Inspiring the Next Generation of Media Professionals in Uganda

In 2017, we partnered with Media Challenge Initiative and the DW-Akademie to implement the Media Challenge Academy project which took us to over 20 universities and media institutes in Uganda providing practical training and lessons on broadcast journalism to a total of 500 students. At both the Media Challenge Expo where students showcased their skills and at the Media Challenge Awards night were best students were recognized, up to 1,000 students, most of them undertaking media studies actively participated.

The promotion of democracy, human rights and rule of law can only be achieved in a society where free, independent and professional media is appreciated and upheld. We uphold professional media engagement because it promotes access to information which is the heartbeat of any democratic society or societies aspiring to attain high democratic ideals. In Uganda, media development forms a crucial facet of what we do. Specifically, our work strives to create a unique opportunity for civil society organizations, media and political entities to enter into a constructive dialogue to promote media literacy and access to information. This underpins why in 2016, we enlisted the Media Challenge Initiative as one of our partners. MCI trains young and aspiring journalists and storytellers in Uganda with practical media skills and social justice-focused reporting. In 2017, MCI started the Media Challenge Academy which took them to over 20 universities and media institutes in Uganda providing practical training and lessons on broadcast journalism to a total of 500 students.

Inter-University Media Challenge

Between 16th September and 18th November, a team of 10 staff members from MCI visited each university for three days, with the aim of delivering practical, hands on training in mobile journalism reporting and participatory radio journalism. With our “Mini-Mobile Newsroom” concept we offered broadcast journalism students the opportunity to simulate a TV newsroom scenario. Students could participate in up to three auditions: news anchoring (either English or Luganda), live news reporting, and/or “One Minute of Fame,” where they were given one minute to present any form of TV media presentation, such as news, sports or entertainment/comedy.

A crucial component in this activity was the mobile journalism training (MOJO) where students were equipped with skills of producing short video stories. A key ingredient of the MOJO training was to first work on changing the mindset of students into appreciating the use of mobile tools to do journalism. The training ensured understanding and use of mobile tools (smartphones) for better gathering of information and compiling stories. The MOJO training equipped students with skills to do journalism anywhere and anytime in the digital age. Students were able to compile stories not only for their class assignments but also on issues happening in their communities for a bigger audience to know.

Media Challenge Expo

On 24th, 25th and 26th November, the Media Challenge Expo was held at Mackinnon Suites Kampala, which was intended as a three-day media exhibition bringing the Ugandan media fraternity together to celebrate excellence in media in Uganda and provide opportunities for media students to engage with professionals in the field. The first day was a journalism conference “The Reality, the Talents and Players of Journalism in Uganda” with three panel discussions:

1.Journalism in Uganda in the 21st Century

2.21st Century Market-Ready Students: Innovations to Improve Journalism Education in Uganda

3.Creating an Empowering Media for Women

The second day was a career fair where student journalists networked with 28 media houses and other exhibitors. This day also involved 14 hands-on skills building sessions introducing students to various journalism beats and technologies, as well as career guidance. Examples of sessions were: Storytelling for Change, Human Rights Reporting, and Public Speaking, Dealing with Gender Inequity in the Workplace, and Data Journalism and Visualization. These sessions were held by experienced practitioners from a number of prominent Ugandan media houses and organizations such as NBS TV, NTV, and New Vision.

The third day was the “Grand-Finale Mobile Newsroom,” where the 11 selected teams of journalism students from each of the different universities came together to compete against each other in a live newsroom experience. Over the three days, the teams were given space in a “newsroom” where each university team produced a news bulletin sourced from the expo events (particularly the conference sessions and interviews with the panelists), which two anchors and a reporter presented live. A panel of experienced media professionals provided judging feedback.

Media Challenge Awards

The Media Challenge Awards was a black-tie awards night at the Kampala Serena Hotel on 10th December 2017. Over 50 awards for students and professional media personalities were given, such as Best News Team, Best News Anchor, Best News Producer, Best TV Talk Show of the Year, Best Radio Show of the Year, and many more.

The Next-Gen Journalist Magazine was also distributed. The Magazine tells the story of the Media Challenge Initiative, showed outcomes and highlights from 2017 Inter-University Media Challenge and Media Challenge Expo, and highlighted success stories (students who came out of the Inter-University Media Challenge and have found a job in media).