Thursday, May 28, 2009

Monitor’s Internet Geek


Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda 

Grace Natabaalo is the Monitor’s Internet/Online subeditor. The Monitor is Uganda’s other second English daily newspaper. (www.monitor.co.ug) It is an independent daily founded by a group of journalists. Currently, it is owned by East Africa’s biggest media house, The Nation Group of Companies that publishes the biggest circulating newspaper in East Africa. It also owns radios and televisions in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. 

Grace is a graduate of Mass Communications. She joined the Monitor in 2006. Her work involves moderating comments from online readers and mobile phone text messages.

First thing in the morning she checks out the radio websites for stories not run in the paper, which she uploads, to the online edition. She then gathers incoming news from reporters and updates the website. She continues doing that during the course of the day. Grace uploads the website manually story-by-story. 

Grace subscribes to the Monitor Mobile alerts. A subscriber receives an SMS text with breaking news or headlines for the next day’s paper.

Grace is an ardent blogger and her blog name is: www.nattygrace.wordpress.com. She also uses Social Networking Sites like Twitter, Face book and Skype. She subscribes to the CNN news alerts for international news. She also belongs to Digbsy, which combines all chat clients like Yahoo messenger, MSN and Gmail.

In future, she said the team of Internet reporters will give readers a different content from the print version. Today the whole print version on the Internet is found at; www.epaper.monitor.co.ug 

With the coming of fibre optics cable and accompanying bandwidth expansion, the Monitor’s website will be put to maximum use. All editor’s and writers will be expected to have personal blogs. The website will also incorporate  audio and video components to make it fully interactive.

 

 

 

Graphic Designing at the Monitor

By Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda

Under editorial department at the Monitor, you find the Creative section where Graphic designers sit. The Monitor is Uganda’s other second daily newspaper (www.monitor.co.ug). It is an independent daily founded by a group of journalists. Currently, it is owned by East Africa’s biggest media house, The Nation Group of Companies that publishes the biggest circulating newspaper in East Africa. It also owns radios and televisions in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania 

Janet Akong is one of the designers at the Monitor. She studied Industrial and Fine Art at Makerere University and joined the Monitor in 2004. She works on the magazine insertions: Full Woman, Sunday Life, Rainbow the Children’s magazine, Health and IT.

Janet wakes up at 5.00 am every morning to pray and prepare herself for work. She leaves home at 7.30 am and by 8.30 am she is at the office. She receives material from the product editor organized in a folder with a particular date when the magazine will be printed.

The pages are laid according to the stories coming in plus the pictures. Janet discusses with the product editor the final design of a particular magazine. She also liaises with the editorial team on the design. The creative section has 3 staff including Janet.

The designers use new Media tools in all their work. They receive raw material in soft copy through the intranet. They use QuarkXPress to design and layout the pages. They send the PDF copies to printers via mail. They subscribe to www.Photos.com for quality pictures they use to illustrate the stories.

They also Google for story ideas, research, inspiration and page formats. Mobile telephony is also a tool designers cannot do without. It is used for communication with editors, writers, printers and the head office in Nairobi, Kenya. Clients to receive news alerts or breaking news from the Monitor also use it. Further still it is used for texting, photography and recording.

 

 

The Serious Business of Reporting Business

Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda

Reporting on business is a serious business at the Monitor newspaper. The Monitor is Uganda’s other second daily newspaper (www.monitor.co.ug). It is an independent daily founded by a group of journalists. Currently, it is owned by East Africa’s biggest media house, The Nation Group of Companies that publishes the biggest circulating newspaper in East Africa. It also owns radios and televisions in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

Dorothy Nakawesi is a serious business news writer at the Monitor. She was recruited in 2002. She holds a diploma in journalism and media studies and a certificate in finance and economic reporting.

Dorothy’s typical day starts by reading the day’s newspapers looking out for news tips. She looks at what is happening around and makes phone calls to confirm interviews and press conferences. She basically follows up tips on importation, export or investment issues.

The same morning, Dorothy attends the editorial meeting to review the day’s paper. During the meeting, at times, she is assigned to cover an event. However she also generates her own ideas. 

After the meeting she either goes out to follow a story, fulfill an appointment, do an interview or starts writing her stories. She does this after briefing her editor on what angle to take on a story. After writing a story she sends it to the editor for editing or approval.

Dorothy is grateful that she started reporting in the era of the new media. For example she uses the mobile phone for communicating with her contacts, receiving assignments, reporting, consulting, texting, photography, recording, receiving mobile news alerts, timing and stress relieving background music.

She uses the computer for typing in and mailing stories. She also uses it for researching for backgrounds via Google and the Wikipedia and spell checking her writings. She is a member of several Social Networking sites like face book which she uses  to communicate with contacts sourcing story ideas.

She is also a user of Yahoo messenger, which she uses to talk to Ugandans in the Diaspora about their views about events in Uganda and abroad. She uses the MSN for a similar purpose. She is also in possession of a digital camera and a digital recorder, both of which, she uses on a daily basis to aid her illustrate or prove stories.

 

The Monitor’s Systems Connectivity

By Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda

Gladys Buteraba works at the Monitor as the Helpdesk Administrator. The Monitor is Uganda’s other second daily newspaper (www.monitor.co.ug). It is an independent daily founded by a group of journalists. Currently, it is owned by East Africa’s biggest media house, The Nation Group of Companies that publishes the biggest circulating newspaper in East Africa. It also owns radios and televisions in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

Gladys is a computer nerd who studied Business computing and also holds a Cisco Certificate of Network Association (CCNA). Her job is to look out for internal clients with computing problems. She understands the sections of every department, which enables her to provide tailor made solutions.

In the course of her work, she logs on and makes personal checks to find out if the systems are running properly. The systems include; the intranet, email, accounts and editorial. She also handles the day-to-day user codes sections composed of networks, systems and helpdesk.

The networks include the Local Area Networks (LAN) and the Wide Area Networks (WAN) in other words Internet connectivity. The Systems administrator manages all the systems in the organization. These include; the editorial, digital and finance systems. Lastly, the Helpdesk is first line trouble shooting area. It also coordinates all the sections and redistributes work. It further does the check on the physical structures like the satellite Vsats that provide the wireless link to the head office in Nairobi, Kenya and also downloads foreign news from Reuters and other News organizations.

The Helpdesk department receives calls from people in trouble with their systems and someone is assigned to go and look at the problem and solve it where possible on site. Sometimes the system might need reformatting or re installation, which can only be done in the IT room.

Gladys explained with pride how the Monitor is leading in digital innovations. She mentioned the mobile alerts service, which the Monitor outsourced from service providers called: True African. They teamed up with all mobile telephone providers to provide alerts on clients’ mobile phones. The clients pay some money on subscribing to the service. 

The Monitor mobile alerts offer breaking news and news headlines to subscribers. A new client just types in “monitor alert”, enters a number and sends to a specific number provided and he will be subscribed to the service.

Gladys was also happy to note that the Internet through Outlook organized the journalists. It provided an internal email address, keeps contacts and appointments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Monitor Launches E-Paper

By ISMAIL MUSA LADU in Namuwongo, Uganda

Daily Monitor has officially launched an electronic version also known as e-paper, for its newspaper to expand its reach and offer more interaction to its readers.

The e-paper is a digital version of the Daily, Saturday and Sunday Monitor with the same ‘Look and Feel’ as its print editions.

The e-paper comes with in-built features that can allow readers to easily access information in a number of formats like RSS feeds, PDF and audio.
Articles search will now be possible with this revolutionary facility.

Speaking at the launch of the e-paper yesterday at  Monitor Publications Limited(MPL) offices, the Presidential Advisor on ICT, Ham Mulira described the initiative as “excellent”.

Dr Mulira who is also the former Minister of ICT said with the new digital format, the entire world will have unlimited access to Daily Monitor  news, an advantage he implored advertisers not let go in order to tap into global markets.

“Somebody in San Francisco will now be able to read articles about Uganda and possibly inform a friend who may pick interest to come and see our gorillas here, so this is very crucial (initiative),” Dr Mulira envisioned. According to Dr Mulira the         e-paper will increase mileage for advertisers because of its ability to expand on the reach of Daily Monitor.

The Managing Director- MPL, Tom Mshindi said the company’s values of accuracy and independence among others will be continuously upheld in order to live to Daily Monitor brand promise of ‘Truth Every Day’. He emphasised that the e-paper is easy to use since it allows that user to easily scroll through the newspaper and view a particular page or article.

Mr Allan Zaramba, Digital Sales Manager for MPL adds that the e-paper has ‘save and print’ capabilities for reference purposes.

The e-paper which is currently on free trial will in a few days require a minimal subscription fee of only Ug. Shs 10,000 per month to have unlimited access. The fee is payable by credit card online  or cash at the Monitor Advertising Centre at Crown House, Kampala Road. 

http://www.monitor.co.ug/artman/publish/news/Monitor_launches_e-paper_85174.shtml

A date with a Monitor Editor

Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda

The Monitor is Uganda’s other second daily newspaper. It is an independent daily founded by a group of journalists. Currently, it is owned by East Africa’s biggest media house, The Nation Group of Companies that publishes the biggest circulating newspaper in East Africa. It also owns radios and televisions in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

My first date at the Monitor was with Mr. Fred Masiga, an associate editor, Business. He joined the Monitor in the year 2001. In addition to having a Bachelors degree in Mass Communication, he also holds a Masters of Business Administration degree. 

Fred’s typical day at the Monitor is as follows:

5.30 AM: Wake up

6.45 AM: Drive to office

At the office go through the BBC, New York Times, Financial Times, Manchester Evening News, Reuters and other news websites. 

7.30 AM: Peruse through the day’s local newspapers and also the Monitor to                        identify any errors. He also carefully scrutinizes the nearest competitor,                The New Vision for any news that the Monitor could have missed

8.30 AM: Attend an editorial meeting that lasts approximately 30 minutes

9.00 – 11.00 AM: Assign journalists work, give briefings, make phone calls, sub available stories for pages that go to bed early and generally supervise the ongoing work.

11.00 AM: Attend the editors meeting which carries out a postmortem of the day’s paper and also check the docket drawn by the news editor from the early morning meeting chaired by the managing editor.

12.00 Noon – 3.00 PM: Start receiving stories from reporters; receive draft copy of the designed paper as subbing and passing pages is being continuously done

3.30 PM: Attend editors meeting for 30 minutes to decide what story should lead and passing of pages is agreed.

7.00 PM: Gather at the desk of the chief subeditor to agree on the headlines

8.00 PM: Leave for home.

Fred says some days he can attend up to 10 meetings and on others go out to meet a source or follow up a story. He works for not less than 12 hours everyday, 6 days a week. Monday is his only day off. 

On New Media use, Fred claims the computer is now an integral part of the media business. Typing and sending stories, email, the intranet, researching and many other wonders of the computer have made things easier for print journalists. He quoted for me the incident of the terrorists attacks on Hotels in Mumbai when he used the Voice Over the Internet Protocol (VOIP) with an Indian colleague to get instant updates of story as it was unfolding. Further still, the Monitor is in the process of upgrading its system to enable the journalists to blog.

Fred also praises mobile telephony. To emphasize its importance, the company provides official mobile phones and credit to most journalists. In turn these phones are supposed to be on 24/7. The phones usually have added services like the SMS, MMS, camera, Internet and recording.

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The "East African" Special Correspondent

Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda

Esther Nakkazi is a special correspondent for the East African newspaper in Kampala, Uganda. The East African is one of the many publications by the regional media giant; The Nation Group based in Nairobi, Kenya. It publishes newspapers in all East African countries of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.(www.nation.co.ke)

Esther joined the East African newspaper in the year 2000.She is a holder of a BA degree and a postgraduate diploma in journalism. Her niche in the industry is science and the environment. 

Esther is a correspondent for a number of news organizations for example; the East African, plus news at www.plusnews.org, the Monitor, Real Health News (UK) and she also trains upcoming journalists in environmental training through the Uganda Media Development Foundation. She also edits “Eyenet” an IT newsletter.

Before embarking on any assignment Esther attends the Monday editorial meeting where tips are exchanged. She mostly assigns herself what to do. They then network and agree on a team of 2 reporters to be sent out. Newsgathering takes the form of follow-ups, hard news and features preparing.

Esther also attends conferences, carries out interviews and reads other newspapers to get tips. She subscribes to many journals. After reading, she contextualizes the news to the Uganda system. She is also a good listener from which activity she gets many tips. Furthermore has a network of sources, which tip her especially for exclusives.

Esther has wholly embraced the new media. She owns a Macintosh laptop that is like an extension of her. She types in direct whether at a conference, conducting an interview, reporting on a press conference or gathering hard news. As soon as she types a story she attaches a relevant photo she has taken with her digital camera and emails her editor instantly. 

Her blog is used for training purposes. All her experiences while training are uploaded on her blog especially how students perceive the training issues they raise about climate change.  Her website is; www.necjogha.org or better still http.estanakkazi.blogspot.com. 

She uses the Google search engine all the time for background information. She is also on Face Book and Twitter.  Esther uses Skype, Yahoo and MSN for chatting with sources of news. Thereafter she copies and pastes directly in a story. She prefers that to a face-to-face interview. She furthermore uses email, fm radio for tips, mobile phone and texting.

  


 

 

American Journalist Reporting for Vision

Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda

Rebecca Jane Harshbarger is an American journalist who freelances at the New Vision newspaper. She has a BA in African Studies, a Masters in Journalism and specialist in print and web reporting, podcasting and blogging. Last summer she was an intern at the New Vision for 10 weeks and since March this year became a freelance reporter. 

The New Vision Group is the biggest multimedia house in Uganda. It publishes 8 newspapers and 5 magazines. It owns 3 FM radio stations and a television network. (www.newvision.co.ug)

Rebecca is a freelance journalist at the Saturday and Sunday Vision’s business desks. Usually her editor gives her a story idea and she follows it up in the field. She has many contacts in the field that supply her information. Her contacts are based in companies, the stock exchange and other sectors of the economy.

Rebecca reads a lot, watches television and asks her contacts many questions to expand her information base. She has also written several articles outside her expertise like:

-       Recovery centre in Gulu for sexual violence survivors

-       Men and fitness

-       Wetlands

-       Youth offenders

On a normal day, Rebecca takes notes as she chases a story. She also uses a tape recorder, reads a lot and makes many follow-up phone calls. She later types in her story and sends it to the editor. She has not yet had a story rejected, but sometimes she re writes it.

On her use of new media tools, Rebecca admitted that they assist her a lot during her day-to-day beat.  She always has a digital camera with her to take pictures for her stories.

She uses the Google search engine a lot for research and beefing up stories. She also uses BBC, Washington Times, The Independent and other news websites for background information.

Face book is her best Social Networking Site. She has over 300 contacts in East Africa. It helps her for interviews, consultations, searches expert contacts for comments on current subjects for example if she is looking for a comment from the man on the street, she just asks her contacts. She is also a member of Twitter and LinkedIn.

Within the editorial the internal network: the intranet is used for communication and editing and correcting stories. The mobile phone is also another communication gadget that is used for both internal and external communication. Texting is more convenient for Rebecca, than calling. She also claimed she liked the way Ugandans use text messages for communication. Sometimes, journalists receive text storylines and set time to talk.

Rebecca’s blogs are ugandabeatslivejournal.com and ugandabeatswordpress.com. She uses them for searching and story ideas. She uses her computer at home to video podcasts. It helps her to get in touch with international news and to download American programmes. In the morning or late at night I sometimes log onto the New Vision system because then it is not to busy and can be quite fast. 

I have 3 email addresses, which I never close. I check on them from time to time, I never log out. I receive news stories, press releases and contact information through my email addresses.

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of a News Editor

Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda 

Hellen Mukiibi is the deputy news editor at the New Vision. She joined the media house way back in 1989 as a reporter. She is one of the most senior journalists. The New Vision Group is the biggest multimedia house in Uganda. It publishes 8 newspapers and 5 magazines. It owns 3 FM radio stations and a television network. (www.newvision.co.ug) 

Hellen wakes up at 5.00am and switches on the radio to listen to the news. She tunes from one radio to another looking out for any breaking news story or tip. She quickly checks the Internet for stories from Kenya, Rwanda, AFP, Reuters and BBC. These are the major sources of news from the Diaspora. 

7.30 am:  She peruses the local dailies and weeklies if out. She would be looking       out for what the New Vision could have missed or how the competitors       can be beaten. 

8.30 am:  She or the news editor chair the daily editorial meeting to do a                postmortem of the day’s paper and to deploy reporters on different          beats

9.00 am:  Section meeting with other editors and editor in chief to discuss the           photos and stories. The editor in chief shares out stories among the           sister papers.

9.30 am:  Make phone calls, briefings, assignments supervise imprest for transport     and if there is a breaking news story alert the website editor and the FM     radio stations.

             From this time to 3.00 pm, liaise with writers to prepare stories for           editing.

3.00 pm:  Major outlook of the following day’s paper is ready. Consult throughout       the day with editors and writers.

4.00 pm: Arrange what will be in the meeting as we continuously enrich the              content

4.30 pm: News editor takes the line-up of the stories to the editor in chief who         together with chief sub editor and photos editor meet to agree on line up.

6.00 pm:  Sign out, but continue consultations by phone and email.

“Basically all days are like above. I supervise the newsgathering process, which begins with making the diary. The diary consists of what is in store and what we want to gather. We find out from the international and local news agencies what is happening and see how we can follow it up. We also go through the local diary of invites to see what we must cover among the several functions. There is also a diary for follow-ups and a diary for news from other media houses”, says Hellen.

“The progress in the newsroom is continuous up to the time the paper goes to bed. However, as editor I must help the reporters to polish the story and edit it and hand it to the news editor or the other way round. All stories and photos can be accessed on the network even when they are being worked on. This makes it easy for us to link the photos to the stories”, she added.

New Media tools

1.   Mobile telephone: Used for local and international communications. It is used to coordinate and consult with reporters in the field. The SMS is also very frequently used for the same purpose. 

2.   Television and FM radio: For listening to news and other programmes

3.   Internet: This is the most effective news gathering tool.  Examples include; Google search engine, news alerts, breaking news, SMS media and email. For instance, the Uganda Media Centre invites journalists to attend press conferences via SMS media. 

4.   SNS: The social networking sites makes a news editor lazy and they are difficult to follow-up given the amount of work an editor has to accomplish.

5.   Blogging: Hellen blogs, but she is too busy to keep her blog updated.

6.   News@newvision.co.ug: The easiest way to access the editorial

7.   Content Management Software: Saves time and paper and makes work less laborious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, May 4, 2009

“The buck ends here”, Chief sub

Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda

Ben Opolot is the New Vision’s chief sub editor. He joined the New Vision in 1994

Interview

Ali: What does your job involve?

Ben: My job is basically a quality control job here. I am responsible for maintaining the New Vision house style, which includes the visual, photos, grammar, language, content, and accuracy and general standards. My job cuts across all sections; sports, supplements, magazines and the like. Though my major focus is on the daily, I also offer supervisory and monetary oversight for the Saturday and Sunday editions. I do this through a weekly review postmortem with the staff. 

What does the staff under you do?

There are 35 subeditors. On average each subeditor lays out 2 pages per day. They receive stories from the editors through the intranet and depending on what pages they are doing follow an established layout format. After laying out the pages they physically print out the pages and pass them on to me. Currently after all corrections are made, I send them to pre press department through the network to the computer to plate process. We have been promised in the near future to get technology, which will eliminate prepress and transmit files from editorial direct to the press. 

We have however, not harnessed the available ICTs to create efficiency and a better product. There is a lack of managerial focus and drive to effect this change. We require new software to solve some few editorial snags especially automating the uploading of the website. We should be in a position to send data to the press at the same time automatically uploading the website.

Where does the buck end?

The editor in chief delegated the responsibility of the final product to the chief subeditor. So, well as the buck should end at the editor in chief’s desk, in reality it ends here.

What role does the New Media play in your day-to-day work? 

I can’t imagine the days before the advent of the computer. Editing used to be done on paper. Reporters wrote their stories by hand and used typewriters to type. Layout used to be done by cutting and pasting physically. Today, the computer does the whole process; inputting, editing, typesetting, designing, photos are all PDF-ed and sent by mail to the pre press to ready for printing without going through the darkroom!


The computer and Internet are powerful tools for grammar, spell check, Google; for verification, searches, historical context and research. Email too, has eased communication. A few years ago, information from the field used to take days to arrive at the news editor’s desk. Today, files are instantly forwarded electronically. Personally, I completed my Masters degree online. I took off just a few weeks to interact with my professors in South Africa. Other young people are also doing the same. The computer has enabled us to perform multiple tasks at the same time. It has therefore helped to retain staff that would have had to resign in order to pursue further studies.

We now have a better skilled staff that learns more about journalism online. The computer is a knowledge and resource centre. It provides us with wired news from agencies. This keeps the cost minimal. It also provides graphic services important for the design of the papers. Uganda has no libraries, so the computer/Internet is the point of reference. 

Mobile telephony cuts costs, is efficient and easy to use. We can access reporters and editors anytime while working on their stories.

As for blogging, I don’t individually blog or even read them. I feel blogs lack peer review and therefore are too opinioned. However, we can use them as sources of news stories and tips. 

Like the blogs, I find the Social Networking Sites (SNS) just exhibitionist. I know it is a tool of communication and it encourages citizen journalism. People are allowed to explore themselves and to listen to what others are saying. It is here that you get the pulse of the people without the rigid structures of newspapers. It liberates to reader.

Any other New Media tools you use? 

We also have the discussion board on our website. It is very important to the New Vision and we periodically run it in the newspaper. It is one of the places where our readers interact with the writers and also give us their opinions on contemporary issues.

The organization is in the process of developing a Short Message Service (SMS), which will integrate all our products. A significant amount of people’s lives is shifting to the mobile phone and as a leading newspaper, we must take advantage of the mobile phone especially the SMS technology to reach out to our readers and also get new ones. We therefore have to find new ways of delivering our content particularly the young people and women. Traditionally, newspapers are for men who decide when to buy it. But now with the mobile phone the woman can now enjoy the benefits through it. So the mobile especially the SMS will help to keep readers and even get many more if we can deliver the content in a way that is convenient to them. This means the business must be rearranged and skills and processes must be tailored to fit the new technologies.

 

 

New Media Supported Printing

Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda

Samuel Kyagulanyi is the New Vision Production and operations manager. He studied statistics at the university and has a post graduate qualification in project planning and management.

Samuel assured me that the responsibility of printing all the New Vision’s publications lies squarely on his shoulders. This also includes external works from other companies and individuals. He is also responsible for machinery, materials and manpower.

Newspaper production

A web offset machine called “Goss” is the major press used in printing the newspapers. From the editorial, the dummy is transmitted via the intranet to the pre press for plates to be made. The Computer to Machine (CTP) machine burns images onto the plates, which are sent to the Goss for printing. The Goss prints and folds the newspaper and conveys it to the inserting room where it is bundled and parceled for the market.

The new factory that is being built will house a top of the range printing press. It will be able to print 64 pages at once in color, 40,000 copies per hour. It will have an insertion machine appended. 

Presently, the New Vision prints dailies from Southern Sudan like “Southern Eye” and “Yumbe”.  Umuseso, Umwezi and Umurugizi publications from Rwanda are also printed from the New Vision.

New Media 

All communication at the New Vision is via intranet including transmitting copies for printing. Regional offices upcountry also sends their printing material via email. After layout, they PDF the documents and email them to production. Uganda’s weekly observer and Business Week newspapers are also printed at the New Vision using similar means of transmission.

The computer is used to plan all jobs and schedules are printed out for the job allocation. The computer is an integral part of the production process. All the machinery is automated therefore uses inbuilt computers to control the process including quality.

In the unlikely event that the machine breaks down, communication is by email or mobile phone. Actually at the New Vision, it is a crime to switch the company mobile phone. Responsible officers where given Blackberry mobile phones to ensure their availability on telephone and email at all times. Calling within the network is free of charge; therefore there is no excuse for one not to fulfill his duties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Democracy at the New Vision

Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda

I was trying to solicit an appointment for an interview with the New Vision’s editor in chief; ms Els Temmerman in her office when this group of New Vision staffers forced their way in her office. I thought it was serious business and I excused myself to leave. Els could not hear of that, she asked me to stay and witness the New Vision democracy at work.

”This is the high command of the New Vision. We have been allocated the power to try you. You are charged for:

 1. Desertion

2.  Discarding the duties of editor in chief without informing the high command

You shall serve a short sentence since you have accepted the charge and haven’t wasted the court’s time. Since there are 300 members of the editorial you will buy for each a soda and an accompaniment.” 

Els paid Ug shs 180,000 for the soda and 70,000 for the cookies. She therefore parted with the equivalent of 100.00Euro as a fine. The High Command members left the office happily. The whole operation took only 6 minutes!

It can be recalled that Els tendered in her resignation last year when she felt her editorial powers were being curtailed. She resumed work only a few weeks ago after being promised editorial independence.

The New Vision High Command is a sort of disciplinary committee made up of long serving editorial staff. 

Talk about democracy!

Electronic Photo Editing

Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda

Jimmy Adriko is a veteran photojournalist who joined the New Vision in 1991. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art and he has attended many different courses in photojournalism from Moscow, South Africa, United Kingdom and Netherlands.

Excerpts from the interview

Ali: Jimmy what exactly is your role as a photos editor?

Jimmy: As photos editor I assign duties to the photographers. I convene meetings every morning and give the photographers assignments for the day. For those who are not present, I do it via telephone, SMS or email. I also receive photographs from my staff through the network or via email from those photographers out of the station. I select the photos to be used in the newspaper and send them to the editors and I archive the unused ones electronically. I also take photographs, write and coordinate training, equipment and budgetary needs for the New Vision and the sister papers. In addition I organize with international agencies in terms of photo needs with institutions like Reuters, AFP, photos.com and the like. I also manage the sales and purchases of photos.

How does the New Media support you in fulfilling your duties?

Until a few years ago, the photo process was all manual. Taking, processing and cleaning the photos was a long process. For example if a photographer was to travel to Rwanda, the photos he would take would only be used on his return! 

Today coordinating activities is easily done using the mobile phone. Photographers can be tracked and those in the field reassigned duties. The mobile phone can also be used in emergences to take photos and also use MMS or email to send them. This encourages citizen journalism. 

We use the Internet to buy and sell photos through the wire service. We also search the Internet for photos to illustrate our stories. Email and the intranet are other useful tools of communication. 

All photographers use digital cameras to take the photos after which they upload them on the computer, clean them and send them to me through the network. The computer processes and enhances the photos. All photographers are trained to use the Adobe Photoshop software for this.

The computer is also used to archive photos. At the moment we are in the process of scanning all the photographs and very soon all hard copies will be discarded. In a day, the New Vision archives a minimum of 200 pictures.

Photographers also use the Social Networking Sites to share photos with peers and some have created their own catalogues online.

New Technologies in the photo world

Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda

Mathias Mugisha is a veteran photojournalist who joined the New Vision in 1999. He holds a diploma in photography and journalism. He works for the different New Vision magazines and the Sunday Vision as a writer and photographer specializing in travel and adventure.

Interview 

Ali: Mathias, tell me about your work.

I am a general photographer at the New Vision though 75% of my work is self-generated. I do some travel writing also. Life is much easier with new technology. Before the advent of the digital camera, we used to shoot photos, take them for development into film and finally print them on paper. Today we shoot digital photos, which are instantly accessed via the computer. I use a Nikon D300 digital camera. It is a mid range professional camera with 12 mega pixels. 

How do the new technologies help you in your work?

Today I type in all my stories on a computer, which is accessible by my editors. New technologies make it easier to beat the deadlines, which are very strict at the New Vision. Since the abandonment of the dark room, the computer is used for cleaning up, retouching and storing photos using Photoshop programme. 

I own a digital voice recorder that is very helpful for interviews. After conducting an interview, I copy the recorded interview onto my computer for further analysis before writing the story.

I also use the Internet a lot. Actually, I am in the process of establishing a website where I will place all my photos that I take. I will also use it for marketing, such that those who wish to buy my photos can do so online. 

I too, use the Internet for sending stories and pictures. It is fast and convenient. While upcountry, I can write my stories and take pictures, which I instantly send to my editor for publishing.  I also use the Internet a lot for researching and enriching my stories.

Furthermore, I use Yahoo messenger for chatting – relaxing and enhancing my work by way of networking with other photographers around the world. Sometimes I consult them on technical issues like the best way of setting a camera, lighting and other things. They also consult me on the same issues. We also share new technologies in our field.

I have very high respect for mobile telephony. I don’t like the quality of the photos they deliver, but sometimes in the absence of professional photos, we make do with that. However, sometimes, I receive assignments via the mobile and also report or consult via the same. I can file stories or interview people, call contacts and vice versa using the mobile phone.  I in addition use the mobile phone to send a summary of my story by SMS, use it as a recorder, radio, torch, time (I have no watch), appointment making, date and calendar, alarm and store for my information.

 

New Vision Automated Pre Press

Reuben Zaramba is the New Vision Pre press manager. He is a holder of a BA degree in industrial and commercial design. He joined the New Vision group in 2004. His job requires him to prepare all work for printing.

Reuben told me that New Vision had acquired modern equipment in the pre press department. The old technology involved making films in a dark room. Today the process is automated direct from computer to plate to press. The artwork of the newspaper is received from the subeditor through the intranet in PDF form in soft copy.

Pre press staff makes an imposition – dummy book like layout on a plate using imposition software. The proofs are presentations of what will appear at the end of the process. It is compared with what is on computer and if okay impressions are made ready to copy to plate.  Plates have a coating, which is photo sensitive on one side where the laser beam burns the image.

All these processes use new media for example mobile telephony; “We can receive mobile alerts from the machines should something go wrong during processing. The mobile telephone is also used to contact the subeditor in case there is a problem with the PDF”.

The Internet is also used frequently. The mobile alerts from the machine are also sent to our emails. Additionally New Vision upcountry bureaus use email to send their PDF of the regional newspapers for printing. Before automation, a car used to be provided to drive hundreds of kilometers to collect the dummies.

 

 

 

Chitchat with Vision’s Website Editor

Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda

Davis Weddi joined the New Vision in 1996 as a freelance journalist. His first story was placed on the front page of The New Vision on 1st April 1996. It was a fool’s day story of vampires attacking travellers in a bus! He was confirmed as a full time staff in 2004. He has studied in Sweden, German and South Africa photojournalism courses, features writing and news websites.

Interview

Ali: Where did you study website building and maintenance?

Davis: I did a course in Global Electronic Journalism for 6 months from Stockholm University in Sweden. The course involved research news websites, uploading audio, visual and video online. We used tools like PHP, Java, CSS mobile XML, XTML and promoting new languages. There after, I worked for a company that took SMS orders for MacDonald’s in Stockholm.

Where did you start from when you joined the New Vision?

In 2003, I found a static website portal; www.enteruganda.com, and I started uploading it casually. In 2004 I was made the website editor at the New Vision. The division was employing 7 staff, but making a paltry $ 200.00 a month! The division needed dynamism to make money. This called for adequate content and a better content uploading team. 

We gave ourselves a target of earning $ 25,000 per month within 4 years. Today we are earning much more than that with a staff of 8 well-paid people. We have also opened up new websites; each product now has its own website. We also established a jobs website; www.jobs.co.ug. Our clients, the advertisers from the print media add an extra 5% of the cost for the same advert to be run online. The income from the online advertisements is much more than what some newspapers in this country earn.

The websites are now integrated with the newsroom via the Integrated Enterprise Content Management System (IECMS), which will facilitate erasing paper use from the newsroom. The workflow system follows what a journalist does – distributes stories to the editors, sub editors, pre press and finally to the printer and finally uploaded online automatically.

Hasn’t this automation reduced the readership of the hard copy?

The statistics available don’t show that sales are suffering; our biggest online readers are abroad.

How does your website fare compared to other websites in Uganda?

Out team looks at self-generated and Google analytics. It is the most visited website in Uganda so far. Our website is dynamic and we have the capacity of uploading content anytime. For example, we can upload content for the Uganda market the next day and for the Diaspora the evening before. We now sell our Internet stories internationally to organizations like AllAfrica.com

Where are you heading to with the website?

We hope to redesign the website to meet modern times. We are now testing mobile SMS. There is also a need to unify radio, newspaper and television. Mobile alerts are also in the pipeline.  We have already collected 2 million mobile telephone numbers and we hope to work with the mobile telephony operators to establish whether a number is switched on. The New Vision is to sign up with all telephone mobile operators to allow all users to access the service.  We are also confident that applications like E-government, E-Health, and E-Business can be sold to government. In this case government can use or telephone number database for communicating development, health or political messages.

Journalists will also be enabled to send breaking news through the same system. The system will allow readers and listeners to the New Vision’s products interactivity with each other and with the newsroom.

What ICT challenges has New Vision met? 

New Vision is prepared to meet all challenges head on. It has heavily invested in its staff through in-house training and IT schooling. So far a few journalists maintain blogs, but soon it will be a requirement for every journalist to keep a blog, where he/she can interact with readers.

How is Internet use nationally?

Uganda’s Internet usage is on the increase. Every day newspapers sign up new online readers especially the youth. Statistics from the ICT ministry show increased Internet usage. Currently there are over 22,000 local websites and nearly 300,000 email addresses. The New Vision has positioned well itself to meet this increasing demand. Soon local language websites will be developed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

New Vision Senior Reporter and New Media

Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda

Anne Mugisa is a senior reporter at the New Vision. She is a Bachelor of Arts communication science graduate. She was recruited in 1998.

Anne has been reporting for the New Vision for over 10 years. She is happy with the new technological developments because they make her work much easier. She especially uses the computer to type in her stories, spell check, and mail to her editor. She also uses the search engines for her research.

She does not blog, but always reads people’s blogs. However, she has no time for social networking sites. Sometimes these and the overall Internet are sources of her stories.

Anne also uses the radio, intranet, email and mobile telephone in her day to day work at the New Vision.

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