The 27 May edition of The Observer led with the story, How USA forced Museveni to hire ex-Monitor editor.
When I saw a copy of the paper, I immediately pictured the big man in the U.S. holding a gun to Museveni’s head and bellowing: “Hire Don Wanyama or this relationship is over!” Okay that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point.
As I read the story, I hoped to find out WHY the United States ‘forced’ President Museveni to hire Mr Wanyama as Senior Presidential Press Secretary. HOW did it happen? WHAT did this all mean? Alas, the information was not there.
Instead, The Observer story describes the President’s fury at a statement by the U.S. permanent representative to the UN, Samantha Power, who described him as “a threat to the stability of Uganda and the region” at a UN security meeting in March. According to the article, Mr Museveni asked his press team to pen a rebuttal, but for some reason Ms Lindah Nabusayi Wamboka did not receive the directive.
This is where The Observer says Mr Wanyama comes in. Mr Wanyama, who was serving as a special media assistant in the NRM chairman’s office, reportedly received a call from the President’s son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, asking him to write the counterargument. The opinion piece, titled Museveni does not need lectures from Samantha Power, was published by New Vision. Thereafter, Wanyama was invited for a chat with the higher-ups, he was promised a job, and voila!
Is The Observer telling the reader that President Museveni’s appointment of Mr Wanyama was based on just one opinion article? That’s the impression the story gives.
In the event that this was the case, would the significance of this not have been worth explaining?
It appears, from the article, that no one’s hand was forced, not least President Museveni’s, and any U.S. government action was, at best, incidental to these events.
Headline writing is one of the hardest aspects of writing for journalists. Not everything can be captured in a headline, of course. However to appear to ensnare readers into picking a paper because of a deceptive headline is dubious, and at its worst, unprofessional.