By Ambrose Gahene
Ugandan Journalists drawn from Print, Radio, Television, and Online news Channels have asked the Government to consider reducing Internet cost, to enable them carry out their duties efficiently. This was during celebrations to mark World Press Freedom Day that takes place every 3rd of May, which ran under the theme: “Media under Digital Siege”
“Finally, in line with the theme; “Journalism under digital siege”, we suggest that the immediate solution for Uganda should be ; cutting costs of internet data to help journalists to fight misinformation by breaking verified news in real time. We also ask the government to reopen Facebook which is a viable source of information for journalists in the digital age”, said Abubaker Lubowa, a senior Editor at Nation Media Group, while addressing fellow Journalists in Kampala on Tuesday. Lubowa said the majority Journalists work from home or Internet Cafes, where the high cost of the internet hinders them from meeting their obligations to deliver news on time.
Culton Scovia Nakamya, an Editor with BBS Television, decried the poor conditions under which some journalists work. She said: “We sadly inform the public that as we continue to advocate for our freedom, sections of our members are deprived of their right remuneration or earnings”. She pointed out that much as the 2006 Employment Act requires an employer to make timely payment of remuneration to the employees, most journalists don’t get paid and some take long to be paid.
“It is sad that the perpetrators are politicians, (Most) pastors, religious groups, and city tycoons who own media outlets”, she added. The Journalists called upon their employers to subject them to clear and fair contracts.
“We will also continue to sue, name, and shame the perpetrators. We also ask security organs, politicians, and individuals, to stop subjecting journalists to Violence”, said Gabriel Buule, a Daily Monitor News Paper Journalist.
On the same day, the Inspector General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola, directed regional police commanders to investigate reports of torture of journalists by police officers. In Martins Okoth Ochola’s message, delivered by police spokesperson Fred Enanga, he revealed that police officers are being trained on how best to work harmoniously with the press. Police are also considering dialogue with the Editors’ Guild to find solutions to the friction between the pen and the gun
The World Press Freedom Day is celebrated to ensure the protection and safety of the press in the face of attacks against its independence, to discuss journalistic ethics, and to celebrate journalists who gave their lives in the pursuit of truth.
“As we commemorate the 2022 World Press Freedom Day, independent members of the press in Uganda who advocate for Press Freedom have come together to call stakeholders and Ugandans to protect journalism and journalists at a time when the future of Journalism feels uncertain”, the journalists World Press Freedom Day, 2022 reads in part.