Site Loader

Ms Adure talks journalism, the money and work-life balance

Ms Jacqueline Akinyi Adure

By Ajok Diana

Being a woman in the media industry is a lot of work though female journalists say it should not be the case. They want a leveled playing field with the male counterparts in terms of pay and a conducive working environment. Field female journalists for instance endure endless stereotypes and other century old misconceptions about the place of women in society despite all the effort being put in world over on gender equity. 

The few women who make it to the narrow leadership space and end up at the decision making tables as media managers or editors have their tales to tell of long working hours, work-life balance failure and the inability to have time for themselves due to tight deadlines and schedules.

But all these come with little pay for many who decide to make journalism their primary source of earning. Female journalists say the meagre pay makes it difficult for them to make meaningful investments to sustain their families and live a decent life. 

The coronavirus disease has worsened an already dire situation when media houses decided to cut costs by restructuring their staff. Some did not wait to receive the verbal lay off or emails from their human resources department, they just quit. Ms Jackline Adure is one among the unspecified number of field female journalists in Northern Uganda who quit her editing job at Speak FM in Gulu, Northern Uganda to become a business woman. 

“Yes, I would have taken the little salary increment but now with the high standard of living in the city, no it’s not possible to live on that money,’’ said Ms. Adure.

She now operates a business at Gulu main market, selling Irish potatoes, onions, and other assorted off items. 

Before she handed over her resignation letter to the station manager officially, she had done thorough research on what kind of business she wanted to venture into with the little savings that she had for eight months. 

Ms Adure worked in the media for a decade, rising through the ranks to become an editor after six years in the field. 

She started as a volunteer with Radio King. But after several months without any tangible benefits, she had to look elsewhere to survive. 

She embraced freelancing and her stories were published in the Northern page. This page had over 20 journalists from Lango, Acholi and West Nile that run only four stories on a daily basis. Due to high competition she decided to specialize in writing feature stories on health and agriculture where most people were not putting much attention and effort.

Her stories appearing once a week motivated her and she continued writing till she later joined a national paper, Daily Monitor which operates under Nation Media Group in Uganda. Fortunately, she had a very motivating editor, a lady who used to encourage her to keep on writing good under-reported stories. She would guide her to fix the gaps and this helped Ms Adure improve on her journalism.

Ms Adure says her guiding star to good journalism was Ms Carol Beyanga, the then Features Editor at the Daily Monitor. Ms Beyanga now manages mentorship programmes at Nation Media Group, Uganda. For her, Ms Beyanga fixed her and made her into the great writer that she became. 

The feature stories earned her about seventy-five thousand shillings each. Hard work and resilience made her at least able to earn reasonable pay at the end of the month both from feature and hard news stories. 

Later she joined Mighty Fire FM in Kitgum district. This she realised was not her space to grow. 

“And trust me life there was not easy because there we were earning peanut in a month, I was earning four hundred, fifty thousand shillings in Gulu City and Gulu is not one of the cheapest towns, I was paying my rent, I had to feed, dress and support my parents as well,” said Adure. She quit after two years and joined Speak FM in Gulu City, as a News editor. 

She says the increment in her earning as an editor did not make up for the efforts she put in. For six years she earned the same monthly salary until 2020 after a one-year course on media management and accelerator programme with Women in News that she decided she needed something to keep her family financially stable. 

The coaching and mentorship sessions during the media management course made her realise that she could thrive in different ways as a female journalist. Ms Adure says she did not want to end up in a mid-life crisis with nothing to show for the many years, energy and effort invested in the media industry.  

She has seen her colleagues who bring stories to her suffer for little or no pay for months. She has been in the field and knows what a journalist goes through to gather content for publication.

“Most of the media houses in Gulu do not cater for the medical insurance of their staff.  Out of the 12 existing radio stations, maybe one or two put that into consideration. The rest are just hustling. In case a journalist gets injured in the line of duty they will not go beyond am sorry,” Ms Adure says. 

She adds; “As mothers it is harder for us to work in such conditions because there is no way you will be working comfortably when your family is not well taken care of. We cannot afford most of the needs for our families. There is also high rate of sexual harassment both from news sources and fellow workers. Those are some of the situations pushing female journalists out of the news rooms.”

Ms Adure is off full-time media work but because she loves journalism, she still freelances for media organisations that accept her story pitches. 

She urged journalists who are still in school to come with an open mind to learn and grow in the profession.

“My plea to the Female Journalist Forum – Uganda is that they should continue to advocate for field female journalists because we need this advocacy to change the working environment to become favourable to us,” said Ms. Adure.

Mr. Arthur Owor, the Executive Director, Centre for African Research based in Gulu City, Northern Uganda, acknowledges that Covid 19 Pandemic affected most of the field female journalists in the Northern region. 

He adds that even before covid-19, newsrooms were already struggling to meet their obligations and employers could not easily pay their employees due to dwindling media revenue. 

Mr. Owor called for different support networks and professional bodies to train and engage more in skills of management protocols relating to media.

He advised female journalists to put in more effort to have multimedia skills and upgrade their knowledge and skills to widen their career opportunities.

Post Author: admin

We empower. Change Narratives. Sustain
Female Journalists Forum – Uganda (FEMJOF-UGANDA) is a not-for-profit Community Based Organisation run by a group of female journalists in Gulu, Northern Uganda. We train, mentor, coach and counsel female journalists to change the narratives and become tomorrow’s great journalism leaders.

The idea to have a female media organization was established in 2019 when a group of about ten female journalists based in Gulu met and realized the shrinking number of female field journalists and the need to encourage female journalism students to join the newsroom with a purpose.

This dream to have a network and support system of female journalists based in Gulu was realized in 2021 when the organization was officially registered to not only bring together female journalists but advocate for a better working environment for female journalists, TRAIN , mentor, coach and counsel those that need a hand to reach their destiny.

In this, we envisaged better representation of women and female journalists in the media through a broad based approach to storytelling hence changing the traditional narratives of what and who a female journalist is. Currently, we have more than twenty members at different media houses and our mentorship programme at journalism institutions of learning is a step towards increasing this number in the newsrooms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *