Journalists tipped on 2021 elections (pix by Jon Thawite)
By John B. Thawite and Job Namanya
Ugandan journalists have been warned against sacrificing the country in the course of their professional work.
The call was made by the Mbarara Deputy Resident District commissioner, Emmy Katera, while opening a three-day Election reporting skills training for journalists in western Uganda at Acacia Hotel in Mbarara Municipality.
Katera urged the scribes to be patriotic to the country noting that they are Ugandans first before being journalists.
“We would like everyone here to be patriotic since you are all Ugandans. Whenever you are writing, ask yourself if your information builds or destroys Uganda,” he emphasized.
He said no matter how factual their news may be, it should not jeopardise the country’s security and stability.
He also cautioned the journalists against attacking personalities and setting them against one another, urging them to hear from all sides of the story.
Katera also advised the journalists to utilize the various government programs to supplement their earnings from journalism work.
“As Ugandans, you should always get out of your comfort zones and apply for the existing government programs,” he said.
However, in the debate that later ensued, some of the journalists argued that accepting government support was likely to compromise their independence.
According to the UMDF Executive Director, James Kigozi, the pre-2021 election reporting training, aimed at equipping reporting skills ahead of the 2021 general elections, is funded by the US Mission in Uganda.
A veteran news editor, who worked with several media houses including New Vision and The Monitor but currently, lecturing at Makerere University Faculty of Mass Communication, John Baptist Wasswa, asked journalists to desist from being compromised by some news sources.
Wasswa also asked journalists to uphold professional practices like accuracy, balance and fairness, truthfulness among others.
He implored scribes to focus on research about the various stories they are going to cover so as to feed the audience with the most trusted news.
Wasswa asked media houses to offer an equal platform to all candidates to help the public in making informed decisions.
The need for gender balance in reporting was also emphasized in fair reporting.
“Whether paid for or not, election civic education is our mandate and we must offer it to our audience,” he added.
Moses Paul Sserwanga, a media trainer and communications consultant, asked journalists to formularise themselves with the electoral process to avoid lagging behind when the country expects them to lead in informing about the process.