Uganda: Security Abuses Killing Journalism - Scholars

Media scholars and the industry practitioners yesterday singled out security interferences and commercial interests as new threats eroding quality journalism and Uganda's development.

Speaking at Makerere University's Annual Media Convention, which coincided with World Press Freedom celebrations, Dr Busingye Kabumba, a Makerere University law don, said 'security' is being covertly used to suppress dissenting voices while corporate sponsorships influence media content.

"The media in Uganda faces militarism covertly and the role of money and corporate sponsorships determines what the press says and what it does not say. When you have businessmen and politicians owning media houses, chances of getting the truth are very minimal," he said.

Physical assaults of journalists in the line of duty, particularly by soldiers and police, dominated discussions at yesterday's event organised by Makerere University's Department of Journalism and Communication and held on the campus.

While presenting a paper on Journalists' safety and security in the wake of Covid-19, Mr Tabu Butagira, the Daily Monitor Managing Editor, Content, decried poor working conditions of journalists marked by low pay, lack of medical insurance and psycho-social support, limited job security and exploitation.

"It is imperative that media owners take full responsibility for the welfare of the people they employ. Journalism should not be looked at only as a business," he said.

Mr Butagira argued that professional hazards encountered by journalists signal a decay in the country's governance, unpunished impunity and radicalised and militarised politics breeding intolerence.

Dr Aisha Nakiwala, the head of Department of Journalism and Communication, urged media houses to address the unique challenges that female journalists face while covering political contestations.

Asked what government is doing to protect the quality of journalism and journalists in the country, Information Minister Judith Nabakooba said they are carrying out consultations to reform antiquated media laws and improve industry standards.

Makerere initiated the Annual Media Convention to bring together media practitioners, experts and scholars to discuss issues affecting journalism.

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