization, advanced mapping, programming to display key data and facts or providing interactively weaved restaurants in the country, such platforms might need funding more than you can invest, but there may be organizations interested in these same goals who can invest cash or expertise.
CONCLUSION You need strategies that will enable you to get more content, better multimedia content, more people to consume and share this content so you get the page views and exposure you can sell to your advertising prospects or partners. This will however come at some good level of investment in the right staff and team as well as the secure platforms to enable continuously provision of relevant content when it is ready for distribution or later on demand. Having focused on technology enabled new media platforms and applications, it might be assumed that a success in new media online is exclusive of traditional media success. Those who are already running successful traditional media outlets are more likely to be successful in new media if they adopt a new media mindset. They can have better convergence advantages of their multiplatform abilities, availing content with each media supporting the other. Most new media products online and mobile will need to be promoted in traditional media channels for them to do well, just like some advertisers are still stuck on spending their money on traditional media. While new media platforms and applications are clearly a better way to deliver, access and share news and information when you publish or later on demand, you can utilize your old media channel to grow your new media products and services, and hopefully vice versa. REFERENCES Kluth ,Andreas. Among the audience. The Economist. April 2006 http://www.economist.com/node/6794156?story_ id=6794156 Accessed on January 12, 2013 Nick Davies, Avoiding the flat news http://www. flatearthnews.net/ Accessed on January 12, 2013 David All (2010) How Traditional Media Can thrive Online http://pjmedia.com/blog/how-traditional-media-canthrive-online/ Accessed on January 12, 2013 Gerald Businge (2010) Africa Media should think Seriously of Online and Mobile, http://www.weinformers. net/2010/05/26/african-media-houses-online-mobile/ Accessed on March 12, 2013 Gerald Businge (2010) Will Traditional Media survive Online? http://www.weinformers.net/2010/03/27/
sponsorship, games, competitions, selling special products and services, and several freemiums?
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10. BIG DATA AND VISUALIZATIONS One other key area to differentiate yourself from the competition is to present, analyse and visualize big data. A lot of research has been and is still being done on trends, demographics as relates to different issues and products in our communities. Media houses need to take data seriously in order to provide value added content and fact based stories. Big data underpins waves of productivity, consumer behavior and demographics that support the work of other organizations and individuals who daily look to the media for such key information. While this data and recommendations or lessons from therein can be reported about in traditional media, new media presents new possibilities to interactively visualize the data and present it in beautiful and functional ways that many people will continuously appreciate. 11. MIX OF REVENUE MODELS Now, the bottom line of all these efforts online and mobile is to make money. At least for most. But how are you planning to get return (revenue) for your efforts online and mobile? Are you going to depend on garnering more users and charge for display advertising, subscriptions, e-publications, metered paywalls , circulation and usage of apps, or you will explore further into new ground like directories and listing services, coupons services, content
John Leckenby (2010) The Interaction of Traditional and New media. University of Texas. Austin Lazarsfield Paul et al (1994) Mass Media and Society. New York: The Free Press Uganda Communications Commission, 2010, Mobile Telecommunications Report , Government of Uganda
Uganda Population and Housing Census Report, 2012, Uganda Bureau of Standards, Government f Uganda.
M E D I A MANAGEMENT
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MEDIA OWNERS AND MANAGERS MUST STAND UP TO BE COUNTED
LYNN NAJJEMBA, drawing from her newsroom experience and lessons from the field where she trains for Panos East Africa, makes the case that media managers and owners need to support noble media causes, and also to manage media as profitable businesses. Media ownership and management are the real challenges we have to confront in the quest for media freedom, independence and credibility.
The word evolution in the online dictionary is technically defined as a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form. Others define evolution as a series of changes over a period of time, resulting in something new arising. With reference to these two definitions one of the questions that one would pose about the media in Uganda is whether it has evolved into something more complex or better? When you toss this question around, you will certainly get mixed reactions but many will surely be of the view that the media in Uganda is in better. The debate then would be about the extent to which the media has gotten better. Proponents of this school of thought base their arguments on numbers of newspapers,, radio and television stations. The internet and new media outlets have contributed to the expansion of media space. And with internet based media growing especially new media, this is indeed a milestone compared to what the situation was more than two decades ago when state owned media enjoyed the monopoly. Now we have the numbers (multiple media platforms or outlets) meaning more voices and issues are getting space in the respective media a real stride towards entrenching freedom of expression and improving access to information for all. However the challenge is to protect this space, ensure that ‘’the unheard or unreached voices’’ are brought out and the ‘’left out issues’’ are given more space in media. But how do we achieve this without reflecting on the movers of
things, those people that relentlessly work to amplify these voices and issues against all odds? So who should be concerned about their safety and security, proper work environment? Whose docket is it to protect their rights at all costs, to ensure their professional growth?
Owners, managers and media freedom
There have been several attempts to protect media space, freedom and rights of individual journalist basing on Article 29 of the Ugandan Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech and expression. Indeed the media fraternity has scored some major victories such as the scrapping of the offence on Publishing False News and the August 2010 Constitutional Court ruling which nullified the law on Sedition. One would however expect that because these offences negatively impacted on media generally and the practice of journalism, investors or key stakeholders in the sector (media owners and managers) just like individual practitioners would take keen interest, galvanize their resources and throw their weight behind the lead petitioners to present strong cases. This was not to be the case.. Media owners and managers have have not been neither visible enough, nor even audible in times of need when journalist braved the wrath of the state, or the long arduous court battles. Perhaps only the Daily Monitor has been the exception. When Andrew Mwenda, and The East African Media Institute successfully challenged the law on sedition, entire fraternity jumped into celebratory mood. The Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ) –a new media rights lobby, laments this aloofness from media managers and owners. HRNJ coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala recounts with sadness the times the organisation has had to abandon investigations of abused journalists simply because a media house or journalist is either not interested in challenging the state, has been compromised or lives in fear of losing source of employment or advertising revenue. Two most significant cases come to mind. The first in 2008, when two WBS TV journalists who were assaulted by police officers and their dogs while on duty at Namboole stadium to report on the state of the stadium after over 4,000 police personnel who had been living there were ordered out. ‘’in the initial stages of gathering evidence to push forward our case, we approached management of WBS TV for buy in, in principle they were in support of our move to go to court but subsequent attempts to have them on board yielded to nothing. Even when we eventually won the case of course employing our own legal team and resources, not even a call from management or ownership of the station to congratulate and thank us for a job well done, was forth coming’’.
who had initially wanted to be witnessed chickened out. And the media managers and owners? They were unbothered about challenging these excessive powers of the Broadcasting Council,. Where a government is involved, this is a no go area for media owners and managers, their interest is to stay in business, ‘’ Ssebaggala says.
The bottom line is that those who own and manage media business must stand up to all challenges of the time; must defend the business and its journalists in the face of danger; and must act to grow the business, including professional development of its journalists. Media owners and managers so far have to a large extent not been there for their journalists in time of need. Also related is the failure by media owners, and sometimes managers to stand up to undemocratic and draconian measures by the Broadcasting Council, now overtaken by the Uganda Communications Commission. When the Broadcasting Council banned popular open air political talk shows (ebimeeza), it took a political activist and regular contributor on Talk shows and ebimeeza to petition court challenging the government ban. This is despite the fact that talk shows brought in a lot of money in advertising and naturally, owners of the business should have taken lead in challenging undemocratic practices. Indeed in upcountry stations, it is common for district commissioners to stop radio stations from hosting opposition politicians. When this happens, owners of these radio stations do not challenge the orders even when the opposition politicians have paid for the airtime. We can look elsewhere for lessons. In the United States, with media that are almost exclusively in private hands, organizes direct access by political parties to the media by means of paid advertising. Countries like Britain and Denmark, with a stronger tradition of public ownership of the media, do not allow paid political advertising at all, but instead have a system of free direct access broadcasts.’’ . In neighboring Kenya media owners recently set a precedent when in the final weeks of the 2013 presidential campaigns, galvanized their power and resources, through their umbrella association to organize a powerful presidential debate. They put aside industry competition to promote a just national cause and to provide free airtime to all political parties. Investing in building a credible media brand and product At the heart of credibility is quality, depth of content and innovation, but these too are dependent on investment and re-investment in media. Still taking the Kenyan elections as example, media set the bar high, not only coming up with innovative products that kept the whole region tuned but made some serious investments both in equipment, latest software, and staff that ensured, they delivered a good product. From satellite news gathering, use of helicopters to facilitate mobility, animated graphics for content analysis, to state of the art broadcast equipment coupled with highly trained, skilled, confident and eloquent teams of presenters, this was certainly no mean investment in media. Back home, just how much have we taken such crucial processes like Elections
Uganda Media Review 2013
Then in 2009 after the Buganda riots during which five radio stations were closed down and prominent broadcasters banned for alleged incitement, we decided to go to court to challenge these excesses. All but two journalists
important events that require adequate investment (equipment, skilled human resource, qualitative and comprehensive research on audience preferences). The best a media owner or manager can invest to get a good story would be a small token for transport where a reporter will be expected to use public means, some media houses have invested in motorcycles or vans while others have shamelessly left this to the news makers or event organizers. We have reporters being commissioned without basic necessities like recorders let alone batteries to power them, no allowance for lunch regardless of how long a reporter is going to be out there in the field. At the height of the ‘Walk to Work’ protests, editors found it difficult to deploy reportes, as they increasingly b e c a m e targets of both uniformed and plain-clothed Robert Kabushenga security officers and some proCEO, Vision Group government mobs.. Media owners not invested in anti-riot protective gear for reporters. Many were injured in the in the line of duty. In journalism schools we are taught that ‘a journalist should always live to tell the next story’ but in given the current state of affairs, that seem a far cry. Jimmy Okello-Director Radio Apac says, ‘’many media owners, marketers and managers are comfortable selling things like geographical coverage, power of their transmitters and the latest music to potential advertisers and not quality content and highly skilled teams’’. Towards the end of 2011, Panos Eastern Africa(PEA) conducted a mini- research on management of rural radio in Uganda which re-affirms what Okello puts across. Panos found that most radio stations do not have product development committees to generate new program ideas, new audiences and potential advertisers, no assessment of viability of existing programs in terms of content, listenership and revenue potential – some media houses have actually maintained the same program formats, program on-air names, presentation styles and personalities right from inception. The PEA research also found one common practice especially with rural radio-cloning programs on urban media without study of their relevance, appeal to rural communities or audiences and their potential to attract advertisers to local media.
whom it exists to serve. Investment in the real things that can deliver us a good story or program of public interest is often subjected to financial considerations like, ‘what will be the return on this investment?’ In the final weeks of the 2013 presidential campaigns, Kenyan media owners through their association took a step to galvanize their power and resources to organize what has turned out to be the most powerful Presidential Debate in the region and perhaps on the continent. The two debates were to set the agenda both in media and among the general public till the final day of voting.
Uganda Media Review 2013
Now, while Kenyan media owners unite for such causes, any such attempts in Ugandan have largely been around advertising and the political environment for doing business. In June 2011 for instance, media owners (TV, Radio and Newspapers publishers) under the umbrella UMOA signed an memorandum of understanding with the advertisers’ association with advertisers to put in place an organized ‘’system of doing business’’ after the latter failed on several occasion to make good on their commitments . Even in situations where such effort have paid off and allowed media owners to reap big, less of the revenue has been ploughed back into more important aspects such as investigative journalism to bring out real stories that can set the agenda and build a credible brand. So journalists have resorted to doing things the simple way. Wait for a story to break then do follow up. Media will report in-depth on an issue like child sacrifice after a mob in certain village has ganged up and burnt down the house of a suspected witch doctor or sorcerer. Child trafficking will make its way in the news after an MP has spoken about it or police has burst a racket of traffickers. For instance how is it possible that to date no media house has been able to dig deep and bring us the real story or persons behind the trafficking of Karimojong children onto the streets of Kampala? ‘’Why are investigations like these not of interest to us as media?’’ It is important to start looking critically into the issue of who should be allowed to own and run a media house. Not everybody who can run to a bank secure a loan to buy equipment, use their business acumen or political influence, should be allowed to start up a media house. At the risk of stifling opportunities for local entrepreneurship, I strongly believe that a set of conditions and benchmarks that must be fulfilled before licences are given to own and operate a media house, especially radio. Applicants for licence should convince the UCC of the business plan, societal responsibilities and the public interest, staffing plans and ability to pay staff, and equipment in relation to type of licence required. It is my view that it is selfish to make media business benefit the owner alone, and leaving the staff in perpetual servitude. We need to start somewhere to address issues of corporate governance in media houses. But as long Information is just a department and no longer a fully fledged ministry, locating the point of departure might take a while.
Media ownership and the agenda setting role.
At the disposal of media is power to ‘’set agenda’’ and influence society, but how has media in Uganda used this power and resources to set the agenda? Whose agenda are we setting anyway? As earlier discussed here political ownership and advertiser-interests are increasingly influencing the agenda setting role of media. Media now pays more allegiance to the above actors than the public
F D M U S T C E J O R P
Sylvia Nankya Project Officer
The Project Consolidating peace Journalism in Uganda is a partnership between Uganda Media Development Foundation and Bread for the World an association of protestant churches in Germany based in Bonn). Started in 2009, the project runs to 2013.
Uganda Media Review 2013
Peace Journalism Project
The project design includes regional trainings of media practitioners and church media people. It sensitizes radio managers and engages with opinion leaders to appreciate and promote peace journalism. In each region, we run two model radio stations which get on-location mentoring visits. UMDF has successfully conducted Mentoring visits to the model radio stations, for practitioners who previously participated in the Peace Journalism training interventions conducted by UMDF. The participant media stations were visited with a view to establishing the extent to which Peace Journalism initiatives had been mainstreamed into the programming and management ethos at the respective stations. During the visits, UMDF reviews the progress in application of CSJ skills amongst the practitioners, through lectures, field work, script writing and editing. The project has supported production of conflict sensitive programmes in the following Model radio stations across the country. Radio Pacis, Arua, Rainbow FM, Nebbi; Radio Paidha, Zombo; Luo FM, Pader; Radio WA, Lira; Life FM, Fort Portal; Voice of Tooro, Fort Portal; Kasese Guide Radio; Step FM, Mbale; Voice of Teso, Soroti; Kyoga Veritas Radio-Soroti The project also supported a series of community dialogues, Editors workshops in Kampala, Rwenzori West Nile, Northern and Eastern Uganda.
It promotes a conflict sensitive approach to news coverage and programming. The approach was developed against the thinking that conventional media tend to play a negative role in terms of increasing tensions between and among the many sides of a conflict.
The Project advocates that Media Practitioners take a more active role in finding solutions to conflict through their daily Journalistic work. It also promotes the positive development of societies recovering from conflict through training Journalists on choices of stories, how they report issues and use of appropriate language without compromising the principles of good journalism.
Peace Journalism therefore encourages Journalists and media institutions to review themselves and their practices to produce information that addresses the full array of political, ethnic, social and cultural injustices. It is characterized by balanced reporting at an emotional distance, presenting a broad multifaceted view of a conflict and rejecting entertainment and partisan interests. The main objective of this project is to foster the development of media practitioners to promote peace in their regions, encourage citizens to participate in peace initiatives and create synergy between the media and their communities. Though the project, UMDF is building skills among journalists to use conflict sensitive approaches in programming and reporting, to give a voice to the victims of conflict instead of focusing on official sources and the people with authority.
These interfaces were designed not only to foster editorial buy-in for the furtherance of Peace Journalism reporting but also to emphasize the importance of the media participating in conflict resolution by promoting an inclusive approach in programming.
The project has created networking linkages among the journalists and church media people. It has sensitized media managers about the concept and general management principles that would make media institutions successful.
ACTION FOR TRANSPARENCY
Project 2012 – 2015
MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY
ganda Media Development Foundation (UMDF) is a registered media NGO founded to enhance the capacity of media practitioners to play an active and meaningful role in the realization of democracy, human rights observance, and development.
Uganda Media Review 2013
Project Manager: Sylvia Nankya Project Assistant: Rita Naggayi Ssimbwa
Project Officer: Prossy Sheila Kawala
Project Coordinator: Mathias Mulumba Mayombwe
This is a three year project implemented by Uganda Media Development Foundation in collaboration with the FOJO Media Institute in Sweden and Transparency International Uganda. The project named “Action for Transparency” challenges the public to break the culture of silence by reporting corruption in health and education sectors service delivery. The project aims at developing innovative and catalytic tools and methods to strengthen journalists, human rights activists and citizens in their capacity to fight corruption, demanding enhanced democratization and freedom of expression and their human rights to education and health care. The project is funded by Swedish agency for development, Sida and is implemented in the districts of Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso as pilot areas. Specific project objectives include: To strengthen capacity among journalists and human rights activists to access, assess and communicate information about government budgets and spending and capture of government funds.
The benchmark for the Media and Democracy project implemented in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung is embedded in the founding principle that a society that cherishes democratic ideals needs an independent, pluralistic, free and informed media to act as a platform for democratic discourse among its citizens. Our activities enable Journalists to report competently and professionally on good governance issues. This feeds into KAS’s goal of having a media that is aware of its role in a democratic society. The Media and Democracy project activities are also in line with KAS’s aim of ensuring media follow up political actors, especially at the district level, raise citizen awareness to challenge them on their roles and responsibilities in the promotion of pluralism, and demand for better democratic participation and representation. This project has trained journalists in various areas including media and elections, corruption, environment, human rights, information technology and good governance among others. Trainings have targeted journalists through their associations in Parliament, Courts and in regions. Training have so far been conducted in Mityana, Kabale, Soroti and Masindi in coverage of local governments.
To develop innovative and catalytic tools and methods to facilitate for journalists, human rights organizations and citizens to monitor capture of government funds allocated for schools and health care centers. To stimulate journalists, human rights activists and citizens to report corruption and capture of funds to authorities, media and the public.
Public Dialogues: A series of public dialogues are tagged to the regional trainings across the country. These public dialogues provide a live platform for media to engage government. Publications: Part of the project activities is the publication of the Uganda Media Review Journal. UMDF published a study focusing on media freedom over five decades of independence. It sought articles that not only offer reflective insights into the role played by the media in Uganda’s 50 years but also provides fresh and innovative proposals for Uganda Media governance future. Networking: We have held a series of Network meetings with UMDF members and other media consultants mainly to interact and review knowledge and experiences about topical thematic interventions, critique, Monitor and assess impact, advocate for organisation interventions on media development. The last network meeting was held in January 2013.
To decrease capture of government funds designated to schools and health care centers.
In General, ‘Action for Transparency’ aims to develop innovative and catalytic tools and methods in such a way that they can be used in other countries and sectors, thus providing a possibility to improve conditions and increasing opportunities for actors for change all over the world.
a e y p a S D o t m e o f a d ree at S F s s e r P World
F k r a D m o t M e U k public dialogu
Uganda Media Review 2013
Dan Travis, Public Affairs Officer at US Embassy gives keynote address. 3 4
Getting ready for the day
Munira Ali, (Extreme Left) Communication Officer at the Inspectorate of Government and other participants check out the exhibition stands
Dan Travis stresses a point
Kalundi Serumaga, (in white shirt) was an effective moderator
Uganda Media Review 2013
A cross section of journalists and well wishers that turned up
Rosemary Kemigisha, Editor at the Uganda Human Rights Commission presenting a paper.
Yusuf Kiranda, representing the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, underscores the sanctity of media freedoms.
One of the murals exhibited tells of endless battles for media freedom
Uganda Media Review 2013
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