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Challenges and Opportunities of reporting and communicating agricultural and rural development issues in Uganda

Insights from a research paper By Gerald Businge and Risdel Kasasira presented at CTA Media Conference in Brussels, Belgium in October 2009 on The role of the media in agricultural and rural development of Africa Caribbean and Pacific countries.

Introduction: Media Coverage of Agriculture and Rural Development Issues

This paper is informed by findings of a study carried out by Ultimate Media Consult on the coverage of agriculture issues in Uganda’s two leading newspapers, both of whom have provided dedicated space to agriculture issues.

The New Vision www.newvision.co.ug , which has been having two farming pages every Wednesday for the past more than 10 years was convinced about the need to have more agriculture covered. Between four and six mostly news stories are reported weekly by the government owned newspaper. It took the intervention of International Women Media Forum to get the Aga Khan owned Daily Monitor www.monitor.co.ug to dedicate weekly space to agricultural reporting. Daily Monitor has published these stories every Wednesday since getting this funding.

Daily Monitor newspaper

While many stories have been covered under the dedicated weekly reporting by the two newspapers, agriculture still remains poorly covered compared to business, politics, crime, entertainment and health.

Objectives of the study on media coverage of agriculture

v  To find out the nature, quantity and quality of reporting of agriculture in Uganda

v  Identify challenges and solutions towards better coverage of agriculture issues

v  To establish if and how farmers are benefiting from the media coverage of agriculture.

v  To propose measures that can be used to inform greater coverage and communication of agriculture and rural development issues.

Media in Uganda

The media in Uganda has undergone rapid growth in the last twenty years. With the liberalization of the communication sector in the 1990s, Uganda has got over 200 FM radio stations, 20 Television channels and 10 newspapers and magazines. New Media or Online journalism is still green in the country because of limited internet capabilities (broadband is being connected).

The newspapers that include New Vision, Daily Monitor, Red Pepper and The Observer are the most influential part of print media in Uganda.

These major newspapers of Uganda are published in English. Apart from the major Ugandan newspapers there are a number of regional newspapers in Uganda which are published in various regional languages of Uganda. Thus it is seen that Uganda newspapers provide a wide range of news.

Findings on Media output Vis agriculture

*Dedicated coverage has resulted in more coverage of agriculture issues.

*But dedicated coverage has seen agriculture issues delegated to “their sections” and not in major news e.g. front page

*Of the three surveyed newspapers, there was no reporter specializing in agricultural reporting.

*Despite having all these media outlets, agriculture and rural development issues are still poorly covered compared to other beats like politics, entertainment, business, health and sports.

This can be explained by the covering pattern of agriculture compared to other beats.

Example

In the last eight months, New Vision ran has run three, Red Pepper has zero and Weekly Observer has not run any on their front page news. Almost all the articles on Daily Monitor front page are political (530), business (8), sports (4), health (14), entertainment (3) agriculture (0), environment (4)

 

News type/beat Number of stories
Politics 530
Business 8
Sports 4
Entertainment 3
Agriculture 0
Environment 4

Table showing front page story distribution by beat in Daily Monitor from January 2009 to August 2009
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