Over the last 10 years, print media has seen steady decline in both readership and revenue, and this year’s circulation or advertising spend reports are unlikely to reflect a change in the trend. Ugandans who used to rely on newspapers for their information and entertainment are quickly turning to the internet which meets their information needs with speed, ease and convenience that the print media can’t quite keep up with.
The leading online publishers who have, on the other hand, seen their audiences grow tremendously over the years have come together to form the Online Media Association – Uganda through which they plan to build capacity, improve quality, impact and value to both readers and advertisers.
Hon Tumwebaze welcomed the formation of the Association and pledged his support, informing members that his ministry is already in the process of making some policy changes that will help interaction between the government and online publishers.
“We’re in the process of introducing a media buying policy which will give government departments and bodies guidelines on how to choose the best media for particular purposes. When online publishers are organized in an association, it makes it easier for us to hold members accountable to responsible reporting, and also give us as government bargaining power when we buy media,” Tumwebaze said.
“We are also considering outsourcing the entire media buying function to competent advertising firms”, he went on to say.
Mr Giles Muhame assured Hon Tumwebaze that the online publishers subscribe to the highest standards of reporting, which has won them both following and trust from their audiences.
Mr Muhame said, “The association will be self regulating and will have internal mechanisms to guide members on the best practices, build capacity and continuously improve skills for high quality news, information and entertainment.”
Presenting the OMAU profile to the minister, Mr Kyamutetera Muhereza, the founder of CEO Magazine said the 15 online media in the association have over 5 million visitors combined monthly and nearly 100 journalists who are influencers in their own right, commanding close to 500,000 followers on social media.
“Government needs to urgently look into a policy that requires government agencies to consider online channels for their communications across board- including statutory notices. Relaxing and or changing government PPDA – focused media buying protocols will also go a long way towards earning government better returns on investment,” Mr Kyamutetera said.
Mr Tumbwebaze also urged the OMAU members to always market Uganda online, saying, “When online, whenever you speak, you are speaking on behalf of Uganda, even if you didn’t intend to. So let us put aside our political differences and market Uganda collectively at all times.”
The OMAU has received generally warm reception from the public, and expectations are high as the association progresses through the legal processes to formalize their existence.