By Moses Walubiri
Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has taken exception to the latest negative media blitz against the institution she heads calling upon the press to “be more realistic in the way they report about the work of parliament.”
In a breakfast meeting Tuesday with editors of media houses that have journalists accredited to the ninth parliament, Kadaga called for bridging of the gap between parliament and the media.
The meeting was graced by Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Wafula Oguttu and three parliamentary commissioners.
“I don’t think you will find it easy if you were in our position. It’s not nice to wake up to press reviews describing parliament as an institution of thugs. The population reads, listens and believes these reports,” Kadaga said.
Parliament’s public relations machinery has gone into overdrive in an attempt to confront head-on an avalanche of negative publicity the institution has lately endured.
The ninth parliament has been in the news over a number of issues ranging from accountability queries raised by the Auditor General, Constitutional Court striking down the Anti-Homosexuality Act over parliament enacting it without the requisite quorum, indebtedness of MPs, to ruckus over incessant expensive travel abroad by some legislators.
“The media reports that billions had been lost at parliament were sensational. This was a query raised by the AG in his report and we had not made a response,” Kadaga said, exhorting journalists to “be more professional in your reporting.”
Citing the case of two journalists that were last year banned from reporting from parliament over filing ‘inaccurate’ stories that painted the picture of the institution’s top echelon at each other’s necks, Kadaga urged members of the fourth estate to respect their professional code of conduct.
“Many journalists have been enlisted in political camps to fight political battles. I don’t think it’s the intention of parliament to issue you with accreditation so that you can abuse your stay here. Do your work without insulting or hounding us,” the Kamuli woman MP admonished.
A former journalist, Oguttu attributed some of the misrepresentation in the press to lazy journalists and outright craving for sensationalism by some media houses.
“A statement is made in a committee of parliament by a single MP and the following day you read stories of parliament ordering this or that! The same happens for mistakes made by individual MPs. Stop these blanket statements,” Oguttu noted.
Oulanyah lashed out at journalists for their proclivity for “trivialities” instead of using their unique positions to shape public debates.
Last Friday, Kadaga announced that interfaces between journalists and parliament’s top brass will be regular in order to stem the tide of negative reports largely informed by walls of silence sullying the institution’s image.