This article was first published on the website of the Indiana University Bloomington media school. Read the full article here.
KAMPALA, UGANDA — On Nanjala Road, in the Kalungua area of Bunga, Peter Mwesige stands at the front of a conference room, welcoming a new group of journalists to the African Centre for Media Excellence, the journalism training facility he co-founded in 2009.
Mwesige, PhD’04, has spent a lifetime training reporters and editors, mostly in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, on the principles of good journalism. On multiple occasions, he has traveled to the U.S. to study journalism and observe newsrooms, and take those lessons back to east Africa. This time, it is American students he’s teaching, 11 Indiana University journalism students who have traveled to Kampala for hands-on training in reporting.
But the lesson is the same.
“I believe there is nothing African, Asian, American or European about good journalism,” Mwesige tells them. “While the context within which it is practiced may be different, and may indeed inform the final product, good journalism characteristics are worldwide.”
A Centre for Excellence
ACME’s vision operates on multiple missions and values, but co-founders Mwesige and Bernard Tabaire keep coming back to one word: quality.
The two men formed the center because they saw an opportunity for east African media to practice better journalism. Tabaire was working as the managing editor for weekend editions at The Daily Monitor in Kampala, and Mwesige was serving as group training editor for The Nation media group, a Nairobi-based conglomerate that owns print and electronic outlets in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, including the Daily Monitor. Mwesige was working in Nairobi when the 2007 post-election violence broke out in Kenya.
“I was struck by some of the omission of our own outlets, and I became a very big advocate of bolder journalism around the time of challenging times like that,” said Mwesige, now ACME’s executive director.
Two years later, Tabaire and Mwesige formed the center, using $100,000 of their own money, nothing from donors or loans. ACME trains more than 800 journalists a year in quality journalism practices and more than 100 civil servants in areas such as media relations, media literacy and media monitoring. Most are working professionals rather than university students, and most live in Uganda, but the center frequently trains journalists from all over Africa.
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