Community Voice Media Initiative

Putting the power to report in the hands of its citizens with the creation of Northernews WIRE as Northern Uganda’s Independent Community Based Organisation. This new portal offers premium online news and information while paying attention to neglected, unheard of and underreported issues from across Northern Uganda, which is currently undergoing a post-conflict recovery process following two decades of war under the Lord's Resistance Army.

More than 70% of the population in Northern Uganda live below the poverty line. This implies the majority cannot purchase the national dailies or even watch television news because they are all expensive.

Through the Northernews WIRE we have been able to offer free quality information accessed by our partner radio station, social media networks and individuals, who have in turn, through their mobile phones and Facebook, been able to report to us human rights abuses, mismanagement of public funds, worrying health conditions, and we investigate.

CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

Increase access to free quality information to the populace so people are in position to understand the latest news and trends in their surroundings.

Secondly, being able to make informed and conscious decisions on issues that matters to them most. Thus, they can hold the powers that be to account and contribute to the various voices demanding transparent and democratic process in the region.

HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED

Established strong presence on Facebook with instant news tips and story idea sharing.

Posted provocative stories on sensitive but neglected community issues and got the leaders concerned to react to the claims or allegations.

The forum has helped us understand and check the powers of political leaders by openly sharing with them our issues online and them having to openly defend themselves.

Lobbied for funds for building a dynamic website that is helping us bring the region, which has been in total media blackout, closer to the world.

Through the website a number of stories have been posted and links shared, as one way of promoting it to greater heights. The site shows steady growth in its first year of establishment.

We managed to register the initiative so as to be able to handle legal battles regarding media relations and do professional work. Northern Uganda has not been in the media much, as it was during the time of the war. There is a worry government may clamp down.

CAMPAIGN INNOVATIONS

It's the first of its kind in the region, helping to raise voices on neglected and underreported issues in the region.

It gives the common man at grassroots level a voice and above all builds a formal network and partnership with radio, bloggers and social media activists to help widen the information-sharing scope.

The population is excited at the speed at which information is being released and shared, continuously.

CAMPAIGN IMPACT

Over 5,000 people are treated to fresh news and information daily at no cost.From our Facebook followers, links shared in various social media groups and media networks, especially the radio stations, spread news across the region. We feel the community is seriously interested in the kind of content we bring to them and are eager for more.

Our social media page has been turned into a hub for discussion on topical issues, attracting diverse people who have in turn shared or like the story to ensure greater reach.

It's the voice of Northern Uganda, providing collective news reports that cut across the 18 districts with over 7.2 million people reached. These are people who were previously neglected by mainstream media working for government at the expense of the local people. (The 7.2 million figures is based on a report by the Uganda National Bureau of Statistic) on the overall population in Northern Uganda.

CHALLENGES FACED

Our biggest challenge has been a shortage of fund to intensify our newsroom operation. Slow internet and shortage of basic operational materials such as laptops and a camera is required to ensure the timely production and execution of our work, even when in the field.

Intimidation and threats based on running some stories, like our exclusive picture stories on government involvement in evicting people from their traditional homesteads in the Apaa Amuru district after the women went on a nude demonstration, which did not go down well with the authority.

Expansion is still an issue but through network building we have to see ourselves somewhere in the near future.

LESSONS LEARNT

Never to Give Up! We have started our work for the voiceless and we have not given up. Even when the struggle is at its worst peak we are set to continue for the sake of Northern Uganda.

The majority of people/ target population is willing to use our content, and share or engage in discussion simply because it directly relates to their daily struggles.