Kampala — THE Department of Mass Communication at Makerere University has been designated a UNESCO centre of excellence in journalism training in Africa.
This was revealed during a dinner held to mark 20 years of the department, at the Kampala Serena Hotel on Sunday where First Lady, also Ruhaama MP and state minister for Karamoja Janet Museveni, was guest of honour.
Consequent upon the recognition, the department applied for and received a $36, 000 (about sh78m) grant to help improve the transmission capacity of its radio station, Campus FM, department head Dr. George Lugalambi said.
At inception, he noted, the department admitted less than 20 students, but has over the years evolved into one of the most competitive programmes at the university with many of their graduates now in commanding positions in the industry locally and abroad.
He highlighted plans for multimedia development in hardware and software, digital training in synergy with the faculty of ICT and the university library in order to match global trends.
The First Lady rapped journalists who do not report in a balanced manner, saying they are a disservice to Uganda's social, political and economic development. "Those who cannot be balanced should leave journalism to those who can," she said. She commended the press freedom in Uganda that has seen an explosion in media outlets, expansion of journalism spheres, creating employment for graduates of the discipline.
Acting university vice-chancellor Dr. Lillian Tibatemwa said the mass communication programme pioneered by Makerere 20 years ago led to a change in the way people perceive journalism from a mere craft to a professional field.
The head of the Media Village in South Africa, Graman Vermoote, said the world is moving at a fast pace, and that journalists need to know where they stand in order to communicate effectively.
The New Vision deputy Editor-in-Chief, Barbara Kaija, said the media industry had a long way to go, with a shortage of professionals and gaps like poor renumeration which push journalists into finding better paying jobs.