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Does Ugandan media have a professional code of conduct?

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Added 24th April 2018 11:11 AM

What is enemy media that term is clearly being used by government?

Does Ugandan media have a professional code of conduct?

What is enemy media that term is clearly being used by government?


By James William Mugeni

Seeing the comic show of the media and Police officer, Mohammed Kirumira, one wonders if the media has any professional code of conduct! Yes, it is entertainment, but what are we achieving with it? 

The Inspector General of Police was spot on though his point is being missed since the media is acting victim and advancing abuse of their media freedom. Affande Kirumira himself is misusing the media opportunity. He is killing a very genuine case and the media is helping him to kill it.

I will mention the entertaining court proceedings we watched by the constitutional court in Mbale.

The constitutional case proceedings in Mbale was a perfect example where there was professional conduct of all instruments of governance including the media as the fourth estate.  Is it possible that we are having gutter media also? Not everyone who has a camera is a journalist the media is under attack by fake reporters.

If the media doesn't separate from this, we are going to see more victims on what they call line of duty.

What is enemy media that term is clearly being used by government? What is government media and who of the two carries falsehood? What is the professional code of conduct of the media? Are there safety precautions if stories carry risks?

Must one be bitten or killed to prove a story? Why would the media force their way for example in Kirumiras case where the police have put a barrier? What other technology is the media employing like deploying hidden cameras in wrist watches, belts, etc when a story is risk laden? 

We have heard of journalists imbedded at the war front what precautions and training do such journalists take?

Kirumira commands rowdiness and along it he carries rowdy media whose professional conduct is wanting. When you have people who pick stories for social media gossip mixing with journalists' a clear line must be drawn. Journalism is a profession.

There are so many stories out there that can make a journalist command respect, especially if passion is the driving force this would endear the journalistic profession to communities hence giving them a clean bill of landing.

With the social media added I think journalism is very rich that news stories find them on table but there is going to be need for thorough research and verification. Call for more professionalism to separate journalists from false and sensational reporting.

Personally, I am a friend of the media and have been shaped by the media. My first contact with the media was when as an athlete way back in the 90s when I was mentioned in third position of javelin throw at a national competition in Kyambogo. Coming from Tororo and holding the likes of (RIP) Justin Arop of prison then an African record holder and (RIP) Aboke David of Bank of Uganda.

The story shaped my life I was summoned to the national team and Minister Moses Ali then of sports called for me and ordered for my removal from Tororo to Kampala and placed me to be taken care of by Nakivubo stadium management. That media story by UBC by the late Lwandagga changed my life. My sports career got a boost from that single shot by UBC.

 Another media event I can't forget was as a student of nursing in Mulago 1992-1994. I saw a problem in the hospital and called in Lindah Nabusayi Wamboka of the Monitor then who went ahead ran the story and quoted me.

I was fired and never completed that training back in 1994. Knowing the role the media has to play I will add my voice to that of the President and many others who have complained about the media behaviour and have this to say about the media. It takes courage to take the media path and I have been friends with the media that for sure has made me or destroyed me.

As a public health officer, I was trained to use the media for informing, educating, sensitising and mobilising for health. My health experience of the use of the media started in Karamoja, when I worked in the control of cholera in 1998 as I learnt terms like notifiable diseases, case reporting and many others. The French team I worked with would ask me to prepare messages and always told me make sure the messages SHINE.

In summary, media should adopt the SHINE formula: S-Sensitivity

Be sensitive to the needs, culture, feelings and emotions of the people. I was working in an area of people who carried guns and defecated in the open air and you just couldn't tell them cholera was caused by their habits. How would you pass on the messages that will shine?

By 1998 the disarmament process had not taken place in Karamoja so what you communicated was enough to kill you on duty because guns were walking stick but alas I am surviving up to this day because of communication tactics of messages that SHINE.

H-Honesty. Be honest in approach, far from being biased and being judgmental. "These guys have cholera because they defecate and contaminate their water sources" Would this SHINE? It wouldn't but I had to produce a message that had to create behavior change.

I-Innovative adopt innovative technology and share novel experiments to the people using radio call, phone calls, or by word of mouth. Place thinking behind the message how are you perceived?

N-Newsworthy always report newsworthy news in public interest, avoid trivialization of newsworthy news.

E-Empathy, Media must have human face and cover human interest angle. Why is the story worth reporting and what would I like to see as the media?

To conclude, the media plays a pivotal role in creating awareness, mobilising support, no development is not media related. Media creates public opinion and whenever the media participates wholeheartedly, it has brought in sea of change in society. Hence, the role of media in sustainable development.

I know the media might be a no-go area for me but as a follower of the media I would be not fair if I can't give an opinion of the institution that shapes many public decisions we take.

The writer is a medical practitioner


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