Three journalists on Tuesday won prizes for best reporting at the first oil and gas media awards event organised by the African Centre for Media Excellence and the Revenue Watch Institute.
Mr. Ibrahim Kasita, a senior business writer with the New Vision newspaper, took the prize for best reporting in the print category for his investigative story: Government Could Pay Billions for Idle Rigs.
The story, the judges said, “is a distinguished example of originality and enterprise, prudent use of documents, strong and relevant sourcing, clear focus, and clear writing”.
Apart from providing individual incentive, the awards aim at raising the profile for good investigative, in-depth, analytical, and enterprise reporting on extractives in Uganda.
“This feature is a distinguished example of bringing clarity to a subject already in the public domain – i.e. confidentiality of oil agreements – using solid sourcing, a strong script, conversational but not simplistic reporting style, thus breaking down a much-misinterpreted matter in a manner that increases the knowledge of the listener and encourages informed public discourse,” the judges said.
The awards are part of a three-year training programme funded by the Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) and implemented in Uganda by the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) to strengthen media oversight of the extractive sector.
“The goal of our joint project, which is also being concurrently implemented in Ghana, is effective and consistent coverage by the media of extractive resources and revenues, contributing to their improved use for the public good in Africa,” said Dr. Peter Mwesige, the executive director of ACME. “The project does this by equipping a select group of journalists with knowledge on the oil and gas sector, and with skills to enable them report the sector effectively, and in particular from a point of knowledge.”
Dr George Lugalambi the Media Programme Officer for RWI said that the training was developed after extensive research in various countries about the needs of journalists.
Every aspect of the program including the duration of two 10-day workshops, he said, was decided with journalists’ best interests in mind, such as the difficulty many reporters have staying away from work for long periods. He advised reporters “to question everything and everybody and yourselves” to ensure fair and balanced reporting. Dr Lugalambi also appealed to reporters not to be tempted to dismiss outright the views of any actors involved in the oil and gas sector but to make an effort to understand their perspectives and to represent them accurately.
The awards and training would go a long way in helping journalists do better reporting, Information Minister Mary Karooro Okurut said while officiating at the event at the Serena Conference Centre in Kampala.
She said that the government would readily provide information to the journalists and promised an open-door policy.
The New Vision’s Gerald Tenywa was the overall runner-up in the competition that attracted 11 entrants from various media houses.
Each of the two winners took home $1,500, a plaque, and a certificate. Mr. Tenywa received a cash prize of $500 and a plaque.
Dr. George Lugalambi, the RWI media programme officer, underlined the importance of accuracy in reporting.
Keynote speaker Jackson Mwakali said that Uganda will have to invest in building capacity in its people and enterprises, especially manufacturing, if it is to reap lasting value from its oil and gas resources. A professor of engineering at Makerere University, Dr. Mwakali was part of a joint Ugandan and Norwegian team of consultants that recently completed a “National Content Study in the Oil and Gas Sector in Uganda” that looks at “Enhancing National Participation in the Oil and Gas Industry”.
Officials from oil company Tullow and the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development attended the event. Also present were members of the civil society and the media.
About the training programme
The African Centre for Media Excellence has developed a programme with the Revenue Watch Institute and the Thomson Reuters Foundation to teach journalists how to report effectively on oil and gas, an industry that could bring huge benefits to Uganda if managed properly.
Revenue Watch monitors public finances, advises governments on policy choices and campaigns against corruption in mining and the oil and gas industry. The training programme is its first that directly targets journalists, and their role in promoting public debate on the sector. At the end of the three year project, 21 journalists will have received the training.
Read More About The Programme here