2021: A Plea for Journalism that promotes Social Cohesion – Norbert Mao

Over the last two decades there has been a remarkable expansion of communication in the world.

Ugandans are constantly inundated by the transmission of ideas due to the ubiquitous apparatus available for the transmission of news, views, entertainment, information and even propaganda. The vast network of communication penetrates all corners no matter how remote.

Words and pictures constantly intrude our surroundings. Our eyes and ears are continuously hammered by words and pictures, sights and sounds.

Today, a whisper can be magnified so many times due to the impact of various media. Democracy and media are now inseparable. Indeed, democracy has evolved irreversibly into a ‘mediacracy’.

The media as a system of amplification, is critical in this season of elections amidst COVID-19. Media houses and in particular Talk Show hosts are going to wield power over public opinion to an unprecedented degree.

This power must be tempered with a high level of social consciousness and a sense of responsibility to promote socially constructive public discourse.

The media can build or destroy. In 1994, over a short period of 100 days, over 1 million ethnic Tutsis were murdered in Rwanda in an orgy of violence that shocked the world.

This genocide was accomplished largely because the media, especially Radio Mille Colline and it’s talkshow hosts actively promoted the ideology of genocide.

We can avoid and prevent such a genocide in Uganda by consciously looking for common ground among political actors. Elections should be a competition to serve, not a struggle for survival.