KAMPALA- The 7th edition of the Uganda National Journalism Awards (UNJA) will be held on December 14, 2022, African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) Executive Director Dr George Lugalambi has revealed.
The revelation follows months of waiting for the awards after government’s sudden freezing of the operations, and eventual winding up, of the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), which was the principal sponsor.
According to Lugalambi, the awards always happen in the first quarter of the year which makes it a year since the awards were last held.
“For reasons beyond our control, the timing did not come out as we had wanted but with partners that are on board, we are now in position to get this process back on track and we are hopeful that we shall have them in the same time next year,” he said while speaking at the launch on Tuesday November 29, 2022 at the Fairway Hotel in Kampala.
He noted that this year’s awards are unique since it is the first time they are having corporate partners from the public and private sectors as well as the civil society.
“We believe that journalism as a public good is a product in which everyone can use in the development of this country and I am glad that we reached out to the different partners and they accepted to participate in these awards because their participation is investment in quality journalism,” he said.
Lugalambi explained that investing in quality journalism has always been done by development partners and civil society but the private and public sectors also have a role to play in improving the quality of journalism in the country.
Awards will be given to entries for 2021 as the current series of awards assess performance for the previous year.
He said ACME received 322 entries from 188 participating journalists across the country and the entries are being evaluated by a panel of judges which will announce the shortlist in about 7 to 10 days.
Speaking at the launch, MTN Uganda announced Shs 36 million sponsorship for UNJA with a Gold package worth Shs 20 million to help in organizing the gala and cash prizes to four category winners, 1st and 2nd Runners up, worth UGX 16 million..
“We are thrilled to be supporting this event because we believe that the media plays a critical role in not only telling our (Uganda) story accurately both at home and abroad but also holding us accountable to those promises we make as a people in every sphere of our lives,” said Rhona Arinaitwe, Senior Manager Corporate Communications at MTN Uganda
She said whereas MTN is happy to sponsor the awards, the telecom company will focus on awarding prizes to four categories of Business, Economy and Financial Reporting, Environmental Reporting, Sports Reporting and Features Reporting.
“We believe that by giving extra motivation to these categories, we will inspire more and more journalists to work even harder and present work that can compete with the best in the world thus positioning our talent to even deliver more for our country,” she said.
Arinaitwe added that MTN Uganda as a business expects the media to tell their stories accurately and with authority, objectivity; impartiality and professionalism so that the people it serves can make informed decisions on their products and services
On his part, Stanbic bank’s Kenneth Agutamba revealed that the bank will support the awards with Shs 15 million.
“We are pleased to support this cause because quality journalism is in danger and Stanbic bank would like to support all efforts that are geared towards saving quality journalism especially today in the age of social media where everyone wants to be a journalist,” he said.
Agutamba added that good causes like these should not run on foreign money since journalism serves Ugandan needs, businesses and audiences therefore it should be supported by local resources.
We don’t support these awards because we want the media to report positively about us but rather we want to support journalists to tell the stories the way they should be told.
Other partners for the awards include among others the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), and Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, Centenary Bank, Total Energies EP Uganda, Centre for Policy Analysis, CivSource Africa, and Nile Breweries.
The UNJA has 20 categories touching various sectors and themes including Business, Economy and Financial Reporting, Agriculture Reporting, Sports Reporting, Political Reporting, Investigative Reporting, Extractive Reporting, and Health Reporting among others.