The ICT and National Guidance Minister Judith Nabakooba has paid special tribute to journalists who wake up every day to report about the COVID-19 pandemic amid fears of how to stay safe.
“I therefore want to thank all media practitioners who have chosen to rise beyond these fears and decided to continue serving their country without fear or favour,” said Minister Nabakooba.
In a statement marking World Press Freedom Day, being observed today May 3, she said the government is aware of the unique importance of the media industry and more significantly in the current war against COVID-19.
“It is for this reason that His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni ensured that Media personnel are listed amongst the essential category of service providers that needed to continue operating un hindered amidst the ongoing lock down against COVID-19,” the minister wrote.
She reiterated the commendation she extended to the media in her recent broadcasts to the country, applauding the good work they have done, and are still doing, as the nation confronts coronavirus.
The minister said that in an effort to support the media through these challenging times of COVID-19, government through her Ministry has made available an emergency fund of about UGX. 6 billion that is meant to bolster media efforts in informing and creating public awareness about COVID-19.
Reflecting on the theme of World Press Freedom Day 2020, “Journalism without Fear” the Minister has opined that Uganda has a very unhealthy dose of disinformation, fake news, purveyed by people who use media platforms, particularly the digital variant.
“….. amidst the ongoing discussion on how media can continue to operate without fear or favour, the media is also being challenged on how to avoid publishing false and unverified information,” she said, adding “we are also witnessing a growth in mass circulation of false and sometimes malicious information”.
She also noted that a lot of this false and malicious information is being circulated across social media platforms by selfish individuals who want to create fear and panic amongst the population; some of it is geared towards discrediting the good efforts of the President and government against COVID-19.
She challenged the all media practitioners to use this day to reflect upon the virtues of professional journalism.