Date set for ACME journalism awards

Journalists on a police pick-up truck after they were arrested near the home of Opposition activist Dr Kizza Besigye in Kasangati, Wakiso District, on April 27, 2016. PHOTO | ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • The awards cover up to 20 categories, among them, education, health, agriculture, features, political, public works and infrastructure and sports reporting.

This year’s Uganda National Journalism Awards will be held on December 14, its organiser, the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME), has announced, ending months of anxious wait for qualifying journalists.

The new ACME Executive Director, Dr George Lugalambi, said they received 322 entries from 188 print, online and broadcast journalists across the country.

He attributed the delay in holding the annual awards to the government’s sudden freezing of the operations, and eventual winding up, of the Democratic Facility Grant (DGF), which was the principal sponsor.

ACME then turned to the private sector, civil society and parastatals, hooking up telecom giant MTN, the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), and Uganda Civil Aviation Authority as new funders.

Others include Centenary Bank, Stanbic Bank Uganda, TotalEnergies EP Uganda, Centre for Policy Analysis, CivSource Africa, and Nile Breweries.

At the official launch of this year’s awards at Fairway Hotel in Kampala today, Dr Lugalambi is expected to say that “we invite partners in private, public and development sectors and in civil society to join us and help to sustain this important initiative”.

Started in 2014, the Uganda National Journalism Awards have evolved to become the local gold standard for excellent journalism, challenging practitioners to continually improve their work. Ms Nobert Atukunda, a Nation Media Group-Uganda (NMG-U) journalist who won the data journalism award last year, said the prize has motivated her to source and write stories better.

For Mr Canary Mugume of Nile Broadcasting Services (NBS) television station, the triple awards he has received over the years are professionally fulfilling because “the ACME awards to me serve as quality signals and increase the demand for quality journalism”.

The awards cover up to 20 categories, among them, education, health, agriculture, features, political, public works and infrastructure and sports reporting.

Other reporting fields up for recognition are land and property rights, the arts, businesses, economy and financial, energy and extractive industries, investigative and news illustration.

Asked how they plan to make these annual awards predictable and sustainable following DGF’s unceremonious exit, ACME Executive Director Lugalambi said they are reaching out to volunteer sponsors across different segments of society.

“These awards are very important in improving the quality of the journalism sector in the country,” he said, adding: “The awards recognise outstanding journalism across all media platforms, and the 20 categories of the competition span a broad range of journalistic work.”

About panel

Dr Charlotte Ntulume, a journalism and communication scholar at Makerere University, is leading a panel of independent judges that will pick the 20 winners out of 322 entries.


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