Media Practitioners as Force for Social Change
Journalism in Uganda is an old profession and at the same time a new one. Most historical accounts indicate that the Mengo Notes was the first newsletter published in Uganda in 1900. The earliest attempts at Journalism were evangelistic in their orientation and originated from within the Catholic and Protestant establishments. Later though, because of the pressures of colonial rule, most publications turned political; addressing oppression, inequality and the need for independence. To counter this, the colonial government established its own publication in the different languages. The independent press was subsequently instrumental in the struggle that led to Uganda’s independence in 1962.
The first radio broadcast was in 1954 and for the first few years was dominated by British professionals and programmes. While the early print media were vigorously political and attempted to hold the colonial government accountable, the broadcast media remained mouthpieces of government. So right from the early years of Uganda’s existence, the print and broadcast media played different roles in society.
Briefly, the postcolonial governments between the 1960s and 1980s had their focus on national integration, so they built a media culture where diversity had to be strictly controlled in the national interest. This was done through persuasion, the law or brute force depending on the political temperature of the time. Diversity existed in music and sports, to a large extent, but political diversity was at best viewed with suspicion and at the worst of times punishable by death (James Bwogi, Clement Kiggundu etc). The broadcast sector in Uganda was not open to private entrepreneurs until 1993.
JOURNALISM TRAINING IN UGANDA