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OPINION: The Danger of an Acquisitive Fourth Estate

The opposition and their foreign media sympathizers published fake news, misinformation, portraying a narrative of a broken-down political and security apparatus in Uganda, without any sanctions.
posted onMay 24, 2021
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By Rachel Nansikombi

In what seems to be an increasingly strained relationship between the media and the security forces, one thing seems to be clear, only one side of the story gets heard or seen.

This clearly played out in the recently released documentary, the targeted, which sought to tell the story of journalists who covered the 2021 general election.

The documentary denied Government the right of reply and therefore, told a one-sided story, unfairly accusing security forces of enforcing universally developed COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures during the campaigns.

The two entities differ in their jobs and mandates but meet somewhere, the people they serve.

The security forces whose job is to ensure the security of the people, protection of their property and anticipation of any potential threats to the same are often faced with a predicament.

In doing their job, those for whose security they are responsible become their biggest aggressors expecting to enjoy the right to security without carrying out the responsibility on their end.

Take an example of the 2021 general election, due to COVID-19; Electoral Commission had limited the size of political meetings to only 200 people.

However, during campaigns, opposition candidates wanted to hold mass rallies in markets, taxi parks and other high-risk areas that would facilitate the spread of COVID-19.

Oftentimes, while dispersing these illegal rallies, the security forces would come into confrontation with the politicians, the media and the innocent wanainchi would be caught in the crossfire.

These provocations are a responsibility of those who take their right to security for granted.

In 2020, Uganda suffered her biggest ever media assault both in mainstream and digital media with security forces bearing the brunt of it all.

In the post-analysis of this period, COVID-19 and the recently-concluded Presidential elections, it was discovered that in an almost synchronized manner, different organizations here and abroad chorused certain phrases, pushing particular images, most times doctored and curated to suit a particular narrative, that Uganda’s security forces were violent and that the country was in a bad way.

The sponsored campaigns required willing partners within to push a skewed message both within and without.

The opposition and their foreign media sympathizers published fake news, misinformation, portraying a narrative of a broken-down political and security apparatus in Uganda, without any sanctions.

However, the tech giant, Facebook, was quick to penalize hundreds of Government supporters whose only crime, was to talk about Government achievements.

There is evidence that more often than not the job of the security forces to maintain law and order and to protect and serve is misunderstood, maybe because their work is often intense and dangerous they will not communicate as quickly or as often but the one-sided storytelling of the media often has a ripple effect on how they are perceived by the public they serve.

It begs the question, does the public these days get balanced coverage of affairs and if not, who is paying for this unbalanced, partial narrative?

Has the media lost their soul?

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Kp Reporter - Chief editor

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