Creating an Enabling Environment for Professional Journalism in Uganda - Foundation Office Uganda and South Sudan
Creating an Enabling Environment for Professional Journalism in Uganda
The Role of Media Owners and Managers
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The media, often referred to as the “fourth estate”, is one of the key forces that influence the democratisation process in Uganda. Because of this UMDF and KAS have in the past engaged in training journalists on professionalism, work ethics, reporting about political events, and practical skills needed for fulfilling their full potential.
However, another factor plays a decisive role when it comes to professional journalism in Uganda: Media owners and station managers have power over the media sector through their control of the means of production and their possibility to permanently influence the working conditions and employment tenure of journalists. This influence can be considered a threat to public access and independent content given that the media owners have been observed to be motivated by private or partisan rather than public interests. One of the main allegations made towards media owners and station managers is that they mainly focus on profit making rather than work ethics and the principles of accuracy, investigation, and objectivity, which impacts greatly on the media content. As a result of this, the role of Ugandan journalists in media development has often faced obstacles in the form of low professional journalistic standards, a lack of financial resources, weak technical skills, and poor working conditions. This has affected the way in which the media covers issues of democracy and good governance in a manner that is both dubious and compelling.
On the premise of the above, a high level conference by KAS and UMDF will bring together media owners, managers, senior editors, and journalists and present them with a platform to discuss the question of media ownership and management and how these impact on – and can be adapted in order to support – the development of professional journalism in Uganda. The conference is designed to be a first step for uniting two seemingly mutually exclusive objectives: finding a way to enable media houses to remain profit-seeking – but not profit-driven – by evoking a change in attitude for media owners on the one hand, and creating an enabling environment for journalists to deliver high quality work on the other. The forum gives a chance for journalists to present the limitations they experience in delivering a professional job and for developing ways in which media managers/owners can help to ameliorate the situation.
The conference will start in the morning with an experts round table in which media owners and managers and journalists from every region of Uganda will be able to exchange their views on the issue at hand. This will be followed by a public event in the afternoon.