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An Interview with Lynn Komugisha, an award-winning journalist

Lynn Komugisha won the 2021 award of “Best Non Communicable Disease Reporter” in the broadcast category in a contest organized by the Non-Communicable Disease Alliance of East Africa. She beat over 150 participants from allover East Africa. Jimmy Siyasa interviewed her.

Describe yourself in 5 words? I am motivated, honest, conscientious, personable, and an Introvert.

What has been the highlight of your journalism career?

 I have had several, and I cannot possibly point to one. I’m still a work in progress. I want to beat my own record and be able to share that with you. I haven’t gotten there yet.

What do you consider the most challenging aspect of your job? 

Quite a number. But the media is such a competitive space and with lots of innovation coming up, one needs to stand out. Standing out to beat the stereotypes around women and the ‘I’m “so and so’s” daughter’ syndrome. Standing out on your own merit grounds is fast-diminishing and it is more of a struggle. But as a woman, you ought to wear an extra thick skin to deal with all that and more.

How did you win the Award?

I have relatives suffering from Non Communicable Diseases (NCD). I have lost a couple of people to cancer and different other kinds of NCDs. So, it hit me that if I do not talk about a problem that affects home (Uganda), then I am doing myself and the audiences a disservice. I shared the idea, with my producer, of having a daily program where we talk about lifestyle diseases and all.  This was in partnership with the NCDs Alliance of Uganda. 

When I heard about the contest, at first, I was reluctant to submit. But a friend encouraged me. A recommendation from my media house was needed, but at that time my bosses were so busy and so it took a few days before I got it. I ended up submitting a few minutes to the close of the deadline. For some reason I was confident that I actually had good work.

How do you handle camera shyness?  

I remember my first time. I was shaking, sweating and stammering, and incoherent. But like I said, I benchmark on myself, the next day it was better, and the next, and next…So be confident. Have your facts. Do the research and open your mind to the camera. Don’t even imagine who is watching… Know someone is, but at the moment, the camera is on you and you’ve got to be your very best.

How did UCU prepare you for the workplace? 

UCU reminds you of being a human being before being anything else. The media kind of puts you on a certain level where some of your achievements and fame can easily get to your head. However, UCU reminded me not to get ahead of myself.  The University also molded me into being more compassionate, kind. Being a ‘Mass Comm’ student as it was referred to then gave us all that we needed to sprout; exposure to different media houses (internship), the equipment we got to use, our lecturers-particularly Ben Bella… we looked forward to his lectures! 

Your favorite gadgets? 

A pair of high-quality, noise cancelling headphones. Definitely, my phone. Reusable Water Bottle.

What would you be doing if not journalism?

I would be a Lawyer. A Criminal Lawyer. Fascinating! A Counsellor; I love being able to help someone navigate a challenge.

Any role models?

 I-no doubt-look up to many amazing women, but as I got into the workspace, I realized I was unlike any other. I’m my own. I benchmark myself. I want to beat my own record. Growing up I admired Patricia Okeod, then on Capital FM, and other media personalities but I didn’t expect to become one.

What schools have you been to? St. Hellens Primary School in Mbarara. Masheruka Girls Secondary School in Sheema District and Uganda Christian University-main campus. Currently Pursuing an MA in International Relations elsewhere.

Favorite Gadgets? A pair of high-quality, noise cancelling headphones. Definitely, my phone. Reusable Water Bottle.

How does your faith influence your work ethic? My faith in Christ is my grounding force for every move I make. He is my guide that keeps me on the right track.

What would you be doing if not journalism? I would be a Lawyer. A Criminal Lawyer. Fascinating!A Counsellor; I love being able to help someone navigate a challenge.

Any role models, who? I-no doubt-look up to many amazing women, but as I got into the workspace, I realized I was unlike any other. I’m my own. I benchmark myself. I want to beat my own record. Growing up I admired Patricia Okeod, then on Capital FM, and other media personalities but I didn’t expect to become one.

What has been the highlight of your journalism career? I have had several, and I cannot possibly point to one. I’m still a work in progress. I want to beat my own record and be able to share that with you. I haven’t gotten there yet.

What do you consider the most challenging aspect of your job? Oh boy! Quite a number. But the media is such a competitive space and with lots of innovation coming up, one needs to stand out. Standing out to beat the stereotypes around women and the ‘I’m “so and so’s” daughter’ syndrome. Standing out on your own merit grounds is fast-diminishing and it is more of a struggle. But as a woman, you ought to wear an extra thick skin to deal with all that and more.

How do you handle camera shyness? Hahaa. I remember my first time. I was shaking, sweating and stammering, and incoherent. But like I said, I benchmark on myself, the next day it was better, and the next, and next…So be confident. Have your facts. Do the research and open your mind to the camera. Don’t even imagine who is watching… Know someone is, but at the moment, the camera is on you and you’ve got to be your very best.

Any fond memories of your UCU experience? First of all, that was my first time as a free bird. Being a ‘Mass comm’ student as it was referred to then, was exciting and the now-faculty, gave us all that we needed to sprout; exposure to different media houses (internship), the equipment we got to use, our lecturers-particularly Ben Bella… how looked forward to his lectures! What a beautiful time I spent there!

What do you like about the new changes and developments, overtime at the UCU Journalism Faculty?

Truthfully, I still believe UCU continues to be the best at this. I have never been prouder and I recommend anyone pursuing their journalism career to go to UCU. The best.

Lynn komugisha- VISION GROUP BROADCAST JOURNALIST

Walk Us Though Your Work Experience/ Places

Spirit FM, before it moved to Namirembe (2007), Kampala FM- formerly- now FM J (2008). New vision /vision group (2008), Capital FM (2009), Vision radio in Mbarara (2010-2014), X FM, Urban TV, New Vision TV (2014 to-date)

What advice can you give to young women aspiring to work in the newsroom? Broadcast is challenging in that you need a strong mind. Heavy research. Jimmy, nothing’s going to come so easy. Resilience is key. You must be ready to meet people going to challenge you. Also, there’s ‘No money in media. Journalism rides on passion. If your passion is enriched with qualification then you have a place (nodding).

How can they safeguard against sexual harassment, being a major challenge women face in the newsroom? My tough demeanor has played a major role in who approached me and who doesn’t. The media house is one of the most dangerous places for a young woman. Everyone wants to hit on you. Men are going to approach you whether or not you like it. It’s in their wiring.  What matters is your response. But, do not let your guard down.

What keeps you going/ inspiration? My faith in God. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

Lynn Komugisha, received the award of “Best NCDs journalist” 2021 at the national level, in the broadcast category, from a contest organized by the NCDs Alliance of East Africa. Jimmy Siyasa for The Standard.

Given your heavy work schedule, for how many hours do you sleep on average, daily? I have made it my goal to sleep for at least 6 hours. This I determined after discovering the power of a good night’s sleep.

What do you believe is your God-given ministry/ vocation? I think as I grew older, I realized that God gave me the gift to be able to speak to multitudes, to educate and inform but also listen and give guidance, and hold their hands through whatever trials.

Got a personal mantra? Everything happens for a reason. If I lose myself, I lose it all.

Thanks so much for your kindness, Lynn. I can’t understate this!

My pleasure. Thank you for the opportunity.

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