child soldier turned scholar

Dr William Tayeebwa’s journey as a journalist has seen him go places, including covering the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the mid-1990s

Friday June 6 2014



Dr William Tayeebwa’s journey as a journalist has seen him go places, including covering the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the mid-1990s.

“I started practising journalism at The Crusader in 1997 then went to New Vision in 1999. In 2000, I was offered better terms and joined The Monitor. The Monitor realised I was a multi-lingual and multi-tasked journalist, thus the assignments in places like Rwanda and Congo,” he recounts.

His career in journalism ended in 2004 when he was on the special projects desk. Dr Tayeebwa’s last project was the ‘Bush War Memories’, which was about profiling fellows who fought with President Yoweri Museveni.

“Our initial idea was to profile the forgotten heroes, such as people who were cooking for Museveni, those who drove him and his children. That was our idea to move from down ranks to the top ones. When the project was stopped by Government, the move ended my active journalism career prematurely,” the veteran journalist recollects.

He went into academia, a field in which he had already been. His academic career started immediately after graduating top of his class in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and was retained in a teaching position at Makerere University.

The following year, he got a scholarship to Norway, at University of Oslo where he obtained a master’s degree in media studies specialising in environmental journalism. He now holds a PhD in Communication from Concordia University in Canada.

Laid out plans

His announcement as the Head of the Department of Journalism and Communication therefore comes with little surprise. He offers back what the department gave him. Dr Tayeebwa says he has many plans lined up, and top of these is having functional news outlets, particularly a university newspaper.

“We want a newspaper that is controlled by the department. We need to have a functional newspaper, functional radio station and a functional television station,” he disclosed.

Lectures and students
The journalism don says one of his first tasks is to attract senior professionals to the department; the likes of Charles Onyango Obbo, Conrad Nkuttu, David Ouma Balikowa and others.

He adds, “They may come in on a part-time basis to handle specific subjects of their interest.”
Dr Tayeebwa says he is fully aware of challenges like the big numbers and says that as a department their intake should ideally be of not more than 100 students.

“Currently in second year we have 160 students and the excuse is we are a government institution; but my argument is we should take on a number that we will be able to provide quality education for, both at undergraduate and post-graduate levels,” he argues.

Attaining school status
He adds, “In so doing, we will be able to create a school of journalism and communication. Our first task towards school status is to work towards the creation of two separate undergraduate programmes as well as two graduate ones.

We have actually received funding from the Norwegian Programme for Capacity Building in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED) to undertake curriculum review and create new courses at undergraduate and graduate levels.”

At graduate level, he adds, the Department plans to split the programme into two masters; one in journalism and multimedia studies and the other in Strategic and Public Relations.

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