(Photo credit: Nancy Nanyonga)
EDITORS BREAKFAST FREEDOM
Senior editors from Uganda’s major media houses and other industry players have endorsed a proposal to form an association of editors and content managers in Uganda as part of efforts to strengthen professionalism and promote self-regulation.
The group, which met in Lugogo, Kampala, also elected an interim executive committee to steer the association through its formative stages.
The committee members include Daniel Kalinaki, the General Manager, Editorial at Nation Media Group Uganda, David Mukholi, the Managing Editor (Editorial) of Vision Group, Joyce Bagala, the Head of News at NBS TV, Alex Atuhaire, the Editorial Director of the online PML Daily, Sylvia Nankya, an editor at the Uganda Radio Network, and Pius Katunzi Muteekani of the Observer.
Peter Mwesige. (Credit: Nancy Nanyonga)
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 by the end of April 2019.
“This is an important step in self-organisation and professionalisation in the media industry,” said Dr. Peter Mwesige, executive director of the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME), and national facilitator for the International Training Programme (ITP) on Media Self-Regulation in a Democratic Framework. The ITP is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
“We must check our own conduct and enforce our own ethics in order to make a credible case for self-regulation,” said Kalinaki, the interim chairperson of the executive committee. “Our job is to build a framework that defends media freedoms while ensuring responsibility and professional conduct.”
Editors pose for a photo after the meeting at Kati Kati on Friday morning. (Credit: Nancy Nanyonga)
Reading from a concept note on the formation of the association, Dr. Mwesige said: “The association would not only promote and guard journalistic standards”, it would also work towards the safety of all journalists.
New Vision’s Barbara Kaija said the purpose of the forum was to “create a common voice for editors” who “share the same vision to be the eyes, ears and voices” of the public. She added that it would help restore professionalism and credibility in the media.
According to the Uganda ITP team, the failure of previous attempts at self-regulation has left the doors open to statutory regulation, which makes the industry vulnerable to control by the government and owners.
Regulatory challenges were blamed on weak journalists’ associations; disunity and lack of cohesion in the industry; weak regulatory frameworks open to political and other forms of interference; inadequate transparency from media regulators; low levels of media literacy; and “media owners who (pay more attention) “to the bottom line than to journalism’s public interest mission”.