By Pascal Kwesiga
Three New Vision Journalists have been crowned winners of the Uganda national journalism Awards for three story categories.
Each of the winners received sh2.5m, a plague and a certificate. Journalists submitted stories to participate in the 14-story-category competitions organized by the African Center for Media Excellence for 2013.
New Vision’s Andrew Masinde won the features story category for his story titled “Raised by monkeys, Mayanja still struggles to be human”. The story, the judges said, proved the power of intelligent follow up by the journalist on a story that broke over 20 years ago.
“The reporter not only expertly weaves a tragic tale of a man brought up by monkeys, but he also provides insights into a human struggle with which we may not identify, but with which we can deeply empathize,” a panel of judges chaired by a renowned journalist and media trainer George Lugalambi noted.
Caroline Ariba, a New Vision features writer, won the arts and culture category. The winning story “How come emaali composer is a pauper?”, the judges said, was an excellent piece of enterprise and investigation reporting that exposes the exploitation of an artist, the absence of copyright law enforcement, and the existence of promising, but neglected talent in rural communities.
R - L: Carol Kasujja, Carol Natukunda, Caroline Ariba, Andrew Masinde, Charles Etukuri and Christopher Kiwawulo
The award ceremony took place at Golf Course hotel in Kampala on Wednesday. The awards were aimed at recognizing and promoting excellence in reporting and inspire quality and impactful reporting on public affairs and investigations, promote accurate, knowledgeable enterprise reporting and increase diversity of issues and voices in media coverage.
Charles Etukuri’s story titled “Cocaine: The addiction that started as a joke”, won the investigative reporting category. The judges hailed the Sunday Vision scribe for having patiently and persistently cultivated the right source for the story. “He managed to balance some risk to his life and solid journalism to tell one man’s tale of drug addiction,” the judges said.
Independent Magazine’s Haggai Matsiko scooped two awards for the extractives and explanatory reporting for his stories on the oil refinery and MP Celina Nebanda’s death report respectively. Ronald Musoke of Independent Magazine also won the agriculture reporting award for his piece on the Genetically Modified Foods.
Daily Monitor’s Agatha Ayebazibwe won the health reporting category for her story on cancer while East African Newspaper journalist, Isaac Khisa took the business, finance and economy reporting category award. Gerald Businge of Agriculture won the multimedia reporting award while Paschal Bagonza of radio Sapientia won the environmental reporting category.
Edward Ssekika of Observer newspaper took the politics reporting award while Daily Monitor’s Edgar Batte won the sports category. Radio Pacis’ Emmanuel Ojok scooped the local news reporting award while NTV’s Solomon Serwanja won the national news reporting award.
Inspector General of Government, Irene Mulyagonja, who presided over the ceremony, said the media plays an important role in ensuring public accountability by monitoring and investigating actions of public officers. “Media coverage of corruption greatly contributes to shaping public hostility towards corrupt behavior,” she said.
Mulyagonja observed that media reporting on graft may also result into policy reforms adding that “It is against this back drop that professional journalism is vital in improving the quality of our society.”
Former Vision Group boss, William Pike, observed that newspapers will continue to shape the news agenda despite pressures they are encountering from the social media and citizen journalism.
Pike who is current the Chief Executive Officer of Star Publications in Kenya and Managing director of Capital Radio in Kampala added “Newspapers will remain useful because they trigger follow ups for the electronic media. The important thing now is for newspapers to have online sites but the content online and in the newspaper should not be the same,” Pike said.
The electronic media, he said, have a greater reach but they do not set the news agenda, saying “Newspapers need now to do well researched stories.”
From the entries received, Lugalambi said, it was evident that the quality of journalism was improving adding “The entries had critical voices and they were multi-sourced.”