Time to loosen up: The role of journalists is to inform, educate and entertain the masses. Every day they run around trying to find the news, with little time to play. It is on this premise that last year, Abubaker Lubowa, a Daily Monitor photojournalist, came up with the idea of Dine With the Fourth Estate. Isaac Ssejjombwe caught up with him.
What informed Dine With the Fourth Estate and what is it all about?
We came up with this initiative last year and one of the things we discussed was having a fixed date — December 20. The first edition was held at Piato Restaurant in Nakasero and now we are moving to Hotel Africana. The whole agenda of this dinner is reconnecting, networking and sharing available side income opportunities for journalists. We run around the field each day but never find valuable time to discuss issues that affect or improve our standard of living.
Why a dinner and not a movie or retreat somewhere on one of the many islands?
A dinner easily attracts people as opposed to a night out in a theatre or games. Who doesn’t like food, dressing to kill, and a night where pens, recorders and cameras are not part of the things a journalist has to carry? Since our main agenda is about networking and reconnecting, a dinner is ideal for all these conversations.
Media houses compete among themselves and some people take this competition seriously. How will you have everyone in the same building?
You will be surprised that when journalists are together (outside the newsroom), they rarely care about where they belong. At the dinner, we discuss what affects us as individuals, not media houses and in the end, we depart as brothers and sisters. There are people we take to be unfriendly not until we meet them. Since our first dinner, I can tell you that all the people who attended have never been the same. I saw journalists taking selfies with Faridah Nakazibwe of Mwasuze Mutya or Josephine Karungi, with who I also got chance to take a selfie.
The dinner is Shs70,000, which seems a lot. Where is the value for money?
Last year, we asked scribes to pay Shs50,000. We thought this was a lot but we were overwhelmed by the turnout. After several reviews, journalists asked to add more concepts to the dinner and this called for more money since we do not have major sponsors for the function. With Shs70,000, one will have a free photoshoot with celebrated photographer Nicholas Bamulanzeeki on the red carpet, music by Moustey DJ, performances from surprise artistes, we will have journalists competing vocally on the live band the way Solomon Kaweesa surprised many last year. That is all besides buffet, drinks, cake cutting, among other activities.
Also we ate and packed cake last year. It was in plenty! In addition, we are optimistic this year will be better because we shall have motivational speeches from journalists who have made it in journalism. Last year we had Daniel Kalinaki, the general manager-Editorial of NMG Uganda.
What opportunities will be created at this dinner?
The first opportunities will be shared among us in our various workplaces. Secondly, we expect former journalists to attend and we are confident they have enough of the tips outside our daily jobs that can help uplift our standards. Worth noting is that we shall also assess our ethics that keep dwindling each day.
“You will be surprised that when journalists are together (outside the newsroom), they rarely care about where they belong. At the dinner, we discuss what affects us as individuals, not media houses.”