Each week, frayintermedia highlights a journalist doing good work on the continent and honours them as our #FaveOfTheWeek. Meet Kenyan journalist Victoria Rubadiri, the 2020 recipient of the prestigious 2020 Komla Dumor Award. The award honours Komla Dumor, a revered BBC World News presenter, who died suddenly in 2014.
Q. How did you become a journalist?
A. I have to say it really began with my parents. They both were in media and I actually grew up on a compound that hosted a radio station and so they really began to inspire that love for the media and storytelling from a very young age. I actually had my first voice-over when I was three years old and so as I grew up I was surrounded by this world of journalism and storytelling.
My dad without fail would tune in to the BBC's Focus on Africa. And you know from then on I just became an avid listener. I would watch journalists who really invested in their craft and were exceptional in what they did. People like Christiane Amanpour or Bernard Shaw on CNN. And from there the bug bit me... through high school, you know, did everything that an aspiring journalist would do.
I joined the high school newspaper. I applied to university and went to Temple University and did a broadcast journalism Bachelor of Arts degree. I came back home to Kenya and started my career in radio and from there moved on to TV. And the rest is history.
Q. What does winning the 2020 BBC World News Komla Dumor Award mean to you?
A. It's an incredible honour being recognized in such a way and on such a scale. BBC is such a respected, reputable news organization globally. And, on top of that, knowing what Komla Dumor represented - not just for the continent of Africa, but globally in terms of bringing that level of excellence to the global stage - it is amazing. And so winning this award is extremely gratifying, coming alongside some amazing, extremely talented journalists who were awarded this before me.
It is an honor and it's extremely humbling just knowing what we are now kind of expected to walk into. Once you get this award, there is weight that's on your shoulders because you're representing a whole continent, a whole craft, a whole industry, and you really want to do it justice. You really want to give your best.
And so for me, I see it as a huge and great responsibility to continue doing the continent justice through the stories that I tell and ensuring that it's as real and authentic to the African experience and African context as possible.
Q. What stories should African journalists be telling?
A. I think in terms of the stories African journalists should be telling more of, COVID-19 has really shown us what that should be. And by that I mean that when the pandemic hit Africa, it really decimated very fragile systems when it came to healthcare and when it came to weak economies. It showed that we really had not invested in certain critical and fundamental areas that would protect a large part of our populations on the continent. And so we suffered because of structural inefficiencies.
It really got me thinking about the kinds of stories that we tell. It's really important, yes, to highlight the things that are going wrong, to talk about issues like corruption, because we have to hold our leaders and institutions accountable. However, we also need to tell stories with solutions. We need to be solution-oriented and driven when it comes to the stories that we tell.
Q. What makes an exceptional journalist?
A. I think an exceptional journalist is one that understands their responsibility to the public, and that's to inform and to educate them, and help them make sense of the world around them. And also understanding your role as really being a surrogate for the audience, be it to the viewer or the reader, because you have licence by virtue of what you do to sit across from a leader and ask the tough questions. It's an opportunity that the average citizen does not have.
And as a result, you have to be prepared. You have to have the facts. So research is a huge part of being an exceptional journalist, getting as much information as you can on a particular subject matter before you head into an interview or do a story.
You have to dig deeper into stories that were run. I find many times we have a very poor follow-up culture in the media because of how the news cycle is designed. Things change on the hour. It's so dynamic and you want to be the first to get the story out. But very few times do we step back a day later, a week later, a month later, or even a year later to look at what that story really mean exactly?
Q. What advice would you give a budding journalist?
A. A piece of advice I would give to a budding journalist is to always remain curious about the world around you. Constantly ask questions, never take anything wholesale, and you'll find some of the best in this industry. Never fail to ask why and always dig a bit deeper. That always helps you get a richer and more robust story. And of course, that is a huge value to the public who consume your content.
Another thing, always keep yourself in the position of a student and it's kind of connected to the first point. Always be willing to grow, never, ever arrive, because when you do, you stop being of value to those around you. And understand the huge responsibility that you have by the virtue of holding the title “journalist”.
Is there a journalist you would like to see featured as a #FaveOfTheWeek? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.