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Uganda Media Development Foundation

 1.0 Introduction

 Uganda Media Development Foundation (UMDF) is a registered media NGO (Number S.5914/2747) founded in 1994 by a group of journalists with a common vision of a pro-active media that participates in the democratic and development processes in the country. UMDF aims to enhance the capacity of media practitioners to play an active and meaningful role in the realization of democracy, human rights observance, and development in general. 

 The founding of UMDF was informed by the thinking that any society that cherishes democratic ideals needs an independent, pluralistic, free and informed media to act as a platform for democratic discourse among its citizens. Its membership comprises experienced journalists and professionals working in the media and corporate communications sector sharing a common desire to strengthen the media’s role as a forum for democratic exchange of ideas in society.

 UMDF recognizes the need for media practitioners to gain relevant professional skills and consciousness to enable them act effectively as a link between the different centres of power in society and the citizens, as the citizen’s watchdog. It also reckons the need to scrutinize the structural environment in which the media industry operates such as the legal and policy dynamics, and how they affect the role of the media in society.


 The philosophy that guides UMDF is the thinking that the media are a central pillar in society, and therefore play a crucial role in the democracy and development process by offering a diversity of information, which acts as basis for citizens’ choices.

 2.1 Vision:   A journalism entity that uplifts the role of media in development and democracy

 2.2 Mission:

 To help journalists build their skills and achieve excellence in media practice by offering programs and services that enable them realize their potential, and contribute to better governance and livelihoods choices.

 To provide opportunities to individuals by empowering them with communications tools.

 To educate journalists in Uganda about communications in development and better governance to achieve this mission.

 2.3 Core Values

     * Integrity- we conduct ourselves and relations with utmost integrity and demand from members to embrace honesty and earn respect of others.

     * Service- we commit ourselves to the development of a vibrant media industry through our operations.

     *Team work – we work together with our stakeholders to deliver the best information products and impart practical skills among trainees.

     *Results oriented- we are committed to achieve the best outcome from engagements in our care for stakeholders, clients, trainees, and community where we operate.


 UMDF’s main objectives are the following:

 1. To enhance journalists skills and professionalism through mid-career training

 2. To improve media regulation and practice of journalism

 3. To increase research on media and advocacy on media policy

 4. To promote media engagement in peace building and conflict transformation


 The membership of UMDF is open to all journalists who share its vision and mission, and have demonstrated commitment to that cause. Membership is drawn from both print and electronic media, and all members are media practitioners in various media organizations

 4.1 Associate Membership

 A number of professionals who ascribe to the UMDF goals and objectives can become Associate Members. These can be engaged by UMDF on the various tasks and consultancies to offer expertise or backstop our clients’ information and communication needs.


 The supreme organ of UMDF is the Annual General Meeting of all members which scrutinizes the policies and activities of UMDF. The policies of UMDF are formulated by a nine-member Executive Committee, which is elected every two years. The Committee is headed by a Chairman. The day-to-day activities of UMDF are the responsibility of the Secretariat headed by the Executive Director.


 6.1 Media Training

 UMDF regards training as a continuous process to enable journalists tackle the contemporary challenges of professionalism. UMDF thus organizes mid-career training activities, mainly through workshops on pertinent issues that relate to journalistic professionalism. UMDF uses a thematic approach to training networked through different regional journalists associations. Thematic areas addressed include; Business reporting, Court reporting, Environment reporting, Elections coverage, and Human rights reporting. The training involves 300 journalists every year. The training regional centres are in: Mukono, Mbale, Jinja, Gulu, Arua, Hoima, Mbarara, Kabale, and Kasese. It has collaborated with local and international bodies such organizations as the Uganda Human Rights Commission on human rights reporting and the World Bank to train journalists in business and development reporting.


6.2 Media Governance and Public Accountability

The training  focuses  on equipping journalists with skills in reporting on key public issues such as the need for accountability and good governance. This kind of reporting has been very limited among journalists because of censorship by media owners, who at times happen to be politicians holding public office. Calling public officials to account is a cardinal principle which journalists have to uphold. It also helps to sensitize the public about the concept of citizen journalism, where people formerly known as the audience employs the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another. It is based upon public citizens "playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information, especially using new and social media technology.

It has been noted that accountability cannot exist without proper accounting practices; in leadership roles accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.


Uganda has a new Parliament now, where the ruling NRM has a substantial majority.  This numerical strength has in many cases in the past been used run through legislation and adopt policy positions that favour government interests but which are not subjected to rigourous debate or critical media review.  Trends in previous parliaments show that many MPs from both sides of Parliament do not prepare enough through research before taking part in Parliament debates, and as a result, have little to contribute to the quality and depth of knowledge on bills before Parliament. They do not consult adequately with constituents on positions towards the business in Parliament. As a result, MPs take positions which in many instances which do not reflect or represent views of the constituents. As a result, within the context of representative democracy, the gap between the elected leaders and the electorate continues to widen.


The relative complication is that the media, which should keep government in check, also lack the skills in understanding key governance and accountability issues. For instance, most of the upcountry media, will pick stories from syndicated agencies such as Uganda Radio Network, covering what has happened on the flow of Parliament, but  miss out on the big picture and the context.


There is great need to emphasize that good governance is about the processes for making and implementing decisions. It’s not about making ‘correct’ decisions, but about the best possible process for making those decisions. Good decision-making processes, and therefore good governance, share several characteristics. All have a positive effect on various aspects of  government including consultation policies and practices, meeting procedures, service quality protocols and good working relationships. The participants will be trained that good governance is accountable, transparent, follows the rule of law, responsive, equitable and inclusive, participatory, effective and efficient


 6.3 Media Advocacy and networking

 Through lobbying relevant parliament committees and government agencies, UMDF advocates for improved media laws and policy. It interacts and networks with other media organisations and institutions on issues of the media and its development. It has worked with the Eastern African Media Institute (Uganda Chapter) on media law reform, and Panos Eastern Africa on Broadcasting Policy.

 6.4 Research and documentation

 UMDF conducts research on pertinent issues of concern to the media, more specifically issues on media policy development. It has in conjunction with Human Rights Network (HURINET) carried out research on the state of media freedom in Uganda. This was a cross sectional survey of the views of society on different aspects of media freedom in Uganda. UMDF also engages in evaluation of communication strategies and communication policy.

 6.5 Media and Peace building

 The decades long conflict in Uganda has impacted on the media to review its position out of the observer comfort zone into a constructive participant in ongoing peace building process. UMDF acknowledges the power media wields in influencing opinion and actions among the population especially in the context of the unheeding conflict. It now pursues this objective through training journalists in peace journalism to aid conflict transformation among parties and communities in the conflicts.




 1. Promoting Media and Democracy in Uganda funded by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS).

 2. Strengthening Civil Society, Media and Local Council’s Capacity to promote Political Pluralism, Democratic

Participation and Representation at Local Government Level in Uganda funded by the European Union (EU). [ENDED June 2010]

 3. Promoting Peace Journalism in Uganda funded by Church Development Services (EED).

 4. Peace, Development and Electoral Journalism funded by US Embassy, USAID and NUTI

 5. Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Context of the 2011 General Elections (GTZ)


 UMDF has conducted a series of workshops at designated centers in Masaka, Soroti, Mukono, Gulu, Hoima, Kasese, Jinja. The thematic topical areas include:

 * Human rights reporting

* Contemporary challenges in the media

* Network strengthening

* Reporting on legislative and local government institutions

* Parliamentary reporting for broadcast journalists

* Broadcasting regulation in Uganda

* Media Management challenges in East Africa

* Political reporting

* Evaluation of media reporting of the 2006 elections

* Investigative journalism training for upcountry journalists

* Elections reporting in a multiparty system

* Media and the political transition

* Radio programmes on thematic areas of the media and governance on Mega FM.

 As a result of the activities over 400 journalists and media practitioners have benefited in various skills development to constructively engage in public dialogue on governance and democratic discourse. The trainings have stimulated a number of UMDF members and beneficiaries to advance their carriers in academia to first degree, Masters and PHD levels.

 UMDF today prides in a body of variously skilled practitioners in communication, strategic planning and communication strategy development, media law, media training and research, media policy and analysis, information management, monitoring and evaluation of communication strategies, media development and leadership.

 Some members are now successful participants in the political arena and have become Members of Parliament, Resident District Commissioners, councilors and local council leaders, negotiating better socio-economic policies, fighting corruption, influencing and lobbying government for better governance.


 Your firm, organization, Ministry, program, project can benefit from UMDF’s growing body of communications resource associate professionals competent to offer expertise and consultancy in the following areas:

 * Media training

* Media Advocacy

* Media Research

* Media Policy development and analysis

* Media law reform and development

* Civic education and Human rights sensitization

* Communication for development in programs

* Media Products design and publishing(Editing, proof reading, graphical designs)

* Media campaign development and branding

* Communication planning and strategic development

* Strategic planning and assessments

* Monitoring and evaluation of communication plans/programs