Can you introduce yourself and share a bit about your background?
Well, I’m Patrick Ssentongo, a Ugandan multi-media Journalist very passionate about telling stories around the Entertainment, Arts and Culture Industry. I originate from a staunch catholic family and my love for God is readily apparent. I am the last born of my parents and with no doubt one of the best products from the evening days of the last century. I come from a diverse background with experiences spanning various spaces in the Ugandan Media Industry. I currently work with the Uganda National Cultural Centre as a Media Relations Officer, The Daily Monitor Newspaper under the Nation Media Group and also run SPINERS, a personal entertainment and lifestyle news website among other personal projects. I enjoy reading, traveling and engaging in meaningful conversations with others.
How have your early experiences influenced your journey?
My early experiences have been instrumental in shaping my journey and have provided a strong foundation for my current endeavors. I started out at a young age doing precisely what I am doing now. During my formative years, I had a deep-seated passion for crafting simple news stories, whether in the school environment or within my community. At that time, I wasn’t fully aware that I was essentially honing a skill that would later define my career in adulthood. While I did venture into other areas along the way, I consistently remained within the broader realm of the media industry.
I explored the world of broadcast media, specifically Radio and TV, at one point in my journey. However, fate had other plans for me, and it became evident that my true calling lay within the editorial and communications facets of this profession.
My early experiences were invaluable in helping me discover my true self at an early stage in life. They allowed me to make mistakes, learn from them, and propel myself forward. Moreover, they provided me with invaluable exposure, enabling me to establish contacts and connections that have served as guiding lights on my path to where I am today. These early experiences have not only influenced my journey but have also been a constant source of inspiration, resilience, and personal growth.
What motivated you to pursue a career in journalism, particularly focusing on writing? Was this aspiration present from your childhood days?
Well, like explained in the past question. For me it was passion at first and circumstances around me further pushed me to pursue Journalism. Writing was indeed my entry point into the field of journalism as a young man in my primary school. I only switched to broadcast when opportunity availed itself along the way of my writing journey.
Is Patrick in a relationship?
Hahaha. Is it really fair to answer unfair questions? Well, I am seeing someone’s daughter and looking forward to a life together ahead.
Away from reporting for Monitor and Spiners as a writer, is there anything else you do like a Side Hustle?
Certainly! I’m heavily involved in several side hustles that keep me quite busy. I specialize in media booking, buying, and accreditation for some of the top events in town. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working with prominent brands like Talent Africa, Hennessy, and Sautiana Records, to name a few. Additionally, I take on emceeing roles for corporate functions and handle PR editorial work for various companies. The other is serving as a booking agent for some of Uganda’s top artists. I’m excited to share that I’m in the process of formalizing all these activities into an agency that I plan to launch early next year. This agency will take my side hustles to a whole new level, allowing me to expand and potentially employ more people in the process.
What inspired you to leave your career as a television host to writing?
My decision to leave TV was driven by a strategic career growth plan. I realized that my future in the media industry extended beyond being in front of the camera. I had a clear vision that at some point, I would transition into the fields of PR and communication. Focusing more on editorial work in a newsroom provided me with a better foundation to work towards that goal. Writing has always been my primary passion in the media, which further motivated my move. In essence, my stint in television occurred during my younger years when I sought to enjoy the perks associated with being on TV while still in school—such as the recognition and privileges that came with it. However, I was always aware that my time in that role would be relatively short-lived, and I had a broader career path in mind.
What is that one talent that you are most proud of and has been able to help you achieve a lot?
That’s Emceeing, which I pursued quite early in my career. It was this skill that initially opened numerous doors for me. Emceeing provided me with access to various stages where I crossed paths with many individuals who would later offer me significant opportunities. This talent eventually led me to the world of television, where I had the chance to connect with a wide range of people who played pivotal roles in shaping my career. Even though I eventually moved on from it as my primary focus in life, many people still recognize me to this day as MC PATO, my stage name at the time.
Would you share your insights about your time during the fellowship and, specifically, how the mentorship program contributed to your current journalistic path?
That’s truly one of the most significant highlights of my career. I was fortunate to secure that fellowship at a crucial moment when I was transitioning from TV journalism back to print and online journalism. This fellowship provided me with the opportunity to refine my skills in a different facet of journalism, and I’m immensely grateful to the MCI team for granting me this chance. During my time in the fellowship, I had the privilege of being mentored by Herbert Benon Oluka. His guidance and expertise piqued my interest in exploring various other journalism beats, and since then, I haven’t looked back. While I primarily identify as an arts and culture journalist, I’ve successfully covered substantial stories in the realms of health, politics, social injustice, and investigative reporting. I owe all these achievements to the invaluable experience and knowledge I gained during that fellowship.
When it comes to spending quality time, do you prefer indoor or outdoor adventures for an ideal date?
At this point in my life, I lean towards indoor settings because my privacy is a top priority, and having a limited, controlled space provides me with the solitude I seek. In the past, I was more inclined towards outdoor environments, and I enjoyed them anytime, anywhere.
How do you maneuver through a lot of things you handle and still stay focused?
Honestly, it’s not easy to manage my schedule, but I’ve found a solution that works for me. I prioritize my tasks based on their importance and plan my time accordingly. In my role as a journalist, deadlines are a constant challenge, so I often put in extra hours to meet them. When I’m in my office job, I focus on completing the tasks assigned to me during my regular hours. I make the most of my weekends and free time outside of the office to pursue my side hustles. However, what keeps me going is a clear understanding of my goals and why I’m doing what I do. I’ve reached an age where working hard isn’t a choice; it’s a necessity because I need to secure my financial future.
Who is Patrick’s cherished artist and track?
I will keep it Ugandan. I love everything about Irene Ntale. Any of her songs would do me great justice on any given day.
What is the most expensive item you own?
It’s my PC, an Apple MacBook Pro M1. It cost me over 7 million. I decided to treat myself to this gift on my recent birthday to streamline and enhance my productivity.
Any successful business decisions that you made that had an impact on your company growth that you would want to share?
When we launched Spiners, it initially faced a slow start. Advertisers weren’t immediately on board, and our readership didn’t grow rapidly either. Faced with this situation, my partners and colleagues and I made a deliberate choice to exercise patience and focus on enriching our content. In hindsight, this decision has proven to be incredibly rewarding, as our patience has paid off and continues to yield positive results.
Who is your inspiration in your journalism career?
My primary source of inspiration is the individuals who engage with the content I create. It’s the feedback I receive from readers who not only read my stories but also resonate with them. These are the people who motivate and drive me to pursue a career in journalism.
Who is that one person you are grateful to?
Its God for me in heaven, on earth its my parents and family. That combination is the real show and business to my life.
What is your advice to young people / young journalists who aspire to be like you
Just get down to work. Show up, put yourself out there, and do the work. Instead of fixating on the monetary aspect when you’re starting out, focus on crafting compelling stories and personal growth within your chosen career. Money will naturally follow as a result of your dedication and perseverance. Additionally, be adaptable to the evolving dynamics of the industry. Today’s media landscape is vastly different from what it used to be. Embrace the changes and leverage the available opportunities to carve your niche in the world of journalism.
Where do you see Patrick in five years to come?
I see myself alive. A happily married man with a daughter or son at the time. I see myself more mature in faith and this thing called life. Career wise, I value stability and longevity. In 5 years, I still plan to be in Journalism, perhaps in an upper Editorial Role so as to have an opportunity to mentor others. Additionally, I have ambitions of establishing a leading PR and Communications firm in the region, strategically preparing for my eventual retirement from traditional employment in the following years.