The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, has urged parliamentary journalists to avoid biased reporting and advised them to be guided by public interest while carrying out their duties.
Kadaga appealed to journalists to familiarise themselves with the Parliament Rules of Procedure and avoid “passing judgment on issues they do not understand.”
The Speaker made these remarks at the opening of a two-day training for journalists accredited to cover the 10th Parliament.
“Bias is something you should avoid,” she said.
The training is being held in the Parliament Conference Hall from 19 – 20 April, 2016.
The Parliamentary Commission decided to train journalists accredited to cover the 10th Parliament, which is scheduled to commence in May, 2016 in order to improve their skills and understanding of the Legislature and how it works.
The training, organized and funded by the Institute of Parliamentary Studies is held following a new requirement that all journalists must possess a university degree and three years experience for them to qualify for accreditation to cover Parliament.
The Speaker said that it was found necessary to train journalists considering they cannot get such training from anywhere else since there is only one national Parliament in Uganda. She said that for journalists to give a proper analysis of the workings of Parliament, they needed to make accurate reporting and writing of the activities of the House.
“I appeal to you to serve the country, and the media industry and to not misrepresent Parliament and its committees.”
The Speaker urged journalists to always source information from the right people and to avoid sensationalism.
She asked journalists to acquaint themselves with the workings of Parliament committees, which she said “only carry out a delegated duty of the plenary.”
“I look forward to a fruitful relationship, balanced reporting and good representation of parliamentary issues,” Kadaga said.
Kadaga explained that because journalists are not Members or staff of Parliament, they fall in the category described as ‘strangers’ and do not have the right of stay in Parliament. She said that journalists were in Parliament at the will of the institution.
The Clerk to Parliament, Mrs. Jane Lubowa Kibirige welcomed the journalists and commended them for being part of preparations for the 10th Parliament.
“I am sure you will learn from us as we learn from you,” Mrs. Kibirige said.
The journalists will be taken through the Committee system; the Budget process; Parliament and the Media; and Protocol and Etiquette, among others.