African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) is a Kampala-based independent, non-governmental, non-partisan and non-profit professional organisation committed to helping African journalists to seek and achieve excellence as well as improving journalism and mass communication in Africa.
- To inspire journalists to seek and achieve professional excellence.
- To help make our news media more reliable and credible sources of information, effective watchdogs and vibrant forums for public debate.
- To equip members of the private sector, civil society, academia and the government with skills to engage more effectively with the media.
- To educate the public on how to better appreciate the forces that shape the news.
ON GOOD JOURNALISM
At the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) we believe that there is nothing African, Asian, American, or European about good journalism. While the contexts within which it is practised may be different, and may indeed inform the final product, good journalism shares many characteristics that have universal appeal.
Good journalism does not merely inform; it provides information that has meaning for people’s lives;
- It provides information that is significant and relevant;
- It offers context and perspective;
- It explains issues and helps to educate and enlighten audiences;
- It offers analysis and depth;
- It provides a civic forum that both informs and engages the public;
- It drives public debate on the issues of the day, including rarely discussed subjects that affect people’s lives;
- It asks the right questions and provides a forum through which they can be answered;
- It is credible and authoritative;
- It upholds the value of diversity;
- It is truthful and accurate;
- It is fair and impartial;
- It is independent (from vested interests, be they political or commercial);
- It is enterprising;
- It is interesting.
What it takes
- A good understanding of the institution (s) or communities you cover. How do they work? What are the key processes? What is the jargon of the institutions? What is the language of the community? Who are the key players? What are the ‘other voices’ that are rarely covered?
- Cultivating human sources in the institution (s) or community; having a diverse source base.
- Understanding the other potential sources of information, including documentary evidence.
- A willingness to go beyond official institutions e.g. Parliament, City Hall, the Police to the community. What are the key concerns of the community? Is it crime, defilement, poor roads, lack of electricity, or all the above? What is the central government and/or local authorities doing about them? What are the other stakeholders doing about them?
- An inquisitive mind.
- Intellectual curiosity.
- A broad, all-round education.
- A multi-disciplinary understanding of issues.
- A love of current affairs.
- Hard work.
- Enterprise and creativity.
- A good command of language.
- Continuing training and education.
- A willingness on the part of media managers/owners to invest in good journalism.
Uganda's economic prospects are changing because of an area of the Western Rift Valley, along the Nile River. That's where you'll find Lake Albert and Murchison Falls, along with national parks teeming with wildlife. But this area will change Uganda's future because of what's under the ground.
"It is there that God put oil," says local businessman Elly Karuhanga.
Tests indicate that there is a lot of oil, adds Karuhanga, who heads up the Uganda branch of the British-based oil company, Tullow.
During exploration, test drills typically strike oil maybe a quarter of the time. Karuhanga says in Uganda, it has happened nine out of every ten times.
“Wherever you sink you find oil," he says with a laugh. "There is oil everywhere."
Experts believe there could be enough oil in Uganda to make the country one of Africa's biggest producers -- enough oil to help pay for a lot of needed infrastructure.
The discovery has stoked a kind of oil fever, according to Peter Mwesige, Executive Director of the African Center for Media Excellence in the capital, Kampala.
“In some ways you could call it real madness," he says. “There is a lot of excitement and drama around oil. People think the government is going to become a middle income country in just two or three years."
Three companies have contracts to extract the oil. Tullow, the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company, and France’s Total. But the deals have been kept under wraps.
The government’s secrecy has bred skepticism. Mwesige says that’s why his group is training journalists to cover the nascent oil industry.
“Very few people know what is really going on in oil," says Mwesige. "There is an information gap that has led to all sorts of accusations and allegations of corruption and bribery being thrown around -- some true, some quite ridiculous."
Read Full article and llisten to the audio here
When I last held a fulltime job in a newsroom I was a big campaigner of ‘Day Two journalism.’
My pitch always started with the background that “recent developments in the media landscape have made asking and answering contextual questions more important than ever before”. These developments included the rise of the Internet, digital outlets, 24/7 radio and television stations as breaking news providers; proliferation of media outlets; and the resulting competition.
The editorial management at our media group had bought into this fully and decreed that our outlets, “especially newspapers, must move beyond making it possible for our audiences to KNOW the news, to helping them better UNDERSTAND the news”.
Three years later I notice that many Ugandan media outlets still report the news as if they are the first to break it.
Let’s take the coverage of the June 16, 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Uganda and Congo-Brazzaville. The match was covered live on many radio stations and on television. A good number of people were also sharing updates on Facebook and Twitter.
Sunday Monitor, as was expected, carried a picture of victorious Uganda Cranes players on the front page with the headline “Celebrations. Uganda 4-0 Congo Brazaville.” (Never mind the spelling mistake). The paper’s only story, on the back page, had the headline “Cranes crash Congo.” The story largely described what had happened in Namboole Stadium and carried a single quote from a “very delighted” coach Bobby Williamson.
For anybody who had watched the game or followed it on radio, Monitor’s coverage was such an anti-climax.
Sunday Vision did much better. Their front page headline, “Cranes Close to Africa Cup,” took the story forward. The back page story, “Fantastic” carried some good background to spice up the description of the previous day’s proceedings at Namboole, but above all the inside story, “Bring Any Team”, told readers about Uganda’s likely opponent.
Sunday Vision’s reporting answered two basic questions that their competition didn’t answer—so what? (Uganda is close to qualifying for AFCON) and what next? (our opponents will be one of the teams that participated in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon).
In short, Sunday Vision gave its readers Day Two journalism while Sunday Monitor offered Day One reporting.
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what labels we give our journalism, but we must help readers make sense of what we cover, especially in this age of information overload.
Ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Congo Brazzaville many Ugandans were confused by our involvement in another competition, the 2014 World Cup qualifier.
Yes, many watched the game in which the Cranes drew with Senegal at Namboole and followed on radio the previous one in which we drew with Angola, but did not realize those were World Cup qualifiers.
Commentators and sports writers could have done a better job explaining over and over that this year’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers was different because of the switch that will see the continental competition held in 2013 and every two years thereafter.
For many people like me who follow sports, such utility information would be more important than telling them the final score and goal scorers.
About the Author: Dr. Mwesige is co-founder and executive director of the African Centre for Media Excellence. He is a former head of the Department of Mass Communication at Makerere University, where he was also a senior lecturer, and a former executive editor of the Monitor.
WHAT? As part of efforts to strengthen media oversight of the extractive sector, the African Centre for Media Excellence (Kampala), in conjunction with Revenue Watch Institute (New York), announces the availability of an award for best reporting on oil, gas and mining for 2012.
WHY? (i) To raise the profile for good investigative, in-depth, analytical and enterprise reporting on extractives i.e. oil, gas and mining in Uganda.
(ii) To provide incentives for individual reporting on oil, gas and mining.
WHO? This is therefore to invite print and electronic media reporters in Uganda to submit their best stories to be considered for the award. Others may submit the stories on a reporter’s behalf. The stories must have been published/broadcast in 2012.
WHEN? Deadline for submission of stories/entries is 5 p.m., 21 November 2012. The awards ceremony will take place in Kampala on 6 December 2012.
HOW? Each reporter may submit no more than 2 entries. Radio reporters will submit physical copies of their entries in MP3 format. TV reporters will submit their entries in MP4 format. Print media reporters may submit hard copies, soft copies, or online links of their stories.
(A) There will be 2 winners, 1 each in the electronic and print categories.
(B) A panel of 3 judges will pick the winner.
(C) The judges will be looking for entries that demonstrate the following qualities:
ii) Enterprise and investigation;
iii) Analysis and depth;
iv) Relevance and significance; and
v) Potential to promote accountability in public policy and decision-making, and in the extractive industry.
AMOUNT: Each of the 2 winners will take home $1,500, a plaque, and a certificate.