Access to information at the core

Edward Sekyewa, Executive Director of Hub for Investigative Media

The Department of Journalism and Communication, Makerere University last week conducted a five day webinar on Access to information. The webinar that was attended by 45 final year journalism students was supported by the Journalism & Media International Center of Oslo Metropolitan University.

While speaking at the opening of the webinar on Monday 22 November 2021, the Head of Department, Dr. Nakiwala Aisha Sembatya, noted that Access to Information is important because it is at the core of what the Department does. She noted that without the ability to access information in the possession of the state, it becomes difficult for the media to perform its role.

“The media is assigned a special role of watchdog in society. It is critical in raising awareness, promoting integrity and detecting and reporting about wrongs, like corruption and other evils in society. The effectiveness of the media to perform this role depends on access to information and freedom of expression,” she said. 

Nakiwala further said that the right to access information is important because it enables citizens to effectively monitor and hold government to account and it is the foundation for all other rights. 

“Access to information can be a leverage for the realization and enjoyment of other fundamental rights such as the right to health, education, environment and other rights,” Nakiwala said. She commended the Journalism & Media International Center for supporting the webinar. 

The webinar was facilitated by both local and international facilitators. Mr. Toby Mendel, the Executive Director of the Canada based Centre for Law and Democracy discussed the global trends in access to information. Mr. Mugambi Kiai, the Executive Director of Article 19 Eastern Africa, discussed the regional trends in access to information. Mr. Tarjei Leer-Salvesen, a Norwegian journalist taught participants digital skills for accessing information. He demonstrated to participants how one can access information using online tools.

Dr. Ivan Lukanda, a Lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Communication, Makerere University, took participants through procedures of accessing information in Uganda, using the Access to Information Act. Mr. Edward Sekyewa, the Executive Director of the Uganda based Hub for Investigative Media shared with participants his experience in accessing information in Uganda.

Participants noted that they benefited a lot from the webinar.

“My main take home was that as journalists, we need to be aware of our rights to access information and stand together for a common goal of being watchdogs because when we are ignorant, we can be shut down by the people who don’t want to be exposed,” said Shanitah Nalukenge, one of the participants.

The teachers Tarjei Leer-Salvesen from Norway and Gerald Walulya from Uganda


How to write a news story?

A workshop held at An-Najah University for journalism students

All photos Lamees Reihan

The Department of Communication & Digital Media at An-Najah National University, in cooperation with the Journalism & Media International Center (JMIC) at Oslo Metropolitan University, organized a news writing workshop for students of the department, in preparation for the implementation of the “Rig on Press Freedom”, which will be organized at the end of this year.

42 male and female students participated in the workshop. Over three days (from 2-4 November 2021), they practiced writing news stories, preceded by presentation and discussion sessions and clarification of the principles and stages of writing news.

At the end of the workshop, the students presented their news, discussed the steps they had taken in gathering information, and focused on the ethical aspects of building the news story.

Three teachers participated in the supervision of the workshop, in addition to the workshop coordinator Farid Abu Dhair, are Dalal Radwan, Ibrahim Okkeh, and Amal Qassem who also assisted in the implementation.


JMIC at COP26: Young climate activists leading

Children singing for climate solutions at the alternative summit

Young activist leaders may be good ambassadors for the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) science, with their knowledge, and their ability to reach out to new generations, Elisabeth Eide suggested in her presentation at COP 26 in Glasgow. 

Drawing from interviews with 31 young leading climate activists from 23 countries across the world her contribution aims to capture the contribution of the recent youth climate movement to communicating climate science and politics. 

From the point of view of the youth activists, the movement powerfully connects personal and local experiences and emotions with climate science, according to her. This has enabled the activists to construct an authentic, generational and temporal identity that has helped them to carve out an autonomous position and voice with considerable moral authority among existing climate policy actors. 

Claiming to represent the future generation, she concludes that activists have offered an important added value to climate science as new ambassadors for scientific consensus and climate mitigation. 

The youth movement and the added value it brings communicating climate science is an example of the dynamics of the formation of “relational publics” and emphasizes the need to understand better the networked communication landscape where climate politics is debated, according to Elisabeth Eide. 

She presented an article about youth and climate activism published in a Special Issue of Climatic Change co-authored with Prof. Risto Kunelius from Helsinki University, with contributions from researchers in 23 countries. 

Further reading:Voices of a generation the communicative power of youth activism | SpringerLink

“Our islands (in the Western Pacific) are like small dots on the world map, but our territory represents 30 per cent of the global surface”, says Wera Mori, climate minister in Papua New Guinea. He speaks for the small island states threatened with extinction by further global warming and sea level rise.
EE presenting in the IPCC pavilion, COP26 

Lahore seminar on Peace Journalism

From left: Tabina Sirhindi, lecturer at University of Central Punjab (UCP), Dr. and Rector Jonathan S. Addleton at Forman Christian College (FCCU), Yakhshi Saleem, lecturer at UCP, Olga Stokke, journalist at Aftenposten newspaper, Dr. Altaf Ullah Khan (FCC) – in front of him stands Madhia Maqsood, lecturer at UCP –  Atta Ansari, journalist at Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) and Umer Farooqi, lecturer at University of Management and Technology (UMT).

Shukriya, Lahore! After three inspiring days with great people in Pakistan’s second largest city, I am excited about new knowledge, new colleagues and friends. 

Atta Ansari from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) and I, Olga Stokke from Aftenposten national newspaper, had the opportunity to attend a three day seminar in Lahore Nov 9-11 2021. 

The topic: “Journalism for Peace, Counter Violent Extremism among Youth, and International Reporting”, organized by Journalism & Media International Center (JMIC) at Oslo Metropolitan University in collaboration with Forman Christian College University (FCCU). 

The seminar was opened and hosted by Dr Altaf Ullah Khan, Professor and Dean of Humanities at FCC. He opened the ball by talking about populist politics and media in Pakistan. He then gave the microphone to a range of powerful speakers who delivered insightful and refreshing presentations on vital and relevant topics such as: 

Freedom of expression under authoritarian regimes, Journalism in Pakistan and the digital media evolution. The gap between theory and practice when it comes to legal structure for free expression. The audience was given a perspective from the Pakistani Constitution. 

The concept of Peace Journalism was highlighted by several: How to perceive Johan Galtung’s “theory” on covering wars and conflicts? Also Atta and Olga had a joint presentation on theory and practice of Peace Journalism within the context of Johan Galtung. 

We introduced the participants to Norwegian press laws and ethics. Quite a few were taken by surprise that Norwegian journalists can write almost “everything” without being censored, or without censoring themselves. Norwegian journalists certainly enjoy freedom of press to a larger extent than the majority of press people in the world. 

We stressed that though Galtung’s “theory” is not very present in our approach, his parameters are nonetheless implemented in our reporting. Our notion of sincere journalism is that war and conflict reporting on a global level do not differ from reporting on a local level. The same demands to ethical reporting applies: Try to disclose and understand the underlying reasons of the conflict. Report respectfully about “the other” even though you cannot see the face of the other. Be concerned about the context, the terms for talking to people – and who to interview. Professors Elisabeth Eide and Rune Ottosen have also written a lot about Peace Journalism and about «how to report the other».

Not least important is the new generation of journalists. How to empower them – through critical spaces? This topic was not least addressed by Dr. Altaf Khan. 

There are challenges ahead, but the good news is that there are so many young talented, dedicated, serious and curious aspiring journalists. They can make a big difference in our societies. Stay curious and brave! And safe.


Direct from Glasgow

Elisabeth Eide takes part in a workshop on Climate change communication and the IPCC Live Stream at the climate summit  COP 26 in Glasgow in Scotland Friday 5 Novemberat 1430 – 16 GMT. 

MediaClimate presents one of the articles by Eide & Kunelius in a Special Issue of Climatic Change.

You can follow the transmission here:

More information here: 


Protection of journalists and journalism in crisis and conflict

Anniken Huitfeldt on the scene (photo: Kjetil Helland)

The new Norwegian Foreign Minister, Anniken Huitfeldt, came to OsloMet Monday 1 November to open a seminar about journalists and journalism in exile together with OsloMet Rector, Nina Waaler. 

Nina Waaler showing a book produced by JMIC (photo: Kjetil Helland)

What happens when journalists have to leave their country in large numbers and the survival of journalism is threatened? In 2021, this has already happened in Afghanistan and Myanmar/Burma, two countries where the space for journalism is shrinking. 

Journalists with field experiences and international experts shared their experiences and viewpoints: Agnes Callamard, Secretary General, Amnesty International pointed at general world trends regarding safety for journalists in her keynote on zoom. 

Najiba Ayubi, Head of the media house  Killid and International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) in Afghanistan told about her flight in a recorded video message from a refugee camp in USA. Dr. Samay Hamed, Head of Afghan PEN and journalist Afshin Ismaeli in Aftenposten discussed the situation in Afghanistan with moderator Elisabeth Eide.

Discussing Afghanistan(photo: Kjetil Helland)

Dr. Ma Thida, chair of Writer in Prison Committee of PEN International was on zoom to tell about her views on the situation in her home country. Thida Thin Myat Thu, Program Director, Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) shared her very strong personal story about when she had to leave the country. Aye Chan Naing, Executive Director/Chief Editor in DVB told about running a media house in exile. 

Jesper Højberg, Executive Director, International Media Support (IMS) emphasized how his organization always work with local journalists on the ground in the countries where they are engaged, for example in Afghanistan and Burma/Myanmar. 

The seminar was streamed on Youtube and Facebook:

Youtube live:

FB live:

From right: Nina Waaler, Elisabeth Eide, Anniken Huitfeldt, Oona Solberg (photo Kjetil Helland)