Covid-19 containment restrictions and government-issued standard operating procedures could not dampen the mood of the 40 people gathered at Mestil Hotel in Kampala on Friday 11 September to celebrate exceptional reporting at the Uganda National Journalism Awards 2020.
Journalists in Uganda, like their counterparts around the world, have had a tough couple of months characterised by closures, furloughs, declining revenues and increased restrictions on their operations. These challenges were either prompted or exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. While the pressures have yet to abate, for those gathered to witness the announcement of winners of the Uganda National Journalism Awards 2020, the event provided much-needed assurance that their work is valued and that striving for excellence, even in the midst of hardship, is not in vain.
A programme of African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME), the Uganda National Journalism Awards represent a pinnacle of achievement for Ugandan journalists. The awards, supported by the Democratic Governance Facility, are a platform on which first-rate, agenda-setting journalism in Uganda is heralded and publicised.
A total of 241 entries from 123 journalists were entered for competition.
This number is consistent with participation levels in previous iterations of the Uganda National Journalism Awards. However ACME’s board chair, Dr Monica Chibita pointed out that women constituted only 16% of participating journalists.
“We would like to encourage women journalists to participate more not only in the awards, but also in other ACME-run activities and programmes,” she said.
Dr Chibita’s sentiments were echoed by Ms Nicole Bjerler, Head of Facility at the Democratic Governance Facility.
Bjerler called on newsrooms across the country to afford more opportunities to women journalists to expand their reporting portfolios and to participate in covering male-dominated beats.
“At times they are relegated to ‘women’s issues affairs’, when they can do an equally good job on more mainstream issues,” she observed.
Adding, “We applaud your efforts, and look forward to even more inclusion and participation of women in next year’s event.”
A panel of 16 expert judges from the academia, public communications and the media assessed each story on the basis of reporting accuracy, writing, reporting rigour, analysis, relevance and enterprise.
Dr Charlotte Ntulume, a lecturer at Makerere University Department of Journalism and Mass Communication who chaired the panel of judges, noted that there has been a general improvement in the quality of work that journalists have submitted for the awards over the years.
In a speech delivered on her behalf by fellow judge, Dr Emily Maractho, Ntulume singled out investigate reporting and radio news as area in which “journalists’ aptitude has improved”.
She added: “The vibrancy of man of the (radio) reports shows a breath of fresh air in this important medium … It is heartwarming to see that radio journalists are doing their best to give the audience a good show.”
Ntulume said that despite the improvements, the judges agreed that there were several shortcomings in a number of the entries submitted for competition. Among them are a lack of reporting depth and enterprise, poor sourcing, inadequate editing and the limited use of the broad range of storytelling tools now available to journalists.
34 journalists and writing teams won first-place awards in 19 reporting categories. Each winner took home a cash prize of Ushs1.5 million, a commemorative plaque, and a certificate. The first runner-up also received a cash prize and a certificate, and second-runners-up were awarded certificates of recognition.
The winners, listed by category, are:
- WINNER – Joshua Kato, New Vision – Agro-chemicals endanger ecosystem, human life
- 1st runner-up – Ronald Musoke, The Independent – Museveni’s GMO law dilemma; American interest in Uganda’s GMO law
- 2nd runner-up – Alon Mwesigwa, The Observer – Milk prices test resilience of Uganda’s dairy sector
- WINNER – Frank Walusimbi, NTV Uganda – Songs of resistance (Part 1; Part 2)
- 1st runner-up – Paul Kayonga, NBS Television – Fresh Kid si ye asoose okuyimba
- 2nd runner-up – Andrew Kaggwa, Leo Africa Review – The evolution of Bobi Wine
- WINNER – Betty Amamukirori, New Vision – Armed gangs in Kween forcibly mutilating girls
- Honorable mention – Cliff Wamala, NTV Uganda – Okwanjula eri poliisi
Business, economy and finance reporting
- WINNER – Ismail Musa Ladu, Daily Monitor – How Uganda is surrendering trillions in tax agreements to multi-national firms
- 1st runner-up – Isaac Khisa, The Independent – Behind the sugar zoning politics
- 2nd runner-up – Alon Mwesigwa, The Observer – Winners, losers in Uganda-Rwanda row
- WINNER – Edgar Raymond Batte, Daily Monitor – Birding can rake in more revenue than mountain gorillas
- Runners-up – Lillian Namusoke Magezi, New Vision – Balancing chores – Men need to take part; Isaac Khisa, The Independent – Across Africa, tech-enabled micro insurance is the next big thing
- WINNER – Solomon Serwanjja and Thomas Kitimbo, NBS Television – Mature before 18: The tale of teenage pregnancies in Kamuli
- 1st runner-up – Richard Wetaya, New Vision – Is PLE to blame for low secondary school enrollment?
- 2nd runner-up – David Kiyengo, CBS CBS 89.2 Emmanduso – School dropouts- Part 1; School dropouts – Part 2
Energy and extractives reporting
- WINNER – Daniel Lutaaya, NBS Television – The real gold diggers
- 1st runner-up – Pascal Kwesiga – How much will Ugandans earn from $20b oil projects?
- 2nd runner-up – Ronald Musoke, The Independent – Museveni cornered on Shs 446 bn oil money
- WINNER – Solomon Serwanjja and Timothy Maganda, NBS Television – Bidi Bidi refugee camp’s firewood crisis
- 1st runner-up – Peter Labeja, Radio Rupiny – Making Charcoal Attractive for Uganda’s Supermarket
- 2nd runner-up – Gerald Tenywa, New Vision – How green technology can cut the cost of running universities
- WINNER – Raymond Mujuni and Godfrey Badebye, NBS Television – The sinking of MV Templar
- 1st runner-up – Cecilia Okoth, Benjamin Ssebagala, Paul Lubwama and Ismail Nsubuga, Vision Group – Forgery, bribery hit ID project
- 2nd runner-up – Pascal Kwesiga, New Vision – Why oil is here to stay
- WINNER – Richard Wetaya, New Vision – Is fight against teenage pregnancy lost?
- 1st runner-up – Christopher Bendana, New Vision – Equality: Women decry gaps between policy and reality
- 2nd runner-up – Felix Ainebyoona, Daily Monitor – Karimojong girl who refused early marriage graduates in Medicine
- WINNER – Leah Kahunde, Radio One 90 FM – Unsafe and sorry
- 1st runner-up – Christopher Kayonga and Gabriel Iguma, Wizarts – Petition 16
- 2nd runners-up – Culton Scovia Nakamya, BBS Terefayina – Trials and tribulations of the deaf in Uganda; Samuel Stone Mwesigwa, Victor Opira and Salim Segawa – Meet Vivian Nabanoba and Hilary Niwamanya, two people living positively with HIV
- WINNER – Sudhir Byaruhanga, NTV Uganda – Ranch land being taken by government officials
- 1st runner-up – Canary Mugume and Thomas Kitimbo, NBS Television – Modern day slavery in Soroti
- 2nd runner-up – Daniel Lutaaya, NBS Television – Without a trace
Justice, law and order reporting
- WINNER – Betty Amamukirori, Edward Muhumuza, Patrick Tumwesigye and Obeid Lutale, New Vision – Officials turn courts into corruption dens
- 1st runner-up – Paul Kayonga, NBS Television – Amateeka mu ddubi
- 2nd runner-up – Sudhir Byaruhanga, NTV Uganda – Police on opposition activities
- WINNER – Culton Scovia Nakamya, BBS Terefayina – Mothers at risk as water crisis cripples Nakaseke Hospital
- 1st runner-up – George Bita, New Vision – Children at risk as condemned asbestos roofs persist
- 2nd runner-up – Herbert Kamoga, NTV Uganda – Nakasongola student walks 15 kilometers to write UCE
National news reporting – Broadcast
- WINNER – Solomon Serwanjja, Godfrey Badebye and Kassim Mohammed, NBS Television – Stealing from the sick
- 1st runner-up – Canary Mugume and Godfrey Badebye, NBS Television – The death of Ziggy Wine
- 2nd runner-up – Joan Akello, Uganda Radio Network – Over 100 MPs listed as perpetual absentees in Parliament
National news reporting – Print
- WINNER – Ronald Musoke, The Independent – Colours of violence in the 2021 elections
- 1st runner-up – Ian Katusiime, The Independent – UPDF’s uncertain future in Somalia
- 2nd runner-up – Patience Ahimbisibwe, Daily Monitor – 1000 weddings at city church declared illegal
Photo and video journalism
- WINNER – Abubaker Lubowa, Daily Monitor – Nowhere to run
- 1st runner-up – Samuel Songa Stone Mwesigwa, Victor Opira and Samuel Segawa, STORYTELD – Moving around Kampala as a person with a disability
- 2nd runner-up – Richard Sanya, New Vision – Flying to safety
- WINNER – Christopher Kayonga and Gabriel Iguma, Wizarts – Demarcation of polling areas
- 1st runner-up – Ian Katusiime, The Independent – Visa denied
- 2nd runner-up – Misairi Thembo Kahungu, Daily Monitor – Seven years later, African leaders move slow on democracy charter
- WINNER – Abdul-Nasser Ssemugabi, Daily Monitor – Malta – Opening the pool for young para-swimmers
- 1st runner-up – George Katongole, Daily Monitor – Coach with physical disability
- 2nd runner-up – Henry Lematia, Radio Pacis Arua –14 years on, teenage pregnancy eating away new Inzikuru’s in West Nile
LIST OF UGANDA NATIONAL JOURNALISM AWARDS 2020 JUDGES
- CHIEF JUDGE – Dr Charlotte Kaweesa Ntulume, Lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Makerere University
- Mr Benon Herbert Oluka – Previous Uganda National Journalism Awards winner; Africa Editor of the Global Investigative Journalism Network
- Mr Edward Ssekalo – Editor at the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
- Dr Emily Marachtho – Senior lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Uganda Christian University
- Ms Evelyn Kiapi – Policy analyst – United Nations Population Fund
- Mr Gerald Owachi – Former journalist; Consultant on governance, public policy and extractives
- Mr Gilbert Kadilo – Public relations and corporate affairs manager, National Identification and Registration Authority
- Mr John Baptist Wasswa – Former journalist and editor; Journalism and communication consultant, and trainer
- Mr James Tumusiime – Former editor at The Observer; Uganda Communications Commission
- Ms Laura Walusimbi – Former photojournalist; Corporate communications manager, Uganda Coffee Development Authority
- Mr Paul Kimumwe – Senior programme officer in charge of research and advocacy, CIPESA
- Mr Richard Kavuma – Former journalist and editor; Public information officer, International Organisation for Migration
- Ms Rose Mary Kemigisha – Senior Human Rights Officer and Editor, Uganda Human Rights Commission
- Ms Sheila Kulubya – External affairs officer and head of communications, World Bank Uganda office
- Mr Simon Kaheru – Political and social commentator, columnist; Communication director, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda
- Dr Wairagala Wakabi – Executive Director, Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)