What you need to know:
- Journalists raised concerns of during a capacity building programme at the African Centre for Media Excellence in partnership with the Natural Resource Governance Institute
Journalists covering the extractives sector have asked government to reduce restrictions on accessing critical oil and gas information.
The journalists raised the concerns while attending a one-day capacity building programme at the African Centre for Media Excellence in partnership with the Natural Resource Governance Institute.
The programme involved key stakeholders from government, and the civil society to promote transparency and accountability in the extractive industries through enhanced media oversight.
Ms John Kibego, a multimedia reporter, said delayed responses from oil companies and government creates a time lag in publishing timely stories on the oil and gas sector.
“If a host community is raising an issue, and I send in an inquiry [email] to oil companies and authorities, it doesn’t make sense to give me feedback in two or three weeks,” he said, noting that most stories lose relevance overtime while some inquiries are ignored.
Ms Leila Bbaale, an editor working for a radio station in Hoima District, said there’s an increase in censorship of journalists, especially those from Albertine Graben, noting that journalists who produce critical stories that shed light on some excesses in the oil industry have been targeted, and excluded from taking trips to the oil fields.
“Accessing the information from oil facilities is hard,” she said. Other journalists noted that the Ministry of Energy should provide training to make journalists understand oil and gas.
However, Ms Gloria Sebikari, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda corporate communications officer, said journalists should consider cultivating key sources from different contractors in the oil projects in a bid to access more information, adding that journalists and civil society are free to access necessary information, and interact with host communities.
Last month, Petroleum Authority of Uganda chief executive Ernest Rubondo rallied journalists to contribute and report positively about oil and gas projects.