Annual Report

| 2015

ABOUT AFRICAN CENTRE FOR MEDIA EXCELLENCE
African Centre for Media Excellence is a
Kampala-based non-profit professional
organisation committed to promoting
excellence in journalism and mass
communication in Africa. Strategically,
ACME occupies the space between
the media industry and academic
institutions that train journalists.
Our vision is to become Africa’s leading
independent media and communication
support organisation. Our mission is to
inspire journalists to seek and achieve
professional excellence and to help
make our news media more reliable
and credible sources of information,
effective watchdogs, and vibrant forums
for public debate.
ACME also equips members of the
private
sector, civil society,
academia and the government with
skills to engage more effectively with
the media while educating the public to
better appreciate the forces that shape
the news. Finally, ACME advocates,
promotes and defends press freedom
and freedom of expression.

Our Objectives
l To conduct evidence-based research on media performance and
practice in Africa.
l To provide continuing education and mid-career training for
journalists and communication practitioners and to render
financial, material and/or moral support to persons pursuing career
advancement in journalism and communication.
l To support quality journalism through provision of reporting grants
and fellowships to journalists.
l To inspire excellence through offering awards yearly for outstanding
journalistic work.
l To provide an online resource centre for African newsrooms and
journalists, and media educational and training institutions.
l To act as a watchdog for the media and, in that capacity, offer media
monitoring and evaluation services, advocacy and defence of media
rights and freedoms.
l To promote media literacy to help the public recognise and
appreciate the forces that shape media coverage.
l To organise and host seminars, conferences, workshops, fellowships
and symposia to discuss issues relating to such educational,
developmental, political, cultural and socio-economic matters as the
centre’s management may deem appropriate.
l To advocate free, pluralistic, and responsible media, and promote
freedom of expression.

For change to come, people
have to network. The youth
are marginalised and should
use social media. You can’t
have meaningful political
connection and change in a
disconnected society. Social
media provides necessary
networks.
Fatuma Abdulahi
Delivering the second Annual Media and Politics in Africa
Lecture in Kampala on 18 November 2015.

CONTENTS

FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
4
STATE OF THE MEDIA INDUSTRY, 2015
6
ACME 2015 AT A GLANCE
20
FOCAL AREAS IN 2014
Journalistic Excellence 23
Media Literacy 37

Public Dialogues and Symposia
39
Media Monitoring 43

Research and Publications
45

ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
47
TESTIMONIALS 50
ACME IN THE NEWS
53
THE BOARD 54
OUR PARTNERS 55
PARTING SHOT 56

COVER PICTURE: Women
in media and digital
communications after
attending a breakfast meeting
with Media and Politics
Lecturer Fatuma Abdulahi
(with headscarf) on 18
November 2015.

FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Even as we worked on our regular programming around
strengthening the quality and impact of the news
media and civil society in Uganda and beyond, we also
focused quite a lot on ‘institutional building’ last year.
ACME subscribers, board members and staff took off
time to reflect on our first six years and plan for the
next five.
We had hoped that we would have a new Strategic
Plan (2016-2020) in place by the end of 2015. We
were too ambitious. As many who have been through
strategic planning meetings will attest, these are timeconsuming processes that can be messy. By the end of
the year, we were still grappling with key questions
that arose from a review of our first six years.
The consultant who led this review had noted that
although ACME has had “impressive and steady
growth” since its formation in 2009, it has come with
“the attendant challenges that are common to new
organisations that are seeking to establish systems and
structures and more formal ways of working”.
In terms of growth, what stood out included the
steady increase in the number of projects that we run
as well as our donors, an increased number of staff,
improvement in financial management systems, and
external visibility. The review also noted that “ACME
has always been clear about its purpose, and any

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activities that are implemented seek to complement
and/or contribute to this purpose”.
Indeed, we are clear on the long term impacts we
seek to contribute to—an informed and engaged
public, transparent societies in which power is held to
account, human rights are respected, and sustainable
development is achieved.
We are clear on the immediate and intermediate
changes that we work towards: better skilled and more
knowledgeable journalists; better quality reporting
and compelling story telling; more in-depth and
analytical coverage of public affairs; strengthened
newsrooms with access to more funding; more literate
and critical consumers of media; as well as freer,
independent, and accountable media.
We are also clear on the strategies that we have
continued to embrace to address the challenges we
have identified—training and continuing education for
journalists; media literacy training for civil society and
the wider public; reporting grants and awards; media
monitoring and research; provision of website and
online resources; advocacy for free and independent
media; and leveraging strategic alliances and
partnerships.
We are still working on the following:
ACME Annual Report 2015

• How do we measure better the impact of our work?
• How can ACME become financially sustainable?
The question of monitoring and evaluation is not only
important for the donors who support most of our work,
it is also critical for us as well as our partners such as
media houses and civil society. For the donors, there is
obviously need for evidence that their money has been
invested on the right activities. For our partners in
the media and civil society, it is important to establish
whether the engagements that their journalists and staff
have at ACME make a difference, and for us a stamp of
validation is inspiring in and of itself.
The question of financial sustainability is one that many
NGOs continue grappling with. At ACME, for all the
steady growth of the last six years, we are still largely
a ‘project-based organisation’. Nearly 90 per cent of
our funding is targeted at specific projects, and not our
strategic plan. The absence of ‘core’ funding for key
institutional cost centres such as salaries not only hinders
planning but creates uncertainty and affects innovation.
We would like our 2016-2020 Strategic Plan to provide
some answers and set us on a path to finding others.
We thank all the partners who have worked with us on
our exciting journey so far.
Dr Peter G. Mwesige
Executive Director
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STATE OF THE MEDIA INDUSTRY, 2015
m Elections

see journalists come under sustained fire
m Number of radio stations rises as that of TV drops
m Industry scores some big wins in the courts
m Major report finds fault with coverage of women
Uganda’s media freedom environment worsened
in 2015 compared to the year before. Journalists
scored wins in the courts, including registering
successful access-to-information verdicts. A tough
political environment, however, took the shine off
these achievements.
As the general election campaigns got underway
during the second half of the year, many state and
non-state players harassed journalists frequently
to force favourable coverage and stifle critical
reporting. There were instances of state agencies
arbitrarily interfering with the work of upcountry
radio stations, silencing some voices and trying to
control content.
Nevertheless, Uganda — with a sharp rise in 2015
in the number of FM radio stations and increased
use of social media — continued to have one of the
more vibrant media scenes in eastern and southern

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Africa. Uganda’s constitution, like many in Africa,
provides for freedom of expression and press
freedom. The country is also a signatory to various
international mechanisms that enshrine the same
freedoms. Additionally, Uganda has an access to
information law, one of a few countries in subSaharan Africa.
And yet, despite all this, the government has
continued to violate rights to free expression,
assembly, and association. When the government
is not the perpetrator, it has frequently not done
enough to prosecute the non-state offenders. This
has constrained the ability of the country’s citizens
to fully enjoy their civic and political rights.
Government abuses against the media have been a
mainstay of Ugandan politics since independence
in 1962. The Obote I government deported foreign
journalists, threatened media outlets such as
ACME Annual Report 2015

The Uganda Argus, and in 1968 jailed Transition
magazine founder Rajat Neogy and writerpolitician Abu Mayanja. The 1970s were the lowest
point — several journalists were murdered under
the Amin regime1.
The situation improved since President Yoweri
Museveni assumed power in 1986, although his
government’s fights with the media are numerous.
This mixed picture has nonetheless not stopped
the media landscape from exploding, from having
just one state broadcaster in the early 1990s to
a multi-player, diversified industry two decades
on. The two largest media houses — with interests
in radio, television, print and online — are the
majority state-owned Vision Group and the Nation
Media Group, a Nairobi-based privately owned
conglomerate.

There were 292 operational FM radio
stations in 2015, a jump from 253 in
the second quarter of the same year.
Operational TV stations were 33.

The Vision Group owns six FM radio stations
broadcasting in many of Uganda’s major languages
and targeting all geopolitical regions: XFM (English,
central); Bukedde FM (Luganda, central); Radio
West (Runyakitara, western); Etop Radio (Ateso,
eastern); Radio Rupiny (Luo, northern); and
Arua One (Lugbara, West Nile). In television,
the company owns three free-to-air channels:
Luganda-language Bukedde TV; the Runyakitara-

1 In the Amin era, Munno editor, Fr. Clement Kiggundu, was burnt alive inside his car. James Bwogi, a TV journalist, and news photographer Jimmy

Parma were killed as well. Several were jailed. Others chose exile.

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language TV West; and the English-language Urban
TV. The New Vision newspaper is the group’s
English-language daily and flagship outlet. The
group also runs the weekly gossip tabloid, Kampala
Sun; and three regional weeklies produced in the
respective predominant languages in the regions –
Etop, Orumuri, Rupiny – and one daily, Bukedde.
Nation Media Group’s outlets are Daily Monitor
newspaper, KFM radio, NTV Uganda, and the
Luganda- language radio station, Ddembe FM.
All are based in Kampala. In addition to the two
market leaders, there are a number of other
smaller privately owned entities: The Red Pepper,
a daily tabloid whose affiliates include Kamunye,
Entatsi and Hello!Uganda publications, and Juice
FM; the tri-weekly The Observer; and weekly
newsmagazine The Independent.
According to the Uganda Communications
Commission (UCC) third quarter report of 2015,
there were 292 operational FM radio stations,
a jump from 253 in the second quarter of the
same year2. Media experts say that the large and
sudden jump was the function of licence owners
who had dormant stations reviving them to target
election money that was bound to come through

adverts and paid-for talk shows and other such
programming. The same report says there were
33 operational TV stations (28 analogue, 3 digital
terrestrial, and 2 digital satellite). It is worth
noting that analogue stations were 67 in quarter
two of 2015. The drop was the result of some of
the stations going off air for failing to switch to
the internationally required digital format; others
were down while they worked on the switch. The
state-run Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC)
has the widest TV and radio reach, broadcasting
in multiple local languages as well as in English
and Kiswahili across the country. Its FM radio
affiliates include the community station Mega,
based in Gulu, and the Kampala- based Magic
FM, a sports and music outlet. Although UBC
was expected to have transformed into a public
broadcaster, it remains very much a state entity
that is largely subservient to President Museveni3
and the ruling party and rarely provides for views
critical of the government. There are concerns
that NRM politicians or business people close
to the ruling party own about 70 per cent of
the country’s private FM stations, especially in
the rural countryside4. Broadcast regulator and
licensing body UCC, however, puts radio ownership
by politicians at about 15 per cent. Faith-based

2 See http://www.ucc.co.ug/files/downloads/Q3-Market%20Report%20%20for%20Third%20Quarter%20-%20July-September%202015.pdf.
3 The bias shows more during election period. See http://observer.ug/news-headlines/42308-report-ubc-denies-opposition-airtime

4 Report of the International Mission on Freedom of Expression in Uganda, September 2010.

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ACME Annual Report 2015

organisations are the other group that owns a
substantial number of broadcast outlets. Such
ownership patterns have raised concerns about
media diversity, especially because many radio
stations owned by politicians or politically
connected business people have been known to
prevent members of the opposition and other
voices of dissent from airing their views on
radio talk shows.
For example, on 21 July 2015, Baba FM in Jinja
was taken off air after 15 minutes of an hourlong interview with presidential challenger
Kizza Besigye. The station managers blamed
a technical glitch; Dr Besigye’s people said
it was sabotage. There have been other such
occurrences over the years5. Within days the
station, owned by a ruling party MP6, had
suspended the journalists involved in the
talk show. This state of affairs is significant
because 55 per cent of households in Uganda
receive information through radio, according
to the 2014 census report7 (see Table 1).
Across the country, approximately 60 per
cent of households own radio sets, while just
14 per cent own televisions (see Table 2).
Similarly, there are fears that conglomeration

Table 1: Percentage distribution of sources of information

Source: Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2016, The National Population and
Housing Census 2014 – Main Report, Kampala, Uganda

could in the future undermine the kind of
media pluralism and diversity that democracy
demands. Threats to diversity do not only
emanate from ownership patterns. In ways
both loud and quiet, the government has used
the regulatory regime to influence coverage.
Broadcast regulator UCC’s tactics have drawn
scrutiny. In November 2015, UCC directed a
number of broadcast outlets to stop hosting Mr
Tamale Mirundi, a former Museveni aide, or risk

5 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Radio-goes-off-air-15-minutes-into-Dr-Besigyes-talkshow/-/688334/2803274/-/kcvksr/-/index.html
6 https://hrnjuganda.org/?p=1438
7 http://www.ubos.org/onlinefiles/uploads/ubos/NPHC/2014%20National%20Census%20Main%20Report.pdf

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Table 2: Proportion of households in Uganda
that own selected ICT assets

Source: Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2016, The National Population and
Housing Census 2014 – Main Report, Kampala, Uganda

their operating licences being cancelled8. (The
regulator objected to Mr Mirundi’s penchant
for routinely insulting various prominent
government officials on air.) The stations
promised to behave and follow minimum
broadcasting standards as set out in the law.
The directive was lifted, ending the episode
that had lasted a week.9,10 And a Human

Rights Watch report says the UCC executive
director visited an FM station in Fort Portal and
forbade it from carrying stories critical of the
wrangling Tooro royal family11. It is hard not to
see how such tactics can fail to engender selfcensorship.
Regarding new media, growing numbers of
Ugandans are turning to the Internet as a
major source of information. According to UCC,
as of June 2015 the number of Internet users
in Uganda stood at 13 million, representing
37 per cent penetration. Just a year before,
the number of users stood at 8.5 million12.
Freedom House has reported that this is partly
due to the proliferation of smart phones,
given that Uganda’s mobile phone usage has
spiked from less than one million users in 2001
to 22 million as of June 2015. In June 2014,
the number of users stood at 19 million13.
These increases have been accompanied
by lower mobile phone tariffs and cheaper
bandwidth costs. Social media platforms such
as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram,
LinkedIn, and WhatsApp are among the 15

8 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/UCCblocks-Mirundi-from-TV--radio/-/688334/2980776/-/d3idi7/-/index.html
9 http://www.researchictafrica.net/countries/uganda/Uganda_Communications_Act_2013.pdf
10 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Mirundi-back-on-air--attacks-Mbabazi--Mao/-/688334/2988354/-/u2bd9j/-/index.html
11 https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/01/10/keep-people-uninformed/pre-election-threats-free-expression-and-association-uganda
12 http://www.ucc.co.ug/files/downloads/Annual%20Market%20Industry%20Report%202014-15-%20October%2019-2015.pdf
13 http://www.ucc.co.ug/files/downloads/Annual%20Market%20Industry%20Report%202014-15-%20October%2019-2015.pdf.

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ACME Annual Report 2015

As of June 2015, the number of Internet
users in Uganda stood at 13 million,
representing 37 per cent penetration. The
number stood at 8.5 million a year before.
most popular sites in Uganda14. Facebook is
the most used social platform in the country,
with the number of subscribers standing at
approximately 1.8 million15 (a 5 per cent
penetration rate) in November 2015, a threefold rise since 201216.
Journalists are one demographic of Ugandans
increasingly embracing social media to enhance
their reporting as we saw in the coverage of
the 2016 election campaigns. It could be argued
that social media did not fully come to life in
2015 until June, when former Prime Minister
Amama Mbabazi announced via YouTube that he
would run for president, challenging his former
boss, President Museveni.

Although how much freedom Ugandans have
in using social media does not depend on
the actions of the government, it is not to
say the authorities are not watching. In
2013, the government announced that it
was setting up a social-media monitoring
centre to track the spread of content that
potentially harms national security. In
June 2015, the police arrested and put on
trial Robert Shaka17, a USAID employee it
suspected to be Tom Voltaire Okwalinga18
or TVO19, an indefatigable yet anonymous
Facebook critic of President Museveni and his
allies. Mr Shaka’s alleged offences included
the promotion of sectarianism under Section
41 of the Penal Code Act, and misuse of
computers in contravention of Section 25 of
the Computer Misuse Act20.
While Mr Shaka (‘Maverick Blutaski’ on
Facebook) was being held, however, the
Tom Voltaire Okwalinga Facebook page

14 http://www.contadorharrison.com/social-mediause-in-uganda/
15 http://www.internetworldstats.com/africa.htm
16 http://www.internetworldstats.com/africa.htm
17 http://www.observer.ug/news-headlines/38278-who-s-tom-voltaire-okwalinga-tvo
18 https://www.facebook.com/tom.okwalinga?fref=ts
19 https://www.facebook.com/Tvo-Uganda-654610647943658/?fref=ts
20 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Lawyers-demand-release-of-social-media-critic-/-/688334/2747382/-/r3f7qaz/-/index.html

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stayed active, carrying posts that mocked the
government for holding the wrong person.
Mr Shaka’s case was pending in the courts at
year’s end. Relatedly, the courts in September
dismissed a case of criminal defamation dating
to 2010 against online journalist Timothy
Kalyegira. The state had failed to prosecute
the case21.
The major media houses in Uganda continued
to show a degree of professionalism in the
kind of content they produce. They were
often comprehensive, bold, and independent
in their reporting. This is especially true for
newspapers and some television stations.
However, the quality of journalism in
Uganda could improve. Concerns persist
over professionalism and ethical standards
in many newsrooms. Most stories still
contain little enterprise, depth, analysis,
and investigation. Elementary mistakes,
single- source stories, poor news judgement,
and glaring inaccuracies, as well as cases of
‘brown envelope’ journalism undermine the
credibility of media institutions. In-depth
reporting and investigation of public affairs
such as health care delivery, education,

energy, human rights, land use, environment,
infrastructural development, corruption, and
local governance are rare or inconsistent22.
With the exception of some Uganda Radio
Network programmes, radio news is very often
full of episodic eventbased reporting that
does not interrogate issues. Radio stations
continue to pay disproportionate attention to
music and entertainment over public affairs
programming.
The quality of television news, meanwhile,
has improved with growing competition where
stations are investing in new equipment and
talent and experimenting with live coverage
of key events, which in 2015 included
electioneering and Pope Francis’s visit. While
there were some good in depth reports during
the year, they unfortunately tended to be the
exception rather than the rule.
Ugandan media also rely too much on male
politicians, government officials, and business
executives for their sourcing. The voices
of civil society, independent experts, and
ordinary people, while increasingly featured,
are not yet dominant in media coverage, a

21 http://www.chimpreports.com/court-throws-out-museveni-defamation-case-kalyegira-seeks-compensation/
22 ACME will publish in the first quarter of 2016 a report on findings from a baseline research on media coverage of public affairs in Uganda.

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ACME Annual Report 2015

For example, stories relied on male sources
by far, provided little background and
context, most were not analytical, and public
broadcaster UBC was biased in favour of
President Museveni. That said, as the campaign
season progressed and ACME continued to
release its monthly reports24, we saw stories
reflect more ordinary people’s views, focus
more on issues than personalities, and employ
a neutral tone.

situation that curtails diversity of opinion23.
Questions of background and context,
analysis, investigation, sourcing, fairness in
our journalism were visible in the way media
covered the campaigns ahead of the 2016
elections. ACME monitored coverage and found
patterns that validate general observations
made in the preceding paragraphs.

Ugandan journalists cite poor pay, lack of
knowledge and skills, and pressure not to
publish politically or commercially sensitive
information as the biggest obstacles to their
work25. Pressure to not publish comes from
both the government and major advertisers.
Lack of resources and limited access to
information are also cited as major hindrances,
especially to investigative journalism and
public affairs reporting. The glorification of
private profit at the expense of the public
interest has likewise been blamed for the
average or sub-average quality of the country’s
journalism. The rate of occupational mobility
in Ugandan journalism is also striking. Many
experienced journalists have moved on to

23 Mwesige, P.G. (2006). “The Media and Civil Society in Uganda: Exploring Relations and Possibilities.” Paper Presented at Breakfast Meeting for
Media Owners Hosted by the Civil Society Capacity Building Programme. Kampala, November 15, 2006
24 Discussed in some detail in this report under the section on Media Monitoring.
25 Colmery, B. et al. (2009). There Will be Ink.

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Women in Ugandan Media 2015

On gender, a major international study conducted by International Women’s Media Foundation in Uganda in 2015 and titled “Who
Makes the News” delivered the following sobering findings about
the state of women in the country’s media:
w Women’s overall presence in the news was only 28% of news subjects.
w Interesting but quite unfortunate, women made news most in the topic least
covered by the media (Celebrity/Arts /Media) the same topical area female journalists are two times more likely to cover than their male counterparts; the latter
are more preponderant in the coverage of politics and government.
w As news makers occupationally, women appeared most in fields associated
with domesticity and care giving such as home makers, parents, and health/
social/child care workers. Conversely, men featured mostly in the occupations
traditionally associated with power such as royalty, business, religion, politics.
w Female news sources were found to be more likely to be featured as victims,
portrayed as survivors, and identified by their family status than [male] news
subjects.
w The media’s interest in covering women as a central focus; highlighting
issues of gender equality; and those challenging gender stereotypes,
was at best, lukewarm.

other fields such as marketing and public
relations. Commentators note that such
departures weaken institutional memory,
while diminishing the intellectual capital and
credibility of news organisations26.
According to African Media Barometer (AMB)
201227, Uganda’s constitution contains one of
the best provisions on freedom of expression
in Africa, guaranteeing “every person … the
right to freedom of speech and expression,
which shall include freedom of the press and
other media”. However, in the intervening
years since the passage of the constitution
in 1995, the government has set about
proposing and passing laws that threaten free
expression, media freedom, and access to
information. The proposed Press and Journalist
Amendment Bill 2010, the Regulation of
Interception of Communications Act 2010, the
Public Order Management Act 2013, and The
Non-Governmental Organisations Act 2015,
along with previous efforts to amend the
Uganda Communications Act 2013 to remove
parliamentary approvals of regulations, all
further threaten freedom of expression and

26 Mwesige, P.G & D.K. Kalinaki (2007). “East Africa: 50 years of media,” in E. Barratt & G. Berger (Eds.). 50 Years of Journalism: African media since
Ghana’s independence. (pp. 97-109). Johannesburg: African Editors Forum, Highway Africa, and Media Foundation for West Africa.
27 http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/africa-media/09427.pdf

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ACME Annual Report 2015

other fundamental liberties, contributing
to an environment of self-censorship28. The
Constitutional Court annulled the sedition
law in 2010, but that sort of positive change
has not stopped the state from relying on
other provisions of the penal code to go after
journalists for their critical reporting.
In 2014, court sentenced CBS Radio journalist
Ronald Ssembuusi29 to a fine of Shs 1,000,000
or one year in prison for criminal defamation.
It was the culmination of a two-year trial.
The journalist, who has since passed on, had
reported that a former chairman of Kalangala
District had stolen solar panels meant for the
islanders30. In August 2015, two businessmen
in Kampala had the state bring criminal
defamation charges against four reporters
for covering the men’s alleged dubious land
dealings31. It is a mystery as to how private
people could seek to restore their reputations
via a criminal defamation suit (i.e. prosecuted
by the state) as opposed to a civil one.

In order to practice journalism, The Press and
Journalist Act requires journalists to register
with the National Institute of Journalists of
Uganda (NIJU), then obtain a licence, renewed
yearly, from the Media Council. For nearly 14
years, the state had generally not bothered
to enforce these provisions. Then, in 2014,
Information Minister Rose Namayanja, citing
Section 42 of the Act, issued Statutory
Instrument No. 4 of 2014 spelling out the fees
journalists would have to pay to practice32.
Critics protested saying the fees will shut
out some people from working as journalists,
thereby limiting media space and freedom
of expression33. Shortly after the issuance
of the fee structure, three free expression
advocacy organisations jointly challenged the
constitutionality of several provisions of the
Act. Section 42 that Ms Namayanja invoked is
one of those singled out for annulment34. The
minister further issued Statutory Instrument
No. 5 of 201435 that narrows the code of ethics
provided in the Act. The statutory instrument,

28 Freedom House (2012). “Uganda: Freedom of the Press 2011.” http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2011/uganda
See also: Freedom House (2012). “Uganda: Freedom in the World 2012.” http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2012/uganda
29 Sembuusi passed on in January 2015 due to natural causes.
30 https://www.hrnjuganda.org/PRESS%20STATEMENT-CRIMINAL%20DEFAMATION.pdf
31 https://hrnjuganda.org/?p=1426
32 http://www.mediacouncil.ug/files/downloads/STATUTORY%20INSTRUMENTS%20SUPPLEMENT%20FEES.pdf
33 http://mobile.monitor.co.ug/Oped/New-media-rules-unacceptable/-/691272/2298644/-/format/xhtml/-/dwe777z/-/index.html
34 http://www.scribd.com/doc/213965629/Uganda-Press-and-Journalist-Act-constitutional-petition
35 http://mediacouncil.ug/files/downloads/Press%20Jour%20Fourth%20Sch1.pdf

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for example, says it is “unacceptable for a
journalist or editor to unreasonably persist
in questioning … a person who has asked the
journalist or editor to desist from such acts”.
This will make investigative journalism nearly
impossible, critics argue36.

The hotly contested 2016 general
elections formed a key backdrop
to media harassment in 2015.

Much as the government did not act on the two
instruments in 2015, they remain a potential
threat to free media in the coming years. The
hotly contested 2016 general elections formed
the backdrop to actual media harassment in
2015. While the presidential and parliamentary
elections were slated for February 2016,
jostling for advantage and actual campaigning
happened throughout 2015. And journalists
found themselves caught in the crosshairs of
a do-or-die electoral contest. When not being
warned by UCC (in the case of broadcast
outlets) to refrain from “unbalanced, negative
and unprofessional”37 election reporting,
several journalists were being detained,
physically assaulted, or having their equipment
seized, damaged or both. The cases are too
numerous to list, so we provide a sampling.

Mr Ivan Vincent Mukisa, a Radio One journalist,
sustained rubber bullet injuries on 15 October
while reporting a scuffle in Jinja between the
police and the supporters of FDC presidential
flag-bearer Kizza Besigye38.
Earlier the same day, police detained The
Observer photojournalist Alfred Ochwo
for taking pictures of the arrest of FDC MP
Ssemujju Nganda just outside Kampala. Police
freed him without charge after four hours39.
Coincidentally, it was during this same month
that Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura,
according to media safety activist group
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda
(HRNJ-U), wondered why media houses were
bent on giving prominent coverage to the
opposition. He warned journalists that the
police would “go after you”40.

36 http://www.newvision.co.ug/mobile/Detail.aspx-?NewsID=654810&CatID=397
37 http://www.observer.ug/news-headlines/38670-2016-ucc-reads-riot-act-for-media
38 https://hrnjuganda.org/?p=2077
39 http://www.observer.ug/news-headlines/40473-observer-journalist-arrested-for-covering-ssemujju-s-arrest
40 https://hrnjuganda.org/?wpfb_dl=58

16|

ACME Annual Report 2015

It was not just the police caught on the violent
side. On 22 December, supporters of Deputy
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah attacked
two TV reporters using stones and clubs.
The journalists were covering a fight over a
rally venue in Gulu between the camps of Mr
Oulanyah and FDC’s Besigye41. In Masaka in
October, an NRM primary candidate physically
assaulted Shamim Jjingo Nakawooya of Daily
Monitor. Eddy Ssansa reacted angrily to the
reporter’s question about his indebtedness,
a matter his creditors had reported to the
police42.

THREATENING: Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura.

Majority of the victim journalists
were targeted while reporting
opposition-related activities.

These and many other incidents caused HRNJ-U
to note that the “majority of the victim
journalists and media houses were targeted
while on duty reporting opposition related
activities. The police and NRM candidates and
or with [sic] their supporters took a lion’s share
in violating the media and journalists’ rights
and freedoms. [A] majority of these cases were
reported to authorities like police but barely
investigated.”
Journalists also came under attack outside

41 http://www.monitor.co.ug/SpecialReports/Elections/Chaos-unfolds-at-Besigye---Oulanyah-Gulu-gatherings/-/859108/3006944/-/sinn7cz/-/
index.html
42 http://www.observer.ug/news-headlines/40791-parliamentary-aspirant-summoned-for-assaulting-journalist

ACME Annual Report 2015

|17

of the heated world of electioneering. Two
cases stand out for their egregiousness. On
12 January 2015, Old Kampala Station chief
Joram Mwesigye hit WBS TV cameraman
Andrew Lwanga in the head as he filmed the
officer arrest protesting youth43. The blow left
the journalist unconscious, and his condition
deteriorated throughout the year. (As of early
2016, the police officer’s case was still pending
in the courts44.)
On 23 September, security agents picked up
Observer reporter Derrick Kiyonga at the High
Court for passing notes between terrorism
suspects and their lawyers while court was in
session. Presiding Judge Alphonse Owiny-Dollo
threatened to leave the case if the journalist
was not freed immediately. Two hours after the

detention, Mr Kiyonga was freed. It is unclear
what would have happened to the journalist
if the judge had not firmly made his outrage
clear.
As was the case in 2014, journalists used the
courts in 2015 to expand space for their work.
In July the court overturned the 2013 expulsion
of reporters Sulaiman Kakaire and David Tash
Lumu from covering parliament45. The most
significant development, however, came in the
arena of access to information. In 2011, the
government released long-pending regulations
to guide the implementation of the 2005 Access
to Information Act. It wasn’t until last year
that routine refusal by government entities to
honour requests for information were actively
challenged in the courts of law. In three cases,

As was the case in 2014, journalists used the
courts in 2015 to expand space for their work.

43 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/-/688334/2586744/-/72h622/-/index.html
44 https://hrnjuganda.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/hrnj-uganda-alert-medical-practitioner-testifies-in-journalists-assault-case/
45 https://hrnjuganda.org/?p=1449

18|

ACME Annual Report 2015

a magistrate’s court ruled in favour of the Hub
for Investigative Media, an activist media outfit
that had been denied procurement-related
information by the National Forestry Authority
46,47,48. This was also a reversal from 2010
when a different magistrate dismissed a case
in which two reporters sought the release
into the public domain of secret oil contracts
between the government and international oil
companies49.
In the 2014 ACME report we predicted that
2015 would be a busy year for Ugandan
journalism. It was. Journalists balanced safety
with trying to cover a fast moving story that
was the election campaigns, not forgetting
the papal visit. In the year ahead, we see
heightened competition in the television sector
as stations retool for the digital era.

LOOKING TOWARD A QUIET 2016: Radio reporters from the
Albertine visit the CNOOC oil field in Hoima District.

Changing information collection and
dissemination technologies such as the use of
drones will also compel media organisations to
adapt. Overall, however, the situation is likely
to mirror the relative quietness of 2014.

46 http://him-ug.org/index.php/rulings/nfa-first-ruling
47 http://him-ug.org/index.php/rulings/nfa-second-ruling
48 http://him-ug.org/index.php/rulings/nfa-third-ruling
49 http://www.right2info.org/resources/publications/casepdfs/uganda_charles-mwanguhya-mpagi-and-izama-angelo-v.-attorney-general

ACME Annual Report 2015

|19

59%

ACME 2015 AT A GLANCE

Journalists reached.
(Up from 56% in 2014)

1,897

Beneficiaries served in the year.

(Down from 1,916 in 2014)

32%

Women served.
Passed minimum target
of 30%. We barely missed
it in 2014

20|

ACME Annual Report 2015

Number of beneficiaries
of ACME services

10 most visited posts on ACME’s
Online Resource Centre
(January-December 2015)

7%

6%

4% 4%

30%

7%
8%
10%

13%
11%

The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2015
Finding news in opinion poll data
2015/15 National Budget Speech
The Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2015
The Press and Journalist Act
Budget reporting tools and resources
Uganda general elections map
Media freedom in Uganda
Datasets - PLE results 2014
Budget Framework Paper

ACME Annual Report 2015

|21

2015 in pictures|

ACME Annual Report 2015

ACME Annual Report 2015

|2015 in pictures

FOCAL AREAS IN 2015

22|

RECOGNISING EXCELLENCE: New Vision’s
Stephen Ssenkaaba receives the Nile Breweries
Exceptional Journalism Award for 2015.

ACME Annual Report 2015

JOURNALISTIC EXCELLENCE
The mid-career training that ACME offers
journalists seeks to promote journalism that
informs and engages the public and holds
public leaders accountable. Our approach
recognises that skills are not enough in the
pursuit of journalistic excellence. We therefore
offer a mix of skills and knowledge modules.
The skills we address include story spotting,
story structure, analysis, depth, sourcing,
interviewing, enterprise, investigation, and
data use.
The knowledge/content modules, meanwhile,
expose journalists to new or deeper knowledge
in selected areas of public affairs. Knowledge
is key to strengthening story context. As
veteran journalist Thomas Patterson put it,
“For almost any development of even modest
complexity, journalists cannot be counted upon
to construct ‘a comprehensive and intelligent
account’ unless they are knowledgeable of the
underlying factors.”50
Our training in 2015 focused on effective

media coverage of extractives (oil, gas and
mining); politics/elections; local government
accountability; public policy; human rights;
land; business, finance and economics; and arts
and culture.
We continued employing a long-term approach
in which mentoring and coaching over several
months complemented practical, face-toface training sessions. We leveraged the
opportunities offered by the Internet and
new media to critique media performance,
and engage journalists both individually and
collectively, while maintaining and encouraging
professional fellowship.
We also continued to offer competitive
reporting grants for promising story ideas that
explored important public issues. To encourage
the pursuit and production of comprehensive
and impactful stories, we organised the Uganda
National Journalism Awards 2015. The awards
event in April was bigger and better than the
inaugural occasion in 2014.

50 Mwesige, P.G. (2006). “Thomas Patterson (2013) “Informing the News: the need for knowledge-based reporting.” Downloaded from http://journalistsresource.org/skills/research/knowledge- based-reporting on October 9, 2013.

ACME Annual Report 2015

|23

Mid-career Journalism Training
Journalists report and analyse issues better
when they have mastered the subject matter
in an area of their interest. It is easy to
tell the difference between the work of a
journalist who only engages with a topic
casually and one who is a ‘student’ of the
subject. The credibility and level of authority
the specialised reporter brings to the story
will always show. As such at ACME we always
encourage journalists to engage deeply with
issues.

Obviously, the media have something to
contribute towards sound elections.

Politics (and Elections)
Challenge The February 2016 elections in
Uganda were only the fourth in 35 years that
occurred under a multiparty dispensation. This
suggests that the country, beset by political
and armed insecurity for much of its 53 years
of independence, is still learning how to have
different actors compete for state power in a
peaceful way. Given the ill-tempered nature of
past elections, Uganda is a country undergoing
an unsteady and difficult democratic transition.
Obviously, the media have something to
contribute towards sound elections that,
hopefully, result in sound policy and
governance. For example, the media should
accurately and fairly inform people about

24|

ACME Annual Report 2015

GROUP WORK: Journalists
develop an election reporting
plan during training at
ACME.

the different parties, candidates, campaigns,
and about the elections generally; provide a
platform for public debate; and be the voice
of the voters. This approach allows the public
to make more informed electoral choices.
However, for reasons of inexperience partly
due to high staff turnover in newsrooms, poor
training, poor facilitation, and ethical lapses,
Ugandan media do not always do the right
thing. With particular regard to elections,
surveys have shown Ugandan media to suffer
several challenges, including:

l redominance of episodic reporting and a

dearth of issue-based coverage;

l no serious interrogation of candidate

promises and claims;

l disproportionate attention to candidates

and political parties at the expense of
voters;
l lack of fairness and balance; inaccurate

reporting;
bribe-taking;
l

l self-censorship; and

l poor portrayal of women candidates.
Intervention In light of these challenges, in
2015 ACME worked with journalists countrywide
to improve media coverage of the electoral
process. With support from the Democratic

ACME Annual Report 2015

Governance Facility and the Canada Fund for
Local Initiatives, we focused on assessing the
performance of officials seeking re-election visà-vis their manifestos and promises, analysing
the credentials of the candidates, scrutinising
electoral processes, and preparing newsrooms
and individual reporters to cover the elections.
We also worked in partnership with the
Women’s Democracy Network-Uganda to
emphasise gender-aware coverage of elections.
Change The training reached 210 journalists
from around the country. The first batch
were 25 “newsroom champions” — senior
journalists trained to return to newsrooms
and mentor others in elections coverage.
We also conducted seven regional training
workshops reaching 128 reporters. In most
of the regions, we worked with local media
associations to identify and recommend
journalists to be trained. We thus either
improved or established collaborative ties
with Northern Uganda Media Club, West
Nile Journalists Association, South Buganda
Journalists Association and Tooro Media
Practitioners Association. Finally, we conducted
three newsroom visits — two at Uganda Radio
Network and one at the Vision Group, working
with 57 journalists on election reporting. While
we are aware of attribution challenges when

|25

it comes to gauging the impact of interventions
such as the ones described, it is nevertheless
fair to say that ACME has begun building the
groundwork for both immediate and long-term
improvements in the quality and practice of
election coverage throughout the country. Our
other work monitoring media coverage of the
2016 elections (mentioned elsewhere in this
report) highlights some of the improvements
made by journalists during the election period,
from including a variety of sources in their
stories, to questioning claims of candidates,
and to providing more background and context.
Concerning issues of gender, analysis and
investigation, more work remains to be done.

Business, economics and finance

Challenge The need for journalism reporting
skills in business, economics, and finance
is acute in much of Africa as the continent
becomes more connected to international
trade systems, more dependent on
international financial markets, and more
vulnerable to unregulated capital flows
that have followed the rising presence of
multinationals. Several recent studies show

that Africa is bleeding precious dollars in
illicit financial flows — maybe more than $50
billion a year.51 That figure constitutes the
amount of money Africa needs yearly to fund
infrastructure projects or, put differently,
is “approximately double the official
development assistance that Africa receives”
per annum. Between 2002 and 2011, Uganda in
particular “experienced gross average annual
illicit flows of $884 million”. This translated
into an average loss of $243 million in taxes per
year through trade misinvoicing52. Despite the
gravity of the situation, Ugandan journalism –
and African journalism more generally – has yet
to devote the kind of sustained attention that
issues of this magnitude warrant.
Intervention It was in light of the need for
African media to make sense of how money
leaves the continent illegally that the Thomson
Reuters Foundation (TRF) — with support from
the Norwegian development agency Norad —
joined with ACME and three other Africa-based
media development organisations to offer
training in financial and economic reporting in
2014 to augment pilot work done the previous
couple of years. The current project runs

51 http://www.uneca.org/iff
52 http://www.gfintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Hiding_In_Plain_Sight_Report-Final.pdf

26|

ACME Annual Report 2015

Sustainable Development Goal 16, Target 4
By 2030, significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows,
strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and
combat all forms of organised crime.
through 2016. Its objective is to improve the
quality of the African media’s reporting on
finance and economics with a focus on taxation
and illicit capital flows. The project aims to
train at least 140 journalists from across the
continent.
Change ACME has since 2014 trained 23
journalists (13 in 2015) from Uganda, Kenya,
Malawi, Tanzania, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana,
Nigeria, Rwanda, and Mozambique to appreciate
how African economies lose large sums of money
every year through practices such as tax evasion
and avoidance. We also delivered lectures to
98 (50 in 2015; 48 in 2014) finalist journalism
students at Makerere University to extend reach
and impact of the project. It should be noted
that, until recently, these trainings were almost
always held in Nairobi. ACME, in a small way,
has attempted to change that dynamic. It is
still early days, but we are starting to see an
increase in local media interest in the financial

activities of multinationals based in Uganda. An
alumnus of the programme, Mr Jeff Mbanga of
The Observer, for instance, was a reporter on a
collaborative investigation into telecom company
MTN’s allegedly suspect tax dealings in Uganda,
Ghana, and Nigeria. He reported the Ugandan
part in a story53 that appeared in The Observer
in October 2015. Our training has also introduced
journalists to credible civil society organisations
such as SEATINI and Tax Justice Network, which
are potential partners in investigating illicit
financial flows.
Collaborations between the media and civil
society organisations on some of these issues is
becoming a cornerstone of this kind of work. As
this annual report goes to press, the so-called
Panama Papers are the talk of much of the
world. Indeed, a key collaborator on Mr Mbanga’s
project was Finance Uncovered, a global network
of investigative journalists who focus on tax
abuse, corruption, and money laundering.

53 http://www.observer.ug/business/38-business/40339-how-mtn-uganda-s-offshore-stash-sent-ura-on-the-hunt

ACME Annual Report 2015

|27

and independent experts. As the sector
continues to evolve, it is throwing up new
issues such as the construction of a refinery
and crude oil export pipeline, with their
attendant geo-political manoeuvrings. The
mining sector is also stirring to life after
acquisition of decent data from a multi-year
nationwide mapping study and the revival of
places such as Kilembe Copper Mines. The legal
and regulatory regime is also under review. All
these developments call for continued training
of journalists in what we collectively call the
extractive industry.
Oil, gas and mining
Challenge Uganda found oil in commercial
quantities in 2006. Back then media coverage of
the sector was spotty because, apart from the
oil companies and a few experts in government,
the public and the media remained sceptical of
the finding, thinking it was all hype. Coverage
continued being sporadic for several years. Even
after the oil story went mainstream, the stories
often lacked depth and context, while failing
to explore the potential impact of oil activities
on the Albertine communities and sensitive
environment. Journalists relied heavily on
government and company pronouncements for
sources, inadvertently shutting out the voices of
the communities, civil society organisations,

28|

Intervention Since 2011, ACME has been at the
forefront of journalism training on covering
extractives (oil, gas and mining) — facilitating
workshops, field trips, and mentorship as well
as administering reporting grants and awards
under various projects. Our aim is to contribute
to “effective and consistent oversight by the
media of extractive resources and revenues,
contributing to their improved use for the
public good in Uganda”. From 2011-2015, with
principal support from the Natural Resource
Governance Institute, formerly Revenue Watch
Institute, ACME trained scores of journalists,
providing them with opportunities to engage
experts and visit oil, gas and mining sites in
Uganda, Tanzania, and Ghana. Norad (through
the Thomson Reuters Foundation), MacArthur
ACME Annual Report 2015

Foundation, and the Fund for Global Human
Rights have also provided funding for related but
limited interventions.
Change Since 2011, ACME has trained 447
Ugandan journalists in covering extractives. The
trainings have ranged in duration from a few
days (for editors, producers, bloggers and finalist
journalism students) to months (for reporters).
In 2015, with funding from the Natural Resource
Governance Institute and Norad (through
Thomson Reuters Foundation), ACME trained
141 editors, reporters, and finalist journalism
students at Makerere University. Our engagement
with the Vision Group journalists in July led to
collaborative work amongst some of its Lugandalanguage outlets to cover oil and gas for the first
time, thus introducing new audiences to the
sector. The collaborating outlets were Bukedde
newspaper, Bukedde 1 TV, and Bukedde FM.
Their stories appeared between October and
November 2015. While more needs to be done to
further truly informed and nuanced reporting,
at ACME we continue to see more stories with
multiple sources, more community voices, more
context, and more enterprise and depth. We
also see that the government is becoming more
open to explaining in greater detail its actions
and decisions. These days, press statements tend
to carry much more detail than just a few years
ago. We think that this is partially in response
ACME Annual Report 2015

to better-informed questions that journalists,
and some members of civil society, are asking.
Whether the present trends lead to greater
accountability we will tell once oil starts flowing
and the petrodollars start rolling in.
Rights and rule of law
Challenge Despite constitutional and other legal
guarantees, successive Ugandan governments
have either entirely disregarded the promotion
of human rights and rule of law or paid scant
attention to the same. Indeed, questions of rule
of law and respect for human rights have long
exercised the minds of Ugandans passionate
about political and civil liberties. Yet the lack
of specialisation in many Ugandan newsrooms
continues to jeopardise knowledge-based
reporting that can inform and engage the public
on how such rights intersect with the critical
issues of the day.
Intervention With USAID support, ACME has
been working with Freedom House since 2014
to improve media coverage of human rights and
rule of law in Uganda. We equip journalists with
skills and knowledge to competently investigate
and report on rights and rule of law issues.
The aim is to ensure that the state upholds
these constitutional entitlements. In the event
that it doesn’t, the goal is to ensure that the

|29

media are adept at exposing any violations
and facilitating citizens with the knowledge
necessary to demand better.
Change In 2015, we trained 10 journalists in
effective coverage of human rights and rule
of law. The trainings started late in the year
and are continuing into 2016. At this juncture,
it is too early to assess the impact. We hope,
however, that the expressions of intent by the
journalists themselves will yield compelling
stories, and that reporting on rights and rule of
law will become a serious beat in newsrooms.
Land and agriculture
Challenge There have been some training
workshops offered in the past on the subjects
of land and agriculture. These have, however,
often been sporadic, conducted by government
agencies or civil society organisations that
are mostly driven by a particular political or
development agenda. Because of this, ACME
has moved to unite the disparate interests
by providing training that puts the media and
their audiences first by offering short courses
that are relevant and hands-on to journalists.
As is now increasingly acknowledged, a
journalist is as good as the knowledge he or she
brings to the craft of journalism.

30|

PIONEERS: Participants in
ACME’s inaugural course on
reporting land.

Intervention With support from the Ford
Foundation, in 2014 ACME launched the
“Uganda Knowledge-based Journalism Project”
to inspire a cadre of journalists to produce
strong stories on land and agriculture. The
training was preceded by a study on how media
in Uganda covered land and natural resources
between 2011 and 2014. The project ultimately
covered a range of topics that tied land and
agriculture together. Legal, economic, cultural
and nutritive aspects were addressed.
ACME Annual Report 2015

Change We trained 12 journalists in 2015,
most from radio stations upcountry.
We are yet to see identifiable changes
in their work because most were
preoccupied with election reporting
through the first quarter of 2016. In
thinly staffed newsrooms, it is very
common to have journalists cover the
story of the day, which leaves less time
to pursue deeper understandings and
reportage of other subjects of interest.
Arts and culture

APPRECIATING THE ARTS: Poet and
author Beverley Nambozo-Nsengiyunva
makes a presentation during an arts and
culture training at ACME.

ACME Annual Report 2015

Challenge Coverage of arts and culture
in Ugandan media is rarely analytical.
Stories on art exhibitions tend not to
go beyond the who-what-where-when
of the event. Music shows, dance, and
comedy, meanwhile, are covered more
as pieces of mindless entertainment.
Arts and culture critics that offer
careful appraisals of a painting or a
contemporary dance show, comedy
routine, or theatrical production are
rare. In the end, it is hard to rely on the
media to get a good sense of Uganda’s
creative life, which is on the rebound
after decades in the doldrums.

Intervention As part of the “Uganda
Knowledge-based Journalism Project”,
ACME worked with 12 journalists in 2015
to improve reporting on arts and culture.
We discussed areas such as cultural
policy, emerging arts communities,
artistic expression, review of live
performances, the writing of book review
essays, and covering of literary festivals.
Change One result of the training was
ACME’s invitation by Bayimba Cultural
Foundation to jointly launch a public
discussion on why the space accorded to
arts and culture was steadily shrinking
in Uganda’s media. Two of the festival’s
organisers had attended ACME’s arts and
culture training. Close to 50 journalists
and creative artists packed the Green
Room at the National Theatre on 26
September 2015 to hear a panel of four
journalists – reporters and editors –
reflect on how arts and culture could
be covered better. The discussion has
continued in various fora, which we hope
portends a sign of things to come, with
the country’s media beginning to treat he
creative economy with the seriousness it
deserves.

|31

Fellowships, Grants and Awards
Challenge Most media houses in Uganda invest
very little in their reporters. They rarely
put money and time behind even their star
reporters to go out and pursue ground-breaking
stories. Journalists are trained at school,
sometimes in the newsrooms, and increasingly
at theme-based workshops such as those
offered by ACME. But because of the dynamics
of newsrooms (including belt-tightening by
the business managers), journalists rarely
have the chance to use what they learn in
impactful ways. Many grow grumpy and end up
leaving the profession prematurely, denying
their media houses expertise and institutional
memory. Consequently, anecdotal evidence
suggests that large numbers of journalists
in various newsrooms are rookies. However
talented rookies are, there is a lot to be said
for experience.
Intervention ACME has continued to use a
multi-pronged approach to inspire journalism
that is deep and enterprising. It involves
training, awarding story grants, and rewarding
good journalistic work. We systematically
joined the three elements in 2014. With
support from the Democratic Governance
Facility, we launched a 28-month project titled

32|

Enhanced Media Reporting for Transparency
and Accountability (EMERTA). Among other
things, the project provides data journalism
training, six-month fellowships for journalists
who are at the start of their careers, and
story writing grants for those Ugandan
journalists who are interested in public affairs
reporting. This work continued into 2015. In
the same year, with support from Hivos, the
Dutch humanist international development
organisation, ACME held the second Uganda
National Journalism Awards ceremony at an
event that brought together about 230 guests,
mostly journalists. The goal is not just to
reward good work, but also to help support
the development of such work through the
reporting grants scheme.
Change In 2015, ACME provided 12 journalists
with six-month fellowships on reporting local
government. The fellowships came with
funding to do at least three story projects,
one of which had to be of the data journalism
type. By year’s end, the fellows had produced
30 feature-like stories, most of which would
likely not have seen the light of day given
the reluctance of even able media houses to
fund in-depth reporting. We also gave out 45
additional general reporting grants worth Shs75
million to 44 journalists, up from 30 the year
before. By the end of the year, this cohort of
ACME Annual Report 2015

journalists had produced 36 in-depth stories.
Under the awards scheme, ACME received 261
broadcast, print and online entries, up from
233 the year before, from 155 journalists (11
were joint entries), of which 33 were women.
Two women won in two categories, and five
were runners-up in five. Unlike the inaugural
event held in 2014, this time around runnersup got cash awards as well. Overall, the 20
winners and 22 runners-up walked away with a
combined Shs66 million in prize money, almost
double the previous year’s amount.

The potential for such grants and awards to
inspire great journalism is increasingly evident.

Ten recipients of reporting grants/ fellowships
made the shortlist for the awards. Three were
star performers, thus helping ACME achieve
the aim of linking promotion and reward of
good journalism. Flavia Nassaka’s story, Money
Problems in Uganda’s Parliament54, published
in The Independent, received an honourable
mention in the political reporting category.
Adiah Nakuti’s feature, How bad roads affect
agriculture in Uganda, broadcast on UBC TV,
was runner-up in the agriculture category.
Stephen Ssenkaaba’s series on Children with
disabilities left out of UPE in the New Vision
was runner-up in the feature category. Mr
Ssenkaaba’s series contributed to his winning

the Nile Breweries Award for Exceptional
Journalism.
The potential for such grants and awards to
inspire journalism that informs and engages
is increasingly becoming evident. Several
journalists achieved national and international
recognition in 2015 for work done with either
direct support from ACME grants or in the
aftermath of recognition at the ACME awards
ceremony (See Table 3, page 34). Of particular
note is Caroline Ariba of New Vision. Ms Ariba
beat two contenders from India and Nigeria
to win the 2015 Thomson Foundation Young
Journalist Award, part of the 2015 UK Foreign
Press Association Awards. To win, she had to
submit three stories, among other requirements.
Two of the stories had achieved recognition at
the 2015 ACME awards. The first, Cherotich did
not have to die, a story out of Kween District,
won in the arts and culture category. The
second, Have the gods forsaken Tisai Islands? out
of Kumi District, received honourable mention

54 http://www.independent.co.ug/news/news-analysis/9462-money-problems-in-ugandas-parliament

ACME Annual Report 2015

|33

Table 3: ACME grantees and awardees who excelled further afield in 2015
Name and media house

Type of recognition

Winning story

Caroline Ariba
New Vision

Winner
2015 Thomson Foundation
Young Journalist Award

Submitted three stories, among other requirements.

Carol Natukunda
New Vision

Overall Winner
Population and Development
Awards, Administered by Uganda
Population Secretariat and
UNFPA
Highly Commended, Energy and
Infrastructure Category
CNN MultiChoice African
Journalist of the Year Awards
(2015)
Winner Online
Administered by Uganda
Population Secretariat and
UNFPA
Zimeo Award for Excellence in
Media: Education Reporting

A three-part series on teenage pregnancies in Uganda.

Dicta Asiimwe
The EastAfrican

Francis Mugerwa
Daily Monitor

Stephen Ssenkaaba
New Vision

in the feature category. In an interview upon
being named finalist, Ms Ariba told ACME:
“See, two of the stories not only had readers
and senior editors commending me, but were
thought good enough to make it to the ACME
awards. And also, I learned that these stories

34|

Two had achieved recognition at ACME awards in 2015.

Done with ACME grant.

Title: Why Ugandans continue to suffer despite heavy investment in
roads.
Done with ACME grant and published in Daily Monitor, a sister paper
of The EastAfrican.
Title: Hoima grapples with teenage pregnancy
Done with ACME local government fellowship grant.
A four-part series on how children with disabilities are missing out on
education in Uganda published in the New Vision.

had created a buzz so loud on the local radio
stations that listeners called their local leaders
to action.” Suffice to add that Ms Ariba was
winner in the arts and culture category in the
ACME awards of 2014 for the story How come
emaali composer is a pauper?
ACME Annual Report 2015

Website, Social Media and Online
Resource Centre
Challenge Although advances in information
and communication technologies have led to
the proliferation of many online platforms that
offer professionals and citizens alike access to
relevant information, five years ago Ugandan
journalists were still largely bereft of such
tools. At ACME, our challenge was to figure out
how we could leverage information technology
to make it easier for journalists to gain access
to useful information on public affairs. Unlike
elsewhere in the world, there were virtually
no online platforms carrying critiques of the
way journalists in Uganda did their work. ACME
has since attempted to alleviate these various
deficiencies.
Intervention In 2015, ACME continued to
improve on the various online services it has
offers journalists (although anyone interested
in public affairs can benefit.) We maintained an
active website (www. acme-ug.org), continued
developing our online resource centre (www.
ugandajournalistsresourcecentre.com), which
is essentially a site within a site, and ran active
Twitter and Facebook accounts.
ACME Annual Report 2015

Monthly visits to ACME website at www.acme-ug.org

Change The critiques of media performance
that we publish on our website and other
online platforms continued to spark debate
among journalists, especially on social media
once shared. We believe that through these
debates the perspectives of journalists grow,
and the quality of our media improves as a
result. The website also carried news on media
from around the world, plus information on
opportunities for further training inside and
outside of Africa. The online resource centre
continues to be populated with new material:
laws, proposed laws, policy documents,
reports, articles, and training tools. Through
our online resource centre we are trying to
create a free-to-use knowledge site. We used

|35

AMPLIFYING VOICES:
NTV’s Maurice Mugisha
moderates the 2015 Annual
Media and Politics in Africa
Lecture in Kampala.

social media to amplify our key activities,
although we could do more to engage
online. Our hashtags #ACMETalk for our
monthly talks, #ACMELecture for the annual
lecture, #ACMEResearch for our research
work, #ACMEAwards for the Uganda National
Journalism Awards all made a splash when the
events occurred. Some, like #ACMELecture and
#ACMEAwards trended top across the
continent.

36|

ACME Annual Report 2015

MEDIA LITERACY
Challenge Media messages are a critical feature
of everyday life in modern society. Media
influences and effects are felt across the globe,
transcending social and cultural boundaries.
However, media also cater to a diversity of
interests, hence the need to know how best
to use media for one’s own, hopefully noble,
purposes. For better or worse, many of our
perceptions of the world around us are shaped
by what we read, see, and hear via the media.
Good causes can be won or lost in the media,
as are careers in public life. Skills in using the
media in all their varied forms have become
essential for governments and any public,
private, civil society or corporate organisation
that seeks to mobilise public opinion and to
advance particular interests. Yet many who
should possess the requisite skills do not.
Intervention ACME runs a training programme
in media literacy to help public officials,
members of civil society, the political class,
business people, and high school leavers
improve their skills in engaging with the media.
Change After a frenetic few years, 2015 was
quieter. Things ebb and flow even in our world.
We offered inhouse media literacy training and
ACME Annual Report 2015

Many of our perceptions
of the world around us are
shaped by what we read, see
and hear via the media.
support to several groups, mostly civil society
organisations. At Kuchu Times, we worked
with 16 people on writing and editing
for a web-based broadcast platform. At
Deniva, we worked with five staff to review
the organisation’s use of social media to
communicate. With the National
Association of Professional Environmentalists,
we took 15 employees through the mechanics
of composing and uploading podcasts, and
using YouTube. We further took 20 senior
staff of Oxfam through a hectic day of media
literacy paces. At Aids Healthcare Foundation/
Uganda Cares, it was three days of training
for 15 senior managers in media engagement
and communication skills. Strong anecdotal
evidence suggests several of the organisations
we have worked with are more actively
engaging with various media — from the
traditional such as newspapers to the social
such as Twitter — and thus contributing to
an increased flow of information. However,

|37

ENGAGING MINDS: NTV
news anchor Josephine
Karungi listens to Ms Fatuma
Abdulahi during a
breakfast meeting with
women in media and digital
communications.

38|

having conducted media literacy workshops
for years, mostly with CSOs, we sought in 2015
to establish how well wider civil society uses
media for communication and advocacy to
advance its work. The study, whose findings
were yet to be validated by year’s end,
reports: “In terms of skills and knowledge
among the CSOs interviewed, greatest
proficiency was reported for conducting press
conferences, networking at meetings, and
giving media interviews.
The tools considered least effective by
the majority of respondents were branded
stationery, TV and newspaper adverts, and
newspaper supplements. The tools deemed
very effective included online tools such
as websites and blogs, which enable easy
sharing of content, receipt of email queries,
and gathering of feedback.” The report’s
recommendations towards improved CSO-media
relations include “design and implementation
of communication strategies, audience
analysis, segmentation and understanding;
appropriate budget provisions; diversifying
media channels; effective information
packaging and dissemination; consistent
relations with the media; and leveraging social
media for responsiveness, feedback and public
engagement.” The study’s findings will inform
ACME’s engagement in the future.
ACME Annual Report 2015

PUBLIC DIALOGUES, WORKSHOPS AND SYMPOSIA
ON NON-FICTION AND
TAXATION: Journalist
and author Michela Wrong
(left) and Uganda Revenue
Authority chief Doris Akol
(below right) share their
expertise at ACME.
Extreme left, Fatuma
Abdulahi delivers the
2015 Annual Media and
Politics in Africa Lecture
in Kampala.

ACME Annual Report 2015

|39

Challenge For many years Ugandan journalists
have not had spaces that encourage
professional growth and development. After
long hours at work, most journalists retire
home or pass by their favourite bars and
restaurants to wind down. Back in 2013, we
thought there could be another alternative,
one with much added value. We sought to
bring journalists together twice a month to
talk informally about all manner of public
affairs issues. Away from the pressure-cooker
environment of the newsroom, journalists
could learn and create a deeper sense of
fellowship with their tribe. Thanks to support
from the Democratic Governance Facility since
2014, we continued last year with the holding
of monthly talks, monthly movie nights, and
an annual lecture series. We also added, in
collaboration with others, a well-received
social media conference.
Intervention In 2015, Movie Night @ACME
brought together more than 200 journalists
and friends of Ugandan journalism to watch a
series of movies revolving around media and
public affairs. The movies were: Nightcrawler,
Citizenfour, The Whistleblower, Democrats,
Shattered Glass, Bhopali, The Girl with the
Dragon Tattoo (screened in Gulu in partnership

40|

with Northern Uganda Media Club), Terror
at the Mall, Shadows of Liberty, and Zodiac.
We screened the Oscar-winning documentary
Citizenfour in February at a cinema in the
heart of Kampala, attracting nearly 80
attendees and filling the hall to capacity.
We even had to turn people away. We were
experimenting, trying to reach more people. It
worked. Later in the year we went on to screen
When Under Fire: Shoot Back at the National
Theatre in partnership with the Friedrich Ebert
Foundation, which was also quite successful
in terms of turn out. Passionate debate has
followed every film screening to date. Each
month we also held a chat with people doing
interesting work. Dubbed “An Evening with…”
and attended by 290 people in the year, we

ACME Annual Report 2015

discussed the following subjects: human rights
(Ms Maria Burnett of Human Rights Watch);
running successful businesses in Uganda (Mr
Charles Ocici of Enterprise Uganda); writing
book-length non-fiction (Ms Michela Wrong,
author of It’s Our Turn to Eat ); distributing
essential medicines (Mr Moses Kamabare of
National Medical Stores); local philanthropy (Ms
Esther Kalenzi of 40 Days Over 40 Smiles
Foundation); the national budget (Mr Kenneth
Mugambe, director of budget, Ministry of
Finance); when biases lead to good journalism
(Mr Chris Conte, former news editor at The Wall
Street Journal); opinion polling (pollsters Patrick
Wakida and Francis Kibirige); media coverage
of the arts (panel of journalists Moses Serugo,
Bamuturaki Musinguzi, Flora Aduk, and Dominic
Muwanguzi); taxation and next steps at Uganda
Revenue Authority (Ms Doris Akol of URA); and
issues in elections as of December 2015 (panel
of lawyer Busingye Kabumba and journalists
Barbara Among and Charles Odongtho).
The two monthly activities go alongside an
Annual Media and Politics in Africa Lecture
series. Ms Fatuma Abdulahi, a Somali
broadcaster, media entrepreneur and feminist,
delivered the second lecture on 18 November
2015. Earlier the same day she met for discussion

ACME Annual Report 2015

Social Media Conference
On 14 July, ACME joined with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, a
German political foundation, and the Centre for Media Literacy
and Community Development to host a social media conference
in Kampala. Coming just before the campaign season for the
2016 elections got underway, the theme was appropriately titled,
“Assessing the Impact of Social Media on Political Communication
and Civic Engagement in Uganda”. The aim was to have an
engaging conversation that would inform a “new outlook to the use
and value of social media” in Uganda. The 150 participants were
drawn mainly from the worlds of politics, media, academia, public
policy, and civil society. There were three breakaway sessions
covering politics, civil society, and journalism. ACME took primary
charge of the journalism session. Staff member Lydia Namubiru
presented findings from the organisation’s baseline study —
referred to in some detail in the research and publications section
of this report — on how journalists in Uganda use new media.
The study found that although the vast majority of media outlets
have an online presence, it is a passive presence. For example,
44 per cent of the online (social media) accounts evaluated had
not been updated on the day of analysis, with 17 per cent having
not been updated in three months or more. Panellists said despite
the pressure to be on social media, organisations should reflect
on whether the various channels are appropriate for their causes.

|41

ARTICULATING THE
ISSUES: ACME’s Rachel
Mugarura-Mutana
discusses the impact of
social media on
journalism as Mathias
Kamp of KonradAdenauer-Stiftung looks
on.

at breakfast with 27 women working in media
and digital communications.
Change The regular monthly events, attended by
nearly 500 people (up from 357 in 2014), have
created rapport and a sense of fellowship among
journalists from various media outlets. For the
regular attendees, the debates have deepened
their understanding of various issues beyond
polarised politics, which is a staple of Uganda’s
public affairs coverage. A combined 234 people,
including journalists, attended the women’s

42|

breakfast meeting with Ms Fatuma Abdulahi or
showed up for her lecture later on the same
day. This was a drop from the 315 who showed
up the previous year for the inaugural lecture.
The drop could be attributed to the fact that
the lecture events were held in the midst of a
very competitive general election campaign,
which kept many journalists busy. The movies
and the talks – especially the talks – have not
only led to subsequent news stories, but also
appeared to contribute to a more nuanced
reporting of the issues by regular attendees.
ACME Annual Report 2015

MEDIA MONITORING
One reason ACME exists is to monitor the
performance of Ugandan media. We wish to see
media practitioners perform to the same high
standards that they so often demand of others
especially in government and business. Media
accountability is important yet in Uganda
media do not cover other media as a matter of
course. Through occasional commentary on our
website, we try to shine a spotlight on media
performance. Starting with our monitoring
of the media coverage of the 2016 elections,
we are expanding media monitoring into a
significant and continuous programme.

Monitoring Media Coverage of
2016 Elections
Challenge Past monitoring reports in Uganda
have raised several concerns and pointed out
several gaps in how media cover elections. The
challenges include disproportionate coverage
of the incumbent (president) and ruling party
on state/ public media; preventing opposition
candidates from gaining access to state/public
media of opposition candidates; the
predominance of episodic reporting and
ACME Annual Report 2015

a dearth of issues-based coverage; no
serious interrogation of candidate promises
and claims; disproportionate attention to
candidates and political parties at the expense
of voters; caving in to demands by political
actors, especially those in government,
to influence visuals in newspapers and on
television; and a lack of fairness and balance.
The reports that identified these gaps were
always produced after the election, and so
never benefited media houses as they covered
the campaigns as they unfolded. During the
2016 election cycle, ACME moved to change
this post-mortem approach.
Intervention Through a project titled,
“Monitoring Media Coverage of the 2016
General Elections in Uganda”, ACME did two
related things, among others: revised and
widely publicized media guidelines for covering
elections that were first developed ahead of
the 2011 cycle, and produced monthly reports
as electioneering continued. The reports
were then discussed at public dialogues with
editors, reporters, governance civil society
actors, and representatives of political
parties and various presidential candidates.

|43

The point of the regular reports was to spur
debate in newsrooms and inspire changes as
the campaigns proceeded. In that way we
aimed to contribute to accurate, fair, impartial
and balanced coverage of the 2016 election
campaigns. ACME worked under the Citizens’
Election Observers Network Uganda (CEON-U),
the local observation initiative that brought
together 18 civil society organisations with
funding from the Democratic Governance
Facility. The project examined the work of
33 radio stations, nine newspapers, and five
television stations.
Change More than 150 people attended the
dialogues we held in 2015 to discuss the various
findings. Among the things we found were that
all media houses across the different platforms
used far more male than female sources; that
they often used one source in a story; and
that they rarely challenged candidate claims
and assertions. Some media outlets took these
findings to heart and corrected course. For
example, Etop newspaper went from zero
women sources to performing best as recorded
by the very next report. The same newspaper,
part of the larger Vision Group, significantly
improved its questioning of candidate claims.
Several outlets, especially newspapers,
expanded sourcing from candidates and other

44|

FINDINGS: ACME’s
Harriet Anena presents
the November 2015
report from the project,
Monitoring Media
Coverage of the 2016
Elections, at a media
dialogue.

politicians to include ordinary people — the voters
themselves. Major media outlets such as Daily
Monitor and NTV also used ACME’s successive
reports to make various changes in coverage.
That said, we will know the full extent of the
performance of the project after it comes to an
end in June. But as this annual report was being
drafted, some of our findings were being cited in
the Supreme Court during the hearing of a petition
that challenged President Museveni’s re-election.
Both sides cited our results on the question of
whether state media favoured President Museveni
by giving him more coverage than the other
candidates. The court as well mentioned ACME in
its judgement. We are definitely not complaining
about our two seconds in the sun.
ACME Annual Report 2015

RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS
PARTNERSHIPS: Mohles Kalule Segululigamba,
the project manager, Monitoring Media Coverage of the 2016 Elections, chats with Simon
Osborn of the National Democratic Institute at
the release of a report in Kampala.

Challenge There is a dearth of applied research
on media performance in Uganda, especially
the kind of research that informs the work of
media support organisations such as ACME,
and indeed academic institutions that award
journalism and communications degrees. In a
sense, then we operate in the dark, at best
through educated guesswork. Baselines and
needs assessments are good for individual
projects, but have limitations when one tries
to apply their lessons broadly. We therefore
think that understanding better the various
dynamics around the media industry in Uganda
calls for structured quantitative and qualitative
studies.
Intervention In 2015, we completed a number
of studies, most focusing on content and case
study analysis. The study on “Press Coverage of
Land and Natural Resources in Uganda: 20112014” took stock of the coverage of natural
resources in the Daily Monitor and New Vision.
The study explored the coverage of eight
natural assets: land, oil, gas, minerals, water,
fisheries, forests, and wildlife. The “Baseline
Study of Press Coverage of Public Affairs in
Uganda: July 2013-June 2014” is being updated
to cover succeeding years. The study generated
baseline evidence on media practices and
performance in terms of the quantity and

ACME Annual Report 2015

|45

55

quality of public affairs coverage by Uganda’s
mainstream press between July 2013 and June
2014. The publications of interest were Daily
Monitor, New Vision, The Independent, and The
Observer. The public affairs issues explored
were coverage of local government; Parliament;
the extractive industry; agriculture; land and
property; water and environment; energy,
justice, law and order; transport and public
works; health; science and technology; and
education. We also conducted a baseline survey
on “The Use of New Media among Journalists
in Uganda”. Among the key findings were that
a vast majority of Ugandan media entities and
journalists are online; Facebook, search engines
and SMS are the most frequently used new media
platforms; and that activity on the Facebook and
Twitter accounts of several media houses ebbs
and sometimes fizzles out for months.
We also finished researching newspaper
headlines for the period covering January to
June 2015. We studied Daily Monitor, Red
Pepper, New Vision and The Observer. We were
interested in the thematic outlook of newspapers
based on what topics they gave front-page
prominence. Finally, we did a “Mapping Study

Ultimately, we hope we can have a public
that is served well enough by the media to
ably hold its government accountable.
of Ugandan Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)
Use of Media for Advocacy” already referred to
under the media literacy section.
Change Some of these studies are pioneering
and therefore are a useful result in themselves.
That said, some may well form the basis for
further and deeper research by ACME and other
individuals and entities. We intend to make
several of these studies publicly available.
ACME, as it beefs up its research capacity, is
committed to developing some of these studies
to a level publishable in peer-reviewed journals
on media and communication. In the very
immediate term, these studies in themselves
are shedding light on media performance and
how CSOs use media. They are also informing
ACME’s programming, improving it, and making
it better tailored. Ultimately, we hope we
can have a public that is served well enough
by the media to be able to actively hold its
government accountable. In that sense, this is
exciting work in progress.

55 For the purposes of this study, the term public affairs is used to refer to issues of public interest that citizens have a right to know about and which
affect their livelihoods and the exercise of their rights and duties as citizens.

46|

ACME Annual Report 2015

ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
• Strategic planning

To keep ACME growing in a managed way, we
hired a consultant to review our structures and
systems with a view to making them stronger.
Areas of improvement are: clearer enunciation
of mission and strategy; strengthening of
existing monitoring and evaluation system;
better coordination and alignment of projects
and activities; development of a fundraising
plan to fund core activities/strategic plan; and
review of organisational structure to enhance
performance. Consequently, we embarked on
developing a new five-year strategic plan, a
job we should complete in 2016.

• Expanded office space

ACME is growing and growth sometimes means
more space. We expanded office space by
about 50 per cent.

• Staff development

Ms Lydia Namubiru – ACME’s Programme Officer
for Research, Data Journalism and ICTs – left
for Columbia Journalism School in the United
States to do a master’s degree with a focus on
data journalism.
ACME Annual Report 2015

Ford Foundation
official visits
On 10 August 2015, ACME
hosted Ms Hilary Pennington,
Ford
Foundation’s
vice
president for education,
creativity,
and
free
expression. She leads Ford’s
work on “school reform in
the United States and higher
education around the world,
next-generation media policy
and journalism, and support
for arts and culture. She also
oversees the foundation’s
regional programming in
four offices based in Africa
and the Middle East”. Ford
Foundation fund’s ACME’s
knowledge-based journalism
project.

|47

ACME Staff

RACHEL MUGARURAMUTANA

LYDIA NAMUBIRU

GRACE NATABAALO

PHIONAH BASIRIKA

BERNARD TABAIRE

APOLO KAKAIRE

PAUL KIMUMWE

JOSEPH LUTALO

PETER MWESIGE

48|

ACME Annual Report 2015

HARRIET ANENA

SUSAN NALWERA

IRENE NABUNYA

ERIA KIRANGWA

MOHLES K.
SEGULULIGAMBA

BENJAMIN RUKWENGYE
ACME Annual Report 2015

YUSUF ZIRABA

MATHIAS MULUMBA

TADEO KATO

|49

TESTIMONIALS
Your training opened my eyes
From: John Njoroge
Date: 30 September 2015 at 13:04
Subject: Thank you ACME
To: Bernard Tabaire <btabaire@acme-ug.org>
Greetings all,
Many thanks to ACME for this amazing
opportunity to learn more about Uganda’s
mineral capacity and particularly about the Oil
and Gas sector. I am now getting more and more
interested in the Sector and will welcome any
available opportunity to get information.
I would also like to say thank you for the
wonderful hospitality and for the pleasure of all
your company. I pray we can meet as a group
soonest.

Thank you for the grant and the mentorship
From: Stephen Ssenkaaba
Date: 16 November 2015 at 10:48
Subject: Work
To: “mwesige@acme-ug.org”>“btabaire@acme-ug.org” >
Dear Dr. Mwesige,
I would like to thank ACME for the grant and mentoring that
enabled me to do a comprehensive serialized four-part feature story
on the challenges of access to education for children with disabilities.
That story has been very well appreciated and recognized first
in the National Journalism awards in April this year. The CNN
Panel of judges also commended the story and listed it among the
seven well done stories -apart from the finalists’ entries (despite
regulations restricting submission of series to only two parts). Last
week the same story was recognized at the African Media Leaders’
Forum Zimeo Excellence in Media awards (Education category)
in Johannesburg. It was appreciated for its depth, comprehensive
coverage of issues and capturing voices of the affected people.

In other news, I arrived in Kampala safely.
Work hard, play hard, be safe.

I find this an important development and worth noting because
many times our newsrooms are not able to give this kind of support
which limits how much can be done.

Regards
John Njoroge

Thank you very much.
Stephen Ssenkaaba

50|

ACME Annual Report 2015

I won an award
From: Francis Mugerwa
Date: 4 December 2015 at 14:34
Subject: Re: ARTICLE PUBLISHED
To: Paul Kimumwe <pkimumwe@acme-ug.org>, Bernard
Tabaire <btabaire@acme-ug.org>, Peter Mwesige <mwesige@
yahoo.com>
Cc: rmugarura <rmugarura@acme-ug.org>
Data story wins award
On Thursday, I won an award from the United Nations
(UN) for my outstanding media coverage of population and
development issues. I was given the award during the launch
of the state of the world population report, 2015. I received
plaque and a tablet at a function that was held at Imperial
Royale Hotel in Kampala.
The award was for a story I did with a local Government
fellowship grant from ACME. The story analyzed how Hoima is
grappling with teenage pregnancies and the impact of teenage
pregnancies on the education and health of the girl child. The
data story sparked off local and national debate about the
appropriate interventions that can protect the girl child in the
wake of threats they are facing. The planning state Minister Hon
David Bahati who was the chief guest at the awards ceremony
presented the award to me. The awards were organized by the
Ministry of Finance’s Population secretariat with support from
United Nations Population Fund.
ACME Annual Report 2015

Good info, great team
From: William Lubuulwa
Date: 30 September 2015 at 12:40
Subject: Thank You
To: Bernard Tabaire <btabaire@acme-ug.org>
Dear Bernard,
Greetings from Daily Monitor.
This is a quick note to let you know that we
were very grateful for the just concluded Editors’
meet. It provided good info especially for us at
the Business Desk. Your team - Rachel and Eriya
are great people.
Thanks,
William Lubuulwa
Editor - Trade & Finance
Monitor Publications Ltd

|51

AT THE FINISH LINE: Participants in the first
election reporting workshop of 2015 at ACME.

52|

ACME Annual Report 2015

ACME IN THE NEWS
Media houses urged to get editorial policies
Written by JUSTUS LYATUU
The Observer
28 August 2015
The African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) has urged
all media houses to develop clear editorial policies as the
country heads into the 2016 election season.
ACME executive director Peter Mwesige said Wednesday
that many Ugandan media houses lacked policies to guide
selection and treatment of news content. Such guidelines
would also address distinguishing advertising and editorial
content, and conduct of journalists in particular media houses.

as balance and fairness, opinion polls and election projects,
political advertising, safety of journalists, bribery and
corruption.
“Our interest is to facilitate and enable journalists generate
and give the public timely and accurate information which
will help them make sound decisions during the election,”
Mwesige said.
The draft suggests that media houses, especially TV and radio,
should not allow bigger parties to crowd out smaller ones, and
media houses’ editorial and advertising departments should
see that political adverts are labeled accordingly. But during
the discussion, journalists pointed out that sometimes smaller
parties cannot afford to buy airtime, hence the dominance of
the bigger, richer parties.

“I carried out research sometime back and realized that most
media houses, especially upcountry, don’t have editorial
guidelines and as ACME, [we] think media houses should
have editorial guidelines as we approach the election period,”
Mwesige told journalists at a breakfast meeting to discuss
draft guidelines for media coverage of the 2016 elections.

Mwesige urged the media to continue reporting incidents
where broadcast station owners deny opposition politicians
paid-for airtime, and task the
Uganda Communications Commission to explain such
occurrences.

The 2016 guidelines lay out responsibilities of journalists,
police, candidates and the Electoral Commission regarding
media coverage of the elections. They address such issues

The media coverage guidelines were first developed for the
2011 elections, through a participatory process facilitated by
ACME with support from the Democratic Governance Facility
(DGF).

ACME Annual Report 2015

|53

THE BOARD
Dr Monica Chibita (chair)
Head, Department of Journalism and Communication
Uganda Christian University, Mukono
Mr James Abola
Financial Consultant and Team Leader
Akamai Global, Kampala
Mr Moses Adriko
Co-Managing Partner/Advocate
MMAKS Advocates, Kampala
Ms Jackie Christie
Senior Production Manager
BBC Media Action, Nairobi

Ms Barbara Kaija
Editor-in-Chief
Vision Group, Kampala
Mr Daniel Kalinaki
Managing Editor for Regional Content
Nation Media Group, Nairobi
Dr Peter Mwesige
ACME Co-founder and Executive Director
(ex-officio member)
Dr Zahara Nampewo
Lecturer
School of Law
Makerere University, Kampala

Mr Zie Gariyo
Policy Analyst and Director
CORET Centre, Kampala

54|

ACME Annual Report 2015

OUR PARTNERS
At African Centre for Media Excellence we rely on partnerships with like-minded organisations
to provide a foundation from which we successfully operate. In 2015, we worked with several
organisations.

ACME Annual Report 2015

• Canada Fund for Local Initiatives
• Democratic Governance Facility
• Ford Foundation
• Freedom House/USAID
• Fund for Global Human Rights
• Hivos
• Natural Resource Governance Institute
• Thomson Reuters Foundation/NORAD
• US Embassy, Kampala

|55

PARTING SHOT

What does social media mean for
media as the Fourth Estate?
Below are excerpts from the keynote speech
Ms Ferial Haffajee, editor-in-chief of City Press
weekly in Johannesburg, delivered at the second
edition of the Uganda National Journalism
Awards gala night in Kampala on 8 April 2015
Thank you for having me here. I have only heard
wonderful things about ACME and being here today I
can understand why. I know from my work as a judge
of the CNN Multichoice African Journalist of the Year
Awards that Uganda has a fine journalism community
and it’s getting stronger. I have seen many of your
names come up again and again as finalists or as
winners.
Growing up for me was a pretty hard time; it was in
apartheid South Africa. It was on my school newspaper
that I first realised the power of the word. Because I
think what it gives you, especially when you come from
a history like mine, is a voice. I began to understand
the power of what we do, which is to communicate, to
advocate. At its very best journalism can change the
world and that’s all I really believe in. I don’t believe
in journalism as marketing or journalism as commerce.
I don’t consider it is a career but a method of social

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change. Journalism won over a generation of people in the
scourge of institutionalized racism. Things began to change
quickly once Nelson Mandela was president. He pushed
quite hard for the image of the editor to change. For a
woman to be editor was pretty unheard of. When the role
was offered to me on the Mail & Guardian, I was challenged
into doing it when three white colleagues went to the
board and basically told them that they didn’t think I had
the balls to do so. That was true, but I began to think that
maybe balls were not literal things but courage, negotiation
skills that it takes to be the editor of an investigative title.
I’m happy to report that since then, women hold most
media jobs in South Africa. Overcoming the gender barrier
is one of the biggest issues of our times. And so is this:
social media.
Social media has made everybody a journalist. But how
and what does it mean for media as the Fourth Estate?
Are we really the bulwark of freedom and democracy
any longer? And if we are going to be, how should we
change our journalism? Narrative and storytelling become
more important than they ever have been. Depth and
significance, that I believe ACME teaches, is going to be the
thing that sets us apart and gives us longevity. Travelling,
going the extra mile, getting out of the urban city into the
rural areas — that’s going to be key for us. Multiplatform
narrative journalism is the way to go — telling stories in
text, in video, in podcast, and in images.
I don’t know how things are in your newsrooms, but ours
ACME Annual Report 2015

are getting smaller and smaller – more freelancers. Just as
we need to report more deeply, resources are stretched to
make our work less so. I do think the future of good public
journalism is going to be philanthropic. It’s going to be
supported by people with deep pockets and big hearts to
do the kind of journalism that makes us worthy of being the
Fourth Estate. People get news for free. In this context, the
business model is a tough one. In such an atmosphere, we
settle around the easy to reach topics: showbiz, corruption,
anti-corruption, politics or party politics, Africa rising.
Journalism needs to be more vigilant now than it ever has
been even as the continent becomes the talk of the global
economy. There is also this thing that people tell me not
to talk about but I will. The issue of the brown envelope.
Whenever I suggest that this is a corruption, similar to
those forms of corruption we investigate, people jump on
me. Brown envelopes fundamentally influences us, they
skew who we cover and what we cover. Brown envelopes
is an honesty issue. Our owners need to acknowledge the
impact of this trend on our abilities to be good journalists.
Our work has to be as compelling as that which makes us
go to our phones, and what is that? We love sharing, so
our work has to be easily shared. I think images are more
important than ever before and mostly I think we need
to be funny and interesting, that’s what makes BuzzFeed
and Huffington Post very, very successful. It’s a very tough
time to be a journalist, but it couldn’t be more exciting,
challenging or, sadly, more dangerous.

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Why would a responsible
media house refuse a
politician of a different
viewpoint from airing
his/her views on that
radio, TV or press? True
professionals should
encourage, not stifle,
debate.
Chief Justice Bart Katureebe

Speaking at the second edition of the
Uganda National Journalism Awards
gala in Kampala on 8 April 2015.

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