Media practitioners and communicators on Thursday tried to reconfigure ethical standards in a discussion about social media, blogging and citizen journalism.
Dubbed the “Uganda Social Media conference”, the session was held at Serena hotel in Kampala featuring panellists; Rachael Akidi, Ofwono Opondo, Miriam Ohlsen, Dr. Sarah Namusoga and Ian Ortega.
Organised by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Uganda and South Sudan, the conference was moderated by KTN News Anchor, Joy Doreen Biira.
Speaking at the conference, Rachael Akidi, Editor BBC Focus on Africa radio, said social media is violating copyright and copyright laws with impunity.
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult for our followers to differentiate what we post from our employers,” Akidi noted, adding, “Today media has been redefined by technology and media is many things.”
She cited challenges and moral dilemmas, saying despite the democratisation of the media, many people still revert to traditional media.
“Good Journalism (slow news) is going to separate news from the noise on social media. It’s okay to defend personalities.”
According to her, the issue is whether one has declared one’s relationship with these personalities.
“Don’t put your life before a story. There is no story which is important than your life,” she noted, adding, “Any responsible media house has a duty to protect its journalists.”
Dr. Sara Namusonga, on the other hand, believes traditional media is using social media for the basic things and that there is nothing to write home about.
“We have embraced not social media to keep our information updated. Traditional media is not pushing boundaries as far as they should.”
She said traditional media and social media are like a married couple because “they cannot co-exist without each other”.
Miriam Ohlsen, DW Akademie’s country representative, believes there is a mix between citizen journalism and traditional journalism, saying it helps with verification.
“Citizen Reporters aren’t trained journos. It will remain hard for them to stick to ethical standards of journalism. When I look at social media and traditional journalism, the difference is ‘social’.”
Ofwono Opondo, the Government spokesperson, said personal responsibility is a call to humanity and that social media has become a platform for extortion.
“Some of these stories are done under the table. There is pressure to win audience but this doesn’t mean reporting without facts.”
Ortega, in his turn, said traditional media should tread carefully when using online platforms as sources for news.