RWI Training Alumni Recognized for Reporting

Wambi (right) receiving his award from Information Minister Okurut. (ACME)

Two alumni of RWI's media training program received top awards in a Ugandan contest for best reporting on oil and mining issues. The awards, which were open to all Ugandan journalists, were bestowed on 13 December by RWI's local partner, the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME). As part of the same ceremony, the first six Ugandan graduates of the media program received their course certificates.

Michael Wambi of the Uganda Radio Network took the broadcast award for his radio feature on "Uncovering the Oil Production Sharing Agreements." Bernard Tabaire, ACME's director of programs, said Wambi's piece was chosen because, "This feature is a distinguished example of bringing clarity to a subject already in the public domain – i.e. confidentiality of oil agreements – using solid sourcing, a strong script, conversational but not simplistic reporting style, thus breaking down a much-misinterpreted matter in a manner that increases the knowledge of the listener and encourages informed public discourse."

Ibrahim Kasita of New Vision received top honors in the print category for his story, "Government Could Pay Billions for Idle Rigs." "This story is a distinguished example of originality and enterprise, prudent use of documents, strong and relevant sourcing, clear focus, and clear writing," Tabaire said on behalf of the judges. "The story brings out new information, including the high cost of hiring and maintaining rigs, the fact of their idleness and the high cost the slow pace in enacting new legislation may be causing the country."

Each winner received $1,500 and a plaque. Uganda's Minister of Information and National Guidance, Mary Karooro Okurut, who presented the awards, said that the recognition of outstanding reporting on oil, gas and mining can motivate journalists to improve the quality of their work.

"Don't hide the truth," she said, "but let the positive stories come out." Responding to concerns that Uganda could suffer the paradox of abundant resources but weak development, she said: "If oil is in the hands of leaders who don't care or mean well for the country, then it is a curse." She told the journalists that the government has "an open-door policy about information."

RWI sponsored a similar award for Ghanaian journalists in September through local partner Penplusbytes. Sylvanus Nana Kumi of Business Guide was the winner for his piece, "Before Ghana Pumps Oil & Gas."