Journalists@Work: Titilayo Dzabala in Malawi
Titilayo Kumilonje Dzabala is an online journalist for the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), the country’s state broadcaster. She studied English literature and philosophy at university in Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre, where she grew up and still works. The twenty-six year old didn’t plan on becoming a journalist. But now she’s been in the job for more than four years, she loves it – mainly because of the chance it gives her to tell people’s stories. Tech-crazy, Titilayo dreams of one day producing more multi-media content and spending more time blogging about the stories that matter to her. Titilayo talked to onMedia’s Kate Hairsine about the excitement of constantly learning, why she loves editing and how shooting video can drive her crazy.
Why did you become a journalist?
I didn’t necessary start off planning on becoming a journalist because I did a general degree. I’ve always loved reading and information, so at the end of my studies I thought about journalism or PR. It just just so happened that I was accepted as a radio journalist at MBC. Since then, the passion has grown. Now I am proud to be a journalist because it allows me to tell stories from different points of view for different audiences.
What do you love most about the job?
I love that it allows me to talk to different people in depth about their experiences and provide inspiration for others to learn about that one thing. That way, you actually become an instrument of change. That is a very scary responsibility to have but it is also quite empowering. The other thing I love about my job is that it enables me to help people. My personal interest is helping young people, especially young women, and through my work as a journalist I can now tell them that there is something else out there. All this I’ve been able to do because my work as a journalist takes me to places and allows me to experience new things. So it gives me the power to change my community and move things.
You started off as a radio journalist, then did some television and now you are doing online journalism. Some people find these kind of changes stressful because they always have to learn new things. How do you cope?
I thrive on challenge. So it is very exciting for me to face new challenges. It’s actually when I am in my element. I can get really stressed because I am a perfectionist but at the same time I am really happy when I have met deadline and made personal progress because I have learned something new. And it also has the advantage that someone else – the listeners or Internet visitors – have learned something new just because I have learnt something new.
Which media do you enjoy working in the most?
What I have discovered is that no matter what media I am using, I like editing and actually producing the story. It is kind of like you are creating something – you get to chose the direction of the report. You start of with the different people you have talked to and then you put it all together – I just love when the story starts to flow and progress. I think I was born to do that.
What aspect of journalism do dislike the most?
Taking videos. I am a perfectionist as I already mentioned and so if the lighting is wrong or if someone walks through my video or the shot doesn’t work, I find it stressful. I need something to be perfect and I am a little impatient. And you need patience for video. But I still enjoy it even though it is really frustrating.
What about equipment. Do you have your own?
I use my own recorder and camera for taking photos. It can be a little difficult with equipment at MBC.
What about your phone. You have a smart phone, a Sony Xperia – what do you use that for?
I really love technology and I just love my phone. I sometimes record on it and edit audio using a free app that I got from the Google Playstore. Sometimes it’s a bit frustrating because the buttons are so small but I still use it. I also edit video using Androvid, another free Android app. I also use my phone to keep up with news. I have a BBC app and watch YouTube videos.
What about social media. How do you use them for stories?
I use Facebook to find ideas and to get in touch with people for interviews. Twitter I mainly use personally, not for news. I also have a blog on WordPress but don’t have so much time to keep it up-to-date.
How do you see your future as a journalist?
Because of my large, large interest in technology and because Africa is so behind in this respect, I would like to continue in online. One day, it would be nice to be more freelance so I could follow my interests or perhaps work as a blogger and work somewhere I can make a difference.