Dr Louis Kasekende, the Deputy Governor Bank of Uganda, has asked journalists to jealously guard their intellectual freedom if they are to keep contributing to the country's economic development.
Speaking at the Uganda National Journalism Awards gala organised by African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME), at Golf Course Hotel Kampala on Wednesday, Dr Kasekende noted that the media has been one of the most successful sub-sectors of Uganda's economy in the last two decades.
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Initiatives like media awards, Dr Kasekende argued, will spur journalism to greater levels.
Dr Kasekende, the chief guest at the annual event, premised his speech on business and finance journalism. He said the public expects objective reporting based on facts about the economy and business environment that can guide peoples' business decisions.
“I give lectures and talks to Rotary clubs and these are the elites in Uganda but few know about treasury bills and bonds as an investment alternative as opposed to buying a taxi, boda—boda and land. Many citizens need this information to guide the decision which matter in their working life. Most members of public obtain economic data through the media,” he said.
He said journalists should report business and finance data in a manner that is clear and understandable as well as explaining relevance of what they report.
Dr Kasekende noted that journalists can only write good stories when they themselves understand what they report. He said journalists should also provide good analysis of relevant issues adding that that reporters should always endeavour to answer the “why question” by going beyond writing facts.
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Dr George Lugalambi, the chief judge for the awards said there has been great improvement in quality of stories from both Kampala and up-country journalists. However, he said journalists need more editorial guidance and support to deliver good stories.
In some categories, he noted, it was easy to pick out best stories from entries. “You need to make the work of judges difficult to separate the best from the best. The biggest task of judges shouldn't be the volume but separating the quality. We hope, as the number of entries grows, quality will also grow,” said Lugalambi, himself a veteran journalist and renown media trainer and researcher.
A total of 81 journalists were shortlisted for the 2017 awards from 186 scribes who submitted stories. This year's awards recorded a 25 per cent increase over the previous year. The overall number of entries from print, broadcast and online platforms was 307, up from 237 in the 2016 edition.
Some of the award winners include NBS reporter Solomon Serwanja who took the award for exceptional journalism, The Observers Sulaiman Kakaire, Billy Rwothungeyo, Conan Businge, Stephen Senkaaba and Andrew Masinde from The New Vision, Daily Monitor's Alex Esagala, and Haggai Matsiko from The Independent. Daily Monitor's Andrew Bagala emerged winner in Investigative reporting category.
Each winner received a cash prize of 2.5 million Shillings, a commemorative plaque, and a certificate while each runner-up received one million shillings and a certificate.
The awards, organised with support from the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) and Hivos, celebrate and promote in-depth and enterprising journalism that informs public debate and holds the powerful to account.