Jeanine Fankam

Journalist for the Cameroon Tribune and President of the journalists’ association JAFEC (Journalistes d’action, Femmes de cœur)

How did the fellowship motivate you?

Firstly, I’d just like to say what an honour it is to be awarded a media fellowship. Making it to the last 15 of over 800 applicants is an achievement in itself. That gives me motivation for my future career.

The fellowship gave me the opportunity to get to grips with new digital tools that allow me to address a wider audience. Above all though, it was about producing innovative content that counters the stereotypes often found in reporting on Africa.

For over a year now I have been focusing more on researching issues close to the heart of Africans and Africa, issues that allow my audience to discover new sides to the continent and its hidden treasures. I’ve gathered a whole host of topics, which are now just waiting to take shape.

What do you think needs to change about reporting on Africa?

Africa’s established media should provide the necessary funding to become well-known through strong professional work. Correspondents and special reporters should have a higher profile, and more space must be given to extensive research and reports. The cut-and-paste era in media reporting on Africa by Africans must end.

As for the way Western media handle information about Africa, there is still much that is unacceptable: too many prejudices, too many subtle, derogatory comments. But above all there can be no justification for the African Union not building its own strong media platform in Africa, where Africans address the realities of Africa from an African perspective.

I advocated for this with my own association JAFEC (Journalistes d’action, Femmes de cœur) and other Cameroonian journalists back in 2016 in Yaoundé at a meeting with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the then President of the African Union. I plan to repeat my plea.

‘African journalists know how to achieve a lot with virtually nothing’

Where can European media learn from African colleagues?

African journalists know how to achieve a lot with virtually nothing. If you go into any editorial office, you will find captivating content, painstaking work, perfect production. But if you look at the conditions under which it was produced, the salaries earned … you won’t believe your eyes. Good African journalists are resilient. Their passion for their profession surmounts all difficulties.