The Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Hon. Judith Nabakooba has reassured Makerere University of her readiness to help restore the Campus FM to air so as to contribute to the training of professional journalists and dissemination of research and innovations. Hon. Nabakooba gave her reassurance while presiding over the Annual Media Convention held in the Central Teaching Facility 2 (CTF2) Auditorium on Monday, 3rd May 2021.
Hosted by the Department of Journalism and Communication since 1998, the Annual Media Convention provides a platform for various stakeholders in journalism, communication and the media to debate contemporary issues affecting these fields. The AMC theme was ‘On Elections: Media Freedom, Polarization and (Politics) of the Future.’
“As the Ministry responsible for formulating media policies, we fully associate ourselves with such engagements, and remain available to take part, to listen and to learn,” remarked Hon. Nabakooba. “This is in the spirit of our commitment to a participatory and inclusive policy regime, in as far as press and media freedom is concerned,” she added.
Whereas she welcomed the advancements in technology that have led to a rapid growth of social media and citizen journalism, the Minister decried the distorted and sometimes inflammatory content it often comes with. “We therefore need a robust and professional mainstream media more than ever, to provide verified, fair, balanced and objective news.”
Prior to the Minister’s address, the Head, Department of Journalism and Communication, Dr. Aisha Nakiwala had appealed to Hon. Nabakooba, an alumna of Makerere University and the Department specifically, to lead the way in the restoration of the Campus FM radio frequency. The appeal was re-echoed by the Dean, School of Languages, Literature and Communication, Dr. Saudah Namyalo.
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor emphasized that Makerere’s research and innovations output continues to grow by, which calls for a bigger platform to stimulate discussions around them beyond traditional coverage of the launches. He therefore added his voice to that of the Dr. Nakiwala and Dr. Namyalo in appealing to the Minister to champion the restoration of the Campus FM frequency.
“In addition to training our students, it (the restoration of Campus FM’s frequency) would be even more useful because a lot of the work being done at Makerere University would now go out to the public,” remarked Prof. Nawangwe before explaining, “There are a lot of innovations which could benefit our people but they don’t know about them and getting back our radio frequency and adding a TV station would help immensely.”
In response to the requests, Hon. Nabakooba asked the Head, Department of Journalism and Communication to write a brief on Campus FM frequency which would aid her follow-up of the matter with the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).
“I promise that I am going to get in touch with UCC and find a solution to your frequency because we want practical people; if you have your frequency, you will be in position to train on it but also we believe that you have a lot of information (to share).
“I have visited some of your innovations, they are really good and you might find that the public are not aware of these wonderful innovations by Makerere University. We believe that such a platform would be a good one in as far as promoting what Makerere has done but also making it more practical for the community and also we in Government to understand the different projects taking place in our University,” added Hon. Nabakooba.
To sum it all up, the Principal, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Dr. Josephine Ahikire thanked the Minister for making time to attend the Annual Media Convention and requested her as an alumna to enable her alma mater’s Campus FM to resume live broadcasts before the centenary celebrations next year.
“We are due to celebrate 100 years at Makerere University in October 2022 beginning in October this year. And so I would like our dear alumni to make a commitment that Campus Radio will already be on (air), where we can sensitize, celebrate and create that positive momentum to take us to the next century. And to us, that would be the greatest gift that our own would have given us,” she said.
Delivering the keynote address on “Media Freedoms, Constitutionalism and the Rule of law in hybrid regimes”, Dr Kabumba Busingye, from the School of Law, Makerere University noted that military power and commercialization were greatly undermining media freedom in the country. “Freedom and democracy are not part of our historical experience. In a highly militarized regime, the media cannot operate freely. The media become dangerous in as far as exposing the ills of the regime. Furthermore, the media cannot be fully independent in this era of commercialization where many media houses are owned by businessmen, working to fulfill and protect their interests and not concerned about professionalism,” he said, calling for tolerance because of the critical role played by the media in the development of the country.
The Annual Media Convention featured a panel discussion on the ongoing research in the Department of Journalism and Communication on “media freedom and safety for journalists”. Panelists included Dr Aisha Nakiwala Sembatya, Dr Gerald Walulya, Dr Fred Kakooza and Dr Charlotte Kaweesa – Ntulume. It was moderated by Prof. Goretti Nassanga.
The event also featured presentations on “Digital Security for journalists, bloggers and citizens” by Mr Jimmy Haguna from Uganda Communications Commission; and “Journalists’ safety and security in the wake of COVID-19” by Mr. Tabu Butagira, Content Editor at Daily Monitor; as well as a panel discussion on actions of security agencies against the media by Hon. Semujju Nganda, Kiira Municipality Member of Parliament; Ms. Charity Ahimbisibwe, National Coordinator at the Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU); and Mr Charles Twiine, Spokesperson of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations. In the course of the discussions, the panelists condemned the continued attacks on journalists, but cautioned the latter to exercise professionalism and not to act as activists. They appealed to government to view journalists as partners in development and work towards protecting their rights. They also urged media houses to improve the welfare of their staff in a bid to avoid temptations that may hinder professionalism.
At the same function, Daily Monitor awarded Ms. Esther Nalubega Tasobya and Ms. Immaculate Bulage with the Tebere-Mudin Award for the overall best performing student of Journalism and Communication. Ms. Bulage attained a CGPA of 4.44 and will graduate on 21st May 2021. Ms. Nalubega emerged overall best student in Journalism and Communication in 2020. The Tebere-Mudin Award is sponsored by Daily Monitor in honour of their celebrated journalists Richard Tebere and Rashid Mudin who died in a car accident in 1998.
Ms. Christine Kabazira won the Cranimer Mugerwa Award for the best performing student in photojournalism. The award is sponsored by New Vision in honour of their treasured fallen photojournalist Cranimer Mugerwa.
The Tebere-Mudin Award comes with a UGX 1 million cash prize and three months of paid internship at Daily Monitor whereas the Cranimer Mugerwa Award is given with a cash prize of UGX 1 million and six months of paid internship at New Vision.
The Department of Journalism and Communication also recognized a number of partners for supporting various activities over the years. These included the Norwegian Government that has supported events to commemorate the World Press Freedom Day for the last three years and other programmes in the Department, the New Vision that has sponsored the Cranimer Mugerwa Award for the best Photojournalism student since 2002 and Nation Media Group that has sponsored the Tebere-Mudin Award for the overall best student in Journalism and Communication for over 20 years. Other partners included the Swedish Government, through SIDA, UNESCO, UNICEF, SCIDEV.NET and Script that have sponsored a science communication programme at the Department since 2018, and Ultimate Media Uganda who have boosted multi and digital media training, as well as the American Embassy.
The event was convened by Dr Marion Alina and Dr Fred Kakooza, Lecturers in the Department of Journalism and Communication at Makerere University.