The press and the problem of objective political reporting in Uganda (1995 – 2000)
MetadataShow full item record
This was an investigation on the Press and the problem of Objective Political Reporting in Uganda from 1995 – 2000. The study established whether it was possible for the press to be objective in reporting about politics in Uganda. The emphasis was on the print media particularly focusing on; The New Vision as a government Newspaper and, two private newspapers; The Monitor, and the East African respectively. The study was based on the assumption that ‘the pursuit of profits and political pressure from the State hinders the press from objective political reporting. Objective reporting rested on being fair, factual, and non partisan and these should be the guiding principles for the print media in their interpretation of information for public consumption. This has to be accompanied with freedom of expression and of the press. The challenges however emerged from the fact that the print media in Uganda during the period under review operated in an unstable environment. 1995 – 2000 was therefore not a honeymoon period for the print in Uganda. The State was ever at war with the print media, the power of ownership dictated and influenced content through phone calls, ‘advice’ and at the extremes, firing the ‘errant’ editors and reporters. The advertisers, of which government was the lead, as a source of income for the print media houses also paused threats of withdrawing adverts if a ‘bad’ story was written about them. The reading culture in the country was also a setback to objectivity. The people were attracted more to sensationalism which was often an embodiment of exaggerated information. The compelling factor towards sensationalism was that if a newspaper was not able to attract big readership, advertisers shunned it and eventually such a print media house would close down. Consequently, newspapers found themselves under constant duress to publish what the readers wanted and in effect the facts were distorted, hence raising questions on the truthfulness of reporting. At the same time public debate through the print media was limited because the power of ownership tended to dictate on who would be granted a column to express his or her views in the newspaper. Those whose views conformed to the views of the owners of the newspapers often dominated the columns while the divergent ones were abstracted from accessing the columns. Allowing people engage in critical debates through the print media contributes to democratic structures and development within an environment of freedom of expression. And for objective political reporting to flourish journalists should understand what the print media ought not do and the State on the other hand ought to create an atmosphere that makes the print media responsible and accountable to society, the State, and to themselves. The issues above formed the crux of this work.