The Journalism Code of Ethics calls for independence among practitioners in order to enable journalists to diligently serve the public and avoid a real or perceived conflict of interest. It discourages Journalists from taking gifts, favours, and special treatment or benefit that may compromise their integrity or impartiality, and damage their credibility.
Media experts have cautioned journalists against seeking
relief aid or any kind of financial support or handouts to avoid undermining the
principle of independence in the execution of their duties.
The caution comes moments after
the Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) announced that it had received funding
from businessman Ham Kiggundu and procured food items to support its members
whose work has been disrupted by the various measures put in place by the
government to control the spread of coronavirus disease-COVID-19.
A statement from the UJA
President Hajji Kazibwe Bashir Mbaziira says that the current measures have
affected freelance Journalists, who do not have transport means to source
stories due to a ban on public transport. He said that as Ugandans observe an
extra 21-days of the lockdown, the Uganda Journalists Association is working to
ensure that affected journalists are catered for.
“With Kiggundu’s support and UJA
resources, we have managed to buy food items including sugar, rice, maize
flour, and beans. In our first phase, UJA targets to extend these items to 100
journalists that are in dire need,” he said.
But Dr Peter Mwesige, the
Executive Director of the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) says that if
fundraising for member’s welfare from sources is one of UJA’s way of doing
business, some journalists can do nothing about it, but it obviously reflects
badly on Uganda’s journalism as a whole. He says that picking food aid from
a businessman undermines the principles of good Journalism.
The Journalism Code of
calls for independence among practitioners in order to enable
journalists to diligently serve the public and avoid a real or perceived
conflict of interest. It discourages Journalists from taking gifts,
favours, and special treatment or
a benefit that may compromise their integrity or impartiality, and damage their credibility.
“It is a very big risk that those
who have received support from some of those groups are taking. Will members of
UJA who have received this support from Hamis Kiggundu report on his dubious
business well, aggressively, fairly, critically? these are the kind of
questions that we should ask” Mwesige said.
Mwesige says that although freelancers are bound to suffer as
a result of COVID-19 measures, there are so many avenues out there for journalists
to serve the public without putting their credibility in balance. He says it is
better for journalists to explore all avenues than run to news sources.
Dr George Lugalambi, a media trainer says that the move is
definitely problematic even though this is a very complicated situation. He
says the fundamental ethical issue is the same whether one is a freelance
reporter or a staff writer adding that journalists can never appeal to their
//Cue in; “So you make
Cue out… This particular organization.”//
Lugalambi said that journalists
are not health workers or teachers than can receive aid from a businessman and
get away with it. He says unlike those categories; they need to keep the
businessman in check.
//Cue in; “It is a dilemma…
Cue out…the individual ones.”//
The Uganda Journalists Association
is supposed to bring together all Ugandan media practitioners, protecting their
interests, safeguarding their rights and freedom and ensuring that journalists
observe ethics in their practice.