Veteran investigative journalists have urged media houses to tame their rivalry and collaborate on various investigative projects to fulfill their watchdog role of making leaders accountable.
The clarion call was made during a debate where they discussed the state of investigative journalism in Uganda. The discussion was organized by African Institute of Investigative Journalism (AIIJ).
NTV’s investigative journalist Emmanuel Mutaizibwa said, “We should not look at journalism as competition. We need to encourage collaborative journalism. That’s the only way we are going to improve investigative journalism.”
They decried the under funding by the various media houses saying that they have prioritised business (money making) other than making leader’s accountable and changing people’s lives.
The seasoned investigative journalist and Executive Director of AIIJ, Solomon Serwanjja said in the next months, they will be focusing on collaborative investigations and grants making.
The Managing Editor of Monitor Publications Ltd Charles Bichachi said newsrooms need for better investigative stories through Courage, passion, curiosity, initiative, logical thinking, skepticism, organization, discipline, flexibility, teamwork, good reporting and writing skills.
The founder of the Independent Magazine and former investigative journalist at Daily monitor, Andrew Mwenda said journalists should rethink on how to do investigative journalism that is quick, sharp and short. “People have a lot of things to attend to, you should give us sort and precise pieces. In the modern time the bit of news has changed. We have to attend to social media, Parties, phones, whisky” he said.
“Investigative stories always come along with hardships. Most journalists are threatened most especially when it comes to covering stories that have prominent people. They are forced to sensor the facts or sugar coat them because of this fear,” Mwenda said.
He recounted an investigative report where a former army commander threatened to kill him (Mwenda) after he exposed his tendencies of inflating the number of soldiers and hence taking salaries of the inflated numbers of Soldiers.
Professor Monica Chibita who serves as the Dean, Faculty of Journalism, Media and Communication at Uganda Christian University (UCU) said there is a need to close the gap between the newsroom and classroom. “There is a huge gap between the two places since most of the lecturers and me myself-have never been to newsrooms but training journalists,” she said.
The managing director of African Center for Media Excellence (ACME) Peter Mwesige, said Investigative reporting is the least frequent reporting format in print media today, with just 4 per cent. This year between January and April, only 0.8 per cent of the articles were investigative.