ACME has today entered new partnerships with private, public, and civil society actors to fund the Uganda National Journalism Awards 2022, scheduled to take place on 14 December in Kampala.
Inaugurated in 2014, the awards seek to improve the quality of journalism in Uganda by recognising outstanding professional work. They play an important role in inspiring hardworking and high-performing journalists and motivating them to excel in their careers.
“We believe that journalism as a public good is a product in which anybody interested in the development and future of this country should have an interest. We are glad that the various partners we contacted took a decision to participate. Because participating in these awards is an investment in quality journalism,” ACME Executive Director, George Lugalambi, said during the official launch of this year’s awards and the partnerships at Fairway Hotel in Kampala.
Led by MTN Uganda, the players who have so far committed to supporting the awards include TotalEnergies EP Uganda, CIPESA, Stanbic Bank Uganda, and National Drug Authority.
Other partners are the National Social Security Fund, Agrifarm Uganda, Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, CivSource Africa, Centre for Policy Analysis, Nile Breweries, Centenary Bank, and the National Association of Broadcasters.
The new partnerships follow the suspension and eventual closure of the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), which had guaranteed a significant portion of the funding for the awards.
“Typically, these awards take place in the first half of the year, but for reasons beyond our control, the timing did not work out as we had wanted. But we are glad that with the new partners on board, we are now in a position to hold these awards,” Lugalambi said. “We’re still welcoming partners who believe in the power of journalism to transform our society.”
This year’s awards will recognise professional journalists and independent content producers working in Uganda’s print, television, radio and online news platforms for stories published or broadcast between 1 January and 31 December 2021.
A total of 188 journalists from print, digital and broadcast journalists across the country submitted 322 entries to this year’s awards.
Ms Rhona Arinaitwe, Senior Manager Corporate Communications at MTN Uganda, lauded ACME for bringing back the awards and supporting exceptional journalism.
“We are thrilled to be supporting this event because we believe that the media plays a critical role in not only telling Uganda’s story accurately both at home and abroad but also holding us accountable to those promises we make as a people in every sphere of our lives,” she said.
As the leading sponsor, MTN Uganda will, on top of the sponsorship package, offer prizes to excelling journalists in four reporting categories: of business, environment, sports and features.
“We believe that rewarding journalists in these categories will inspire them to work harder. We hope that we will do more than just awards and that MTN Uganda will do more to promote good journalism in Uganda,” Ms Arinaitwe added.
Additionally, Mr Kenneth Agutamba, the Manager of Reputation and Communication at Stanbic Bank Uganda, emphasised the need to celebrate good journalism in Uganda.
“Quality journalism is endangered, especially today, where everyone wants to be a journalist. We don’t come here to support these awards so that journalists can write good things about us. We want journalists to report objectively, fairly and in a balanced way. We are not here to say that because we are sponsored; bat an eye when you report on us. Be professional,” he said.
“Moving forward, we will come in big to ensure that good causes like this should not run on foreign money. DGF went and the awards went to sleep; why? Good journalism serves Ugandan needs, and we should support it with local resources,” he added.
In addition to institutions like the Parliament of Uganda, other development partners, including HIVOS, Twaweza, Fund for Global Human rights, the European Union, Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa and UNICEF, have funded past awards.
The awards cover up to 20 categories, among them, education, health, agriculture, features, politics, public works and infrastructure and sports reporting. Others are land and property rights, the arts, business, economy and finance, energy and extractive industries, investigative journalism, news illustration and video/photojournalism.
The best performers will be selected by an independent panel of judges chaired by Dr. Charlotte Ntulume of the Department of Journalism and Communication at Makerere University.