[Applications closed] Covering Land training symposium at ACME

  • Theme: Covering Land
  • Dates: 12-15 May 2015
  • Available slots: 12
  • Deadline for application: 5 May 2015

The African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) is pleased to invite applications from Ugandan journalists for a training symposium on Covering Land. This four-day symposium is designed to equip journalists with skills to produce in depth investigative land-themed stories from Uganda.

Background to the training symposium

Land is one of the most politicised issues in Uganda today and the management and administration of land is highly complex and contentious.  Rapid population growth and commercial investments are transforming Uganda and the growth of demand for agricultural land is putting pressure on property rights systems throughout the country. The gradual change from customary land tenure systems that have in the past provided secure land access are being challenged by fast and large-scale demands from government-backed ‘outsiders’, further weakening the land administration regime.

Despite the divided opinion and heated debate on the impact of policy implementation and legal reform, it is agreed that land administration is a critical element in the development agenda. There is also consensus that transparency is an essential component of land management, particularly in view of the scarcity of credible information on land availability and transactions, and the inadequate dissemination of public information on land rights and policies.

The media is essential in holding government to account and to providing timely, well-researched and detailed information to educate the public and influence citizen debate and policy decisions regarding land management in Uganda.

A study conducted by ACME on the quantity and quality of coverage of public affairs by Uganda’s mainstream print media found that journalists are falling short of expected performance in reporting on land. More than half the land-themed stories published between July 2013 and June 2014 were episodic, based on press conferences, court cases and pronouncements from officialdom. There exists, among a majority of journalists, a lack of knowledge of Uganda’s land law, policy regimes and sub-national management systems, leading to poorly researched, intermittent news and analysis in this area.

However some media houses, cognizant of the necessity of journalism to increase access to information about land, are gradually boosting reporting on land and increasing broadcast time for land-themed programming. Unfortunately most of these outlets do not have sufficient funding or expertise to train journalists to sufficiently cover this beat.

Why should I apply for the training symposium?

The symposium, organised by the African Centre for Media Excellence with support from the Ford Foundation, will explore land issues affecting Ugandan citizens and land reforms and policy in the country. It offers journalists an opportunity to take time out from the newsroom to enhance their investigative journalism skills while engaging in high quality, high impact land beat reporting.

The training will focus on both craft and content. Through story production mentoring, discussions with top journalism trainers, land experts and policy makers, participants will be well-grounded in the current land issues, laws and the status of land reform. They will acquire up-to-date knowledge on new and recurring land pressures and learn how to report these in broader contexts and policy debates.

They will also develop story sources and ideas and the capacity to examine the wide-ranging ramifications of land laws and the efficiency of land governing institutions.

Three participating journalists who produce well-researched novel and enterprising proposals will be granted funding of up to Ushs 1.7 million to support a story writing project.

Who is eligible?

  • The symposium is open to all print, television, radio and online journalists who work in Uganda and have no less than three years experience in journalism.
  • Applications from journalists who have participated in training at ACME in the last 12 months will not be considered at this time.
  • Participants will be selected on the quality of their application, the strength of their story pitch and on the basis of previous reporting on land.
  • A panel has been formed to select the 12 successful applicants.
  • Applicants are expected to negotiate for time away from their places of work. ACME will not pay a per diem to participants, but will fund transport and accommodation costs for successful candidates from outside Kampala.
  • All participants are required to attend in full, all four training days.

How do I apply?

  • All applications should be made online. To access the application form, click here. Interested journalists may fill in the application on the website or download the form and email it to info [at] acme-ug [dot] org.
  • All applicants are required to submit a letter of support from their immediate editorial supervisors. Lack of this letter of editorial support immediately disqualifies an applicant.
  • All applicants are required to submit at least three samples of published or broadcast land stories.
  • The application form must be completed in full. Incomplete forms will immediately disqualify applicants.
  • Journalists will be informed of the success of their applications on 7 May 2015.

For further inquiries into this course, please write to info [at] acme-ug [dot] org andrmugarura [at] acme-ug [dot] org.