Online content producer at the African Center For Media Excellence (ACME) Claire Muhindo has explained that journalistic ethics such as accuracy are being compromised by the desire by some media houses to break news first.
Muhindo shared her thoughts during a phone interview with James Onen aka Fatboy on the Fatboy Show Tuesday morning in a bid to understand whether or not Ugandan journalists observed the ethics of news reporting.
She explained that journalists are obligated to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best choices about their lives, health and governance which requires it to be factual, accurate, up to date and of context.
“If you follow a lot of the key journalistic characters, you’ll notice that there’s too much speed and the need to break the news. This raises the question of whether these guys are taking time to practice ethical journalism because in it, accuracy is key and yet what we see is the hunger to just share information,” she said.
The subject of ethics in news reporting rose up over the weekend after NBS television journalists Canary Mugume and Samson Kasumba incorrectly reported about the arrival of Rwandan President Paul Kagame into Uganda.
Using their Twitter accounts, Canary informed that President Kagame would be in Uganda on April 23, 2022 to attend the birthday celebrations of Lt. Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba whereas Samson Kasumba posted a tweet welcoming Kagame in Uganda on April 24, 2022 yet the former hadn't arrived in the country yet.
This prompted a former journalist of the station Remmy Bahati to call out her fellows for inaccurate reporting saying that “accuracy is the number one cardinal principle of journalists,” advising them to report facts accurately as they happen.
Similarly, Muhindo said that; “Cardinal principles of journalism say that neither speed nor format should be an excuse for inaccuracy. This is a very big challenge today because people are so quick at breaking the news and report inaccurately when they are expected to rigorously verify it.”
In addition Fatboy said that as a result of social media, a number of citizen journalists have popped up and seem to have gathered audiences by breaking news events first. He said this has prompted a new culture in media houses where some people will be hired based on their following which might have increased journalistic pressure to become more aggressive in their reporting and urge to capture the audience.
According to Muhindo, hiring people on the basis of having a big social media following wouldn’t be a problem if these people are trained and regulated by their media houses regarding what they are supposed to be reporting on their social media platforms to avoid instances of misinforming the public.
The Fatboy show is hosted by James Onen aka Fatboy, Olive and Sarah every weekday from 6am to 10am on RX Radio.