Rebecca Jane Harshbarger is an American journalist freelancing at the New Vision newspaper. The New Vision Group is the biggest multimedia house in Uganda. It publishes 8 newspapers and 5 magazines. It owns 3 FM radio stations and a television network. (www.newvision.co.ug)
Rebecca has a Bachelors degree in African studies and a Masters degree in journalism. She is a specialist in blogging, podcasting, print and web reporting. Last summer she was an intern at the New Vision and since March this year a freelance journalist at the Saturday and Sunday Vision’s business desks. Usually her editor gives her a story idea and she follows it up in the field. She has many contacts in the field that supply her information. Her contacts are based in companies, the stock exchange and other sectors of the economy.
Rebecca reads a lot, watches television and asks her contacts many questions to expand her information base. She has also written several articles outside her expertise like:
– Recovery centre in Gulu for sexual violence survivors
– Men and fitness
– Youth offenders
On a normal day, Rebecca takes notes as she chases a story. She also uses a tape recorder, reads a lot and makes many follow-up phone calls. She later types in her story and sends it to the editor. She has not yet had a story rejected, but sometimes she re writes it.
On her use of new media tools, Rebecca admitted that they assist her a lot during her day-to-day beat. She always has a digital camera with her to take pictures for her stories.
She uses the Google search engine a lot for research and beefing up stories. She also uses BBC, Washington Times, The Independent and other news websites for background information.
Face book is her best Social Networking Site. She has over 300 contacts in East Africa. It helps her for interviews, consultations, searches expert contacts for comments on current subjects for example if she is looking for a comment from the man on the street, she just asks her contacts. She is also a member of Twitter and LinkedIn.
Within the editorial the internal network: the intranet is used for communication and editing and correcting stories. The mobile phone is also another communication gadget that is used for both internal and external communication. Texting is more convenient for Rebecca, than calling. She also claimed she liked the way Ugandans use text messages for communication. Sometimes, journalists receive text storylines and set time to talk.
Rebecca’s blogs are www.ugandabeatslivejournal.com and www.ugandabeatswordpress.com. She uses them for searching and story ideas. She uses her computer at home to video podcasts. It helps her to get in touch with international news and to download American programmes. In the morning or late at night I sometimes log onto the New Vision system because then it is not to busy and can be quite fast.
I have 3 email addresses, which I never close. I check on them from time to time, I never log out. I receive news stories, press releases and contact information through my email addresses.