Ali Balunywa in Kampala, Uganda
After finalizing the formalities with the administration, the human resource manager of the New Vision handed me over to the Mr. Ben Opolot, the Chief sub-editor. She made for me an appointment to meet him (Ben) on Monday 20 April 2009 at the New Vision head office.
I was there at the agreed time of 10.00am. I explained to Ben how I wanted to do my research. Since all permissions had been granted, he thought all we needed was to let the editor in chief know and off I start.
He accompanied me to the chief’s desk. To her amazement, I greeted her in Dutch as an icebreaker! The editor in chief is Ms Els deTemmerman, a Flemish from Belgium. I explained my mission and she accepted to extend her cooperation and help whenever necessary.
Ben went ahead to introduce me to journalists who were around, allocated me a desk and asked me to draw a programme for the entire period I will spend at the New Vision.
My first impressions at the New Vision were the modernity of the working environment. The editorial offices are situated in a modern building with open office floor space. Departments like Newsroom, subeditors, features sports and business divide the office. All desks are equipped with the latest flat screen computers, printers and air conditioning.
On each desk are a number of fixed and mobile phones. When I asked why one should own more than one phone, they explained that same network calls are always cheap, so it is advantageous for one to be connected on each network.
The editorial room is a beehive of activity. I was told that because of the strict deadlines, journalists and editors have to move with haste all the time. On the walls of the newsrooms you find a notice saying: “DEADLINES – OR YOU ARE DEAD”! Almost all journalists have a flash disk either on a keychain or dangling on a string or necklace around the neck.
Access to the New Vision is restricted. To access any office one needs a security clearance or a smart card. Security at this hi tech organization is paramount so, it is not taken lightly. For a visitor, someone must at all times open the door whether to get in or out!