Ugandan Newspaper Reports to Higher Standards after Knight Fellow's Program

Jun 272008

Ugandan newspaper The New Vision featured a piece by its editor-in-chief, Els de Temmerman. Knight Fellow Bill Ristow worked with the daily to raise journalism standards by implementing an accuracy and corrections policy. Temmerman said the policy will urge newspaper to "keep raising the standards of Ugandan journalism to the levels the public deserves."

We have Fulfilled the Promise

Bill Ristow was a Knight Fellow working with The New Vision newspaper in Kampala, Uganda, when it implemented an accuracy and corrections policy with the aim of raising its journalistic standards. "I think it has strong importance, both symbolic and real, in strengthening the newspaper’s standards, strengthening its relationship with readers, and...raising the bar for other media organizations in the country," said Ristow of the innovation. Read the editorial announcing these changes below.

by Els de Temmerman, editor-in-chief, The New Vision

When I took up the challenge of Editor-in-Chief of The New Vision six months ago, I proposed to make a contract with the public. “A newspaper is not a one way channel of communication,” I wrote in my maiden speech. “It is a dialogue with the readers.

Reactions, opinions, tips and comments from people of all walks of life will be highly welcomed and appreciated.”

I also promised quality and accuracy. I referred to a piece of advice of a senior colleague in my Belgian newspaper: “Before you hand in an article,” he told me, “check it, word by word, sentence by sentence, asking yourself three questions: Is it true? Is it clear? Is it relevant?”

The New Vision wants to take this commitment to a higher level than has ever existed in Uganda. And so today I am announcing that we will be fulfiling our contract with the public in a new way – by correcting our errors in a regular place in this newspaper every day.

Does this mean we are committing more errors? Not at all. But with the thousands of facts a newspaper publishes every day, it is inevitable that there will be mistakes. Some of them are caused by reporters or editors; some are caused by production problems; some are caused by news sources themselves.

The corrections column, which you will find on Page 4 (print version), is part of an ongoing effort to keep improving our journalistic standards. We recognise that the country’s largest-circulation newspaper, and the only one with a fully accessible online archive, needs to constantly look for ways to improve.

It does not mean that we will correct everything readers may bring to our attention. Expressions of opinion in columns, leaders and cartoons might not be appropriate for the corrections column. In some cases, we may determine that it is not possible to say with certainty that a factual error occurred. In those cases, we will invite readers to use the letters column as a proper way to raise different points of view.

The New Vision editors are proud to be taking this groundbreaking step, which is in line with the world’s greatest newspapers such as The New York Times.

And we invite our media colleagues to join us in this step, which we believe will keep raising the standards of Ugandan journalism to the levels the public deserves.