ACME Report: Media Coverage of Elections Fell Short of Quality

2053 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Rachael Mugarura, the programs Manager Broadcast and Multimedia at ACME, observes that it is unfortunate that the presidential candidates failed to take advantage of thousands of their twitter followers.

Media houses fell short on several measures of quality reporting in their coverage of the 2016 General elections, a final media monitoring report by the African Center for Media Excellency-ACME has revealed. According to the report issued this morning, media houses widely reported single sourced stories, failed to interrogate claims and promises by the candidates. 

The report also shows that most media houses employed the conventional forms of reporting instead of enterprise and analytical reports. The report, which was compiled based on media stories that ran from July 2015 to March 2016, also faults certain media houses for leaning towards presidential candidate Yoweri Museveni and heavy sourcing from men. 

Dr. Peter Mwesige, the Executive Director, says the media didn't help those who relied heavily on them to decide on the candidates.
 

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The report however shows a good performance in terms of volume of news stories on campaigns and actual voting by TV and radios.  The report hails some media houses like Daily monitor and New vision for launching online platforms that were dedicated to election news and innovation.


Rose Mary Kemigisha, a Human Rights Officer at Uganda Human Rights Commission and former Editor, says whereas some factors are beyond the journalists like the atmosphere during the elections, some journalists have taken sides, which affects their objectivity.


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Dr. George Lugalambi, a media researcher says that President Museveni was an incumbent could have affected the approach of the media to reporting. He says that it is interesting to see how different Government media houses covered the president.


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The report also points out, that major presidential candidates failed to engage voters specifically when they failed to respond to questions on twitter. Of the 3000 questions addressed to President Museveni none were responded to from December 2015 to March 2016, Amama Mbabazi only answered 8 questions out of 2000 while Besigye only responded to two out of 1700 questions on twitter.


Rachael Mugarura, the programs Manager Broadcast and Multimedia at ACME, observes that it is unfortunate that the presidential candidates failed to take advantage of thousands of their twitter followers. Dan Outa, an editor with Etop a sister paper to New Vision, notes that in most cases media houses concentrate on business and sales as opposed to standards.
 
 
He says for instance Besigye's picture will be used on the front page instead of another candidate for sales purposes. He also says the failure by some journalists to rely on phone interviews as opposed to go out in the field affects the quality of their work. 

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.