Jackee Budesta Batanda — a Ugandan journalist who has reported on the vicious acid attacks of women as "revenge crimes" and the targeted murders of albinos — has been selected as the 2011-2012 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow. The award is offered through the International Women's Media Foundation and is sponsored in part by the Center for International Studies at MIT.
Amid a brutal crackdown on journalists covering anti-government protests, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has denounced local and international media outlets as "enemies." In this atmosphere, Batanda became determined to report and research "closing media spaces in African nations" during the fellowship when she studies at the MIT Center for International Studies and other Boston-area universities. She will also spend time at The New York Times and The Boston Globe.
"Press freedom in Uganda is under attack. Jackee wants to shine a spotlight on how the government is treating journalists," IWMF Executive Director Liza Gross said. "In the true spirit of Elizabeth Neuffer, Batanda's interest in covering crucial humanitarian issues in Africa offers inspiration for journalists everywhere. We hope this valuable opportunity will provide her with time to expand her reporting."
The fellowship was created in memory of Boston Globe correspondent Elizabeth Neuffer, an IWMF Courage in Journalism Award winner who was killed in Iraq in May 2003. The program, funded by Neuffer's family and supporters, aims to promote international understanding of human rights and social justice and create an opportunity for women journalists to build their skills.
Batanda, 31, a reporter for the Global Press Institute, plans to create a reporting skills workshop for Ugandan journalists after her seven-month fellowship. A gifted writer and photographer, Batanda holds a master's degree in forced migration studies from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa and an undergraduate degree in communications from Makerere University in Uganda. Batanda, a communications officer for the Refugee Law Project of Makerere University's law faculty, received Uganda's 2010 Young Achievers Award and a Justice in Africa program fellowship.
"Jackee Batanda's determination to work as a journalist under such reprehensible conditions is honorable. We are thrilled that she will be at CIS and hope that she finds her time here to be rewarding," said Richard Samuels, director of CIS and Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT.
The Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship is a project of the Elizabeth Neuffer IWMF Fund, which is generously supported by Peter Canellos, Mark Neuffer, Carolyn Lee, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Boston Globe Foundation, The New York Times Company Foundation, Boston Scientific, MIT Center for International Studies and friends and family of Elizabeth Neuffer.