Innocent Kiiza is a Ugandan investigative journalist and climate reporter with over a decade of experience working in the media field where he started covering crime and conflict until moving on to focus on the environment and wildlife reporting. He spoke with Jamlab about his journey in the industry and his experiences as an environmental journalist.

1. How did you end up in the journalism profession and how long have you been in this field?

I embarked on my journalism career in 2011, starting in electronic media with roles as a reporter at radios such as Kasese Guide Radio and Central Broadcasting Service. My journey then transitioned to print journalism, where I freelanced as a reporter for the Observer paper, serving as the Western region correspondent. Currently, I hold the position of assistant news editor for the Rwenzori daily news website and Ug.Tribune.

2. Journalism is an interesting and complex industry, how have you navigated this field over the years?

Navigating the dynamic field of journalism has been a fascinating journey. Starting in electronic media provided me with a robust foundation, and transitioning to print allowed me to expand my reach. As an investigative journalist, I have consistently pursued impactful stories, particularly those involving environmental issues, human activities affecting the environment, and social injustices. Embracing cross-cutting reporting has enabled me to create a meaningful impact in people’s lives. This was my first story that created an impact.

3. Why did you end up branching out into environmental journalism?

My interest in environmental journalism stems from a deep passion for holding individuals and entities accountable for their impact on the environment. Witnessing the adverse effects of human activities on nature, including the pollution of vital water sources, inspired me to shed light on these issues. I believe that through environmental journalism, I can contribute to creating awareness, encouraging responsible practices, and fostering positive change. For example, this story was an impact assessment of the Kilembe mine on the environment. I have done some environmental stories that have impacted wrongdoers or companies involved. For example, Tibet Hima, a mining company that was pouring its [waste] residue into the River Nyamwamba contravened with environmental policy.

4. Tell us about the work you do as a climate activist and investigative journalist.

As a climate activist, my work involves not only reporting on environmental issues but also actively engaging with communities and advocating for sustainable practices. I have been involved in impact assessment reports on the environmental effects of activities such as mining and water pollution. Additionally, my articles aim to influence positive change by highlighting solutions, indigenous wisdom, and community-led initiatives for environmental conservation.

5. What is the status of environmental journalism in Uganda, where you are based?

Environmental journalism in Uganda is gaining traction, especially as the awareness of climate change and environmental conservation grows. However, there is still room for improvement in terms of resources and dedicated platforms. The challenges faced by the environment, coupled with the efforts of journalists, NGOs, and government initiatives, contribute to the evolving landscape of environmental journalism in the country.

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6. Have you found that your work as a climate-focused journalist is beginning to bear fruit on the ground?

Yes, the impact of my work is evident in various ways. For instance, my investigative reports have led to changes in the practices of companies, such as Tibet Hima, which suspended its operations due to environmental concerns. Additionally, stories highlighting indigenous knowledge and environmental-friendly initiatives aim to inspire communities to adopt sustainable practices.

7. What has been a career-defining moment for you?

A career-defining moment for me was witnessing tangible changes resulting from my investigative reporting. Knowing that my work contributes to positive outcomes, such as policy changes, improved practices, or heightened community awareness, reinforces my commitment to journalism. Where I wrote this story which made community members start making informed decisions.

8. What are the challenges that you have encountered as an environmental journalist?

Challenges include political intimidation, limited resources for comprehensive sensitisation efforts, financial constraints hindering extensive coverage, and the urgent need for funds to address issues like trafficking and poaching. Additionally, transportation issues and health conditions of rescued animals pose challenges that require constant effort to overcome.

9. What do you ultimately hope to achieve?

My ultimate goal is to continue being a voice for the environment, climate change, wildlife, and marginalised communities. I aim to inspire positive change through impactful storytelling, foster sustainable practices, and contribute to a future where humanity coexists harmoniously with nature.

10. What do you think the media’s role is in making environmental journalism and climate news a prominent issue?

The media plays a pivotal role in elevating environmental journalism and climate news to prominence. By spotlighting these issues, the media creates awareness, influences public opinion, and holds individuals and entities accountable. Through storytelling, the media has the power to shape perceptions, inspire action, and contribute to a collective understanding of the urgent need for environmental conservation.


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