Journalists Not Asking Right Questions - Eric Chinje Top story

3169 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Eric Chinje stated that whereas journalists are supposed to set the agenda and transform their nations and the entire continent, this has not been realised due to shallow research. He added that by asking the wrong questions and twisting information, journalists have made authorities give lousy answers and in some cases undermine the media.

Re-known Cameroonian journalist and chief executive officer of African Media Initiative, Eric Chinje, has faulted Ugandan journalists for failing to ask relevant questions due to poor research.

Chinje was speaking on Wednesday during the Annual media and politics lecture organised by the African Centre for Media Excellence(ACME) at Golf Course Hotel in Kampala.

He noted that he has been dismayed by the poor quality of questions journalists in Uganda have asked politicians, business persons, government officials and donors.

Chinje stated that whereas journalists are supposed to set the agenda and be the transformation of their nations and the entire continent, this has not been realised due to shallow research. He added that by asking the wrong question and twisting information, journalists have made authorities give lousy answers and in some cases undermined the media.

Chinje said that while supervising projects like Bujagali dam construction during his tenure as World Bank spokesperson for Africa, he was surprised at the level of unpreparedness of journalists. He said this lack of research and analysis on the part of journalists in Uganda applies also to other journalist in Africa.

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He said the level of debate by some journalists and Government officials in Uganda is wanting with journalists getting political and emotional without facts.

He called for journalists to dig deeper and understand the purpose of the media, challenging them to move away from making money and to instead help make the country a better one through informed reporting.

On brown envelopes, a term used to refer to facilitation given to journalists by sources, Chinje stated that there is pride in not taking whatever form of facilitation given to journalists. He says that this will always follow a journalist as he loses respect. He however implores news organisations not to exploit workers financially.

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Chinje says that with western influence and agenda, if journalists do not get to do their role, Africans will never realise what they want. He says Africa's continental agenda will only rise from the national development strategy which needs to be communicated with media.

He says Uganda has done little to promote agriculture which is one of the major ways it can become self-sufficient.

Dr Monica Chibita, who heads the journalism department at Uganda Christian University, noted that there are many instances when journalists don't have all the right questions and end up getting shallow information.

She said that the culture of depth has died following shot-cuts in the education system. She said although some institutions are not giving journalists practical experience, the poor performance is largely blamed on individuals' failure to do research.

On facilitation, Chibita noted that journalists should maintain integrity no matter what.

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Vision Group chief executive officer, Robert Kabushega, who was the moderator of the lecture said journalists in Uganda lack curiosity, describing it as a dangerous thing. He said some journalists are merely satisfied with reading a single newspaper of their choice and are hesitant to learn from reading other local and international media.

Kabushenga implored journalists to read beyond their articles if they are to make a difference.

This was the third annual lecture organised by ACME under the theme "Media and Politics in Africa". 

The main purpose of the lecture series is to explore the relationship between media and politics amidst changing technological, demographic, and political circumstances on the continent.

Chinje's lecture focused on the role of the media in development and its ability to effectively moderate social conversations.

 

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.