It takes commitment and sacrifice: John Ngirachu’s Story
As one of AKU’s pioneer graduates of the Masters in Digital Journalism programme, John Ngirachu shares his experience ahead of his convocation ceremony in February 2020.
Tell us about yourself
I am John Ngirachu and I have been a student of the MA Digital Journalism programme at the Graduate School of media and communications. When I started the MA programme, I was a journalist at the Daily Nation. I am now a communications consultant.
How did you know about the MA in Digital Journalism Programme?
Towards the end of 2017, I saw advertisements in the newspaper for the inaugural programme. We were also encouraged at work by our supervisor to enrol as it was felt it would be useful for the company and also for ourselves as journalists, working in this digital age.
How was your learning experience?
It has been revealing. There are a lot of things we had not thought about working in the newsroom and working in this new media environment. I garnered a lot of insights from my lecturers, fellow students and from studying other global media companies.
How did you balance work and family and studies?
It was quite tough. We had evening classes and I had to learn how to switch my mind to the classroom as opposed to gathering and packaging news. My family had to get used to me coming home later than usual. At times, I would be away on weekends for boot camps, which meant my employer had to allow me to go to class during my shift. It also meant that I had to miss a number of family activities, but my family had to understand that.
When I started working on my thesis, I had to stay up late after work and sometimes wake up earlier than the family. My kids got used to me telling them that I have gone to school. I guess when I graduate, they will see what I have been going to school to do.
Has the program had an impact on your life and career?
Yes, it has. I am more informed now about how the media landscape is, where it is, how it is, why it is here and what is likely to happen in the future. I have also learnt to appreciate that we can create space in the media for better and new forms of story-telling. I had also not gotten used to reflect on the work that I had been doing – like ethics and how to deal with ethical dilemmas. I am now able to see things that are happening in the media and I can understand why they are happening, and I can tell this is happening for this reason because I am now armed with those insights.
What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing the MA in Digital Journalism?
They need to be very committed to what they are doing here and they need to have a sense of where they want to go. They should also start to think about the new knowledge that they want to introduce into the academy through their thesis project. There is room to learn from the students in the earlier cohorts, which may make their journey smoother. I think many who have come from the public university system will be pleasantly surprised at the efficiency of the school.
Apart from having more time for myself and my family, I think I will need some time to reflect and see what I can do. Obviously, I need to start thinking about what am I going to do with my degree.
So, will you practice journalism?
I still practice journalism at Oxygene MCL where I am, as I am involved in managing content creation. The only difference is that I am not in mainstream media.
By Andrew Arinaitwe