I continue to receive calls from readers inquiring how they can get their article published in the Daily Monitor and its sister publications. Others inquire as to how they can have their proposals on drama series on NTV and Spark TV.
Last week, Dominic Ssemukuutu, wrote thus: “Dear Mr Bichachi, thanks a lot for the work well done. I am now sending you an article. Kindly read through it and manage the next steps. At what point do they agree to publish an article like that? Will I be interviewed for details sake?”
Earlier, Dikan Benon, had written: “Greetings! Thank you for taking your time to read my mail. I am writing to seek guidance on what it takes to get my articles published in the newspapers. I will be grateful if I may be advised on the above matter.”
Every successful media house thrives on the participation of its audiences and their feedback. It is, therefore, good that many readers and viewers continue to aspire to participate in the creation of content on our different platforms. I responded to Dominic and Benon directly, but because there are many similar questions in the readers’ minds, I have taken liberty to once again share what you have to do to get your opinion articles and letters published in the newspapers.
It all starts with the ideas you want to share. Is it topical? Is it an important subject? What unique perspective do you want to share? Do you have the facts on your fingertips or from research/observation?
If you are convinced you have a good story to share, put your thoughts down on paper (or type on computer) and send to firstname.lastname@example.org if it is a letter to the editor or to email@example.com if it is an Op-ed (opinion or commentary) article.
Remember to keep it short, simple and precise. Editors who have to read through a number of stories on any given day are put off by verbose, incoherent and off-topic articles. Your otherwise good contribution could be discarded because your presentation did not catch the eye of the editor.
Do you expect to hear from the editors or not before the article is published? Yes and no! This is well explained in the top corner of Daily Monitor’s letters page and the tag, “Note”. It states:
“The editor reserves the right to edit and reject letters. Pseudonyms may be used, but must be clearly marked as such. All correspondences, including e-mails and SMS, must include your name, address and daytime telephone number. Preference will be given to shorter letters/articles on topical issues”
To pay or not to pay journalists?
Tom Oniro Elenyu wrote to me about a subject we have dealt with over and over again. He said: “This is not about implicating anyone, but relating what you labour to write every Friday in your capacity as public editor vis-a-vis what transpires outside newsrooms of various media houses.
It appears that media houses’ guidelines, including NMG Guidelines and indeed journalistic ethics, are adhered to perhaps only at headquarter newsrooms violated in practice in the field of duty.
It is also quite clear that some sources of information/event organisers are ignorant of the fact that they are not supposed to pay reporters for covering any event if they so happen to invite such reporters to cover.”
Why did he think so? Apparently, some journalists who had been invited to cover the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) meeting at Nabiganda Town Council in Butaleja District on October 27 (disrupted by police) pestered the organisers for some money, euphemistically referred to as “facilitation” or “transport refund” – or “brown envelopes.”!
The journalist shouted to one of the organisers; “Hullo, now you are leaving us?”
When Tom later asked what the journalists meant, one of the officials responded: “They wanted money because [we are] the ones that invited them.”
“But you are not supposed to pay them for covering events or meetings,” Tom tells the official to which he responded: “If you don’t pay them, they don’t come [to cover such events or meetings].” he assures me.
NMG journalists are facilitated whenever they are assigned out of the newsroom and the Group’s editorial policies prohibit any other “facilitation” by news sources as it is not just unethical, but interferes with the newsroom processes of selecting and publishing stories.
I do not speak for other media houses though.
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