The Head of one of Germany’s biggest media and democracy support organizations Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) for Sub Saharan Africa, has castigated Uganda’s media industry for neglecting the core values and principles of journalism and instead resort to unethical conducts.
Christoph Plate pointed out that there are media houses like ‘Red Pepper” in Uganda that pretend to be media professionals yet spread nudity and gossip.
Plate reveled this as he gave a key note address during the launch of the book titled ‘Catalyst or Destabilizer? COVID-19 and its Impact on the Media landscape Worldwide’ as compiled by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.The book covered the whole globe exploring of how covid-19 has affected the media industry.
Plate challenged stakeholders in the industry to brainstorm and bring measures on how they can weed out ‘rotten eggs’ (unprofessional journalists) who he says have and continue to render the industry irrelevant.
Meanwhile, Joseph Beyanga, the Secretary-General, National Association of Broadcasters said that weeding out the ‘rotten eggs’ is not the overall solution but instead equipping knowledge and skills especially among broadcast journalists,is.
“We need to be deliberate, empower young journalists with skills and help them know the exact content they are bringing out. You can throw out the rotten eggs but what of the institutions costs and time,” he said.
Tabu Butangira, the Managing Editor of Nation Media Group (NMG) and a member of the Editor’s Guild said that the Guild is resorting to genuine disciplinary measures among which may include boycotting the wrong doers.
“We want to come up with a policy that when an employee is fired at Nation Media over misbehaving, we make sure that we tell all other media houses not to hire them and that will help out,” he said.
He further expressed the need to have a Veterans and Elders forum where these veteran journalists come in and train their juniors as well as sharing personal experiences
Prossy Kawala, the Director Centre for Media Literacy and Community Development also said that the industry should at no point throw out imperfect journalists but instead support them with empowerment and trainings.
“Mentoring is among the solutions, we all make mistakes but with proper mentoring, people can change and do the right thing. So many people in the media practice are not qualified and that’s where the problem comes in,” she said.
Judith Atim, the Program Officer at Konrad Adenauer Stiftung said that entertainment has outcompeted the news beat and audiences are drawn much on it due to sensationalism that is used.
“If that is what the market is demanding we shall see more, that is not correct, our role as the media is to set the agenda to let people understand what is important affect them,” she said
The debate over media’s role in society comes at a time when three presenters at NBS are battling criminal defamation by artist Omulangira Suuna.
The Uganda Communication Commission on Thursday also summoned presenters of eight entertainment programs including; Live Wire (Spark TV), Uncut Kalakata and Uncut Sabula (NBS TV), Kapyaki (Kingdom TV), Tik-Tak Sesetula (Dream TV), Round About (BBS TV), Short Circuit (Urban TV) among others over offensive communication while presenting their content.
But some observers including outspoken Pastor Martin Ssempa have heaped blamed on UCC for turning a blind eye on profanity that is spread by television stations through prioritizing vulgar songs and scantly dressed performers.
Pastor Dr. Ssempa has been at the forefront of criticizing UCC for only coming out to close media houses when they air politically-divergent views from those of the government, and turning silent when morals are breached.