Turn to what influences journalism in Uganda today

Turn to what influences journalism in Uganda today
Aldon Walukamba, is a Media Consultant and Communications Manager at Kinyara Sugar Limited.

Summary:

  • Professionalism serves as the foundation of ethical journalism, emphasising accuracy, impartiality, and accountability. However, in Uganda, the level of professionalism within the journalism sector varies widely.

As we commemorate World Press Freedom Day in 2024, it’s essential to reflect on how professionalism, political parallelism, media markets, and the state influence journalism in Uganda today.

These factors intersect to shape the media landscape, impacting the quality of reporting, the diversity of perspectives, and the overall freedom of the press in the country.

Professionalism serves as the foundation of ethical journalism, emphasising accuracy, impartiality, and accountability. However, in Uganda, the level of professionalism within the journalism sector varies widely.

While some journalists adhere to rigorous ethical standards, others may compromise their integrity due to political or commercial pressures. This variance in professionalism can lead to biased reporting, misinformation, and a loss of public trust in the media.

Political parallelism is another critical factor affecting journalism in Uganda. Many media outlets in the country have close ties to political interests, either through direct ownership or indirect control.

This alignment can result in biased reporting that reflects the agenda of those in power, while marginalising dissenting voices. Journalists may face pressure to self-censor or report in a manner that aligns with the interests of their owners or sponsors, undermining their ability to act as watchdogs and hold the government accountable.

Media markets also play a significant role in shaping journalism in Uganda.

While the country has a diverse range of media outlets, including newspapers, radio stations, and online platforms, the market is driven by commercial interests.

Media organisations rely heavily on advertising revenue to sustain their operations, leading to competition for audience attention and advertising dollars. In this competitive environment, sensationalism and entertainment-focused content may overshadow in-depth reporting and investigative journalism. As a result, crucial issues may be overlooked or sensationalised, further eroding the quality of journalism in the country.

The state’s influence on journalism in Uganda cannot be overlooked. While freedom of the press is guaranteed by the Ugandan constitution, journalists often face harassment, intimidation, and legal threats from state authorities. The government has been known to shut down media outlets, revoke broadcasting licences, and enact restrictive laws that limit freedom of expression. This hostile environment creates a chilling effect on journalism, discouraging journalists from pursuing critical reporting and investigative work for fear of reprisals.

In light of these challenges, it’s crucial to recognise the importance of press freedom and the role of journalists in upholding democratic principles and promoting accountability. As we commemorate World Press Freedom Day in 2024, it is incumbent upon the Ugandan government to respect and protect the rights of journalists to report freely and independently.

Similarly, media organisations must prioritise professionalism and ethical standards, while also resisting political and commercial pressures that compromise their integrity. By fostering a media environment that values transparency, diversity, and accountability, Uganda can ensure that journalism continues to serve as a cornerstone of democracy and public discourse in the country.

The writer, Aldon Walukamba, is a Media Consultant and Communications Manager at Kinyara Sugar Limited.

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