Counting on Monitor to tell story of yet another shooting

Author: Odoobo C. Bichachi is the Nation Media Group (NMG)-Uganda public editor. PHOTO/FILE.

What you need to know:

NMG platforms have over the years distinguished themselves as the place you will find an opportunity to tell your story even when no one else wants to tell it.

Early this week, a very regular Daily Monitor reader Isaac Acong sent me a rather sad and cheeky note about the day’s front cover story.

He said: “What you see on front page of DM about the shooting of a traffic police officer by UPDF soldiers is indicative of an inflection point in the lawless shooting curve in our otherwise peaceful and friendly country. Just like that, police now joins other lowly entities to count on you, Daily Monitor, to raise an alarm when “one of their own” is shot. Remember the “quick and the dead”; some kind of Wild West!”

Indeed one of the cardinal tenets of the media is to uplift the downtrodden, to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, to give voice to the voiceless, to pursue justice for the vulnerable, to hold the powerful to account, and many other things put in different words.

NMG platforms have over the years distinguished themselves as the place you will find an opportunity to tell your story even when no one else wants to tell it.

This is embedded in the Group’s editorial policy guidelines and underpinned by the principle that: “It is the duty of the media to publish information that should be in the public domain, on what goes on in society and to uncover and disclose matters that ought to be subjected to public debate, analysis, scrutiny or criticism in keeping with the universally acknowledged principle that the media’s primary responsibility is to the people… has an obligation to protect individuals against injustices or neglect committed by public authorities and institutions, private concerns and others.”

Crime reporter Andrew Bagala’s story, “Policeman shot by UPDF soldiers pleaded for life” (Daily Monitor January 20) which is just one of the follow-ups of the story Mr Acong refers to above, is an example of giving voice to the voiceless.

The story does not only tell the macabre details of how UPDF soldiers unflinchingly shot a professional colleague [policeman] and now his leg has been amputated as a consequence, but it also paints a picture of a sick healthcare system that could not rise to the occasion even in desperate moments such as this when a little good care could have mitigated the inhuman shooting error.

The story also brings out new details that the public could not pick from the grainy CCTV clip circulating on social media, namely: the dialogue the soldiers had with their victim before shooting him, names the “commander” and alleged shooter, the nonchalant handling of the patient at Mulago Hospital, lack or responsibility by all concerned security institutions, etc.

Lastly, it does situate police constable Robert Mukebezi in the community, family and country bringing home this sad event.  It is the torch needed to shine into this dark event. 

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Chris Magoba: Refer to your story in Daily Monitor of January 14 about the many donations received by Kayunga old man, Godfrey Jjemba Matte, who reportedly reads announcements at community events including funerals, and recently became a social media sensation. And among the donations to Mr Jjemba, according to your story, is a community radio. What is a “community radio”? Is it a radio set? Or a radio station?

Public Editor: This is a typical “Uglish” misnomer! Apparently, a small table-top outside sound broadcasting system usually found in trading centres playing music and personal announcements has been christened “community radio” in street talk. This should have been accurately described rather than give the impression that a community radio as a concept can be carried in a box and handed over! 

Joshua Kagoro: I am not a sports guy but guess what this show, “NTV Press Box” is so fascinating. The science and art in that show, the 360 sports analysis, etc is great! Andrew Kabuura, [perhaps] Africa’s best commentator and sports journalist with [perhaps] the best sports panel in East Africa: Ismail Dhakaba (head of Sports at NMG), Andrew Mwanguhya (best sports investigative writer) and of course the legend Mark Ssali. I don’t miss the show! Thank you and keep it up!

Public Editor: Thank you! The commendations are duly passed over to whom they are due.

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