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Why Aren't Uganda's Journalists Asking the Tough Questions?

Ugandan journalists covering peace keeping mission in Somalia. Photo shared by.....

Ugandan journalists covering peace keeping mission in Somalia. Photo shared by Aidah Nalubega on Facebook. Used with permission

Despite challenges to press freedom from the government, Uganda generally has a vibrant media industry. According to Freedom House, there are more than two dozen daily and weekly newspapers and more than 180 private radio stations.

But some argue that the quality of journalism in Uganda is ‘going to the dogs’. Stories and analyses lack depth and quality. Several issues, particularly those of a political nature, remain ignored because journalists do not have the courage to question what is going on in the country.

According to the Kampala-based African Centre for Media Excellence, Ugandan journalists have also been accused many times of engaging in corruption to cover up stories.

Around 100 journalists were reportedly paid money in 2014 for favourable coverage of Uganda's former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. In 2011, the government allocated money to pay journalists to promote positive coverage of government projects, particularly in the oil sector.

Samson Tusiime, a lawyer by profession and the co-founder of Veritas Interactive, @SchoolPlusUg and @QlikSocial, fired the following questions to Ugandan journalists:

Kiira EV is Uganda's first electric car that was built by Makerere University students in 2011.

Tusiime further asked them to verify statistics that non-governmental organizations release to the public:

UGX is the Ugandan shilling. One dollar is equivalent to 2,990 UGX.

Ituri is in the North Eastern Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Ituri forest is home to the largest remaining population of forest elephants.

These questions led to the creation of #SamwyriQNS hashtag where other Ugandans joined Samson Tusiime in questioning Ugandan journalists:

Joseph Kibweteere is the cult leader of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God. A hundred members of the cult were burnt to death in 2000.

Julie, a social media enthusiast, challenged journalists:

This user admitted that these were tough questions:

Kevin, a Ugandan blogger, noted:

Frank Tumusiime, a water and sanitation specialist, revealed one of the reasons that may be behind falling journalism standards in Uganda:

Another one, Daneri Akiiki, said:

The Aga Khan owns the largest private media house in East and Central Africa.

For those journalists who do dare to report on sensitive issues, they have regularly faced harassment from the government. In May 2013, Ugandan authorities shut down two newspapers after they reported on a letter written by the country's coordinator of intelligence services asking for an investigation into a plan to groom the eldest son of President Yoweri Museveni to succeed the the leader.

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