15 journalists from 10 media houses across Uganda have completed a fellowship on reporting public sector accountability in times of emergencies.
The fellowship is part of the Enhanced Media Capacity for Inclusive Development programme, delivered by the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to Uganda. the Enhanced Media Capacity for Inclusive Development programme seeks to equip journalists with knowledge to investigate and cover under-reported public affairs issues, specifically land and property rights, environment, urbanisation, and public accountability. To complement this, a series of short courses on investigative journalism will be conducted across the country to increase the pool of reporters in Uganda that consistently produce high quality public affairs journalism.
Journalists left the training better equipped to report on government accountability processes. Special attention was given to the accountability issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic and other public emergencies.
Ronald Musoke, a journalist with The Independent magazine says the training came at the right time “considering that we are right in the midst of the Covid-19 emergency — an emergency which has forced the government to look for financial resources to battle the pandemic but also keep the economy running.”
“But we also know that these resources are susceptible to abuse by our government officials. So this training came in handy for the precise reason that it brought us up to speed with some of the newest journalism tools that we can use to report stories effectively,” he said.
Musoke added: “My favourite take-away was “the systems thinking model” of journalism — a kind of fresh way of approaching ordinary-looking stories. This model challenges journalists to think deeply about why, for instance, a young man can travel hundreds of kilometres to deliver a human head to the Speaker of Parliament.”
The course was facilitated by ACME trainers and subject experts from civil society and government. The expert speaker talks served to provide participants with greater insight into procurement processes, budgeting, anti-corruption initiatives, and legal and regulatory frameworks that govern the accountability sector.
Barbara Nalweyiso, an up-and-coming correspondent for Daily Monitor, appreciated a session on tips for journalists on covering audits. The session explained the audit process, provided tools for journalists to read audit reports, and explained a list of pathways that journalists can use to bring government audit reports to life.
“Often, as journalists we tend to look on the surface of these reports and never really question them,” Ms Nalweyiso said.
For Carol Ayugi, a reporter with The Cooperator in Gulu, tools to map stories and develop new reporting angles was her biggest takeaway.
“A lot of the times when a story happens, we tend to focus on the events. Story mapping helped to think beyond the occurrence and learn to go to those affected.”
Later this month ACME will host its second fellowship under the Enhanced Media Capacity for Inclusive Development programme. The fellowship will focus on land management, property rights and natural resource governance in Uganda.