It has almost become a norm to expect front pages of the leading dailies, tabloids and/or prime time news items about a kidnap, murder, corruption scandal and if not, a tragedy that claimed lives or left many injured!
Recently, I asked some of my WhatsApp friends to name some of the biggest corruption scandals, murder and tragedy-related stories that dominated the media for quite some time but gradually disappeared.
Randomly, the corruption scandal list included, among others; the valley dams, NSSF/temangalo, Chogm, the Bank of Uganda and the Lubowa hospital saga. The murders and or kidnaps of Andrew Kaweesi, Muslim clerics, Joan Kagezi, Susan Magara, Maria Nagirinya and Ronald Kitayimbwa, featured among the most publicised of recent.
The Kibwetere massacre, Kasese killings, Buddo Junior inferno, the capsized MV Templar boat, the recurrent Bududa landslides and the traffic related fatalities featured among the tragedies that had prolonged media coverage.
Whereas no known efforts have been invested in chronologically documenting these scandals and tragedies, the various media outlets that consistently do their best to report, inform and educate the public about them can, to a great extent, facilitate research and documentation efforts on what actions have so far been taken to address their causes, let alone conclusively resolve them!
Without adequate documentation, follow up and action after the continued media coverage of these occurrences, they gradually become ‘normal occurrences’ in society. The script tends to become repetitive and predictable.
For instance, the perpetuators of corruption, the murderers and those who abet related atrocities have become comfortable in the knowledge that they will commit these crimes and still get away scot-free. They probably also know that the media will relentlessly disseminate stories and successfully influence public discourse about these occurrences. And that the best that the police can do is to come through with their inconclusive investigations until the story becomes forgotten or a similar incident happens again!
At times, the script continues with a certain government department, ministry or agency heading to the media and stating the government position on the matter.
The general public on the other hand continues to become more desperate and irritable due to the rampant murders, tragedies and corruption scandals. They helplessly lament, curse, and express displeasure with the way things are going! The few that haven’t experienced such ordeals remain indifferent and detached from these realities.
And this is how corruption, murders and other tragedies have slowly become ‘normal occurrences’ within our society today. The mastery of how the script flows by the perpetrators of crime, the predictable actions and/or inactions of stakeholders, including government agencies, civil society, as well as indifferent reactions from the general public have all led us to where we are now!
Amid it all though, we must commend the media for their tireless efforts in documenting and disseminating information about these occurrences. One of the critical questions, however, is whether or not the media can go beyond and follow up on what happens after persistently reporting about these occurrences? As to whether it is their mandate or not that is another question that needs to be answered. And if it is not, we should also seek answers to whose mandate it is or should be.