Four Nation Media Group (NMG) journalists have scooped top prizes at the inaugural National Journalism Awards initiated by the Africa Centre for Media Excellence (ACME), a non-profit organisation offering non-academic training for media practitioners.
The four, who were crowned on Wednesday night at a colourful ceremony in Kampala, were among the 14 winners who walked away with Shs2.5m each, a plaque and a certificate.
The Daily Monitor’s Edgar R. Batte and Agatha Ayebazibwe emerged winners in the sports and health categories respectively, while NTV’s Solomon Serwanja and The East African’s Isaac Khisa topped the national broadcast and business and finance categories.
Mr Batte was recognised for his story titled “Kyobe, Lutwama: Two brothers with their stars shining brightly.” The judges commended the story, which was about the rising stars of two cricketer brothers, for breaking through long-held biases and assumptions to present a riveting tale of the cricketers.
Ms Ayebazibwe, who is Daily Monitor’s health writer, was commended for her story “When prostate cancer runs in the family”. The story stood out because of its employment of expert sources to explain causes and treatment of prostate cancer.
NTV’s Serwanja was awarded for his story on terrorism, which judges said was a relevant wakeup call to the public and national security officials to raise the challenge of averting terror attacks.
Mr Khisa of The East African newspaper emerged top in the business, finance and economy reporting for his story “Uganda’s new tax will raise calling rates, hurt integration”.
According to Dr Peter Mwesige, ACME executive director, the awards event was the culmination of a year-long and painstaking process of recognising excellence in Uganda’s journalism.
“We were impressed by the enthusiasm with which journalists responded to our call for entries. By January 15, 2014 deadline, we had received more than 220 entries, which, to our knowledge, is a first in Uganda, if not in the region,” he said.
The chief guest at the function, Lady Justice Irene Mulyagonja, the Inspector General of Government (IGG), urged journalists to take the news value of accuracy seriously.
“Avoid misleading the readers, viewers and listeners. Always ensure to verify your information before it is published,” she said.
Daily Monitor’s Executive Editor Malcolm Gibson praised the winners and the function’s organisers.
“The journalism and journalists recognised, especially our own, but all of them, set examples we should follow on all the stories we do each and every day. So all the stories should be beacons to follow in our goal to become the most respected newspaper in Africa,” he said.
The awards which are the first of their kind were open to all journalists, full- time and freelance, working in Uganda for work published or broadcast between January and December 2013.
They will be held annually to recognise and promote excellence in reporting and to inspire quality journalism in the country.
Other winners and their media houses
Ronald Musoke (The Independent)-best agriculture reporting for his story “ Food politics.” He also won best national news reporting for print for the story “Marriage and Divorce Bill-100 years of acrimony and disappointment”.
Caroline Ariba (The New vision) - best arts and culture reporting for her story “how come emaali composer is a pauper?”
Paschal Bagonza (Radio Sapientia) - best environment reporting for his story “Energy efficient cook stoves”.
Haggai Matsiko (The Independent)-best explanatory reporting for his story “Nebanda death reports: New evidence shows how suspects could walk free.” He also won best extractives reporting for the story “Oil refinery threatened: World Bank sucked into compensation wrangle”.
Andrew Masinde (The New Vision) - best features reporting for the story “Raised by monkeys, Mayanja still struggles to be human”.
Charles Etukuri (The New Vision)-best Investigations reporting for the story “Cocaine: The addiction that started as a joke”.
Emmanuel Ojok (Radio Pacis)-best news reporting for the story “Baby dumped, vultures carry foetus on tree”
Gerald Businge (Africulture.org) - best multimedia reporting for the story “fake seeds widespread”.
Edward Ssekika (The Observer)-best politics reporting for his story “District chairpersons stranded with big titles but no power”.