Why journalists should strike iron while it is hot

Friday February 26 2021
comment01 pic

Author, Odoobo C. Bichachi is the Nation Media Group-Uganda public editor. PHOTO/FILE.

By Odoobo C. Bichachi

Strike while the iron is hot” is an old English saying derived from the wisdom of iron smiths. They learnt that a piece of iron can only be shaped when it is made malleable by heat. When it cools down and is cold and rigid, it cannot be shaped into something else. 

The wisdom of this saying is that is important to take advantage of a situation and shape it the way you wish rather than wait for to settle its way or shape. 

In journalism, this same wisdom is embedded in the story structure that seeks to maximise readers’ attention when their time interest in that story is highest. Thus we have been taught from journalism school – and have it breathed down our necks in the newsroom – to use the inverted pyramid structure for storytelling. 

In short, the inverted pyramid (base up and tip at bottom) is divided into three sections. The first carries the most newsworthy information – who, what, where, when, why, how? The second section carries important details about the story, and the third part carries other general information and background.

With this in mind, Oscar Okech Kanyangareng had issue with our story,  ‘Government projects public debt to rise to 54.1 per cent by 2023,’ Daily Monitor, February 3. He wrote to me thus:

“This story states that Uganda’s public debt as a share of GDP will be 54.1 per cent by 2022/23 and 49.9 per cent by June 2021. Then it goes on rumbling with so many statistics, but at no point did the writer mentioned what the current situation is. What is the current percentage share of debt to GDP so that we can know how worse off we are or not? That is what I was looking for in the first one to three stanzas and I move to another story. That is the news. Where are we now? Nothing. So, the news was incomplete.” 


As Mr Kanyangareng indicates above, readers do not have all the time in the world to read journalists’ rumblings in newspaper, or watch television pictures that do not answer the questions quickly. So if you are writing or editing a story, “strike while the iron is still hot.”

Readers have your say
Ismail Kombozi: I would like to know the charges for publication of a story/article based on your price listing.
Public Editor: Thank you Ismail. Except for advertorials and adverts that are clearly labelled, all stories are published at the cost of the company for the benefit of the public. That is why only stories deemed of public interest and value find space in the newspaper. This does not only cover news stories, but also includes profiles and interviews. Our journalism is not for sale and newsmakers and news sources are advised to contact the public editor or managing editor in case any of our journalist asks to be paid to write, edit or “facilitate” a story.
Brandhouse Company: How can I subscribe for the online version of the Daily Monitor? – info@brandhouseug.com.
Carol Beyanga (ME – Digital): You can subscribe to the Daily Monitor epaper by logging onto to https://epaper.nationmedia.com/Uganda, registering and then selecting for a particular package you would like to pay for. Packages include daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, half yearly and yearly. One can also access our e-paper app in Google Playstore or the Apple Store. The app is called Nation ePaper.
Ian Phillip: I have had the opportunity of opening up an e-paper account. Unfortunately I have just realised that the app is very limited to a few appstores. I have an Amazon Tablet, which makes my reading easier, however, I failed to find the Nation ePaper app in the Amazon appstore. I kindly request you to look into this matter for me. 
Carol Beyanga (ME – Digital): The Nationmedia e-papers app, is not on the Amazon app store. However, using your Amazon tablet, you can visit the Google Playstore and then access the e-paper from there. Please find the link here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nation.epapers

Send your feedback/complaints to 
public-editor@ug.nationmedia.com or 
call/text on +256 776 500725.