JOURNALISM MEDIA PROFESSIONALISM
KAMPALA - As part of efforts to protect media freedom and promote responsible journalism, senior editors from several media houses and other industry players have signed commitment to support the formation of an association of editors and content managers.
They said the commitment to form the Uganda Editors' Guild will not only strengthen professionalism and pave way for promoting self-regulation but also encourage career fellowship, especially at senior level, increase public trust in the role of journalism and defend practitioners' rights.
"There is need for us to begin talking to each other and build a common understanding of the threats to journalism and how we can approach them other than the petty rivalry among media houses as business entities," said the interim chairperson, Daniel Kalinaki.
Kalinaki who is also the General Manager Editorial, Nation Media Group made the remarks at the pre-national media week dialogue last week in Kampala.
He said mutual cooperation between media houses will make journalists more self-accounting and assist weed out unethical practices.
"We can't wait for self-regulating mechanisms to become organised; it's through talking to each other that we become accountable at least in an informal way," said Kalinaki.
Describing the Editors' Guild interim committee as a basic stage where rules of engagement can be discussed, Kalinaki said the mission is to ensure that the association will have substantive leadership by the 2020 World Press Freedom Day.
The committee also includes David Mukholi, the Managing Editor editorial policy of Vision Group, Joyce Bagala, the NBS TV Head of News and Alex Atuhaire, the Editorial Director at PML Daily.
Others are Sylvia Nankya, an editor at the Uganda Radio Network, and Pius Muteekani from The Observer newspaper.
The committee will oversee the drafting, consideration, and adoption of a constitution and other foundational documents, as well as the election of a substantive executive.
The proposal to form an Editors' Guild was born out of a meeting of senior-level editors and other industry players on the International Training Programme (ITP) on Media Self-Regulation in a Democratic Framework in Uganda.
The February meeting that was jointly chaired by Barbara Kaija, Editor-in-Chief of Vision Group and Dr. Peter Mwesige, executive director of the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME), agreed that because of pitfalls that bedeviled earlier attempts at associating and self-regulation, it left the doors open to statutory regulation, which makes the industry vulnerable to control by the government and owners.
In his keynote address Dr. Adolf Mbaine, a lecturer at Makerere University juxtaposed the pros and cons of media self-regulation to urge editors to critically assess the best regulation model for Uganda.
"There is a need, to begin with, internal mechanisms where newsrooms develop their own codes of conduct for practicing journalism before you spread out, then move to platforms that make peer review possible but the challenge is that journalists are not organized but if they have strong and vibrant associations they can make valid input in regulation systems," said Mbaine.
Panelists expressed divergent views on whether the media industry in Uganda is ready for self-regulation.
Seasoned journalist Barbra Among said that whereas self-regulation is the best way to promote journalistic standards, the system might require an industry that is culturally mature, civil and respectful to consumers which Uganda lacks presently, therefore, co-regulation might be the befitting system currently.