Daniel Kalinaki's weblog

A commentary on news and events in Uganda and elsewhere


Just an ordinary bloke.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Asking for long-overdue credit

THE TOWER - A month ago, Ben Oluka, a brilliant young journo on my team brought a shocking story. Uganda's Attorney General was asking to write off 1.2 trillion shillings (more than half a billion dollars) that Govt had lent, lost, or just could not recover. The sum was staggering and my cautionary radar went off. But little Ben is brilliant and rarely gets it wrong. Plus, he had a good set of sources and a chunk of the holy grail: the report itself, exclusive.

So we did the story, a brilliant cover piece. Two weeks later, the dailies, one after the other, carried the same story without any credit to the good old East African, or young Ben for breaking one of the biggest stories of the year. It is not the first time the dailies pick up the pieces after we've rammed first into a story, but this was one of the bigger ones and I felt rather shortchanged, on behalf of paper and boy, that not a line of credit was given. When we quote a story carried exclusively by the dailies, we always, to the best of my knowledge, to give them credit for breaking or scooping the field. That should be reciprocated. Sadly, the peculiarly adversarial nature of Uganda's journalism industry means the occasional tipping of the cap for the competition is unlikely to happen soon.

Anyway, the story has since filled column inches in all papers and save for an agonised response from Keith Muhakanizi at Ministry of Finance, it is business as usual in the Govt of Uganda. It is this indifference, this lack of public anger, this absence of civic or bureaucratic responsibility, that irks more than any missing compliments. How many stories have we (and I speak for the industry) done showing graft, incompetence, ineptitude or human rights violations? With the exception of the Mabira stories, how many outpourings of anger/concern/advice have we seen? Next to zilch. But then someone returns from the big brother house (without even winning the money) and people pour out into the streets to catch a glimpse of her, the Ethics Minister addresses the press on the matter and a celebrity is instantly born. I wonder how many people would recognise young Oluka on the streets.


Blogger cb said...

hi daniel, i know oluka. he covered museveni for the 'weekly observer' during the last presidential compaigns. i admired his simple-not-simple analytical approach. nowadays when i pick 'the east african' i look up his byline & read his stories. i hope u guys pay him well. and o yes, pass him my regards

4:58 pm  
Blogger Watcher said...

Yeah I agree with you.This is very unprofessional competition but little do the dailies know that they are looking stupid before an intelligent reader who can easily tell the that the story had been broken by another paper. By not writing this complaint in a newspaper is another plus for EA, for it is not good to inform your rival the part of your body that hurts most,they might decide to hit there.

1:10 pm  

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