Journalists urged to increase critical reporting of government policy and programmes

Ugandan journalists have been urged to provide relevant context and analysis to their stories.

The appeal was made by the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Uganda, Dr. Louis Kasekende, who delivered a keynote address during the Uganda National Journalism Awards gala held at Golf Course Hotel in Kampala.

“Journalists need to go beyond reporting facts to explain the ‘what’ and ‘why’,” Dr Kasekende, said.

He noted that the media in Uganda has made strides, evidenced by the growing number of media outlets and the vibrancy of the media platforms. He however noted that critical and analytical reporting is needed, especially for essential government programmes and departments.

“We don’t expect uncritical reporting by the media on Bank of Uganda decisions on monetary policies because it will be counterproductive,” he said to the 250 plus guests on Wednesday.

The Uganda National Journalism Awards 2017 were sponsored by the Democratic Governance Facility. Additional support was given by the HIVOS and Nile Breweries Limited.

During the gala, 54 journalists received awards for 20 reporting categories. Mr Solomon Serwanjja of NBS Television won the Nile Breweries Award for Exceptional Journalist and Mr Benon Herbert Oluka of The Observer took the runner-up prize.

Dr George Lugalambi, the chief judge of the awards, noted that the number of submissions in this year’s competition was the highest so far and the overall quality of entries had greatly improved.

He, however, emphasized that journalists from outside Kampala need to participate more in the awards and also submit quality work.

Dr. Lugalambi, a media trainer and researcher, said this can happen if editors and producers give the due guidance journalists require while working on stories.

“The support and guidance that journalists get from editors and producers is very key. It’s possible to improve quality of journalism regardless of where a journalist is reporting from,” he said.

Dr Lugalambi said while the quality of entries generally improved, in some cases the best stories stood out easily from the rest.

He said: “Journalists need to make the work of judges difficult in separating the best from the rest.”

The awards this year attracted 307 entries from 186 participating journalists. In 2016, ACME received 240 entries from 148 journalists.

Dr. Monica Chibita, the chair of ACME board, said the organisation will continue to support the growth of the media in Uganda through research, training of young people and civil society in media literacy, providing reporting grants for journalists, and providing mid-career training for journalists.

“ACME values the key role of free media in advancing democracy and development. ACME contributes most of its efforts in contributing to excellent journalism,” she said.

She added that ACME’s goal is to be able to do more research and studies to “inform journalism but perhaps to also inform policy or policy review”.

“You may have heard that faith without work is dead, in some ways research without action is also dead. So besides research, ACME is involved in raising a voice on behalf of freedom and freedom of expression whenever the need arises and not allowing the issues of freedom of expression and media freedom to go under the radar,” Dr. Chibita said.

Harriet Anena

Harriet Anena is ACME’s Special Projects Officer

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