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The journalism in me

A female journalist joins her colleagues in covering a demonstration controlled by police in Gulu City

By Julie Oroma

In life, youngsters are often asked, ‘’what do you want to be when you grow up?” This rhetoric question still bothers me to date. You start picturing yourself as someone that you want to become and I always see myself sitting at my desk writing a story and making a name out there. Totally forgot there is a lot more than that! But as I got to the real world of journalism, the experience is quite different.

I am a radio journalist. Being a journalist in Uganda it has many facets and danger but to me it depends on the medium in which someone works. While growing up, I would remind my father everyday on news time on television and request him to buy news papers most of the times. I would read and study every issue, sometimes for hours on end; the story and paper designs began my fascination with journalism.

Initially I wanted to become an accountant until someone told me the about the mathematics and calculations involved in there. I then went to a business school, eventually making my move to journalism at a higher level. I would say my expectations were way too high. May be because I joined journalism when the technology has improved but I knew that to become a good journalist I had to work hard at it. The challenges we meet sometime makes you feel like quitting. Our rights are violated. Sometimes you are denied information intentionally because you are from a particular media house, nitimidation just because you are a woman, rampant bribery, threats not to publish stories etc.

It’s definitely not as we see in films, being a journalist is a profession full of dreams and desires and can be very fun and awesome but everyone should know that once you become a journalist, you will most times have no weekends. There is lots of work, no time for yourself, you have to investigate, research. It can be really tough sometimes. And at the end of the day, your aim is to present information in a balanced, accurate and interesting way through news bulletin, documentaries and other factual programmes.

In addition, this field of Journalism is highly competitive nowadays; credentials and experience must be accompanied with devotion and hard work. Many publications have been forced to adapt to an online marketplace, competing with bloggers and social media for their listenership/readership. For instance, if something big is happening, you will be swooping on it like a locust sourcing various angles and details you can get and once you mess up a critical story that is when you will know that this world can chew you up and spit you out. That’s how stiff and hard the competition is.

The working conditions for a journalist can be very hectic sometimes and their wages are not commensurate to what they do. Most journalists have to deal with loads of stress and pressure of beating deadlines that could put a story to a waste; after all news never sleeps.
Some stories are so scary and a living nightmare that you do not think you will wake up from the next day.

To be precise, the life and career of a journalist is really like a turning the page of an adventure or sometimes horror movie. In my perspective, for anyone who dreams of becoming a journalist in Uganda, one fact they should know is that the pay is peanuts. I think some people just work for the person for the profession whereas others do it just for a little fame.

But like any job, it is fulfilling to have the chance to inspire someone out there or make a difference in someone’s life through your story. This makes the work worthwhile. That is when you realize just how privileged you are to be in this industry. Sometimes we delve into personal life stories; our sources trust us with their stories, some of which would never be known beyond their own little worlds.

That is when you say the sweat and agony in the life of a journalist is worth every moment.

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.

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