Media organizations have been asked to work together and invest more in generating content for online audiences.

Media owners, regulators, and Journalists Associations convened at Mestil Hotel in Kampala on Thursday to commemorate World Press Freedom Day.

Giles Muhame, the President of the Online Media Association of Uganda says that while this feels like a challenge, it is an opportunity that media organizations need to explore collectively.

He says while it could be expensive for a media organization to solely manage a YouTube channel effectively, through collaborations, several media organizations can run one channel but share different content that will attract traffic to their pages.

Barbra Kaija, the Editor-in-Chief of Vision Group said that the media needs not to panic due to digitalization but to set strategies to adapt to the changes and reap from them.

She cited the New York Times which she says took over 15 years to penetrate the online market.

“We need a lot of research, government, market research to establish where our market is, is it ready? Research in the resources needed to start Media” said Kaija before adding that media needs to integrate, work together, and set up our own YouTube with help of government for all media groups to use such that all media houses use the platform but compete on content such that we don’t waste time on infrastructure. 

Robert Kabushenga, the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Vision Group says that the digital era presents numerous opportunities that journalists can take up and stay relevant in the trade.

Kabushenga says that journalists who don’t embrace digital and online platforms shall become functionally irrelevant in the future. He says that journalists should attain knowledge of data coding and human analysis for them to be able to offer to the audience more than just breaking stories. 

Edrine Wanyama, a legal officer at Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa- CIPESA observes that the digital age attracted the enactment of regressive laws that curtail the freedom of content producers and disseminators. He referred to the Uganda Communications Act 2013, Interception of Communication Act of 2010, and the Computer Misuse Act 2011 which have clauses that are used by the government to silence critical journalism.

Wanyama says that the digital environment should be convenient for Journalism to thrive by repealing laws or provisions of some laws that are repressive to media freedoms.

The Minister for ICT Chris Baryomunsi reiterated government’s commitment to ensure freedom for the media and condemned acts of brutality against journalists by security personnel. He asked media professionals not to be doubtful about proposed policies and existing laws saying that they are meant to ensure that media rights are enjoyed but with responsibilities.

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