ACME Research Report on Press Coverage of Public Affairs in Uganda

In 2013, ACME started a research project that will be conducted annually going forward. The research involves in-depth content analysis of stories on public affairs in Uganda’s four leading publications; Daily Monitor, New Vision, The Observer and The Independent.

In this report, we present findings for the second round of the study analysing 6,505 stories published between July 2014 and June 2015. The findings, when compared with the first round of the study analyzing coverage between July 2013 and June 2014, present interesting insights into what Uganda media prioritises in their public affairs coverage and journalists’ sourcing, reporting and storytelling practices. The key findings are:

  • Compared to the previous year, between July 2014 and June 2015, media houses were less episodic in their coverage of public affairs. Typically, coverage peaks around July & August, when the government financial year begins, and falls afterwards. This trend remains, but was less pronounced in the period under study.
  • The justice, law and order sector, education, health and parliament remain the most covered public affairs issues. This was true both in the period covered by this analysis and in the year prior.
  • Compared to the previous year, sourcing efforts as evidenced by the number of stories quoted, appears to have fallen. At the same time, the voices represented became more diverse in the midline period. We are seeing more expert, civil society and local government voices being included. In turn, central government officials are becoming less dominant in the media discourse on public affairs. However, women as sources in the news, remains low, especially as authority voices. They are mostly quoted as victims, eyewitnesses and persons on the street while men are quoted as experts, professionals or persons in authority.
  • More coverage employs non-conventional reporting approaches such as enterprise, investigation and interpretive reporting. In this period, these reporting formats were applied to 39% of the stories, compared to 23% in the previous year.
  • Media houses are taking more interest in local governments but at just 4.6% of all stories on public affairs (compared to 1.6% the previous year), coverage of this level of government still remains low. Local government officials are more frequently quoted as sources. They were quoted in 7.6% of stories between July 2014 and June 2015, compared to just 3.6% of stories in the year before that.
  • We continue to see a near complete absence of data-driven reporting, with just 0.1% of stories originating from data analysis.

Dig into the full study below and send any comments, questions or ideas for the next round of study to: lnamubiru [at] acme-ug [dot] org