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World Press Freedom Day just another day to become rhetorical about issues: Ssenoga Brian

“In my view, it is just another day to become rhetorical about issues. As long as authority remains in conflict with the press, nothing will change.” Ssenoga says.

Every year, journalists and the world at large celebrate the World Press Freedom Day. If the idea is foreign to you, here is a brief about what it is about. Declared by the United Nations General Assembly, it is the day observed to raise awareness on the importance of the freedom of the press. It reminds governments to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression (Article 19, 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

This year’s theme is, according to UNESCO, ‘Information as public good.’ The theme underlines the undisputable importance of verified and reliable information. The above information was part of the message from the Director General UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day.

In trying to understand how young journalists perceive the day, I had a conversation with Mr. Ssenoga Brian. He is the C.E.O MiHoney Uganda, a bee product value chain business, and graduate of Mass Communication from the Islamic University in Uganda. He’s view on the World Press Freedom Day revealed shocking but true details about the profession.

“In my view, it is just another day to become rhetorical about issues. As long as authority remains in conflict with the press, nothing will change.” Ssenoga says.

He adds that many journalists’ careers have stopped because of this conflict. Many people according to him have suffered at the hands of the state, and yet the perpetrators walk free!

“Every day should be world press freedom day,” Brian added. However, he blasted journalists who unnecessarily put their lives at risk by misunderstanding their freedom.

“If you have the freedom to do what you want, does it guarantee that you do everything that you wish?” He asked.

In his opinion, he thinks those who hate bad press should avoid actions that force journalists to do so, citing violence against journalists as his example. “If you don’t wish to be known for gruesome acts, don’t do them. But also, just because you have freedom to report does not mean to infringe on people’s rights.”

He says the conflict is escalated by the presence of masqueraders and half-baked individuals, who tag themselves journalists. “Everybody feels that they are journalists today. You listen to a radio station today and a comedian is the one reporting issues and they call themselves journalists.”

He adds that from the law enforcement end, people in authority without knowledge about the law and what it takes to build professionals is given power to incarcerate the journalists. The mixture of the two confused groups then compounds the issue and compounds it.

He advised that more effort should be put into making sure all sides do their jobs perfectly. Shifting blame onto each side is not the way forward but rather embracing professionalism.

“Celebrating such days and talking is all nonsense! We ought to be practical instead.” He advised. He also added that the lack of a professional regulatory body that validates professionals is what is missing. He cites professionals like Lawyers, Engineers, and Accountants, who have bodies that certify and qualify professionals.

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