LUMBASI: Gender card gets used against women in journalism, and that must change

The self-appointed president of the single ladies fraternity as she calls herself shares her experience in the job, future of journalism and why she can’t entertain the idea of marriage

LUMBASI: Gender card gets used against women in journalism, and that must change
Jackie Lumbasi. Courtesy Photos

Radio host Jackie Lumbasi spoke to Rwanda Post’s Johnson Kanamugire on her recent resignation from Royal FM, the station she joined in 2018 from Kampala-based Capital FM. She introduced Kigali In The Morning, Rwanda’s first English breakfast talk show and later rose to double up as the station manager.

The self-appointed president of the single ladies fraternity as she calls herself shares her experience in the job, future of journalism and why she can’t entertain the idea of marriage.

Below are excerpts

People are wondering why and where Jackie is going? Tell us

Something has happened to me two previous times when I had to leave a job; a time reaches when you feel like you have given all you could to the job and it has also given you its all that insisting on maintaining the relationship just doesn't work.

I have chosen to take a well-deserved break from a work routine that started in the early 2000s. I am not ready to say where I'm heading next, but one thing I can assure you is that I'll still be in the communication space. Give me a few more days and I will call you with the breaking news.

What were your biggest fears coming to work in Rwanda?

Language was my greatest concern, I was moving to a francophone country to host the only English breakfast show, not sure what percentage of the population would appreciate it or even take part in the program.

Secondly, I was coming from an extroverted community to one that is relatively introverted, a radio show is meant to inform, educate and entertain, this process can only be considered a success if there is interaction between the host and the listeners.

In the beginning, I was not sure how long it would take to build a community around the work that I was doing on air.

As the journey comes to an end, what has the experience been?

It has been awesome. I have been truly honored to serve the audience, which was such a crucial part of my work life. I have received immense support and love from the first day I went on air, almost five years ago.

I came in with a desire to contribute to the Rwandan media landscape and if the support I have received since I announced my resignation is anything to go by then the contribution was made, and its significance will never be forgotten. God willing.

Jackie Lumbasi at work. Courtesy Photo

Having practised journalism in different countries, where do you see the profession and media business headed in view of emerging disruptive tech?

There has never been a tougher time to be a journalist, especially a trained one. We have a huge responsibility to protect and uphold the ethos of a profession that seems to attract more and more people without the need for academic and professional qualifications because technology has given everyone with access to technology, a platform to 'broadcast.'

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The way media houses were creating and selling content before is not the same way they do today or will do in future because times have caused a situation where there is a struggle for advertising revenues between individuals and organizations.

Unlike before when a business owner had to contact a media house for advertising rates, today they call an influencer for their rate card.

A person dealing in automobile accessories today would either advertise on radio or pay a mechanic to start a show on their social media platform and he will use their products as well as recommend them to his clients. This makes it business unusual for the media houses.

In your view, who is the journalist of the future? Do you think training institutions are shaping him/her?

I left the school of Mass Communication years ago, so I'm not sure what students are being taught today. If the curriculum is exactly what it was during my time, then training institutions are not shaping that journalist.

The journalist of the future is shaped by their own curiosity to know what is happening around them and the globe at large. The profession requires one to be steps ahead of everyone else, and teach themselves more than anyone or any institution they work for would.

People who follow your work know you are the self-appointed president of the single ladies fraternity. Are you still the chairperson?

That's a funny question, I am still the chairperson of that association, and from the look of things, the status quo is not changing soon. Unlike other positions that attract competition, this one seems to be less attractive. Nobody wants a cold bed.

You once told the media that marriage is creepy and you won’t consider it. This was way back: why did you say that, and how has your view evolved with time? 

At the time, I was a relationship aunt, counseling married men and women on a daily basis. 
Radio has this power it gives someone that all of a sudden, they feel or behave like a teacher, a pastor, a parent, and even a counselor.

The many conversations I held with these people made me fear the institution. I like to say it's not for the faint-hearted. The age factor makes it more complicated.

The older one grows, the harder it has become to even entertain the thought. Where do I start, how? I have failed to find an answer, so I choose to wish the best those that are stronger than me.

Back to matters journalism, are you satisfied with the position women occupy in this profession, and what do you say to young girls?

Nope, I'm not satisfied. I feel like women have worked so hard to prove themselves in this field, but they'll often be bypassed.

There is a need to create room for women to grow in this field so that the younger generation of females is inspired to join. To the young girl interested in journalism, go for it, you're on the right path.

It's challenging and fun at the same time. Be sure it's truly what you want to do and when you get an opportunity work as a professional not a woman. The woman card gets used against women in journalism all the time.

Also read: Plagiarism and why our journalists keep sinning