Uganda Editors, Media Focus on Africa
Mr Pius Katunzi (L), Barbra Among and Uganda Editor's Guild interim Chairman Daniel Kalinaki for the Panel Discussion. Photo/PMDaily

Journalism is the only profession in Uganda that wants to be a profession but disorganized, before we think of self-regulation, we need to first be organized, defined and known – Journalists notes to Media Focus on Africa

The Uganda Editorial group in partnership with the Media Focus on Africa (MFA), have highlighted the need for media to first reshape in case this industry is to achieve some degree of self-regulation.

As a build-up to the upcoming Uganda Media Week, different stakeholders, like the media in partnership with the academia, civil society, and government representatives have organized a series of discussions to try and tackle problems limiting media regulation among others.

Other issues which address to media independence, misinformation as well as the current media regulatory environment, considerations for a more sustainable business model for journalism have also been discussed.

This well-represented dialogue has attracted a pool of individuals from different media organizations and institutions, Notably, Dr. Adolf Mbaine a lecturer from the Department of Journalism and Communication at Makerere University, Mr. Pius Mutekani Katunzi, the Managing Director of the Observer Newspaper, Ms. Barbara Among, a senior journalist and trainer and Mr. Daniel Kalinaki, the General Manager, Editorial at the Nation Media Group among others.

Speaking on the theme “Creating Mechanisms towards Self-Regulation”, Daniel Kalinaki, the General Manager, Editorial at the Nation Media Group stated that media as an industry needs to find homegrown solutions and ensure it also pays attention to the political economy and other industry ethical issues which are big hindrances to its growth.

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Kalinaki who is also the Interim Chairman of the Uganda Editor’s Guild added that these come together discussions, play a huge role in responding to the issues affecting media as an industry.

Also, Kalinaki pointed out that, on numerous occasions, their roles as editors’ have been ignored in existing media associations like Uganda Journalist’s Association or Uganda Media Owners Association among others.

“We need to find our homegrown solutions. I agree generally that we are not ready for self-regulation but not that we are not ready to develop a self-regulation mechanism,” he said.

“This is probably one of the few times where you have editors sitting in a room to have a conversation about the industry, this in itself revolutionary and commendable,” he added.

According to Dr Adolf Mbaine who also threw more light on the concept of self-regulation, said that this is a popular subject the Ugandan media industry needs to consider in a bid to attain development.

Mbaine also added that there are so many challenges in the industry that need to be tackled before self-regulation as a way of acquiring media independence and freedom is achievable.

As part of the same discussion, Pius Mutekani Katunzi, the Managing Director of the Observer Newspaper noted that media as an industry is very disorganized and as a result, the state and other players have capitalized on using it.

“Before we think of self-regulation, we need to be organized, defined and known. Journalism is the only profession in Uganda or one of those bodies that want to be a profession that is not defined, it’s so disorganized and in a way the state and other players have taken advantage of that,” Katunzi said.

In support of Katunzi’s statement, Ms.Barbara Among, a senior journalist and trainer mentioned three factors – respect, civility and maturity as the strong limitations of self-media regulation in Uganda.

“To propose self-regulation is putting the cart before the horse. For self-regulation to work, we need three things, maturity, civility, and respect for colleagues and the general public…. Are we ready for it? No, not at the moment!,” claimed Among.

Meanwhile, Donnas Ojok the Programme Manager, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), called for increased support in mainstream media indicating that it’s not independent of social media and the traditional media.

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Appropriately, Ms Jan Ajwang the Programme Manager, Media Focus on Africa, Uganda warned media houses to pay more attention to verification of sources before rushing to publish their stories.

By John Dalton Kigozi