Social media killing professional journalism - Oulanyah

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah says he is concerned with the way social media is killing professional journalism in Uganda.

Oulanyah, who was speaking at a seminar for journalists from across the country at Arch Hotel in Ntinda on Thursday, 28 March 2019, said the fact that everyone with a smartphone can post any information puts stress on the professional practice of journalism.

“Everyone from anywhere can now post anything without verifying information and without taking responsibility for it. This has killed investigative journalism,” said Oulanyah.

The training was organised by Wizarts Foundation, an organisation that specializes in communications for development through the broadcast media.

Oulanyah added that even essential roles of media such as civic education are slowly dying.

“You may think that social media has opened the civic space but it has closed it. What goes on there is hate, emotional outburst and tribal sentiment,” said Oulanyah adding that, “somebody posts wrong things about you, you try to correct them and they start  insulting you”.

Oulanyah explained that regulating social medial in Uganda may not be a foreseeable achievement considering the fact that even those who invented it have failed to totally regulate it.

He urged media agencies to consider a massive campaign on responsible use of media. Oulanyah said there is need for online agencies, Facebook users and bloggers who are credible so that the public can look to them for accurate news.

He said that unless that is done, traditional media such as radio would be outcompeted.

 “People in radio, if you don’t become creative, your days are numbered. You are lucky that in Uganda, few people have smart phones but for those countries where the majority own smart phones, no one goes to radio for news,” Oulanyah said.

Oulanyah however, said that social media puts some level of restraint on leaders. Alluding to a recent incident where a traffic officer was allegedly harassed by Rtd. Maj Matayo Kyaligonza and his officers, Oulanyah said leaders will learn to control themselves in public.

 “In the past, you could grab the [journalist’s] camera and smash it, but with social media, by the time you grab the camera news will be all over, ” he said.