Fast Internet connection will improve journalism

By Maureen Agena

THE installation of fast Internet marks a new era for communication between Africa and the rest of the world. Operated by an African firm SEACOM, the optic fibre will connect South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique to Europe and Asia.

The project comes at an opportune time to increase on the application of citizen journalism, a practice still limited and understood by only a few. Citizen journalism, also known as “participatory journalism” is a kind of journalism where ordinary people can publish news globally on news websites or media houses. An act that has so far been the province of established journalists and media companies.

The idea behind citizen journalism is that people without professional journalism training can use the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet to create, augment or fact-check media. This means that anyone with access to the Internet or even a cell phone can report, start a blog or chat.

As a result, it is becoming cheaper and easier for individuals and organisations with the right skills to publish their own newsletters, produce both audio and video materials in addition to hosting public chats. However, it is vital to not that while the media scene is changing in Uganda, mainstream media still carries weight and has influence in setting the public agenda.

One of the initiatives aimed at promoting citizen journalism is the Citizen Journalism in Africa (CJA) project.

The project aims at building the capacity of civil society organisations to use online and offline instruments as a means of publication, lobby, networking and knowledge sharing with their constituencies.
Fifteen organisations in Uganda are benefiting from this initiative led by Women of Uganda Network, an organisation that empowers women through use of ICTs and Busoga Rural Open Source and Development Initiative.
Ugandans should, therefore, effectively utilise the faster and cheaper connectivity for informative reporting on the situations and issues that affect them. Ugandans have more room to report about their environment as well as participate in information sharing.
The writer is an information officer with Women of Uganda Network.Read more Newvision