For 4 years, Frenny had a successful career at one of the world’s leading international broadcasters, the BBC. Join us for a Facebook Live session with her on July. 6th, as she shares with us how journalism has been a profitable career for her.
Journalism as a sector is evolving, and there are plenty of job opportunities in the field. However, Aspiring journalists have to build their experience and gather certain skill sets to thrive in the industry.
If you’re interested in starting (or growing) a career as a media Motherland Mogul, then you have a lot to learn from Frenny Jowi.
Frenny started her career in journalism as an intern at the BBC African Bureau in Nairobi and quickly scaled through her career as a journalist, amplifying African voices and stories.
Join Frenny on Thursday, July 6th, for a 30-minute Facebook Live session where she’ll be discussing journalism as a profitable career choice, and the skills aspiring journalists need to acquire.
Register for this Facebook Live below and ask Frenny all your pressing questions.
Personal PR: Social media etiquette and how it impacts your professionalism
Why young Africans should demand quality content from media outlets(African advocates of public interest journalism)
Facebook Live Details:
Date: Thursday, July 6th, 2017
Time: 2pm Lagos / 3pm Johannesburg / 4pm Nairobi
Facebook Live with Frenny Jowi, Journalist and Media consultant, sharing insights on the skills aspiring journalists need to acquire to thrive in the industry.. Join the She Leads Africa community by visiting SheLeadsAfrica.org/join .
Frenny Jowi is a journalist, digital media and PR consultant who is currently consulting atMedia Focus on Africa, as a radio producer, media relations trainer and digital journalism trainer. She also works as a volunteer youth mentor andfreelance journalist.
For 4 years Frenny had a successful career at one of the world’s leading international broadcasters, the BBC.
While working for BBC Africa both in Kenya and the United Kingdom, she led several productions including creating digital content for younger audiences and news coverage ofhistoric President Obama visit to Africa.
In June 2016, she took one of the lead roles in setting up Kenya’s first 24-hour news channel, KTN News. Her work helped direct the day to day running of the newsroom and training journalists on storytelling and social media skills.
She has a BA in media studies from the University of Nairobi.
Frenny Jowi is a journalist, a digital media and PR consultant. She also creates media coverage strategies with a bias on social media campaigns. Currently Frenny is the lead consultant at Media Focus on Africa, as a media relations trainer, digital journalism trainer, and radio producer.
For 4 years Frenny had a successful career at one of the world’s leading international broadcasters, the BBC. While working for BBC Africa both in Kenya and the United Kingdom, she led several productions including creating digital content for younger audiences and news coverage of historic president Obama visit to Africa.
Showing off her inner #MotherlandMogul, Frenny is also the Founder Image Masters PR & Communications, where she works in partnership with the UK-based Peter Burdin Africa Foundation and world roving Ilona Eveleens Media.
Tell us, how did you get to the BBC from a local Kenyan media house?
I worked briefly at a little-known community radio station, Exodus Network, then moved into a giant newsroom, the Nation Media Group headquarters in Nairobi. It was my first real experience of working in a converged in newsroom. I enjoyed the complexity of things. KTN came to recruit from my school when I was in my third year. My adventurous self then jumped into TV journalism. All this while, the editors made me file international stories as a trainee reporter.
The tone of the wire copies about Africa made me uncomfortable. I wondered, where was Africa’s genuine voice on the global debate and take on issues? I wanted the news through African eyes for the world. As a young African I was best placed to tell the story. The international broadcaster I had grown up listening to, was the first to spot my talent, so I joined as an intern after doing some voice test, translation and script writing interviews.
I started off as an intern at the East Africa Bureau in Nairobi and quickly gained skills as a bilingual reporter and producer for BBC Swahili and many other BBC World Service Programmes/ My favourite was and still is the Fifth Floor Programme.
I told the African story as I had dreamt. I was nominated for the 2014 Kenya Annual Journalism Excellence in Journalism Awards.
Moving to London to work for the BBC was one the most exciting moments in my career at the BBC. I loved London’s palace gardens! Kensington was my best, the Gothic architecture and the Thames during summer.
After one year of doing so much including producing President Obama’s visit to Africa, my work visa practically sent me packing! That was not a bad thing, I was to wait for one year cool off period to renew my work visa, but then came flooding ideas of what I could do at home instead of a rigorous visa application process.
At the time when I lived in London, there was a growing anti-migrant sentiment. My work visa had labeled me such, migrant staff. London treated me well, but I don’t want to shy away from saying the migrant stories made me very uncomfortable.
I was working from the centre of the world when waves of Brexit became more pronounced. I was right at the centre of one of the world’s most influential broadcasters when news of drowning African migrants would dominate the news for weeks. Meeting my former schoolmates who had settled in London permanently, we often talked much about we could do for the continent, it wasn’t just talk for me. I am back home to do something for the continent.
Why do you call yourself a media entrepreneur?
When I started working in the newsroom, I realized the industry was evolving fast and profits were put first. I felt that this compromised storytelling as public interest was given second priority or none at all.
I also saw the potential in digital migration and social media that opened up space for multiple media houses. This was supported with more democratic space in Kenya, that allowed countless radio and TV stations to operate freely.
So, I sought to reap profits from the growing media space. At the same time, I wanted to rigorously vouch for a public-interest journalism model. Despite lacking experience in running a business, I registered my company and started off pitching for work as a communications consultant and content producer. I was confident the myriad new radio and TV stations needed quality content. It was just the right time to turn my journalism skills into a strong business idea.
My company, Image Masters, had been a dormant Facebook page for four years. I breathed life into it, created a company profile and hit the ground running producing for the BBC’s Arts Daily Programme. I then moved on to consult for KTN, a leading TV station in Kenya that was then setting up Kenya’s first 24-hour news channel.
Since then, I have worked with many other clients create alternative educative content for younger audiences. My biggest project now radio plays and shows themed on women leadership. I have a bias for social media which many organizations are now embracing as mainstream.
One year on, I am now proudly self-employed and working with great partners to deliver for clients. I am leveraging on partnerships to compensate for the need of staff. The future can only be bright.
What is the first thing any young woman who wants to start out as a media entrepreneur do?
Let confidence and courage lead you. Never muffle your dreams thinking that you are not ready yet. Carefully reconsider your talents, skills, and networks. Figure out how much of your abilities are lying underutilized. Get to work.
I know you may suddenly think, ‘oh I don’t have the experience’ Think again, you can lay paving for a new path and prove the untested ground. Don’t be lured into the comfort of the already obvious that’s assumed to guarantee financial stability and predictability.
Why do you choose to remain a journalist even as an entrepreneur?
I believe in the power of good storytelling. Stories make or break our world.
I still feel that the African story is yet to be told in it’s totally and I am still searching to see the African face, accent, and style in the global story. Most international broadcasters still have a very western tone to the African story, and now China is here for a hundred years I am told! We can’t leave this African story to others to tell.
What steps are you taking to remodel the paradigm of journalism in Africa?
Wow! This is the tough question now… I have been in talks with partners and organisations that work with journalists. It’s not easy to say this is what we should or should not do. But it’s clear that what we need is a bold type of journalism that brings to life the true story of Africa that is rich, yes rich.
Look at all the young and old brilliant people living in and outside the continent. Africa’s boom of oil and gas discoveries, bursting with solar energy, the resilience of nations despite political upheavals and a draining colonial past.
In my experience, I find journalists and their stories trapped in between commercial interests of media owners and political muscles of the repressive governments. True media freedoms remain slippery. We cannot remain silent about it. We need to protect the space for quality public interest journalism. Everyone is responsible, the audiences, the journalists, and the government.
Why have we let our public tax-payer-funded national broadcasters to fall into the hands of politicians and freedom-smothering governments?
Seeing the impact of my work on people’s lives. Also when I travel for work, that’s to find a story, I feel so cheered up!
What are you most proud of when it comes to your work?
Many times, I have worked beyond bare minimum working hours to get a story aired or published. I do it from the bottom of my heart believing it will make a difference no matter how small.
Last year I volunteered to write one story about the struggles of breastfeeding working African mothers, my story formed part of a global debate on breastfeeding and maternity rights for mothers. Stories are all I can give the world.
If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.
Didi Akinyelure is a producer and business news anchor who hosts the CNBC Africa morning show called “Open Exchange, West Africa”. She is also the 2016 winner of the prestigious BBC World News “Komla Dumor Awards”. Didi calls herself an accidental journalist since she never had any formal education in journalism.
With a financial background, a passion for real estate and telling African stories, Didi wanted to be a media entrepreneur who makes and sells contents to news networks. Instead, she found herself on live television after being discovered by the Country Manager of CNBC Africa. Didi believes that success has no specific format and with passion, preparation, hard work and research, one can achieve anything.
Tell us a brief history of your career before CNBC?
Before CNBC, I worked with a financial advisory company in the UK to make some money since investment firms pay very well but my passion was real estate. I did not know where I developed the passion but I knew it was there so I started attending real estate investment seminars to learn more about it. After working for a while with the financial advisory company, I decided to branch out from financial planning to real estate. I then got a job at Barclays Wealth Management where I purchased two properties.
After indulging in my passion for real estate, I became an investor and moved back to Nigeria to work with asset management division of investment bank, Oceanic Capital for slightly over two years. I then resigned from my position due to the financial crisis which made things difficult for the company. The capital side of the company got mixed with banking and most of us did not want that since this resulted in being paid less. My job became less interesting and exciting so I saw it as an opportunity to chase what I was passionate about. Thus, changing the perception of Africa by telling the African story through real estate and real estate investment.
Why and how did you switch to journalism? What led you to work for CNBC?
Journalism was never part of the plan. The plan was to pursue real estate investment in Nigeria. However, I found out that one needs lots of capital to be able to pursue this career. While in the UK, it is very easy for someone out of the university to get on the property market where you can buy property without much cash.
In order to not let my passion die, I decided to make a documentary about real estate in Africa and sell it to any news network that will show an interest. I convinced my mother to accompany me to Cape Town where I filmed a documentary about real estate. I had never stood in front of a camera before and after 30 minutes, the production crew commented on a work well done.
I tried marketing the pilot with the news network where I found out that the networks did not buy documentaries directly rather, I needed companies to sponsor my work. This proved very difficult since I had almost zero experience and it is not easy getting someone to sponsor your work.
I then decided to go to CNBC Africa because I had seen their shows on the screen while I was working at Oceanic Capital. I had a meeting with Country manager who accepted my CD. He commended me a work well done and asked I asked me to join their team since I was a natural. I declined. The idea was to be a media entrepreneur who creates contents and sells it to interested buyers and not to work for anyone.
So I went back to hustling and later decided to consider the CNBC offer. I had become a liability to my entire family who were wondering what I intended doing with my life. In just a couple of years, I had switched from banking to real estate to making documentaries. As much as they loved me, they did not understand the path I had chosen since there had not been any results.
I thought I was going to be filming documentaries but rather, the job description was for live television. I decided to give it a shot as I had the financial background CNBC was looking for.
Who was the biggest inspiration for your choice of career?
This is a tough one since journalism was never my dream. It was somewhat thrust upon me so I refer to myself as the “accidental journalist”. I have always been inspired by Isha Sesay from CNN but I never for once thought about being a journalist or a news anchor. I didn’t even know that journalism was going to be a part of my life. So what I did was to learn from all anchors I met at CNBC and those I saw on television.
What has been your personal key to success as an anchor on the CNBC?
My personal key to success was learning to accept criticism and letting my passion shine through. The first 3 months at CNBC were very tough because journalism is very different from banking and asset management where you perform similar tasks each day. In journalism, each day comes with a different story so I had to keep up with news and conduct lots of research.
I came to understand that on live TV, people are not that forgiving compared to other jobs where you are given a grace period of two or three months to be conversant with the work. Whenever I went off air, I was being told about the wrong things I did on set. This is when I had to be strong inside and accept the criticism and turn them into strengths.
Also, what I’ve learnt from this career is that I was bored in my other life. I was doing the job for the paycheck while with this one, I am doing it because I love and enjoy it. The money from my previous career was better than the journalism but I wake up happy each day and this is something I am thankful for.
What are some of your personal and/or professional goals for the future?
Personally, I hope to be a role model to young girls and a source of inspiration for people who want to follow this journalism path. I want to let them know that you can achieve whatever you want to. You can actually switch careers midway and still make it. Your success doesn’t have to follow a specific formula.
What you need is hard work, passion, research and preparation. With these, you can get anywhere you want to. I say preparation because this whole process taught me that if you prepare for anything you will do well at it. Not all opportunities are for everyone. You have to know what you want and know how to identify opportunities that will promote your goals. When you know this, then there comes the preparation for the role you seek.
Professionally, I have been in journalism for four years and I believe I can only be better. I am still developing myself. I want to be better at telling stories and making documentaries. I want to tell African stories and reach a global audience and maybe I have an opportunity to do that now with the komla Dumor Awards.
From the very beginning, I was looking at the entrepreneurial part of journalism and that is something I never forgot. I have found a sponsor for my own show “A Place in Africa” which would be airing on CNBC this August. It is funny how everything works out with time. Two blessings in a month. It took years but I was able to achieve this. Though this is a side gig, it’s airing on CNBC so it is still work.
Some of us know the following lecture from their African parents: “My daughter, you can only be two things: lawyer and doctor, or doctor and lawyer.” Respond that you want to be a journalist, and watch the hilarity ensue.
You’ll hear; “So you want to kill me now?” But against the traditional narrative, many young African women continue to trailblaze in creative careers. SLA caught up with Judith Ohikuare, editor at Cosmopolitan, for gems and takeaways from her journey to the top.
Every single place that I’ve worked at before has been an application for the position I have now. I have been able to bring in the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired in my past towards my current position.”
How did you get your start as a journalist?
“After high school, I did an internship at Penguin Group where I got experience in the publishing aspect. The following summer, I worked as a marketing and publicity intern at Inc. magazine because that was the opportunity that I could get.
I didn’t really have any experience but they were willing to let me in there, so I took it. I then went on to work as a features intern for Seventeen magazine and later Marie Claire.
After college I worked at Inc. magazine where I was initially hired as a reporter on the print side.They were integrating print and digital at the time. After the integration, I was one of the social media managers. I still did small pieces as a junior reporter for the magazine covering live events for the website.
I left Inc. and moved to Washington D.C. for a fellowship at The Atlantic because I wanted to delve into human interest stories. When the fellowship was over, I briefly worked for a startup and I am now at the print side of Cosmopolitan Magazine as an associate editor.”
What is it like marketing yourself and standing out of the crowd?
“For me, it came down to finding people who are doing things that I like and building connections with them. I stay in touch with people that I want to learn from and whose work I respect. I think that when you make those natural connections then you can easily sell yourself. Those authentic networking connections lead to positions.
For example, during my internship at Inc. Magazine, I worked with an editorial intern who is an incredible interviewer. I admired her interviewing style and we naturally became friends. She is the one who let me know once a full-time position opened up at Inc.”
How do you approach personal branding?
When it comes to branding, I would say choose spaces that make sense to you and that you feel represent you most authentically. If it’s on Twitter, how do you want to convey your voice?
Do you want it to be more personal or professional? If it’s on Facebook, do you use your personal account to share your writings or do you want to create a writer’s page for that?
How have you utilized social media to build your brand?
You don’t need to be on every platform. You don’t have to be on periscope, if that’s not why people are coming to you, for example. I think you and your brand come off most authentically when you are doing what is most natural to you.
If you are creating a website for your work, which is what I am thinking of doing, then how do you organize that? Do you organize it by theme or by publications? That entails getting in touch with what people are coming to you for. If I think that people are coming to me more for profiles then I will organize my website in terms of profiles as opposed to publications.
What’s your opinion on creating personal space on the internet?
It’s something that I’m still working on. For me, it’s about going into the sites that I feel represent me the best. I initially created a Twitter account to share the things that I’m reading and that I find fascinating.
When I started getting more into journalism, it became a great tool to discover other writer’s voices so that I could know what they talk about, and connect with people, too. I also use Facebook to share things that I write. Occasionally, I email articles that I have written to friends who I think may be interested.
What risks have you taken for your career?
I gave up a full-time job to join the Atlantic for a one year fellowship that wasn’t necessarily going to lead to a job after it was done. But I followed it because it was something that I was very interested in and that I knew I would learn from.
Put yourself out there for positions that may not have an immediate sense of pay off but that will teach you valuable skills.
Do you believe there is one set way to becoming a journalist?
There is no set career path in this field so try different things. It’s great to have a beat, but if you get opportunities outside of that take them if you can do them and do them well.
One of the things that I have done on the side is write a few profiles for Mater Mea – a website that celebrates black women who are mothers and have careers. This is because I love what it is doing and think there is a lot of good value in being a part of it.
I would advise anybody to follow those passion projects. Whether it is something that you start yourself or that you are a part of through somebody else.
What advice do you have on identifying opportunities?
Take them. Even when you can’t necessarily see where they will lead. When I was at Inc. and ended up becoming one of the social media managers, I knew how to use Twitter as a consume, not from a business perspective.
It was definitely more work but I learnt so much about analytics, creating a voice online and connecting with people. I ended up using those skills at The Atlantic. When I’m given an opportunity, I take it.
If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.