Each week, frayintermedia highlights a journalist doing good work on the continent and honours them as our #FaveOfTheWeek. Meet Cassien Tribunal Aungane, a journalist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who first at the 2020 “Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards for the DR Congo in the online category. The awards recognise reporting that separates fact from myth. Aungane runs a blog focused on diplomacy and development.
Q. How did you become a journalist?
A. I became a journalist when I was 21 years old. I was actually a student in my first year, trying to be professional and at the same time being a student because it was my passion to be a journalist.
So in my first year in university, I had some problems paying my student tuition and I remember that it was very tough. So I decided to work as a journalist because I was able to do it. I had the capacity to collect, analyse and broadcast information. So as I already knew how to do it, I went to a radio station and started to be a journalist. And I did it well. So I was able to pay my student fees and from the first year to the end of the school at university, I paid all the fees working as a journalist.
And that is how I became a journalist. So it was a good experience for me. My advice to young people looking for someone to help them study is they have to be very, very brave and be able to take responsibility and do whatever they can do to reach their goals.
Q. What does being one of the first prize winners at the Merck Foundation “Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards for the Democratic Republic of the Congo mean to you?
A. It's such a big pleasure, such a big honour to be rewarded by the Merck Foundation. We are trying to make people be more informed about what is going on, like with Ebola and HIV. And this year we discovered that also COVID-19 was very, very dangerous.
So when I saw the message about this contest I jumped in. I said to myself that I have to do it. The following steps will be very interesting to us. I just saw that we are going to start the masterclass programme by the Merck Foundation as the winners.
Q. What makes an exceptional journalist?
A. Exceptional journalism is about sacrifice, is about willingness, is about the passion to inform people, the passion to make sure people are confident in what you are writing, what you're saying on the radio, what you are doing every day. People should be confident in being informed by you.
Q. What stories should African journalists be telling more?
A. I think African journalists must focus on subjects related to development. We are in an environment where people are very, very poor. They don't know how to live, they don't know how to spend their days because they don't know where to find food, where to find money.
They don't have jobs. So the situation is very, very, very difficult. The daily life in Africa, in most of the countries, is very rough, very difficult, so people must know how to take charge for themselves, they must know what to do to become more independent, to not just follow politics.
So journalists of Africa must focus on development, but also any subject related to health is very important.
Many African journalists focus on politics, economy and different high-level subjects but there are many, many subjects. Healthcare, environment and development. Don’t always talk about politics because, you know, politics doesn't solve all our problems.
Q. Why, despite all the challenges in the profession, do you stay in journalism?
A. I can say I stay focused on journalism because I love it because this is my passion. This is what I decided to do long ago. And whatever I do, I will always be a journalist. I have a passion to go find information, to go to sources and I like being focused on a specific subject.
For example, some time in my life I was a healthcare access specialist. I remember being an environmentalist, also sometime during my story, I also specialised in the economy. I've spent my life doing different things, so now I focus on diplomacy and development.
I think being a journalist is a passion and should be a passion and be something you really want to do. I want to be doing this job in my society and wherever I am, whatever I do, I'm a journalist.