Writing one’s way to the top

By Elizabeth   Amongin

While undertaking his A-level studies at Mengo Senior School, Semakula decided to pursue journalism in spite of not having studied literature.

“I joined UCU in 2003 to study Mass Communication thinking my class had only former literature students. But during the lectures I discovered that we were all the same and not everyone had done literature,” he said.

The ambitious Semakula made his friends wisely. While at university in second year, he met one Samuel Waigolo, who was at that time writing for Daily Monitor and was based at the Mukono bureau.

“Since I used to stay in Mukono, I asked him to take me to their offices to see if there was a job slot. Waigolo took me to the bureau where I found many journalists who were corresponding for other media houses, especially radio stations. I was introduced to Joshua Kisawuzi who was a reporter for Radio Simba.”

“Kisawuzi gave me the opportunity to write four brief news stories and deliver them to the head offices and see Moses Serwanga who was the upcountry editor. At that time meanwhile, I never knew how to write but when I reached Daily Monitor offices, Moses Serwanga allowed me to write as an upcountry correspondent for the newspaper,” Semakula recalls.

Working at The Standard

“When the idea of starting a university newspaper at UCU came up in 2007, they advertised and I applied to work as a staff writer,” he states.

Semakula adds that at his time of appointment, he was a freelance journalist at The New Vision, in charge of Mukono District.

“The competition to join The Standard was stiff. The entire print class of 15 students applied for four positions.”

The fresh graduate then had to cope with photography and design, but he said the team was taken for training to improve most of their skills.

Towards the end of his contract at The Standard, Semakula had already secured himself a job at Straight Talk Foundation. He however says that he failed to fit in the environment because his colleagues were unfriendly.

So he resigned even before securing another job and decided to work for the New Vision as an upcountry reporter based in Mukono. He was promoted to a senior staff writer position after six months.

“This is unusual because it usually takes more than five years for a freelance reporter to become a staff member,” Semakula says.

Today he is a senior reporter with the New Vision as well as a part- time lecturer at the UCU Mass Communication department.

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