The printed word is thriving in parts of Africa, but advertisers' clout means they can often quietly control what is published. By Tom Rhodes
Journalists are back to work at Uganda's leading privately owned daily, The Monitor, after a 10-day siege of their newsroom by police. But that does not mean it is business as usual for the nation's press. The paper's owners at the Nation Media Group evidently begged and negotiated for its reopening--signaling to other media houses that they should toe the government line or face a similar stranglehold. Although the deliberations were successful in returning the paper to the newsstands, the long-term costs may prove exorbitant.
Nairobi, May 21, 2013--Ugandan police surrounded the Kampala offices of two private newspapers for seven hours on Monday, barring access to the premises, disabling printing presses, and effectively halting publication indefinitely, according to news reports. The police said they had search warrants to find documents related to a letter written by an army official that described an assassination plot.
While Uganda's politicians and social media are abuzz over a sensational letter reportedly written by a top security official about a high-level assassination plot, police have dutifully harassed the mainstream press in a bid to suppress the chatter.
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1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.