By Michael Woira
Today the world, and Uganda in particular, is celebrating the World Press Freedom day.
Congrats scribes, but I have a word for you.
I have for some time been with the media and the experience that I have with it is enough for me to at least utter a word or two about them and how they operate, in this I don’t mean the ugly side of it but the other good side of it in developing in our country and being the mouth piece of the voiceless.
The media fraternity is going on with its world freedom day celebrations and this day is celebrated world over to commemorate the freedoms of journalists and their achievements towards development in the areas of operation, one writer said that; Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.( Henry Anatole Grunwald).
As members of the media have done a lot for the country in sensitizing the masses in different activities and promoting government programs, giving reliable information to the audience and most important of all educating the citizens of this nation on various issues.
While at school, my lecturers taught me about the media principles of accuracy, fairness and mutual respect for other agencies like security forces and others. Neither accuracy or nor fairness must ever be sacrificed for speed.
Double-check facts, figures, names, dates and spellings. Watch for typographical errors. And make sure there is enough context in the story to ensure balance and fairness, including disclosure of important information that is not clear or not known.
Because of the pressures of wanting to be the first to break the news, common mostly with the online news platforms, journalists, more often than not, go to press with half-truths a thing that makes them to be suspect in the eyes of their readers. Let’s always get it right.
Independent voices are also important in that we should not act, formally or informally, on behalf of special interests whether political, corporate or cultural. We should declare to our editors or the audience any of our political affiliations, financial arrangements or other personal information that might constitute a conflict of interest and this can create trust in our stories that we avail to the audiences.
Some of our fellow journalists no longer abide by the principals of journalism and resorted to publishing and airing out stories for money or else stories of their interest. Uganda has in the past faced such problems because media houses have left purposeful information and resorted to covering demonstrations, strikes, nudity and spending most of their time moving with the opposition strategists thus encouraging them to popularize themselves by acting unruly and this is because they always expect to go back at their stations with some money in their wallets for being good activists. Is this the right thing to be done?
Many journalists have now days resorted to asking for bribes wherever they go to cover stories— unprofessional.
We should focus on issues that unite Ugandans other than promoting divisions and immorality in the community for the betterment of the next generation and value of our media profession. Happy world press freedom celebrations
Woira is a Media Coordinator at Uganda Media Centre.