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Newsprint in Uganda

Newsprint in Uganda by some accounts is the most vibrant political news medium. The industry was first liberalized in 1983. In the past the newspaper industry was lead by two national daily newspapers the Daily Monitor and New Vision (state-owned) both of which publish in English. New Vision was not only the most widely read newspaper but was also seen as the most trustworthy and objective. New Vision is listed on the Uganda Securities Exchange with a majoirty of its shares owned by the government. Although largely owned by the government, it is enjoined by the NVPPCL Act of 1997 to remain independent. New Vision has a popular weekly sister publication the Sunday Vision, which has a 15 percent weekly readership within the survey. The Daily Monitor's publisher is Monitor Publications Limited with a majority of its holdings own by Nairobi's Nation Media Group . The Group also publishes the Daily Nation, a prominent newspaper in Kenya. The Daily Monitor newspaper is frequently critical of the government and of President Yoweri Museveni. In the past it has been labelled by the government as an ‘enemy of the state’. [1]

Chart 1

However, in recent years a number of other daily newspapers like the Red Pepper and Budkedde (state-owned) have emerged to challenge their dominance. Budkedde is particularly interesting because it is the most read local-language newspaper as it publishes in Luganda. A majority of its weekly readership in the survey reported speaking Luganda in their homes, while only about 2 percent reported speaking English in their homes. Budkedde’s readership seems to be strongest within the Central region, as a little over 50 percent of respondents who are weekly readers reside there. About a quarter of its readers live in the Eastern region. For the other three major newspaper readership among survey respondents was evenly spread throughout the country's four regions; Central, Eastern, Western and Northern. Twenty-one percent respondents said they thought Budkedde's news reporting was objective. This percentage is second behind New Vision the state-owned newspaper. Red Pepper another emerging daily newspaper is more known for its sensationalist material. Only 5 percent of those surveyed thought its reporting was objective and only 4 percent thought the publication was a trustworthy source for information. For more information on the top daily and newspapers see our Media Outlet Matrix.

Chart 2

Even though urban residents are more than twice as likely to be weekly newspaper readers than rural residents, according to the survey, nearly three-quarters of the readership of the top four newspapers reside in rural areas. There is a substantial difference between male and female newspaper readership. While 36 percent of men are weekly readers, only 24 percent of women are weekly readers in the survey. This is possibly a symptom of the literacy gap between men and women documented by the United Nations Development Programme, where 82 percent of men and 66 percent of women are literate. As Chart 3 depicts, newspaper readership increases substantially with education and socio-economic status (SES).

Chart 3

The Central region as the most affluent province leads all other regions in the percentage of weekly newspaper readers. While in the other three regions about a quarter of all respondents were weekly readers, in the Central region 38 percent of respondents read a newspaper at least weekly. Each of the top daily newspapers publish material online. However, only a small percentage of respondents reported visiting news websites regularly. The leading demographic groups visiting these sites are those that have a high socio-economic status (9 percent) or a university education (9 percent). Magazine readership exhibited similar demographic patterns as that of newspapers, with readership increasing with education and SES and favoring men over women.

Chart 4


[1] Khamalwa, John Wotsuna. "Ugand AMDI Research Report". BBC World Service Trust. Accessed January 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/trust/researchlearning/story/2006/12/061204_amdi_uganda.shtml