Pluralist and serious, Uganda’s written press is the sounding board of the country’s political crises. The Daily Monitor, belonging to the Aga Khan’s powerful Nation Media Group, largely dominates the media landscape. As a result, it has been the target of attacks from President Yoweri Museveni who, despite his new civilian mode, has not lost his old authoritarian habits. This was the case after the death of south Sudan leader John Garang on board a Ugandan presidential helicopter. Radio stations, which host popular debates, were caught up in the political tensions. Journalist Andrew Mwenda, who discussed the day’s burning news issues and raised the questions ordinary people were asking, faced a court accused of “sedition”.
Since the airwaves were liberalised in the 1990s, Uganda’s press and radio have displayed their independence and provided thoughtful coverage of the news. The success of phone-in talk shows and “ebimeeza”, live public debate, is based on a respect for journalistic ethics and a striking a balance in political views expressed. This rigour has allowed the privately-owned media to acquire credibility with its listeners and to be capable of defending itself effectively.