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elections reporting training program for ugandan journalists

Uganda is set to hold the next general elections in 2021. The media is one of the most powerful influencers on how elections are run and how they are perceived within and outside the country. To adequately perform this role, journalists must be equipped with both the knowledge of democratic governance, the legal framework that governs elections with all the proposed electoral reforms  and the skills to report on all aspects including the run up and actual stages of the electoral process. These skills  must  include new and social media skills. Given the hostilities and harassment of journalists by security forces, this training will include a module on journalists’ safety and personal security.

UMDF trained journalists in elections reporting in the run up to the 2016 elections, but largely due to poor pay and lack of job security,  most of them have since left journalism practice.  Our survey reveals that majority of the current crop of practicing journalists in the proposed project areas have no experience in elections reporting.  This will have a negative impact on their work if they are not adequately equipped with the requisite skills.

 It is against this background that UMDF with funding from the United States Mission, Uganda, has organized the above training  for 150 selected journalists from five regions of Mbarara (for Western Uganda); Gulu (for Northern Uganda); Masaka (for Central Uganda);  Jinja(for Busoga region) and Soroti (for Eastern  Uganda). The trainings will be conducted between October 2019 and February 2020.

 General Objective: To train 150 journalists in modern skills of reporting the electoral process in Uganda using both traditional and new/social media skills.

 Specific Objectives:

 a)      To equip journalists with a working knowledge of electoral democracy and elections legal framework in order to strengthen their knowledge base.

b)      To sharpen skills of journalists to thematic reporting of the electoral process using traditional as well as new and social media methods including mobile journalism (MOJO).

c)      To mentor and support journalists to generate high quality stories on the electoral process from their regions for different media platforms.

 The following key topics will be handled in the training:

a)      Electoral Democracy and the Media

b)      Media and Elections: The political parties and candidates, the issues and the voting process

c)      Fundamentals of good journalism- with emphasis on electoral reporting.

d)     Key aspects of the Electoral Process: The Electoral Commission, the laws,

e)      Media as an elections watchdog

f)       [The Reality Check: New alliances, new actors, new parties,  reforms and changes in old parties, other formations]

g)      Practical Exercises

  • Reporting the voters’ voices and thinking like a voter (Reflecting concerns of the electorate).
  •  Given the increasing violence against journalists on duty, we propose inclusion of a module on journalists safety at work
  • Profiling key state and non-state actors in elections.
  • Mapping key national and local electoral issues.

Expected outcomes:

     1.Have a minimum of  150 journalists trained in the first phase of the principles of elections reporting as a way of enhancing their capacity to access, assess and communicate election news to the public

    2.Increased reporting on and follow up of key electoral processes to enhance voter knowledge and information 

    3.Improved use of interactive media and mobile journalism to tell the elections story across media platforms