Rural Based Journalists trained on digital inclusion reporting for marginalized groups of people

141 rural based journalists in five subregions in Northern and Eastern Uganda were trained to effectively report on digital inclusion for the vulnerable groups of people. Editors, and reporters working with Print, radio, television, and online news platforms attended the trainings held in Arua, Gulu , Lira, Moroto and Soroti districts. The training sessions tackled under coverage of stories on digital exclusion among vulnerable groups of people like rural women, persons living with disabilities, illiterates, and the youth. Among other topics discussed in the training were-Digital security for media houses and journalists, and digital literacy for rural based journalists. The training was aimed at promoting the role of professional journalism in establishing and sustaining digital inclusion for marginalized people in the rural areas of Uganda, by  increasing stories reported on digital exclusion of marginalized groups of people. The training was conducted by Media Focus on Africa with support from the Africa Digital Rights Fund through CIPESA.n

Felix Warom, chief of Bureau of Daily Monitor in West Nile said that his team will be more intentional about featuring stories on digital exclusion of vulnerable people in the news. He called upon journalists to get out of their reporting comfort zones by reaching out to the marginalized groups of people for their views on the ongoing digital developments. Mr. Warom was among the journalists trained to report on digital inclusion.

Joseph Akiiso  of Etop radio said that the digital inclusion training  has not only improved the way the radio station involves women in their programming, it has greatly supported the way their female journalists report and present the news.

“Our female journalists have become content creators and distributors. Their earnings have improved and they have become competitive in the job market. We have prepared our female journalists for the future, since digital media is the future and the future is now.” Says Joseph Akiiso

“Digital inclusion was a subject I avoided to report about because it was so complex. This training has opened my eyes to the stories all around us and how to make those stories relatable to the audiences and the duty bearers.”   Timothy Eodu, reporter Karamoja News

This training was the 4th edition of the Uganda Media Week regional media trainings and dialogues held annually in the key cities across the country, to refresh the reporting skills of journalists on specific issues.  Previous topics covered in the regional media trainings include reporting on; elections, accountability, gender sensitive reporting, post covid recovery of media houses


Media Focus on Africa collaborated with United Nations Capital Development Fund to produce training content and materials. Previously the two organizations worked together to train journalists online about covering digital inclusion in Uganda. UNCDF’s Steven Waiswa joined MFA’s Jan Ajwang and Ruth Nagudi facilitated training the training sessions.

Stephen Waiswa, UNCDF’s Regional Technical Specialist- Digital Financial services (East & southern Africa) defined the complex terms like digitization, digital divide, digitalization, digital transformation, digital inclusiveness, and digital economies. In his presentation, he Contextualized digital transformation in Uganda and the importance of digital inclusion. Mr. Waiswa elaborated the implications of digital transformation, existing digital gaps and made recommendations on how they can be filled.

Jan Ajwang, Media Focus on Africa’s Project Manager handled topics on identifying marginalized groups of people, digital safety for media houses and journalists, reporting stories on digital exclusion across multimedia platforms. In her presentation, she demonstrated how journalists can leverage one story to increase audiences across multimedia platforms, and how the stories can be written to compel action from the duty bearers.

Ruth Nagudi, Projects Coordinator facilitated an interactive session on Story ideas of underreported stories on digital exclusion of marginalized groups of people. Participants were divided into 4 groups to discuss and present on the Strengths, Weaknesses , Opportunities and Threats to digital inclusion in Uganda.  After participants’ presentations, Ms. Nagudi facilitated the session on how journalists could turn SWOT analysis into stories that could increase reporting on digital inclusion

Hindrances to reporting news stories on digital inclusion

Journalists pointed out structural, infrastructural, skills and illiteracy related obstacles as the main hinderances to effective coverage of stories on digital inclusion. Among other key reasons for not reporting on digital exclusion are fear of media houses losing their main advertisers- telecommunications companies and government bodies who are directly related to the infrastructural imbalances. Journalists are not in position to independently report on such exclusions by people based in remote rural areas because the story involves an advertiser on their media platforms.

Digital exclusion stories new government initiatives that require registration of beneficiaries online, a journalist shared an example difficulty to register for parish model registration in Agago district and other remote areas partly due to lack of internet to connect to the registration system, and when the smart phone batteries run out there is no electricity to recharge the registration devices.

Relatedly, news stories exposing gaps in digital interventions by government cannot be broadcast or published because most of the media houses are owned by the members of the ruling political party (National Resistance Movement). The media owners are either Members of parliament or former ministers.

High cost of media tools has digitally marginalized the journalists. A basic photo camera costs a minimum of one million Uganda Shillings, while a video camera costs over two million shillings, amounts that are much higher than what rural based journalists earn from journalism. Most journalists cannot afford to buy their own gadgets like cameras, laptops, and voice recorders to aid them in collecting stories. Rural based media houses have limited gadgets that have to be shared by all the journalists. For example, West Nile Press Association has one desktop that is shared by all the journalist members who do not have personal laptops. Despite the increase in alternative cheaper smart phones on the market, some journalists revealed that they took long to own smart phones because they had to save for them for a long time, others did not own smart phones at the time of the training. Lack of access to news collecting tools is a huge obstacle to reporting on digital exclusion.

The high cost of data bundles has compelled some journalists to limit their journalism practice to reporting for radio rather than reporting for online news platforms or print that requires one to continuously file stories via email or uploading them to the news websites. Majority of the rural based media houses do not provide internet services for the employees so the journalists have to improvise by buying their own data. Daily data bundles cost between five hundred Uganda shillings to five thousand Uganda shillings while the monthly data bundles start from five thousand Uganda shillings to one hundred and fifty thousand shillings.

The transport facilitation availed to journalists enable them to cover stories closer to their media houses. They cannot travel to news sources in remote areas, or to those far from their media houses. This has further marginalized voices of the marginalized groups of people in the news. Journalists continue to prioritize voices of politicians, leaders and professionals as news sources while ignoring voices of marginalized groups of people. Hellen Onepur, a news reporter and talk show host pointed out that journalists need to go an extra mile to find rural women news sources by finding them in the gardens or in their kitchens at home.

Cultural structures that continue to marginalize women, and persons with disabilities. It was reported by some journalists that women decline to participate in news or dialogues without having permission form their husbands.

Language barrier between journalists and persons living with disability, in this case the deaf. Among the 141 journalists trained, none had knowledge nor experience with sign language. A Lira based news reporter for online news platform pointed out the need for media houses to facilitate sign language interpreters whenever journalists are interviewing deaf news sources.

Some journalists lack digital skills to operate digital tools for news gathering. Rural based journalists are lagging behind on digital skills because most trainings target urban based journalists in the central region. Some journalists are technophobic, and prefer to continue using the old technology that they are used to. It’s worse for the marginalized groups of people who have never gained exposure to devices like computers nor smart phones. Most of who are illiterate lessens their chances of digital literacy which requires possession basic reading and writing skills.

Participating journalists made recommendations of topics they would like to be trained on; more sessions on digital safety, mobile phone reporting, access to information and how to generate revenue through reporting on digital inclusion

From the journalists’ responses to the post evaluation form, it is clear that more trainings in digital inclusion and rights are needed to empower journalists to increase reporting on digital issues. This can be achieved through designing trainings to focus on specific marginalized groups of people and their digital needs. Journalists also expressed the need for digital mentorship sessions, and training of trainers from different newsrooms. WhatsApp groups were created to keep the conversation going, and to share stories on digital inclusion.


Karamoja Dialogues

As we continue with our journey to the Uganda Media Week 2021 edition, the pre media week dialogues continue also. This week we are in Moroto (Karamoja sub region) and Soroti (Teso Sub region).

Today, we held a Journalists’ training in Moroto district. News editors and reporters from Nakapiripirit, Abim and Kotido have joined us in Moroto for a training on Increasing reporting on Digitial inclusion for marginalized groups. The training is supported by the #ADRFfund under @cipesaug

Training and Dialogue wrap-up

We had successful regional dialogues – reporting on digital inclusion. 96 journalists from the 3 regions participated (Lira 40, Gulu 31, Arua 25). We believe there will be a digital revolution in news dissemination in these areas. Also note that they were from different districts as follows; Agago, Dokolo, Amolatar, Nwoya, Gulu, Lira, Arua, Nebbi, Paidha, and Moyo

Media Focus On Africa partnered with @CIPESAUG via #ADRF fund


Journalists’ training on digital inclusion

On igniting the journey to the Uganda Media Week, we commenced with regional dialogues and trainings with journalists in Arua, Gulu and Lira! We have realised that there is need to increase reporting in digital inclusion since this subject has been under reported yet it’s a very critical & a development agenda. Our aim is to ensure that journalists can see issues from a digital transformative lens. There are many stories journalists in the West Nile Region can report on digital inclusion around weaknesses & threats that we can write on like Infrastructure, Power Supply, Taxes & Regulation, Skilling across board. Digitalization of the economy benefits individuals & communities contributing to solving societal challenges, is an accelerator 2 achieving sustainable developmental goals. It’s important to ensure they’re distributed in an equally rather than being accessed by afew.

Media Focus On Africa has partnered with CIPESA  to ensure that there is more sensitization and retooling of journalists on how to report on digital inclusion

Community Dialogues on GBV in Mbarara, Uganda

Dialogues in Mbarara were successful. We’re using edutainment, media and dialogues to fight GBV against women and girls and to promote women’s rights at the grassroot levels of the most affected communities . With support from Urgent Action Fund, MFA has partnered with ICODI , a community based organization for facilitate the dialogues



Community Media Fund

The Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa (BMIA) and the Ford Foundation have partnered to establish a Community Media Fund (CMF) providing critical philanthropic support to enhance citizens’ access to relevant information that enables the public to hold officials accountable and to urge support for policies and practices that promote inclusive economic and human development.  For more details –

Women and Political Campaigns in a Covid 19 world

Zoom Webinar by Media Focus on Africa. It will focus on women vying for elective sits in Kenya, discussing how the Covid Pandemic has affected the political landscape plus how women who are already disadvantaged on the political platform can navigate the landscape. The Webinar will also be live on Twitter and Facebook. More details to follow.

Investigative Sports Reporting Fund

28 October 2021: Sport has played an important role in society for thousands of years.  Around the world, it brings people together from all backgrounds and all walks of life. The Thomson Reuters Foundation has a funding programme  for journalists in Africa who want to report on how sport is run in their own country or wider region. Application deadline is 28th October 2021.

Learn how you can apply here –

World Congress on Information Technology and Computer Science (WCITSC)

9 October 2021: The conference provides a platform for professionals involved in Information Technology and Computer Science to exchange knowledge and gain an insight into the state of the art in the current technology, techniques and solutions in Computer Science as they have been developed and applied in different countries. Participants include a wide variety of stakeholders from research and academia, to industrial sectors as well as government organizations.

International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2 November as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ in General Assembly Resolution A/RES/68/163. The Resolution urges Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity. This day is commemorated every year on 2nd November a date which coincides with the day when tow French journalists were assassinated in Mail.

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