Ugandan journalists go to polls

Journalists in Uganda have unanimously elected journalist-cum-politician Ahmed Katerega to head the Uganda Journalists Association.

Mr Katerega, a former news editor with the leading daily Bukedde, was a former general secretary of the association, which has for the last five years been seen as ineffective.
Many working in the media felt the organisation had been unable to solve journalists' problems arising from their ever-volatile relationship with the government.

Prior to Mr Katerega’s election last weekend, Ugandan State Minster for Information Nsaba Buturo, a known attacker of critical journalism, told journalists the government was committed to supporting the profession in the country.

He also said he would be organising a meeting with media owners to discuss the need for training to improve the standards of journalism in Uganda.

Mr Katerega said he would work tirelessly to link journalists in Uganda to media professionals in other countries on exchanges in a bid to raise national standards.

Ugandan journalists have long operating under tough regulations but are considered to be better off compared to other African countries, such as Zimbabwe, where media regulations stifle the profession.

In Uganda, institutions of higher learning report more journalism students are graduating year-on-year than there are jobs in the market.

Though the media has been liberalised greatly in Uganda in recent years, employment opportunities remain in the hands of relatives of media owners, whose training in journalism remains contestable.

There are more than 100 FM radio stations in Uganda, but only 68 are in operation. Out of 24 television stations, only three offer employment for local journalists and there are as few as 11 active newspapers.

Over 5,000 journalism students graduated from Ugandan universities in the past three years, with most of them still looking to find a place within the industry.