Annual Report | 2016

ABOUT AFRICAN CENTRE FOR MEDIA EXCELLENCE
Our Objectives
African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME)
is a Kampala-based independent non-profit l To conduct evidence-based research on media performance and
professional organisation committed to practice in Africa.
helping African journalists seek and achieve
excellence; as well as improving journalism and l To provide continuing education and mid-career training for
journalists and communication practitioners and to render
mass communication in Africa. Strategically, financial, material and/or moral support to persons pursuing
ACME occupies the space between the media career advancement in journalism and communication.
industry and academic institutions that train
journalists. l To support quality journalism through provision of reporting
grants and fellowships to journalists.
Our vision is to become Africa’s leading
independent media and communication l To inspire excellence through offering awards yearly for out-
standing journalistic work.
support organisation. Our mission is to inspire
journalists to seek and achieve professional l To provide an online resource centre for African newsrooms and
excellence and to help make our news journalists, and media educational and training institutions.
media more reliable and credible sources of
information, effective watchdogs, and vibrant l To act as a watchdog for the media and, in that capacity, offer
forums for public debate. media monitoring and evaluation services, advocacy and de-
fence of media rights and freedoms.
ACME also equips members of the private sector,
l To promote media literacy to help the public recognise and ap-
civil society, academia and the government preciate the forces that shape media coverage.
with skills to engage more effectively with
the media while educating the public on how l To organise and host seminars, conferences, workshops, fel-
to better appreciate the forces that shape lowships and symposia to discuss issues relating to such educa-
the news. Finally, ACME advocates, promotes tional, developmental, political, cultural and socio-economic
and defends press freedom and freedom of matters as the centre’s management may deem appropriate.
expression.
l To advocate free, pluralistic, and responsible media, and pro-
mote freedom of expression.
The purpose of media in a
changing Africa commands
media professionals to not
only seek and gain access to
where policies are made but
also to understand why certain
policy choices are made over
others. New technologies have
increased the possibility of
obtaining needed access to
knowledge and, in the process,
redefined the profile of who the
journalist should be and what
he or she should be doing.

Mr Eric Chinje
Delivering the third Annual Media and Politics in
Africa Lecture on 7 December 2016
CONTENTS

FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR 4
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY 7
ACME AT A GLANCE 30
FOCAL AREAS IN 2016
Journalistic Excellence 34
Media Literacy 46
COVER PHOTO: Radio Simba’s
Joshua Mutale, on a petroleum and
mining field trip, interviews one of
the people affected by the Sukulu
phosphates project in Tororo.

Public Dialogues, Workshops and Symposia 50
Research, Media Monitoring and Publications 54
ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT 56
ACME IN THE NEWS 58
THE BOARD 60
OUR PARTNERS 61
FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Twenty sixteen was as big as they ACME also monitored media coverage
come. It was an election year in of the elections as part of the wider
Uganda. local observation of the electoral
process led by the Citizens Election
ACME programming, therefore, Observers Network-Uganda (CEON-U),
focused heavily on activities that of which we were a member. The
could support journalists and goal of the monitoring project was
the media to cover the elections to contribute to accurate, fair,
accurately, fairly and credibly. impartial and balanced coverage
of the 2016 elections. In particular,
With support from the Democratic ACME monitored, documented, and
Governance Facility (DGF), ACME, shared trends in media coverage with
in preparation for the election the hope that this would influence
reporting season, and as part of our journalists but also empower civil
continuing professional development society and the public to demand
efforts, partnered with the Women’s adherence to acceptable journalism
Democracy Group to organise and standards in the coverage of the
facilitate media training workshops elections.
on election reporting ahead of
the February 2016 elections. We Unlike in the past where similar
organised seven such workshops for efforts have been post-mortems
journalists from all over the country. whose reports would come long after
The training sought to empower the elections, ACME conceived of
participants with the skills and the media monitoring project as a
knowledge to report on electoral process of ‘constructive intervention’
processes. We were also keen on whereby gaps in and concerns about
creating a cadre of “newsroom coverage are addressed before
champions” who could train, mentor the elections with media houses,
and/or collaborate with colleagues journalists, and other stakeholders,
in their respective newsrooms in based on electoral reporting
covering elections. guidelines that they had all agreed to

4| ACME Annual Report 2016
Elsewhere in the word, the election of
adhere to. To that end, we released Donald J. Trump as the 45th President
monthly reports from October 2015 of the United States of America brought
until February 2016. to the fore the threat of fake news
in this age of social media and the
We’ll not get tired of reminding importance of media literacy among
those who care to listen that our citizens.
reports attracted the ultimate
attention when they were cited by Right from its inception, ACME
both the plaintiff and respondent has continued to speak about the
in candidate Amama Mbabazi’s importance of media literacy in the
election petition to the Supreme wider citizenry. We have argued that
Court challenging the election of media literacy training can provide
Yoweri Museveni. The highest court young people and citizens at large
in the land relied on our findings to the skills they need to become more
conclude that Uganda Broadcasting critical and active consumers of news
Corporation, the public broadcaster, and information. Media literacy would
violated the legal requirement also promote more understanding and
to give equitable coverage to all appreciation of the importance of
candidates. UBC was found to have press freedom and free expression in a
been biased in favour of incumbent democracy.
Museveni. In fact, that was the only
ground of the petition that was Our work in this area has attracted very
upheld by the Supreme Court. little funding and support compared to
our other programmes. We hope that
Our recommendations calling for the torch that has been shone on the
the reform of media regulation, threat of fake news will make efforts
equitable access to, and coverage to promote media literacy attract the
by, public media as well as reform support they deserve.
of Uganda Broadcasting Corporation
remain as relevant and urgent today
as they were a year ago.
Peter G. Mwesige, Ph.D

ACME Annual Report 2016 |5
6| ACME Annual Report 2016
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY, 2016
m Political actors continue their harassment of journalists during the election period
m Government officials shut down social media twice in three months
m The government bans live coverage of FDC’s defiance campaign activities following the election
m The government directs broadcasters not to cover the aftermath of the Kasese attacks
m Parliament restricts the work of journalists in the wake of unflattering coverage
m A government-appointed panel recommends the overhaul of public broadcaster UBC
m Private TV station, WBS, switches hands, leaving its journalists in uncertain position

There was a great deal of continuity within Uganda’s transmission of footage of activities of the civil
media environment between 2015 and 2016, due in defiance campaign led by Besigye after he disputed
large part to the general elections that straddled both the results of the presidential election. In a related
years. Political actors, especially those from the ruling development, the government directed broadcasters
party, pressured journalists to give them positive not to run stories related to the aftermath of the
coverage in the lead-up to the vote on 18 February attacks that left scores dead at the king’s palace
2016. Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda, in Kasese. Twice, the government shut down social
a media rights group, recorded about 70 cases of media for a period of days, restricting the flow of
violations of journalists’ rights during the campaign information throughout the country in acts that were
season alone. previously unprecedented within Uganda. Aside from
elections, meanwhile, Parliament moved to influence
In the aftermath of the election, state security how it is covered. New accreditation measures
operators physically assaulted a number of journalists, stopped journalists without degrees and three years
mostly to prevent them from covering the months- of professional experience from reporting on the
long confinement of former key presidential legislature. Later on in the year, MPs summoned
challenger Kizza Besigye at his home just outside the editors of four media houses to appear before a
Kampala. And the government banned live media committee to answer to what members considered

ACME Annual Report 2016 |7
active media scenes in eastern and southern
Africa. Uganda’s constitution, like many in
PANORAMIC:
NBS TV’s Sampaul Africa, provides for freedom of expression
Nakhaima captures and press freedom. The country is also a
a bird’s eye view signatory to various international mechanisms
of the Mubende
artisanal gold that protect the same freedoms. Additionally,
mines during an Uganda has an access to information law, one
ACME-organised of only a few countries in sub-Saharan Africa
study tour.
that can claim such an achievement. The
government, however, has often breached
rights to free expression, assembly, and
association. When the government is not the
perpetrator, it has frequently not done enough
to prosecute non-state offenders. This has
constrained the ability of Ugandans 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 The Uganda Argus, and in 1968
to be bad press. Outside of the penchant for governmental jailed Transition magazine founder Rajat Neogy
and political control of the media, two other critical events and writer-politician Abu Mayanja. The 1970s
happened in 2016: first was the cessation of WBS TV after nearly were the lowest point — several journalists
20 years in operation, having failed to overcome a large tax were murdered under the Amin regime1.
debt; and second was the creation of a government-appointed
committee of experts that recommended the overhaul of UBC to
turn it into a truly public broadcaster.
1 In the Amin era, Munno editor, Fr. Clement Kiggundu, was burnt alive
inside his car. James Bwogi, a TV journalist, and news photographer
As a continuum, Uganda continued to have one of the more Jimmy Parma were killed as well. Several, like Munno’s John Serwaniko,
were jailed. Others chose exile.

8| ACME Annual Report 2016
The situation improved since President Yoweri
Museveni assumed power in 1986, although
instances of 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.

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- language TV
ON THE GROUND:
West; and the English-language Urban TV. The
Interviewing
artisanal miners in The government has often New Vision newspaper is the group’s English-
Mubende. language daily and flagship outlet. The group
breached rights to free expression, also runs the weekly gossip tabloid, Kampala
assembly and association Sun; and three regional weeklies produced in
the respective predominant languages in the
regions — Etop, Orumuri, Rupiny — and one

ACME Annual Report 2016 |9
daily, Bukedde. Nation Media Group’s outlets are In 2016, UBC came under close scrutiny
Daily Monitor newspaper, KFM radio, NTV Uganda, for its journalism and standing as a public
and the Luganda-language radio station, Ddembe institution. Although UBC was expected to
FM. All are based in Kampala. In addition to the have transformed into a public broadcaster, it
two market leaders, there are a number of other remains very much a state entity that is largely
smaller privately owned entities: the tri-weekly subservient to President Yoweri Museveni and
The Observer; and weekly newsmagazine The the ruling NRM party and rarely accommodates
Independent; and The Red Pepper, a daily tabloid views critical of the government. This was
whose sister outlets are Kamunye, Entatsi, and much more evident during the latest election.
Hello!Uganda publications, as well as Juice FM. In a report titled Monitoring Media Coverage
of the 2016 Elections,3 the African Centre for
According to the Uganda Communications Media Excellence (ACME) found the following:
Commission (UCC) annual market report 2015- “Throughout the electioneering season, Uganda
2016, there were 292 operational FM radio Broadcasting Corporation (UBC), which is
stations as of June 2016, the same number required by law to give equitable coverage
from the year before2. The report did not to all candidates, paid disproportionate
have complete updated numbers for TV, but attention to President Museveni’s campaign.
in 2015 there were 33 operational TV stations UBC TV gave the incumbent 73% of its entire
(28 analogue, 3 digital terrestrial, and 2 digital news and commentary airtime on elections,
satellite). The state-run Uganda Broadcasting with the next candidate, Mr [Amama]
Corporation (UBC) has the widest TV and radio Mbabazi, receiving only 12% of the coverage.
reach, broadcasting in multiple local languages as Dr [Kizza] Besigye, the eventual runner-up
well as in English and Kiswahili across the country. in the election, received only 4.5% of UBC
Its FM radio stations include the community coverage. The privately owned stations did
station Mega, based in Gulu; the Kampala- based better, with WBS TV giving 49% of its airtime
Magic FM, a sports-and-music outlet; and the to Mr Museveni, NBS 41%, and NTV 30%.” The
news and current affairs Star FM, also based in report recommended thus: “Parliament should
Kampala. amend the law establishing UBC to affirm that

2 http://www.ucc.co.ug/files/downloads/Annual_Market%20_&_Industry_Report_2015-16_FY.pdf
3 http://acme-ug.org/2016/06/01/monitoring-media-coverage-of-the-2016-electionsfinal-report/

10| ACME Annual Report 2016
it is a public broadcaster and an independent
corporation accountable to the public, and not The set-up at UBC now does not
a national/state broadcaster that is subservient support most of the values of
to the government of the day. In particular, the
law should protect and safeguard the editorial public broadcasting
independence of UBC, provide for more
transparent and representative governance, The committee’s report was damning,6 according
secure reasonable funding for its operations, to media reports. It recommended a complete
and promote professionalism.“ Based largely overhaul. On UBC’s journalism, the committee
on the ACME report, in its judgement in the was reported to have observed: “The mind-set at
petition challenging the outcome of the UBC does not support most of the values of public
presidential election, the Supreme Court broadcasting.”7
said: “Both the Constitution in Article 67 (3)
and the PEA in section 24 (1), provide that Regarding other radio outlets, there are concerns
all presidential candidates shall be given that NRM politicians or business people close to
equal time and space on State-owned media the ruling party own about 70 per cent of the
to present their programmes to the people. country’s private FM stations, especially in the rural
We found that UBC had failed in this duty. countryside.8 Broadcast regulator and licensing body
We recommend that the electoral law should UCC, however, puts radio ownership by politicians
be amended to provide for sanctions against at about 15 per cent. Faith-based organisations are
any State organ or officer who violates this the other group that owns a substantial number of
Constitutional duty.”4 In the second half of broadcast outlets, and their impact is a ripe subject
the year, the government appointed an expert of study. Nonetheless, such ownership patterns have
committee headed by ACME Executive Director raised concerns about media diversity, especially
Peter Mwesige to look into what ails UBC because many radio stations owned by politicians
and suggest ways to improve how it works.5 or politically connected business people have been

4 https://acme-ug.org/2016/08/26/why-the-supreme-court-dismissed-the-mbabazi-election-petition/
5 http://www.mediacentre.go.ug/press-release/hon-minister-frank-tumwebazes-statement-launch-ubc-review-committee
6 http://observer.ug/news/headlines/50568-ubc-report-shows-how-to-run-down-a-national-broadcaster.html
7 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Committee-report---rot--UBC/688334-3493896-j94xbdz/index.html
8 Report of the International Mission on Freedom of Expression in Uganda, September 2010.

ACME Annual Report 2016 |11
known to prevent members of the opposition
and other voices of dissent from airing their
Table 1: Percentage distribution of sources of information
views on radio talk shows, especially during
campaign time. This practice was not as
prevalent in 2016 as it was in 2015, the year
when much of the latest electioneering took
place. But whenever this has happened, it
has raised significant concerns within the
media industry. Given that 55 per cent of
households in Uganda receive information
through radio, according to the 2014 census
report9 (see Table 1), keeping some people
off the air denies many people the chance
to hear varying opinions, which affects their
ability to make informed decisions about any
number of issues, including whom to vote for. Source: Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2016, The National Population and Housing Census 2014 – Main
Report, Kampala, Uganda
Across the country, approximately 60 per cent
of households own radio sets, while just 14 per
cent own televisions (see Table 2). Similarly, scrutiny. On 21 January 2016, UCC closed the
there are fears that consolidation could in the Endigyito FM, a private station, for failure
future undermine the kind of media pluralism to pay license fees of about $10,000. This
and diversity that democracy demands. action, however, came just after Endigyito
Threats to diversity do not only emanate from had hosted on air Amama Mbabazi, the former
ownership patterns. In ways loud and quiet, prime minister who was now challenging
the government has used the regulatory regime President Museveni, his former boss, in the
to influence coverage. presidential race. With the elections less
than a month away, some observers opined
Broadcast regulator UCC’s tactics have drawn that UCC was being partisan by punishing the

9 http://www.ubos.org/onlinefiles/uploads/ubos/NPHC/2014%20National%20Census%20Main%20Report.pdf

12| ACME Annual Report 2016
rigged it. On top of demanding an international
Table 2: Proportion of households in Uganda that own selected ICT assets audit of the results, the party embarked on
public prayers and marches to press home
the point before the presidential swearing-
in ceremony on 12 May. However, a court
issued a temporary ban on such protests,
after which the minister of information held
a news conference to warn media outlets
that broadcasters who covered the banned
activities would be in violation of the court
order and would therefore have their licences
revoked. In attendance at the news conference
were other government officials, including the
executive director of UCC.11 The broadcast
Source: Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2016, The National Population and Housing Census 2014 – Main
regulator was in the news again following the
Report, Kampala, Uganda deadly clashes between government forces and
the royal guards of Rwenzururu King Charles
Wesley Mumbere in Kasese in late November
2016. Within a week, UCC had banned
broadcast coverage of events related to the
station for giving publicity to an opponent of
clashes that left scores dead. Several people,
the President.10 Post-election, the government
including the king, were arrested and produced
banned the media from delivering live
in the courts for trial. In a public notice,12 UCC
coverage of activities under the defiance
invoked the sub judice rule and the minimum
campaign of FDC, Uganda’s largest opposition
broadcasting standards to direct broadcasters
party. FDC claimed that its candidate, Kizza
to “forthwith refrain from further airing any
Besigye, won the 18 February presidential
election, but that President Museveni had
10 https://cpj.org/2016/01/uganda-forces-radio-station-off-the-air-ahead-of-e.php
11 www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1423918/defiance-campaign-govt-bans-live-media-coverage
12 http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1441654/uganda-communications-commission

ACME Annual Report 2016 |13
increasingly embracing social media to enhance
programs regarding the Kasese incident and/or the their reporting, as we saw in the coverage of
prosecution of Charles Wesley Mumbere”. the 2016 election campaigns. It could be argued
that social media as a consequential political
With regard to new media, growing numbers of tool did not fully come to life until June 2015,
Ugandans appear to be turning to the Internet as when former Prime Minister Mbabazi announced
a major source of information. According to UCC, via YouTube that he would run for president.15
as of June 2016 the number of Internet users in Although there has been general freedom for
Uganda stood at 15.3 million, up from 13 million Ugandans in their use of social media, it is not
a year earlier. The country’s estimated Internet because the government has not been interested
subscription and use now stands at 43 per cent in what is going on in that space. Back in 2013, the
penetration, up from 37 per cent the year before. government announced that it was setting up a
Freedom House has reported that this is partly due social media-monitoring centre to track the spread
to the proliferation of smart phones, given that of content that purportedly harmed national
Uganda’s mobile phone usage has spiked from less security. In June 2015, the police arrested and
than one million users in 2001 to 22 million as of put on trial Robert Shaka16, a USAID employee it
June 2016. Between 2015 and 2016, however, the suspected of being Tom Voltaire Okwalinga17, or
numbers grew at a negligible 0.6 per cent.13 Social TVO18, an indefatigable yet anonymous Facebook
media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, critic of President Museveni and his allies. Mr
Twitter, and LinkedIn, are quite popular. Facebook Shaka’s alleged offences included the promotion
is by far the most used social platform in the of sectarianism under Section 41 of the Penal Code
country.14 Act, and the misuse of computers in contravention
of Section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act.19 In
Journalists are one demographic of Ugandans 2016, Mr Shaka went to the Constitutional Court
to challenge the validity of Section 25 of the

13 http://www.ucc.co.ug/files/downloads/Annual_Market%20_&_Industry_Report_2015-16_FY.pdf
14 https://www.statsmonkey.com/sunburst/21491-uganda-mobile-social-media-usage-statistics-2015.php
15 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW5hJsumpes
16 http://www.observer.ug/news-headlines/38278-who-s-tom-voltaire-okwalinga-tvo
17 https://www.facebook.com/tom.okwalinga?fref=ts
18 https://www.facebook.com/Tvo-Uganda-654610647943658/?fref=ts
19 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Lawyers-demand-release-of-social-media-critic-/-/688334/2747382/-/r3f7qaz/-/index.html

14| ACME Annual Report 2016
ACME Annual Report 2016 |15
The 2015/16 election period spurred the
government’s interest in happenings on social media
Computer Misuse Act, the outcome of which the restrictions as infringing on Ugandans’
had not yet been decided by year’s end. right to free exchange of information.21
The 2015/16 election period spurred the They also meant that journalists could not
government’s further interest in happenings effectively gather and disseminate news and
on social media. In an unprecedented act, other information. A number of social media
and without warning, the government shut users, however, went around the shutdown22
down social media (Twitter, Facebook, and by using proxy pathways such as virtual private
WhatsApp) along with mobile money services, networks, or VPNs.23 Possibly in response to
for several days, beginning on voting day, 18 all this, the communication regulator UCC
February. President Museveni said that the is reported to be mulling the creation of
shutdown was as much a security precaution an “internet blacklist” that would restrict
as it was expressly aimed at preventing social access to “websites, domains and IP (Internet
media users from generating and spreading Protocol) addresses that have information
fake election results. The government again whose delivery should be restricted on the
blocked access to social media on 12 May, grounds that it violates the laws of Uganda”.24
the day of President Museveni’s swearing-in
following re-election.20 Godfrey Mutabazi, In the wake of these threats, major media
the UCC boss, said the blackout would houses in Uganda have continued to exhibit
ensure that no terrorists used social media to a growing professionalism in the kind of
coordinate and harm visiting dignitaries and content they produce, which is increasingly
other supporters of the president. On both comprehensive, bold, and independent. This
occasions, rights groups roundly condemned is especially true for newspapers and some

20 http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFKCN0Y30YC
21 http://acme-ug.org/2016/05/19/social-media-shutdown-in-uganda-will-become-a-norm-analysts/
22 http://edition.cnn.com/2016/02/18/world/uganda-election-social-media-shutdown/
23 http://motherboard.vice.com/read/uganda-election-day-social-media-blackout-backlash-mobile-payments
24 http://pctechmag.com/2017/01/exclusive-leaked-document-reveals-ucc-proposal-to-limit-international-gateways/

16| ACME Annual Report 2016
television stations. However, the overall quality
of journalism in Uganda needs to improve.
Concerns persist over professional and ethical
standards in many newsrooms, while far too
many stories 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
inconsistent. An ACME study25 published in
2016 on how the press (Daily Monitor, The
Observer, New Vision and The Independent)
covered public affairs between July 2014 and
June 2015 found approvingly that the “bulk of
public affairs coverage (60%) is issue-based”.
ALL INCLUSIVE: At ACME we don’t allow motherhood to get in the way of learning. The report, however, goes on to say: “Public
affairs are most comprehensively illuminated
through ‘day 2 journalism’, where journalists
follow up on news that spontaneously broke,
using investigative, interpretive and enterprise
reporting, as [opposed] to conventional
reporting. The proportion of stories that employ
non-conventional reporting methods increased

25 Research Report (Final – March 2016): Press Coverage of Public Affairs in Uganda, Volume 2, July 2014 - June 2015.

ACME Annual Report 2016 |17
The voices of civil society, independent
from 23% at baseline to 39% at midline, a experts and ordinary people, while
considerable improvement. Obviously, there increasingly featured, are not yet dominant
is still room for improvement towards a
50/50 split or higher in favour of the deeper in media coverage, a situation that curtails
methods.” diversity of opinion
Radio news is often full of episodic event-based politicians, government officials, and business
reporting that does not interrogate issues. executives for their sourcing. The voices of civil
Radio stations continue to pay disproportionate society, independent experts, and ordinary people,
attention to music and entertainment over while increasingly featured, are not yet dominant
public affairs programming. The quality of in media coverage, a situation that curtails
television news, meanwhile, has improved diversity of opinion.27 Questions of background
with growing competition from stations that and context, analysis, investigation, sourcing,
are investing in new equipment and talent, and fairness in our journalism were especially
and experimenting with live coverage of key visible in the ways that media covered the general
events, which in 2016 consisted mostly of election campaigns. During this period, ACME
election-related news, both before (such as monitored coverage and found patterns that
the two presidential debates) and after (such validated the general observations made in this
as the confinement of Besigye at his home and the preceding paragraphs. For example, a
outside Kampala) the vote. While there were majority of election-related stories relied on male
some good in-depth reports26 during the year, sources, provided little background and context,
they unfortunately tended to be the exception and were not analytical, while public broadcaster
rather than the rule. UBC exhibited bias in favour of the incumbent.
That said, as the campaign season progressed and
Ugandan media also rely heavily on male ACME continued to release its monthly reports

26 See NBS TV’s ”The Kifeesi, Kampala’s Dangerous Gang of Thieves” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2Iy2o_Sr58
27 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

18| ACME Annual Report 2016
and discuss findings with editors at public forums, the public interest has likewise been blamed for
we saw stories reflect more ordinary people’s views, the average or sub-average quality of the country’s
focus more on issues than personalities, and employ journalism. The rate of occupational mobility in
a neutral tone. In the final ACME report, however, Ugandan journalism is also striking. Many experienced
it was noted: “Ultimately, the total effect of the journalists have moved on to other fields such as
election coverage environment described and the marketing and public relations. Commentators note
nature of the coverage as recorded, demonstrate that such departures weaken institutional memory,
that there were severe limitations on the ability of while diminishing the intellectual capital and
the media to contribute to free and fair elections. In credibility of news organisations.30
some cases, the media did actually under-serve the
electorate — many were new voters — by not providing Although Uganda’s constitution has been said to
adequate background and context to the issues and by contain one of the best provisions on freedom of
not critically interrogating the candidates’ claims and expression in Africa,31 guaranteeing “every person
promises.”28 … the right to freedom of speech and expression,
which shall include freedom of the press and other
In terms of the greatest obstacles that Ugandan media”, concerns remain. In the intervening years
journalists face, many cite poor pay, lack of knowledge since the passage of the constitution in 1995, the
and skills, and pressure to not publish politically or government has set about proposing and passing laws
commercially sensitive information.29 Pressure to not that threaten free expression, media freedom, and
publish comes from both the government and major access to information. The Regulation of Interception
advertisers. A lack of resources and limited access to of Communications Act 2010, the Public Order
information are also major hindrances, especially to Management Act 2013, and The Non-Governmental
investigative journalism and public affairs reporting. Organisations Act 2015, along with current efforts
The veneration of private profit at the expense of to amend the Uganda Communications Act 2013 to

28 http://acme-ug.org/2016/06/01/monitoring-media-coverage-of-the-2016-electionsfinal-report/
29 Colmery, B. et al. (2009). There Will be Ink.
30 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.
31 http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/africa-media/09427.pdf

ACME Annual Report 2016 |19
remove parliamentary approvals of regulations,32
all further threaten freedom of expression and
other fundamental liberties, contributing to an
environment of self-censorship.33

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 in the penal code to go after journalists
for their critical reporting. Between April and May
2016, the police interrogated two Daily Monitor
journalists with plans to charge them with criminal
defamation. This questioning originated from a
complaint by Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga,
who was unhappy with the newspaper’s report
on killings of people in the Rwenzoris, his home
area.34 The paper’s reporting was based on a news
conference that MPs from the Rwenzori region
called to implicate the minister in the killings.35
Also, a trial opened for four journalists who were
charged with criminal defamation in 2015 for
refusing to disclose their source for a story that
implicated two Kampala businessmen in fraudulent
land transactions. The case was still on by year’s A BREATHER: A miner in Mubende takes a break as journalists on training at ACME visited.

32 http://www.observer.ug/viewpoint/43271-parliament-should-disregard-ucc-bill-of-2016
33 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
34 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/CID-question-editor--over-Kasese-story/688334-3189910-e273icz/index.html
35 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Minister-named-in-Kasese-violence/688334-3146066-1ajutk/index.html

20| ACME Annual Report 2016
end.36 It is a mystery as to how private people could To practice journalism, The Press and Journalist
seek to restore their allegedly damaged reputations Act requires journalists to register with the
through a criminal defamation suit (which is National Institute of Journalists of Uganda (NIJU),
prosecutable by the state) as opposed to a civil one. then obtain a licence, renewed yearly, from the
That said, it was not all gloom from the bench, as it Media Council, the statutory regulator of the
were. In a rare act, a magistrate’s court permitted a press. For one to be a full member of NIJU, he or
journalist’s lawyer to summon an NRM party official she must have a university degree in journalism or
through the newspapers after failing to reach him a degree in a different discipline but with another
directly. URN reporter Eddie Bindhe sued Rogers qualification in journalism or mass communication,
Mulindwa, himself a former journalist, for physically and should have practiced for at least a year. For
attacking him while he reported on the ruling party’s nearly a decade and half, the state had generally
member-registration drive in Masaka in 2015.37 not bothered to enforce these provisions. Then,
Mulindwa, an NRM publicist, eventually appeared in in 2014, Information Minister Rose Namayanja,
court in October to defend himself.38 citing Section 42 of the Act, issued Statutory
Instrument No. 4 of 2014 spelling out the fees
From the same town, a magistrate’s court in journalists would have to pay to practice.40
November handed local businessman and ruling party Critics protested saying the fees will shut out
official Eddie Ssansa a fine of $150 and a 12-month some people from working as journalists, thereby
suspended sentence for physically assaulting Daily limiting media space and freedom of expression.41
Monitor correspondent Shamim Jjingo Nakawooya Shortly after the issuance of the fee structure,
and smashing her cell phone during an interview three free expression advocacy organisations
on his indebtedness in 2015. The magistrate jointly challenged the constitutionality of
also ordered him to pay Nakawooya $600 in several provisions of the Act. Section 42 that Ms
compensation.39 Namayanja invoked is one of those singled out for

36 https://hrnjuganda.org/?p=2676
37 https://hrnjuganda.org/?p=2835
38 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/NRM-secretariat-publicist-charged-assault/688334-3413822-120j9ipz/index.html
39 https://hrnjuganda.org/?p=3026
40 http://www.mediacouncil.ug/files/downloads/STATUTORY%20INSTRUMENTS%20SUPPLEMENT%20FEES.pdf
41 http://mobile.monitor.co.ug/Oped/New-media-rules-unacceptable/-/691272/2298644/-/format/xhtml/-/dwe777z/-/index.html

ACME Annual Report 2016 |21
annulment.42 That case is still pending in the reversed the expulsion in July 2015.45 Earlier,
Constitutional Court. The minister also issued in March 2015, Parliament gave media houses
Statutory Instrument No. 5 of 201443 that two months to withdraw reporters who had
narrows the code of ethics provided in the Act. covered Parliament for more than five years.46
The statutory instrument, for example, says it
is “unacceptable for a journalist or editor to The public uproar led to a reversal of that
unreasonably persist in questioning … a person directive, which would have affected dozens of
who has asked the journalist or editor to desist journalists. A year later, however, Parliament
from such acts”. This will make investigative tried again. Without invoking the law directly,
journalism nearly impossible, critics argue.44 Parliament nonetheless reflected aspects of
While the government has not enforced the it when it declared that to cover the 10th
two instruments, they remain a potential Parliament starting in May 2016, a reporter
threat to free media. would need to have a university degree in
journalism or a related field, and should have
Possibly with this legal set up in mind, the worked as a journalist for at least three years.
Parliament of Uganda in 2016 moved to And that the accreditation would happen
control how it is covered following members’ annually, with Parliament reserving the right
unhappiness with what they considered to grant or withdraw access.47 Officials said
bad press over the years. For example, in all these actions would promote balanced
2013 Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga coverage. Protests by journalists and free
expelled reporters Sulaiman Kakaire and David media bodies changed nothing, and ultimately
Tash Lumu from covering Parliament because Parliament got its way. A case challenging the
she did not like a couple of stories they had directive brought by the Uganda Parliamentary
written for The Observer newspaper. The court Press Association was pending in the courts at

42 http://www.scribd.com/doc/213965629/Uganda-Press-and-Journalist-Act-constitutional-petition
43 http://mediacouncil.ug/files/downloads/Press%20&%20Jour%20Fourth%20Sch1.pdf
44 http://www.newvision.co.ug/mobile/Detail.aspx?NewsID=654810&CatID=397
45 https://hrnjuganda.org/?p=1449
46 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Parliament-ejects-journalists/688334-2649358-mno5hqz/index.html
47 http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1414713/parliament-ejects-journalists-degrees (This matter is discussed further under the political section).

22| ACME Annual Report 2016
the end of 2016. Having bagged that victory,
Parliament wanted even more. After a heated
plenary debate on 15 August, MPs ordered the
editors of four media houses — Uganda Radio
Network, The Observer, The Red Pepper, and
Vision Group — to appear before Parliament’s
Committee on Rules, Discipline and Privileges
to explain some of their stories. The MPs
were particularly bothered by media reports
that cast them in negative light. Some of the
stories were about MPs earning more than most
Ugandans, while refusing to pay tax on their
allowances, 48 and taking extravagant foreign
trips.49 Editors for Uganda Radio Network,
The Observer, and The Red Pepper declined
to appear.50 Critics condemned Parliament’s
behaviour because, as one argued, it was
resurrecting the annulled sedition law.51
Essentially, Parliament, without expressly
MUZZLED SCRIBES: Speaker Rebecca Kadaga passing a new law, is intent on controlling how
Photo by Edward Ecwhalu media cover its actions through intimidation
and restricting access.

In terms of access to information, government
entities regularly deny requests for information

48 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/URA-lose-MPs-tax-exemption/688334-3214448-14egwbe/index.html
49 https://ugandaradionetwork.com/story/parliament-spends-over-ugx-2billion-on-delegation-to-unaa-convention
50 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Editors--Parliament--summons--MPs---benefits-stories-/688334-3406112-c2d09h/index.html
51 http://www.monitor.co.ug/OpEd/Commentary/Parliament--reviving---offence---sedition/689364-3403674-12nt9ae/index.html

ACME Annual Report 2016 |23
despite the country having an Access to
Information Act. Sometimes officials will In terms of access to information,
cite national security as reason to deny an
information request. Other times, they just
government entities regularly deny
don’t want to be bothered. And yet sometimes requests for information despite the
they may want to provide the information,
but it is stored in such a way that finding it
country having an Access to Information Act
is difficult. The Hub for Investigative Media,
a local accountability organisation, has in
recent years sued those who deny requested and its boss Edward Ssekyewa was preparing to
information and has been notching up appeal.)
successes. The year 2015 was particularly a
good one for them.52, 53, 54 In November 2016, As noted earlier, the hotly contested 2016
meanwhile, the High Court said that it would general elections came with a number of
rule in January 2017 on the Hub’s demand infringements on the ability of the media
that the Inspectorate of Government make to freely cover the electoral process. The
information on the declared wealth of public campaign season straddled 2015 and 2016 and
leaders easily accessible, as required by the the nature of attacks on the media we saw
Leadership Code Act.55 Essentially, the Hub in 2016 were not unlike those documented
wants the Inspectorate compelled to design in the previous year. Human Rights Network
and make available the declaration forms that for Journalists—Uganda (HRNJ-U) is a local
the public would access once the information organisation that “monitors and documents
is filed with the government. (As this report journalists’ rights, violations and abuses in
went to press in early April 2017, we learnt Uganda”. In February 2016, HRNJ-U issued
that the court had just ruled against the Hub, a statement on the environment in which

52 http://him-ug.org/index.php/rulings/nfa-first-ruling
53 http://him-ug.org/index.php/rulings/nfa-second-ruling
54 http://him-ug.org/index.php/rulings/nfa-third-ruling
55 https://www.igg.go.ug/static/files/publications/leadership-code-act.pdf

24| ACME Annual Report 2016
journalists operated during the election period. police, but barely investigated.” According to
It should be noted that the statement does not HRNJ-U, there were 30 incidents of journalists
cover the period after elections, when more being denied access to news and news
violations occurred, especially targeting journalists events—which constituted the largest number
who were reporting on the security services’ of violations—followed by physical assaults of
confinement of Besigye at his home. journalists, of which there were 17 instances.56
A few examples will suffice to illustrate what
At the start of their election statement, the HRNJ HRNJ-U is documenting.
notes in part: “We noticed that although the
presidential, parliamentary and district council
elections were generally peaceful, there were
several violations and unnecessary interference
m In terms of denial of access, the re-election
team of President Yoweri Museveni barred
in the work of journalists [and] media houses,
NTV from covering his rallies unless the
such as destruction of journalistic tools, physical
country’s largest privately owned TV
assault, intimidation and closure of a media
station used drone footage provided by the
house. HRNJ-Uganda recorded at least seventy
incumbent’s press unit.57 The ban, which
(70) cases, which also included three alleged
lasted about a week, happened a month prior
shootings at reporters.” In the concluding section,
to voting day, when the election story was
the statement says in part: “Majority of the victim
hottest, therefore compelling NTV to cave.
journalists and media houses were targeted while
The ban was reversed after NTV accepted
on duty reporting opposition-related activities.
the use of drone footage, which it insisted it
The police and NRM candidates and/or their
would mark as having been provided by the
supporters took a lion’s share in violating media
President’s campaign team.58
and journalists’ rights and freedoms. [A] majority
of these cases were reported to authorities like

56 https://www.scribd.com/document/300649855/HRNJ-condemns-violations-against-journalists
57 http://www.chimpreports.com/ntv-journalists-banned-from-museveni-rallies-over-drone-footage/
58 http://www.chimpreports.com/ntv-agrees-to-air-museveni-rally-drone-footage/

ACME Annual Report 2016 |25
m On 6 February, the police held BBC journalists The soldiers, who had been firing shots into the
Catherine Byaruhanga and Kelvin Brown, along air alongside the police to disperse the crowds,
with NTV’s Sam Lawino, for several hours for grabbed the journalist before seizing her phone
filming inside Abim Hospital in Abim District.59 and audio recorder and deleting images that
Key presidential challenger Kizza Besigye had they did not like.61
toured the dilapidated hospital in December 2015
to highlight decay within the public healthcare m During the post-election period, journalists
sector. Ultimately, police freed the journalists covering what they termed the security siege
without charge. The Ministry of Health, however, on Besigye’s home came in for particular
directed hospital administrators around the harassment. Journalists, both local and foreign,
country not to welcome politicians and journalists kept watch on the home, waiting to see who
who did not have express permission to visit from was going in and who was leaving and whether
the health permanent secretary.60 Besigye himself would, as he did several times,
challenge the armed security personnel by trying
m On 1 February 2016, four soldiers from the to walk or drive past them as he left his home.
Special Forces Command roughed up Margaret On almost all occasions, the security personnel
Kayondo, the Radio Simba correspondent in grabbed and bundled him into a van and drove
Sembabule District. The soldiers were apparently him away, journalists in tow for live footage.
responding to the fact that she was recording The security officers were never impressed.
a brawl between NRM supporters and security On 27 February, police arrested Daily Monitor
agents in Lwemiyaga, a constituency that in the reporter Eriasa Sserunjogi and photojournalist
past has seen ugly scenes around election time. Abubaker Lubowa near Besigye’s home. They
were held briefly at a nearby police station
before being freed without charge.62 Journalists
59 https://hrnjuganda.org/?tag=catherine-byaruhanga
from different media houses were regularly
60 http://www.chimpreports.com/ministry-of-health-orders-candidates-media-off-hospitals/ treated in a similar manner.63, 64, 65
61 https://hrnjuganda.org/?p=2480
62 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Monitor-journalists-arrested-at-Besigyes-home/688334-
3094656-i6ubdm/index.html
63 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Another-journalist-arrested-covering-Besigye/688334-
3098466-13vle08/index.html
64 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/uganda-media-crackdown_us_56d5d6f5e4b0bf0dab33808c
65 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDwB7f0J6Uo

26| ACME Annual Report 2016
Unfortunately, there was little peace for the
media away from electioneering. In March 2016,
Abraham Byandala, who was the minister without
portfolio at the time, assaulted Bukedde TV
journalist Judith Nalugwa within the precincts of
the Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala.66 (Byandala
was, and still is, facing corruption charges
DISGRACED: Byandala is
related to the Katosi Road scandal.67) Byandala battling graft charges in court
was reportedly upset because the journalist was
recording him as he emerged from the court
building. Nalugwa reported the case of assault
to the police. Later, she reportedly withdrew
her complaint following mediation, although The Observer newspaper on the night of 15 October
she has never confirmed this information.68 In 2016. Desktop computers, laptops and assorted items
another incident of assault, people, mostly boda were stolen.70 The guard on duty, Charles Olupot of Delta
boda riders claiming to be supporters of police Force, is facing trial for the incident. (As this report was
chief Kale Kayihura, attacked Bukedde reporter going to press, news broke that The Observer offices had
Joseph Mutebi on 10 August as he recorded them been broken into again — very early on 1 April 2017).
ransacking the car of the lawyer representing While several rights-focused CSOs including Hurinet,
three people who had sued the police chief HRNJ-U, Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum
and seven other senior officers for assaulting have been attacked before, it is rare that a mainstream
supporters of Besigye. The attack took place media house is burgled. It is hard to tell what the motive
outside the magistrate’s court in Makindye, might be. It is instructive that in almost all cases where
Kampala.69 And then there was the break-in at CSOs were attacked, no one has been jailed thus far.

66 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Minister-Byandala-beats-up-journalist/-/688334/3131160/-/sow82o/-/index.html
67 http://www.newvision.co.ug/tag/katosi-road-scam/
68 http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1420553/didnt-punch-byandala
69 https://hrnjuganda.org/?p=2936
70 https://acme-ug.org/2016/10/16/unidentified-persons-break-into-observer-offices-take-off-with-computers/

ACME Annual Report 2016 |27
Aside from politically motivated harassment, big stories from the field, backed up in the studios
the most significant change in the media by panel discussions. Also, June 2016 marked one
landscape in Uganda in 2016, and arguably year since the analogue switch off/digital migration
in several years, came from the business started in Uganda. The report card suggests the
community. WBS TV, Uganda’s oldest privately country has performed poorly, with fewer people
owned TV channel, ceased to operate on 14 watching free-to-air television. The biggest
December after having failed to recover from beneficiaries appeared to be pay TV providers.
a tax debt of Shs7 billion. Uganda Revenue The mid-year merging of the two ministries of
Authority placed it under receivership in ICT and information and national guidance, which
April before selling its assets to Zimbabwean were then placed under the stewardship of Frank
entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa’s Econet Media. Tumwebaze, saw the injection of energy in both
Businessman Gordon Wavamunno founded sectors. Within a month of taking the helm, for
WBS nearly 20 years ago. The changeover left instance, Tumwebaze organised the first media and
90 staff in an uncertain situation as the year ICT stakeholders’ dialogue in Kampala, attended by
ended, with the new owners asking all staff more than 100 local media and ICT players. A month
to reapply. Econet Media runs the Kwese TV later, he named the UBC review committee. How
brand, a free-to-air sports channel present he implements the wide-ranging recommendations
in Kenya, Rwanda, and Malawi. There were of the committee will be one way he is judged not
reports that WBS would turn into Kwese as just in 2017, but throughout his tenure. As for the
well, thus extending the brand’s presence into media’s working environment, things are bound
Uganda.72 to be quieter in 2017. With the excitement of
elections well behind us, journalists will face less
The 2015 ACME report noted that the year harassment. Besides, Minister Tumwebaze promised
ahead would see heightened competition in the at the stakeholders dialogue: “To you the media
television sector as stations retooled for the colleagues, I pledge engagement.” We hope it
digital era. We have seen TV stations compete will be the type of engagement that enables, not
tightly in terms of offering live coverage of disables, Ugandan media.

71 http://www.observer.ug/news/headlines/52115-robbery-at-observer-lightning-strikes-again.html
72 http://aptantech.com/2016/12/ugandas-wbs-tv-acquired-by-econet-media-could-rebrand-to-kwese-tv/

28| ACME Annual Report 2016
EXPERT RECOMMENDATIONS: Dr Peter Mwesige officially hands over the UBC report to Minister Frank Tumwebaze.

ACME Annual Report 2016 |29
ACME 2016 AT A GLANCE
34%
2,293 Beneficiaries served in the year
Women served.
Marginally better than 32% in 2015;
higher than minimum target of 30%
Up from 1,897 in 2015

Beneficiaries of ACME programmes in 2016
700

600

500

400

300

200

62%
100

0
Public Journalism World Press Media literacy ACME annual Uganda Grants &
dialogues & training Freedom Day & media lecture National awards
movie nights 2016 relations Journalism Journalists reached.
training Awards 2016
Up from 59% in 2015

30| ACME Annual Report 2016
Total number of visits to ACME's
website
60000
58000
56000
54000
52000
50000
48000
46000
44000
Jan-Dec 2015 Jan-Dec 2016

Total number of visits to ACME's
online resource centre
25000

20000

15000

10000

5000

0
Jan-Dec 2015 Jan-Dec 2016

ACME Annual Report 2016 |31
ACME 2016 IN PICTURES| ACME Annual Report 2016
ACME Annual Report 2016 |ACME 2016 IN PICTURES
FOCAL AREAS IN 2016
JOURNALISTIC EXCELLENCE The main reason ACME exists is to help promote
journalism that informs and engages the
public and holds public officials accountable.
Our primary target audience in this effort are
journalists who have been in the profession
a few years — say five on average — and are
interested in improving their professionalism.
Our approach recognises that journalistic skills
are not enough in the pursuit of professional
excellence. We therefore offer a mix of
skills and knowledge modules. The skills we
tackle 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 political
communication expert 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.”73 While ACME trainers

73 Thomas Patterson (2013) “Informing the News: the need for knowl-
VALIDATION: Ronald Musoke and Joan Akello congratulate edge-based reporting.” Downloaded from http://journalistsresource.
each other in style at the ACME Awards org/skills/research/knowledge-based-reporting on October 9, 2013.

34| ACME Annual Report 2016
focus mostly on journalistic skills, outside We exploited the opportunities offered by
experts help deal with knowledge elements. the Internet and new media to critique media
performance, and engage journalists both
In 2016, our training, very much like in the individually and collectively, while maintaining
previous year, focused on effective media and encouraging professional fellowship.
coverage of extractives (oil, gas and mining);
local government accountability; public policy; We also continued to offer competitive
human rights; land; business, finance, and reporting grants for promising story ideas that
economics; parliament; agriculture; and arts explored important public issues. To recognise
and culture. We also conducted workshops, and encourage the pursuit and production
especially upcountry, focused primarily on skills of comprehensive and impactful stories, we
for people who were starting out in journalism organised the Uganda National Journalism
but never having had the benefit of journalism Awards 2016, the third in succession.
training. We called this “foundations of
journalism”. We continued employing a While not every journalist we have engaged
long-term approach in which mentoring and with will produce a blockbuster story, we
coaching over several months complemented see ACME’s overall work as helping to nudge
practical, face-to-face training sessions. This the general conversation in the Uganda
is what we loosely call the ACME Way. We also media industry toward the appreciation of
continued offering fellowships to promising good journalism, and that achieving it takes
young journalists. knowledge, skill, time, hard work, and a little
money. Some results are immediate; some will
come with time. Nonetheless, we keep the
faith.

ACME Annual Report 2016 |35
Mid-career Journalism Training Journalists need to be
able to report competently
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.

Challenge The need for knowledge in the
various subjects by Ugandan journalists is quite
substantial based on findings from several
needs assessments and research studies ACME
and others have conducted over the years.
This conclusion is also backed up by what the
journalists we engage with tell us. In terms
of business, for example, Africa is bleeding
precious dollars in illicit financial flows —
maybe more than $50 billion a year.74 That
figure constitutes the amount of money Africa
needs yearly to fund infrastructure projects
or, put differently, is “approximately double POLICE INTERACTION: Journalists Annita Matsika (Radio West) and Mohammed Ssendegeya
the official development assistance that Africa (CBS) interview former deputy police publicist Polly Namaye at ACME.

74 http://www.uneca.org/iff

36| ACME Annual Report 2016
receives” per annum. Between 2002 and 2011, knowledge and journalistic skills to report
Uganda “experienced gross average annual effectively. In 2016, we carried out training in
illicit flows of $884 million”. This translated several areas.
into an average loss of $243 million in taxes
per year through trade misinvoicing.75 But Business, Economics, and Finance: From 2014-
what is misinvoicing? How does it work? 2016, ACME helped train 36 journalists (13 in
These are critical questions because many 2016) from Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania,
multinational companies are beginning to Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda,
flock to Uganda to operate in the burgeoning Mozambique and Mauritius to appreciate how
petroleum and mining sectors. Journalists have African economies lose large sums of money
to be able to report competently on them. every year through practices such as tax
Indeed, journalists have to understand how evasion and avoidance. The project sought
some of these sectors work in the first place. to train at least 140 journalists from across
Research shows that many journalists in poor the continent. We also delivered lectures to
but resource rich countries do not have the nearly 120 finalist journalism students at the
necessary knowledge, skills and resources to universities of Makerere and Mukono to extend
report effectively on the extractive industry. reach and impact of the project. Some of the
But even “old but crucial” subjects such as work that some of the journalists trained under
land and human rights where there is a lot of the programme is highlighted on the project
contestation still could be covered in a more website.76
illuminating way. This is where ACME comes in.
Oil, Gas, and Mining: ACME has been at the
Intervention With support from various forefront of journalism training in covering oil,
partners, ACME has for the last three to six gas, and mining since 2011. We have facilitated
years conducted training workshops aimed workshops, field trips, and mentorship as
at equipping journalists with subject matter well as administering reporting grants and

75 http://www.gfintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Hiding_In_Plain_Sight_Report-Final.pdf
76 http://www.wealth-of-nations.org/highlights/

ACME Annual Report 2016 |37
awards. We have trained more than 500 Ugandan including land and agriculture. The training was
journalists in this area. The trainings have preceded by a study on how media in Uganda
ranged in duration from a few days (for editors, covered land and natural resources between 2011
producers, bloggers, and finalist journalism and 2014. In 2016, we trained 36 journalists,
students) to months (for reporters). In 2016, bringing the number to 48 since implementation
ACME trained 82 Ugandan reporters and editors of the project started the previous year.
for periods not more than five days, except for
a group of eight reporters who had nearly three Arts and Culture: We worked with 12 journalists
weeks of intense training and coaching. Through in 2016, on top of another 12 in 2015, to improve
a new approach of training inside newsrooms, we reporting on arts and culture. We discussed
engaged in the year with journalists at the Daily topics such as emerging arts communities, writing
Monitor, NBS TV, and The Independent. We also compelling arts critiques, Uganda’s cultural
worked in Tanzania with 27 journalists at The economy, and publishing in Uganda. We also
Guardian, Citizen/Mwananchi, and Clouds TV/ examined The Uganda National Culture Policy
Radio. 2006.

Foundations of Journalism: As is pretty obvious
Rights and Rule of Law: Given Uganda’s thus far, ACME has often focused on thematic-
turbulent history, questions of rule of law and based trainings for journalists. We have also
respect for human rights have long exercised the addressed journalistic skills aspects. Over time,
minds of Ugandans passionate about political however, we have learnt that there is need
and civil liberties. Like in the previous couple to focus entirely on basic journalistic skills
of years, we worked with several journalists (29 especially for practitioners who have no formal
in 2016) to help them gain the competence to journalism training and are unlikely to learn
effectively investigate and report on rights and much on the job. So in 2016 we launched a
rule of law issues. project focused on teaching basics in journalism.
We plan to reach 200 journalists from across the
Land, Agriculture & Public Policy: ACME launched country in 18 months. Fifty-nine journalists had
a project in 2015 to inspire a cadre of journalists by close of 2016 been trained in Masaka, Fort
to produce strong stories on public affairs, Portal, and Arua.

38| ACME Annual Report 2016
From: Haggai Matsiko
Change Date: 26 October 2016 at 14:48
Subject: Re:feedback
Better sourcing. Because ACME uses subject To: Bernard Tabaire <btabaire@acme-ug.org>, Rachel Mugarura <rmugarura@
acme-ug.org>, Peter Mwesige <mwesige@acme-ug.org>
experts to deliver most of the knowledge modules,
many journalists have used the opportunity of Hello,
proximity to cultivate these speakers into future
expert sources. Keen journalists have therefore Greetings from The Independent. This is to share some feedback on the
expanded their range of sources, and in turn this knowledge-based reporting on oil and gas training conducted at The Independent.
has improved sourcing for their stories. Sourcing is As you will recall, one of the modules was Resources for investigating oil & gas
a key element in journalism, yet in Uganda most sector, where we learnt about the different tools online. Well, I recently used
sources are limited to officialdom. Community, them-- CompanyCheck, Who.is, other websites and even LinkedIn-- to investigate
CSO and women voices are few indeed. We are one of the companies government is negotiating refinery deal with.
now seeing, however, that the journalists we have
With these tools, I was able to expose the inconsistencies surrounding the
worked with have tended to employ a variety of company-- Burj Petroleum-- and the article has caused quite a splash. I have
sources. This has given their stories diversity of received calls from some in government who have expressed shock about the
viewpoints and credibility. company. Others are asking questions about why the government doesn’t carry
out due diligence on some of these companies registered in the BVI. And lastly, a
Launch of new radio programme. Under land, lawyer claiming to represent the company in question has also contacted us saying
his clients felt defamed and hinted on suing but didn’t dispute our facts.
agriculture and public policy, some change has
come via Radio Pacis, the largest radio station Here https://www.independent.co.ug/oil-refinery-trouble/, you can read the
in northwestern Uganda. Following the course article for yourself. It could have been better but it’s a first in terms of doing what
on covering land, a new programme, Let’s Talk the training was aimed at getting us to do. Please, feel free to share your thoughts.
Peace77, was developed to address land conflict
Thank you for the training!
issues in the greater northern region. The
programme, hosted by Daniel Amule, a participant Regards,
on the course, has since been broadened to serve Haggai Matsiko
as a platform for reporting on everyday community Reporter & beneficiary of the training

77 Let’s Talk Peace http://www.radiopacis.org/?page_id=325 Accessed 17 July 2016.

ACME Annual Report 2016 |39
From: Bakole Francis
conflicts and finding solutions for change. Date: 16 November 2016 at 20:22
Subject: info@acme- ug.org
To: info@acme-ug.org
Arts coverage expands: One result of the
training at the start in 2015 was ACME’s Oooh GOD, what a wonderful training we had 2 day for journalists at royal
invitation by Bayimba Cultural Foundation crane resort in Arua town. Thank u ACME 4 taking journalists 4m media
to conduct a public discussion on why the houses in West Nile at heart. Thank u facilitator Sylvia Nankya 4 taking us
through story mapping and pitching and Bernard Tabaire 4 ur elaborate
space accorded arts and culture was steadily
presentation on d roles media plays in our society/environment. come again
shrinking in Uganda’s media. Two of the and again. GOD BLESS ACME.
festival’s organisers had attended ACME’s arts
and culture training. Close to 50 journalists
and creative artists heard from a panel of
four journalists — reporters and editors. Since
then The Observer, a triweekly, has expanded
to two pages coverage of arts and culture in RESULTS:
A screenshot
the paper’s Friday edition. Andrew Kaggwa, a from an
participant on the arts and culture training in ACME-
2016, heads the arts desk. enabled
feature on
Record
More governmental openness. In oil and gas, TV about
we have seen that the government is becoming inclusive
special needs
more open to explaining in some detail its education.
actions and decisions. These days, press
statements tend to carry much more detail
than just a few years ago. We think that this In rights and rule of law, an immediate change
is partially in response to better-informed is the provision of dedicated financial support
questions that journalists, and some members for the production of stories on rights and rule of
of civil society, are asking. Whether the law. These are stories that most definitely would
present trend leads to greater accountability not have seen the light of day otherwise. In 2016,
in the sector we will tell once oil starts flowing 10 journalists received Shs15.8 million in grant
and the petrodollars start rolling in. money.

40| ACME Annual Report 2016
SELECT STORIES TO IMMEDIATELY COME OUT OF SOME OF THE TRAININGS

Arts and Culture
l Herman Basudde: Portrait of a musical prophet by Andrew Kaggwa, The Observer
l Ugandans slowly buying into local tourism by Andrew Kaggwa, The Observer
l Schools struggle to attract more students to literature by Edward Bindhe, Uganda
Radio Network
l National Perspective vol. 206: Why Uganda needs to invest in school libraries. This
weekly programme was pitched and produced by Edward Bindhe, Uganda Radio
Network

Agriculture
l Water crisis in Kapeeka by Sudat Kaye, UBC Television
l Ministry struggles to return fish into lakes by Patience Ahimbisibwe, Daily Monitor
l Govt names Lake Victoria polluters by Patience Ahimbisibwe, Daily Monitor

Public Policy
l Scarcity of land hinders four acre land policy by Emmanuel Kajubu, Uganda Radio
Network
l Why big drug firms are seeking new markets in Africa by Halima Abdallah, The
EastAfrican
l Uganda to fund drought-resistant crops farming by Halima Abdallah, The
EastAfrican

Land
l Over 3,500 protest eviction from Aler Community Farm by Ronald Odongo, Uganda
Radio Network
l OPM institutes committee to resettle evicted Kyangwali residents by Fredrick
Kivabulaya, Uganda Radio Network
l Kingdom loyalists block Bugoma forest conservation walk by Fredrick Kivabulaya,
Uganda Radio Network

ACME Annual Report 2016 |41
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 belt-tightening by 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 of expertise and
institutional memory. Consequently, anecdotal
evidence suggests, large numbers of journalists in
various newsrooms are rookies. However talented
and energetic 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. In 2016, ACME provided
27 journalists with a four-month fellowship on
reporting local government. The fellowship came
with funding to do at least three story projects,
one of which had to be of the data journalism

42| ACME Annual Report 2016
From: Carol Natukunda
Subject: HELLO
type. By the year’s end, the fellows had To: mwesige@yahoo.com
Cc: btabaire@acme-ug.org
produced tens of feature-like stories, most of
which would not have seen the light of day Dear good people, I hope this finds you well. I thought I should share this with you.
given the reluctance of even able media houses
to fund in-depth reporting. We also gave out I was recently selected to participate in the 2017 Women’s Edition, a programme for men-
additional reporting grants worth nearly Shs61 toring female journalists in Africa and beyond the continent (attached is my invite).
It is run by the Population Reference Bureau in Washington DC. It is highly competitive –
million to 37 journalists. By the end of the year, they take at most 10 to 15 journalists from all over the world for mentoring and training in
this cohort of journalists had produced several coverage of women and child health, reproductive health and population issues every two
in-depth stories ranging from the challenges years.
facing the fisheries sector to special needs
education. For the awards, ACME received 237 The training sessions usually last a week or two and they are a few months apart. One of the
benefits of the programme is that participants get a sponsored story project of at times up
broadcast, print, and online entries, down from to 10,000USD for their media houses. One also gets a chance to participate in international
261 the year before, from 148 journalists (a conferences.
slightly lower number from the previous year),
of which 27 were women. Thirty-four winners The first session of my program starts late April [2017]. And I’m very excited to be part of
were recognised with cash prizes and plaques. this. How does ACME come into this? One of my supporting work samples when I was ap-
plying for this opportunity was the story which was sponsored by the ACME grants in 2015
Despite the small number of female applicants –Teen moms defy odds to stay in school.
(27), 17 of them emerged winners, the same
number as men. There were 20 categories to Also, you will recall that I won first place recognition in education reporting and explana-
compete in. Overall, Shs73 million in prize tory reporting categories; and then I was crowned overall runner up in last year’s Uganda
money was given out to 58 reporters (winners Journalism Awards. I believe the three awards made my CV richer. This was no mean feat by
any standards.
and runners-up) at a gala event attended by 230
guests, mostly journalists. (It’s actually for these same awards that I got an invitation from the Journalists for Justice,
an organisation hosted by the International Commission of Jurists, to cover the opening of
Change Some of the journalists we work with Ongwen’s trial at the ICC even though I’m a public health reporter! Story for another day.)
do register professional/career progress, and
I just thought I should share….
some of them are kind enough to attribute some
of that growth to their engagement with ACME, Regards
just like New Vision’s Carol Natukunda did: Carol

ACME Annual Report 2016 |43
Website, Social Media, Online Resource Centre
Intervention The value of online resources
to journalists is well established in
the literature of newsgathering and
communications. Resources found on the
Internet are used to enhance coverage of
breaking news, as background for interviews,
to find sources and to verify facts. ACME
maintains an active website (www.acme-ug.
org) and an online resource centre (www.
ugandajournalistsresourceceentre.com) to
provide a variety of authentic information on
journalism and communications, and signpost
to our extensive resources that the public
can download whenever needed. ACME is also
active on Facebook and Twitter. The two social
media platforms were actively used to promote
our publications and resources, to share views
on topical issues, and to share news and
Challenge The volume of freely available information from authoritative sources.
information and online resources continues
to grow exponentially. Potentially, many of Change In 2016, ACME launched a campaign to
these resources could be of enormous value to source and publish opinion and commentary
journalists and communication professionals from a variety of experts in Uganda. The
for learning and research purposes. However, goal was to highlight under-reported issues
finding, evaluating, validating and using this in the media and to increase the number
content is still hard for time-pressed and resource- of authoritative, alternative sources for
constrained journalists. At ACME, our challenge journalists. The campaign led to the
was to streamline our digital resources to ease establishment of a pool of experts who
journalists’ access to credible information on regularly contribute original opinion articles
media and public affairs. to the online resource centre, causing a

44| ACME Annual Report 2016
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ACME Annual Report 2016
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MEDIA LITERACY
young people. Eighteen teenagers aged between
14 and 16 years attended the three-day workshop
Challenge Beyond the realm of professional at ACME. We believe if younger people become
journalism, ACME recognises the importance literate consumers and even creators of media
having media-literate societies. Media messages products, they become more discerning, civically
are a critical feature of everyday life in modern minded citizens as well. They visited the New
society. Media influences and effects are felt Vision head offices to learn how news production
across the globe, transcending social and cultural is handled across the different platforms: print,
boundaries. However, media also cater to a radio and television. They also witnessed first-
diversity of interests, hence the need to know hand the printing of a newspaper.
how best to use media for one’s own (hopefully
noble) purposes. For better or worse, many Working with Women in Leadership—Uganda,
of our perceptions of the world around us are ACME helped in conducting a media literacy
shaped by what we read, see, and hear via the café for 15-20-year-old girls and young women
media. Good causes can be won or lost in the from eastern Uganda. Some of the stories
media, as are careers in public life. Skills in using the girls have written can be found at www.
the media in all their varied forms have become womensenews.org. With the adults, ACME worked
essential for governments and any public, with three CSO coalitions, namely, the HIV/AIDS
private, civil society, or corporate organisation Law Coalition, the Civil Society Budget Advocacy
that seeks to mobilise public opinion and to Group (CSBAG), and the Coalition Against
advance particular interests. Yet many who Domestic Violence. Altogether, we reached 47
should possess these skills do not. CSO actors in the year. The trainings included
networking meetings with journalists.
Intervention ACME runs a training programme in
media literacy to help public officials, members At the request of CSBAG, ACME hosted 20 CSO
of civil society, the political class, business and local government representatives during
people, and high school leavers improve their an exchange learning visit on budget policy
skills in engaging with the media. In 2016, for the advocacy. We took the group through the
first time, we conducted training specially for mechanics of effective media management.

46| ACME Annual Report 2016
We believe if younger people become literate
consumers of media products, they become more
discerning, civically minded citizens as well

Change Some of the beneficiary civil society
groups are now using multiple media platforms
for advocacy, mobilisation and expression.
Since the training, for example, CSBAG has
increased its use of its online platforms,
particularly Facebook and Twitter. The posts
are a lot more regular, on average daily but
often multiple postings are made on a single
day. There is also visible creativity in the
postings with a lot more real time photographs.
This was best exemplified under their Tax MPs
campaign.

The training spurred a participant into action.
Alex Kamukama heads Youth Link Initiative, a
member of the HIV/AIDS Law Coalition. After
the training, Alex felt confident enough to
get off the ground an idea he had been toying
with for some time: starting a publication
at Kampala International University, where
he goes to school, to address reproductive
health. The publication, titled Giraffe Times,

ACME Annual Report 2016 |47
From: Ibrahim Batambuze
Date: 2 May 2016 at 08:57 is now in its third edition. The meetings we
Subject: Thank you for media relations training course convened between CSO actors and journalists
To: Apolo Kakaire <akakaire@acme-ug.org> will potentially help improve understanding
Cc: Rachel Mugarura <rmugarura@acme-ug.org>, btabaire@acme-ug.org both ways, and could be a foundation on which
professional relationships are built.
Hi Apolo,

Thank you for the great three-day media relations training course at ACME. It was very “I am one of those people privileged to have attended
informative, very well presented, plus enjoyable. I have learned so much from your training two of the advocacy and media trainings at ACME. One
that will assist me in my workplace. I have already started to use some of the strategies of the skills I benefited from is getting media to cover
and tools you gave us to use with our audience and am pretty sure they are going to work my functions without offering money. My recent activity,
remarkably well. celebrating 20 years in existence, we chose to deal with
editors directly and out of the three reporters sent that
I came away from the training feeling so confident and it really does help when working night, our function appeared in the news the following
with our audience. I have come to office today a different communicator and I wont shut up day, which was not the case before. I am planning
about your training. The team is happy for me for having attended the training because it was
on writing several opinions which I believe will be
timely, professional as well as thoughtful which no better organization other than ACME could
facilitate. highlighted in the media.”
—Irene Namyalo, advocacy and communication officer at
Thanks for the wonderful training and new skills I now have. UGANET.

Cheers!
Indeed, ACME has made it easy for people like
Ibrahim Waiswa Batambuze UGANET’s Namyalo to write. We run an online
Communications and Advocacy Officer opinions portal78 populated through request for
Reach A Hand Uganda opinions on specific subjects, but is also open
Web: http://www.reachahand.org/ to receiving pieces by CSO actors.

78 http://ugandajournalistsresourcecentre.com/category/expert-opinion/

48| ACME Annual Report 2016
IN DEPTH: MP Winnie Kiiza
(now Leader of Opposition)
fields questions from journalists
undergoing training in covering
local government at ACME.

ACME Annual Report 2016 |49
PUBLIC LECTURES, WORKSHOPS, AND SYMPOSIA
Challenge For many years Ugandan journalists through hosting a talk, and through screening a
have not had spaces that encourage professional media/public affairs movie followed by discussion.
growth and development. After long hours at Away from the pressure-cooker environment of
work, most journalists retire home or pass by their the newsroom, journalists could learn and create
favourite bars and restaurants to wind down. a deeper sense of fellowship with their tribe.
Starting in July 2016, the monthly talks became
Intervention Back in 2013, we thought there bi-monthly and so did the movie nights. As it were,
could be another alternative, one with much this was a case of taking a step back a little before
added value. We sought to bring journalists re-engaging fully. The year’s movie events brought
together twice a month to talk informally about together more than 150 journalists and friends of
all manner of public affairs matters. This was Ugandan journalism.

50| ACME Annual Report 2016
We screened Money Monsters, a dramatization
of the perils of non-critical reporting; The
Choice, a journalistic documentary on Hillary
Clinton, Donald Trump and their controversial
presidential campaign; Control Room, “a
behind-the-scenes look at the operations of Al
Jazeera… during the war in Iraq”; Rosewater, a
political drama about a journalist’s detention
in Iran; Under Fire: Journalists in Combat,
on the “psychological and emotional toll of
covering wars”; All the President’s Men, which
is about investigating the Watergate scandal
that led to US President Richard Nixon’s
resignation; Truth, a political docudrama on
the importance of verification of information
before running a story; and Spotlight, an
Oscar-winning biographical film on investigative
journalism.

We also had several talks under “An Evening
with…” series, which brought together
nearly 230 people in the year. A panel of
constitutional law scholar Busingye Kabumba,
political journalist Charles Odongtho, Chinje delivers the Annual Lecture. OPPOSITE PAGE: A captivated audience at the lecture.
photojournalist Rachel Mabala, and blogger-
activist Rosebell Kagumire discussed media
and the elections just after the 18 February We sought to bring journalists together
presidential and parliamentary elections. Just
before the 10th Parliament was constituted, twice a month to talk informally about all
we held a panel discussion on “rethinking manner of public affairs matters
media coverage of Parliament”. The panellists

ACME Annual Report 2016 |51
were editor and former parliamentary the U. S. Embassy, we held a colloquium in
reporter Felix Osike of New Vision, Parliament Kampala that attracted 280 people from media,
communications official Helen Kawesa, and civil society, the academy, and the creative
parliamentary researcher Hippo Twebaze. arts to discuss free expression. Three panels
Wilbroad Ntawiha and Bernard Sabiti from discussed the 20 years of Uganda’s Press and
Development Initiatives spoke on finding Journalist Act in Uganda; freedom of information
news in data on development financing; and as a fundamental freedom and as a human right;
Andrew Leckey of the Walter Cronkite School and freedom of expression for non-traditional
of Journalism and Mass Communication at media, a session that was hinged on experience
Arizona State University spoke on covering sharing by Ugandan artistes Bobi Wine and
multinational corporations. Patrick Mweheire, Irene Ntale. At the same event, Human Rights
the CEO of Stanbic Bank, spoke on banking Network for Journalists—Uganda, mentioned
and the Ugandan economy, and oil governance in several places in this report, received the
expert Keith Myers addressed the subject of Commonwealth Union Astor Award for its
the viability of Uganda’s oil in light of declining “outstanding work in protecting the freedom of
world prices. Richard Ssewakiryanga, a journalists in Uganda”. HRNJ-U also recognised
researcher and the head of NGO Forum, spoke several journalists for their reporting on
about cartoons as a form of political expression. journalists’ human rights.
These activities folded into the third Annual
Media and Politics in Africa Lecture. Eric Chinje, Change Through all these events, plus those
the Cameroonian head of the Nairobi-based where we discussed the monthly reports on
African Media Initiative, delivered the 2016 media coverage of elections, ACME reached or
lecture on 7 December in Kampala. Earlier interacted with about 1,200 people, mostly from
the same day, he met with media managers media. In all cases, the interaction was about
over breakfast. The breakfast and the lecture media, about journalism, about free expression.
brought together nearly 300 people from all It is never easy to measure the impact of such
walks of life. interventions, but we believe that through our
work we got a few people to focus on why media
For the first time, in 2016, ACME played a key matters. Of course, these activities continued to
role in hosting the World Press Freedom Day create rapport and a sense of fellowship among
event on 3 May. With the support of Hivos and journalists from various media outlets.

52| ACME Annual Report 2016
ACME Annual Report 2016 |53
RESEARCH, MEDIA Intervention In 2016, we completed our
MONITORING AND months-long project titled “Monitoring Media
Coverage of the 2016 General Elections in
PUBLICATIONS Uganda”. It was a project that started in 2015.
We produced monthly reports,79 with the final
overall report80 being published after the
Challenge There is a dearth of applied research
elections in 2016. The aim was to contribute
on media performance in Uganda, especially
to accurate, fair, impartial and balanced
the kind of research that informs the work of
coverage of the 2016 election campaigns.
media development organisations such as ACME,
We examined the work of 33 radio stations,
and indeed academic institutions that award
nine newspapers, and five television stations.
journalism and communications qualifications.
We discussed findings at public forums with
In a sense, then, we operate in the dark, at
key editors, representatives of parties and
best through educated guesswork. Baselines
presidential candidates, and a few others from
and needs assessments are good for individual
civil society. Instead of producing post mortem
projects, but have limitations when one tries to
reports as in the past, the idea this time was to
apply their lessons broadly. We therefore think
get media houses to adjust coverage in near-
that understanding better the various dynamics
real time based on the monthly monitoring
around the media industry in Uganda calls for
results. On the research end, we published a
structured quantitative and qualitative studies.
report titled “Press Coverage of Public Affairs
Monitoring is one tool used in research. But
in Uganda: Volume 2, July 2014-June 2015”.
media performance in Uganda is virtually not
This is a midline study that follows on from the
monitored in a sustained way. So we would like
“Baseline Study of Press Coverage of Public
to monitor media performance to inform our
Affairs in Uganda: July 2013-June 2014” that
research and programming, but also to help
was published earlier. An endline study will
those interested with accurate information
to use to hold media accountable. Media
practitioners ought to perform to the same high
79 Find the reports at http://acme-ug.org/category/media-monitoring/
standards that they so often demand of others, 80 http://acme-ug.org/2016/06/01/monitoring-media-coverage-of-the-2016-
especially those in government and business. electionsfinal-report/

54| ACME Annual Report 2016
come later, covering the period July 2015-June also actively reported our findings especially
2016. The studies are interested in media practices when they were positive about aspects of those
and performance in terms of the quantity and outlets’ coverage. Here are typical headlines from
quality of public affairs81 coverage by Uganda’s two of the country’s top media houses. “Daily
mainstream press over time. The publications Monitor fairly covering presidential candidates
of interest are Daily Monitor, New Vision, The – report”.82 “New Vision hailed on coverage of
Independent, and The Observer. The public affairs campaigns”.83 There was a sense of pride imbued
issues explored are local government; Parliament; in newsrooms, which may have led to even better
the extractives industry; agriculture; land and work. Nothing spoke to the credibility of ACME’s
property; water and environment; energy; justice, monitoring work than when both sides cited it
law and order; transport and public works; health; in the presidential petition challenging the re-
science and technology; and education. election of President Yoweri Museveni. This was
on the issue as to whether public broadcaster UBC
Change Several media outlets did indeed improve favoured President Museveni in its coverage. In
coverage. The most dramatic example was Etop, its judgement, the Supreme Court also invoked
which went from not having female sources at ACME’s name.84
all one month to performing better than most on
this score from the following month onward. The Building on the monitoring work, ACME has now
same newspaper, part of the larger Vision Group, acquired state of the art Newbase technology
significantly improved its questioning of candidate to help us routinely monitor media coverage
claims. Some newsrooms made it a point to discuss depending on the issues we are focused on. This
our findings internally to help them reflect on equipment will also greatly expand our research
their coverage of the elections. Individual outlets capacity by making capture of media content
faster. And all the studies we have published,
including the booklet that combines the first
81 For the purposes of this study, the term “public affairs” is used to refer to issues of public interest that two annual lectures on media and politics,
citizens have a right to know about and that affect their livelihoods and the exercise of their rights and
duties as citizens.
are available in hard and soft copy. They are
82 http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Daily-Monitor-fairly-covering-presidential-candidates- permanent records, an added body of knowledge
report/-/688334/3015636/-/x3irt0z/-/index.html
83 http://www.elections.co.ug/new-vision/election/1415516/vision-hailed-coverage-campaigns
that can inform the work of media practitioners,
84 https://acme-ug.org/2016/08/26/why-the-supreme-court-dismissed-the-mbabazi-election-petition/ teachers and researchers.

ACME Annual Report 2016 |55
ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
• Strategy
Following an institutional strengthening
exercise in 2015, we embarked on developing
a new five-year strategic plan.

• Space and staff
We expanded space by about 50 per cent
in 2015. And in 2016 we got additions to
staff. Mathias Mulumba is working with us
on monitoring and evaluation. And Brian LYDIA NAMUBIRU
Ssenabulya is working with us on data.
HARRIET ANENA
MATHIAS MULUMBA
• Studies
Ms Lydia Namubiru — ACME’s programme
officer, research, data journalism and ICTs —
returned from Columbia Journalism School
in the United States with a master’s degree.
Her studies focused on data journalism,
an important area of our work that she is
leading on.

YUSUF ZIRABA
BRIAN SSENABULYA
LYNN NAJJEMBA
56| ACME Annual Report 2016
Team ACME

GRACE NATABAALO
TADEO KATO

APOLO KAKAIRE

RACHEL MUGARURA-
PETER MWESIGE MUTANA

PHIONAH BASIRIKA IRENE NABUNYA

BENJAMIN
RUKWENGYE
BERNARD TABAIRE
JOSEPH LUTALO
ERIA KIRANGWA SUSAN NALWERA
ACME Annual Report 2016 |57
ACME IN THE NEWS
A sampling of the stories about ACME

New Vision scribes win 2016 population awards
http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1438308/vision-scribes-win-2016-population-awards

Journalists and Civil Society Activists Mark Press Freedom Day
http://allafrica.com/stories/201605030776.html

Africa needs strong legal framework on local content – Expert
https://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2016/10/23/africa-needs-strong-legal-framework-on-local-content-expert/

New Vision dominates ACME Awards
http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1422690/vision-dominates-acme-awards

African journalists in Tanzania for oil & gas workshop
http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/African-journalists-in-Tanzania-for-oil-amp-gas-workshop-
478445

Museveni dominating campaign coverage says report
https://youtu.be/MwwRc6M_tlI

58| ACME Annual Report 2016
Museveni Mbabazi dominate news- report
http://observer.ug/news-headlines/41917-museveni-mbabazi-dominate-news-report

ACME’s Peter Mwesige, Rwabwogo Appointed on UBC Review Commission Committee
http://www.chimpreports.com/acmes-peter-mwesige-rwabwogo-appointed-on-ubc-review-commission-committee/

Peter Mwesige to Head UBC Review Committee
https://ugandaradionetwork.com/story/peter-mwesige-to-head-ubc-review-committee

Senior journalists urged to mentor juniors
http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1430973/senior-journalists-urged-mentor-profession

Monitor Newspaper Unfair to Me - Museveni
http://allafrica.com/stories/201602220929.html

Uganda elections approach amid hostile environment for media
https://cpj.org/blog/2016/02/uganda-elections-approach-amid-hostile-environment.php

Journalists Not Asking Right Questions - Eric Chinje
http://ugandaradionetwork.com/story/ugandan-media-not-asking-right-questions-eric-chinge#ixzz4dEN21Mmi

ACME Annual Report 2016 |59
THE BOARD
Dr Monica Chibita (chair) Ms Barbara Kaija
Head, Department of Journalism and Communication Editor-in-Chief
Uganda Christian University, Mukono Vision Group, Kampala
Mr James Abola Mr Daniel Kalinaki
Financial Consultant and Team Leader Managing Editor for Regional Content
Akamai Global, Kampala Nation Media Group, Nairobi
Mr Moses Adriko Dr Peter Mwesige
Co-Managing Partner/Advocate ACME Co-founder and Executive Director
MMAKS Advocates, Kampala (ex-officio member)
Ms Marjorie Kyomuhendo Dr Zahara Nampewo
Assistant Lecturer/CARTA PhD Fellow Lecturer
Department of Journalism and Communication School of Law
Makerere University Makerere University, Kampala
Mr Zie Gariyo
Policy Analyst and Director
CORET Centre, Kampala

60| ACME Annual Report 2016
OUR PARTNERS
The African Centre for Media Excellence relies on partnerships with like-minded organisations
that provide a foundation from which we successfully operate. In 2016, we worked with several
organisations.

• Democratic Governance Facility
• Ford Foundation
• Freedom House/USAID
• Fund for Global Human Rights
• Hivos
• Natural Resource Governance Institute
• Thomson Reuters Foundation/NORAD
• U. S. Embassy, Kampala

ACME Annual Report 2016 |61
SOME OF THE STORIES DONE WITH GRANT MONEY IN 2016
STORY TITLE LINK REPORTER OUTLET

1 Sh320b nets given but malaria http://acme-ug.org/2016/08/27/shs320b- John Agaba, Saturday
persists nets-given-but-malaria-still-persists/ Raymond Baguma Vision
& Carol Kasujja
2 Why do local governments return http://acme-ug.org/2016/07/30/why-do- Roselynn Karatsi Saturday
money to the Treasury? local-governments-return-money-to-the-trea- Vision
sury-2/
3 Karamoja burns as trees smoulder one http://www.monitor.co.ug/Business/Prosper/ Nelson Wesonga Daily Monitor
at a time Karamoja-burns-trees-smoulder-one-at-a-
time/688616-3225176-avojdp/index.html
4 Bad roads affecting ambulance system http://acme-ug.org/2016/05/02/bad-roads- Andrew Masinde New Vision
(Part I) affecting-ambulance-system-part-ii/
5 Uganda’s ambulances a death sentence http://acme-ug.org/2016/05/03/ugandas- Andrew Masinde New Vision
(Part II) ambulances-a-death-sentence-part-i-2/
6 Patients die as ambulances waste http://acme-ug.org/2016/05/04/patients- Andrew Masinde New Vision
away (Part III) die-as-ambulances-waste-away-part-iii/
7 Rwenzori suffers first pains of global http://acme-ug.org/2016/05/07/rwenzori- John Masaba Saturday
warming suffers-first-pains-of-global-warming-2/ Vision
8 Where is the money for road project http://acme-ug.org/2016/05/01/where-is- Chris Kiwawulo Sunday
compensations? the-money-for-road-project-compensations/ Vision
9 Is mediation programme backfiring on http://acme-ug.org/2016/04/10/is-media- Derrick Kiyonga The
the judiciary? Part I tion-programme-backfiring-on-the-judiciary- Observer
part-i/
10 Is mediation programme backfiring on http://acme-ug.org/2016/04/10/is-media- Derrick Kiyonga The
the judiciary? Part II tion-programme-backfiring-on-the-judiciary- Observer
part-ii/
11 Food wastage: Farmers lose billions to http://acme-ug.org/2016/04/26/food-wast- Ronald Mugabe Sunday
post-harvest mishandling age-farmers-lose-billions-to-post-harvest- Vision
mishandling/
62| ACME Annual Report 2016
STORY TITLE LINK REPORTER OUTLET

12 Search for justice: The dilemma http://www.monitor.co.ug/SpecialRe- Frederic Musisi Daily Monitor
of mentally ill patients (Part I) ports/Search-justice-dilemma-mentally-ill-
inmates/688342-3268974-jhsa88z/index.html
13 When patients are prisoners http://www.monitor.co.ug/SpecialReports/ Frederic Musisi Daily Monitor
(Part II) When-patients-are-prisoners/688342-3270330
-127pwetz/index.html
14 How our land tenure systems http://acme-ug.org/2016/04/17/how-our- John Masaaba New Vision
are sowing hunger: Part I land-tenure-systems-are-sowing-hunger/
15 How government is underutilising http://acme-ug.org/2016/05/24/how-govern- Joshua Kato New Vision
land: Part II ment-is-underutilising-land-part-ii/
16 Experts reveal tricks used by http://acme-ug.org/2016/04/10/experts- John Masaaba Saturday Vision
fraudsters to steal land (Part reveal-tricks-used-by-fraudsters-to-steal-
III) land-3/
17 10 years after Kony war, mental http://www.monitor.co.ug/Magazines/Peo- Eriasa Mukiibi Daily Monitor
health challenges persist in plePower/mental-health-challenges-persist- Sserunjogi
Acholi in-Acholi/689844-3267436-xbsyo8/index.html
18 Poisoned quietly on Lake http://acme-ug.org/2016/04/18/poisoned- Gerald Tenywa Saturday Vision
Victoria quietly-on-lake-victoria/
19 River Mpanga pollution leaves http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/ Felix Basiime Daily Monitor
residents thirsty River-Mpanga-pollution-leaves-residents-
thirsty/688334-3465154-7t4nbuz/index.html
20 Fishing in the dark on Lake https://www.independent.co.ug/fishing-dark- Isaac Khisa The Independent
Victoria lake-victoria/
21 Digging Into Naads, How It Got http://allafrica.com/stories/201607080320. Benon Herbert The Observer
Off Course (Part I) html Oluka
22 Counting the Cost of Naads http://allafrica.com/stories/201607130821. Benon Herbert The Observer
Failure (Part II) html Oluka

ACME Annual Report 2016 |63
Most painful was the closure
– unprecedented closure – of
the social media on the day
of the elections. The act of
closure was bad. The timing
of the closure was worse. The
intention and the implications
of the closure were horrifying.
Former Principal Judge James Ogoola
Speaking at the third edition of the Uganda
National Journalism Awards on 20 April 2016

64| ACME Annual Report 2016
Chinje delivers his address.
Plot 124 Nanjala Road, Bunga
P. O. Box 11283
Kampala, Uganda
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