ACME awards story grants to 22 journalists

Agricultural sector regulation, the substance and impact of the rural electrification project,
support for special needs teachers, the cost of poorly funded local governments, and an
assessment of Uganda’s road infrastructure investment are among the big story ideas selected
for support by the new grant facility established by the African Centre for Media Excellence.

ACME today announces the names of 22 journalists who will each receive up to Ushs 1.75
million to do in-depth and enterprising stories that should shine a light on various public issues
and thereby promote transparency and accountability within the public sector.
The grant facility is a major component of the Enhanced Media Reporting for Transparency and
Accountability (EMERTA) programme managed by ACME with funding from the Democratic
Governance Facility (DGF).

More than 90 journalists from across Uganda applied for the first round of grants. A panel of
five former editors and journalism educators assessed the applications.
The panel looked for projects that were original, well researched, enterprising, diverse in the
voices and issues to be investigated and displayed innovative reporting methodology. The
panel also particularly rewarded story projects that had the potential to promote transparency
and accountability in public policy and decision-making.

“We received some very good applications with powerful story ideas that were clearly
focused,” said ACME Executive Director Peter G. Mwesige. “As a result, the panel decided to
award 22 instead of the 18 grants originally envisaged.”

“But the panel was also concerned by the number of applicants who had clearly not thought
through their ideas or conducted any preliminary research about what they were proposing to
do.”

He added that many other applicants did not care to follow instructions and submit all the
requirements.

“A few others had good story ideas, but the panel did not think they deserved to be funded
through the grant facility, whose main goal is to empower journalists to improve the quantity
and quality of in-depth public affairs reporting and investigative journalism,” Dr Mwesige said.

The panel noted that journalists and their newsrooms need to invest more time and resources in
how to put together strong story proposals.

Applications for the inaugural EMERTA grants were open to the following thematic areas: local
government; parliamentary oversight; oil, gas and mining; agriculture; land and property
rights; water and environment; energy; justice, law and order; transport infrastructure and
public works; health; science and technology; and education. The largest number of applications
focused on the areas of health and agriculture. Only a handful addressed pertinent issues in the
perennially underreported sectors of water, science and technology and the justice system.

“In the next call, we shall encourage applications that focus on these and other underreported
areas,” said Dr Mwesige.

The selected journalists will be required to participate in an inception workshop on public
policy reporting, research and new journalism tools before receiving the grants. The journalists
will also be expected to work closely with their usual newsroom supervisors to produce articles,
story series, documentaries and radio programmes in a manner that upholds good journalism
practice and engages their audiences so as to foster debate on good governance, transparency
and accountability in Uganda.

Subsequent applications for EMERTA grants are open all year round. Only nine recipients will
be awarded funding for reporting projects in the next round.

The following journalists were selected for the first round of grants:
1. Eriasa Sserunjogi Mukiibi, Daily Monitor
Sustainable energy sources

2. Edward Sserinnya, Bukedde newspaper
Sub-standard agricultural inputs

3. Gloria Laker, Peace Journalism Foundation
Small scale farming in post-war northern Uganda

4. Stephen Ssenkaaba, New Vision
The education of special needs teachers and learners

5. Dicta Asiimwe, The EastAfrican
Uganda’s large road infrastructure investment

6. Gerald Tenywa, New Vision
Investigation pollution on Lake Victoria

7. Benon Herbert Oluka, Observer
Shining a spotlight on the Rural Electrification Programme

8. David Rupiny, Rainbow Radio
Bilharzias: the silent killer

9. Halima Abdalla Kisule, The EastAfrican
Generous medical ‘donations’ costing Uganda dearly

10. Francis Kagolo, New Vision
The Bushenyi banana factory

11. Patrick Ebong, Radio Unity 97.7 FM
Government’s intervention on maternal and child mortality

12. Isaac Imaka, Daily Monitor
Agriculture and Uganda’s new oil economy

13. Racheal Ninsiima, Observer
International intellectual property law and the fight to access new drugs

14. Gaaki Kigambo, The EastAfrican
Uganda’s oil royalties

15. Shifa Mwesigye, Observer
Uganda’s new land policy and laws

16. Edward Ssekika, Observer
Uganda’s oil industry labour needs

17. Adella Orishaba, Radio West
Sustainable agriculture land use and climate change

18. Joshua Kato Nsobya, New Vision
The rise of ‘fake’ farm inputs

19. Nelson Kukundakwe, Radio West
Agriculture cooperatives in Uganda

20. Joseph Elunya, The Continental Observer
Fake seeds and food insecurity

21. Joachim Buwembo, The EastAfrican

Sugarcane planting in the Busoga sub-region

22. Haggai Matsiko, The Independent
New local government taxes

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ABOUT AFRICAN CENTRE FOR MEDIA EXCELLENCE: ACME is a Kampala-based independent,
non-profit professional organisation committed to helping African journalists seek and achieve
professional excellence, and improving journalism and mass communication in Africa. The organisation
fulfils its mandate through refresher training for mid-career journalists; media literacy training for civil
society organisations and corporate companies; media research; free expression advocacy; and media
monitoring.
For further information, please contact Mr. Paul Kimumwe, ACME programme officer at pkimumwe@acme-ug.org.

 

ABOUT DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE FACILITY: Established by Austria, Denmark, Ireland, the
Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Union, the Democratic
Governance Facility supports state and non-state partners to strengthen democratisation, protect human
rights, improve access to justice and enhance accountability in Uganda. (www.dgf.ug)

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