S.K: As changes are inevitable and everyone is entitled to one, where would you want to be in the next five years?
R.C.D: Well, in the next five years, as I said earlier on, my passion deeply is rooted in human interest journalism and I want to be focusing my work on documentaries. So within five years, I want to see myself as one of the top-notch documentary producers in Sierra Leone, Africa, and by extension the world at large. I want my name to be in the book of records base on the documentaries that I will be doing that will bring out the challenges faced by the less privileged in my country: telling the stories of Sierra Leoneans. In the next five years, I want to see myself being pictured as one of the patriotic Sierra Leoneans who tells the stories of the country in positive ways and ensures that I bring out the views, concerns, and comments of people in each and every corner of this country, so I want to spend my entire life in trying to achieve this goal which I have already started. I want to see myself winning awards like how we have seen it been done in international countries and other Africa countries, so in the next five years that is my aspiration in the field of journalism
Robert Charles Davies, a broadcast journalist, actor, and producer is a Sierra Leonean, born on the 27th September in Freetown to Mr. Michael T.C. Davies and Fudia Kamara. He is a Christian and attends the Bethel Temple Ministries international Tower hill. Robert started his primary education at Bern -Lyn Nursery and Preparatory School and sat to his NPSE exams and later moved to the Albert Academy where he completed his senior secondary school education. Upon conclusion in 2012, he later enrolled at LICSAL Business College where he did a diploma in Mass Communication. Fortunately for him, he got a scholarship at Limkokwing University to study B.A Honors in Broadcasting and Journalism where he is currently in his final year.
His journey of professional journalism started as an intern at one of Sierra Leone’s top media institutions, the Africa Young Voices Media Empire in 2016 for a year when he was a diploma student. Like many professional journalists in the country and world, Robert was inspired by people, like Davida Gerber and Josetta O Campbell greatly influenced his life and passion for journalism. Davida Gerber was the first person to give him a platform on Kiddies Radio. Mr. Davies is an extrovert who is fun to be with, he loves being around people to make them laugh, learn from them, and also teach them.
During COVID-19 pandemic, we had an interview with him via WhatsApp call and here is his inspiring journey
S.K: Have you ever dreamt of becoming a journalist?
Interviewee: ‘’Yes, I have always dreamt of becoming a journalist, I have been dreaming all this while to become a journalist. I have this dream of becoming a journalist when I was in JSS 2 at the Albert Academy School. By then I was part of Kiddies Radio at Sky Radio and I used to do kids program. I was also part of the Children’s Forum Network, a child-led organization. During those years in 2008 and 2009 when I was at kiddies Radio, I could vividly remember. It was on June 16 when we had a program. We were on the radio and one of our mentors who happens to be my aunts, currently the Station Manager at Sky Radio, Mrs. Tiana Alpha asked us the question of what we would want to become, some of my colleagues said they wanted to become lawyers while some made mentioned of other professions and when it was my turn, I said I want to become a journalist. She later asked if I wanted to be a print or broadcast journalist. I was so confused to know the difference between a print and broadcast journalist. She later explained to me that print journalists are those who work for magazines and newspapers and broadcast journalists are those who work for radio and Television. From then on, I reaffirm the spirit of becoming a broadcast journalist. That was how I got the passion and I put every zest into it. Today I am a journalist in the Republic of Sierra Leone with a wealth of experiences.’’
S.K: When did you get employ at the SLBC and what would you say enable you to secure the employment?
R.C.D: ‘’Well, as you know, the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation is a government-owned broadcasting institution and so employment have some bureaucratic process which I am working on, but for now I am not permanent staff. I started working there as a volunteer in October 2019 when I came back from China where I completed a media training. I was recommended to work there by some of my colleagues, Mamud Jalloh and Richard Bangura. They recommended my name to Mr. Sheku Sumaila, the Head of Television at SLBC because over the years we have worked together as staff of Africa Young Voices Television and Freetown Television Network. With the effort I put in my journalistic work backed up with the experience I have, they believe that I can be an added team player at the SLBC. Mr. Sumaila confirmed with me that he had heard about me and that I should find time to come to his office. I later visited him at his office and we had a brief conversation which ended well.’’
S.K: What genre of journalism interests you?
R.C.D: ‘’My genre or the path I choose is that of human interest stories, that of telling stories of challenges faced by people In the communities because journalism is the act of sourcing out information and making it known to the public’’
S.K: So Robert how is it in the newsroom? What challenges do you face as a young journalist?
R.C.D: ‘’Salone Messenger, to be honest, the newsroom is one of the most important and significant spots in any news institution or any media house. The newsroom is the heartbeat. It is the center of any media institution, it is there that everything that goes out to the public is been cooked and after that, it is served to the general public. So the newsroom is always challenging. I could remember a few years back when I started working at AYV as an intern staff, I went for my first production meeting at the newsroom, we had to first go over what happened on the previous production and then give our comments on what you think, and later you have to pitch in your story idea on what you are going to work on for that particular day. There comes the difficult part especially as a curb journalist by then thinking of what I am going to do, what story am I going to pitch, which angle am I going to take. At that particular time and during those periods when you pitch your story, the head of news or the person who will be chairing the meeting will ask you questions about the story you have pitched, which angle you going to take the story from. That is where the difficulty comes from because you have to explain who your sources were. So most often, when I woke up in the morning after saying my prayers, bath, and ready for work. I will start thinking about the most important story idea for that day. Another challenge in the newsroom is after your story idea has been approved, and then the next step is the fieldwork. I could remember the name Dwight Neal when I use to work as an intern at AYV, I was really afraid of him, but as time goes by, I started getting used to him and realized he was only trying to shape me to a better journalist that I am today. He was one of the people that use to edit my story including Samuel Wise Bangura, and the late Josephus Olu-mamah they taught me a whole lot of things. But the first person who ever edited my first story was Dr. Isaac Massaquoi when I did my first story; it was in December when a Christmas party was hosted for children at Victoria Park. As a journalist who was assigned to cover the story, he read my report and said this was not the right way; he later called me in his office and showed me the way style of getting a story of such an event. That was where I knew the difference between having the theoretical and having practical idea of the journalism profession. Another challenge is whenever I am tasked to produce news; I will be running around to collect stories of other people to meet the time for news hour.’’
S.K: You use to work at FTN as the Head of News and Current Affairs how was it like working with other young people in the newsroom?
R.C.D: ‘’It was interesting, fun and also hectic as I explained to you earlier on, the newsroom is very hectic especially when it is time for news hour. Again, working with young people especially when they are of your age or maybe older than you, you find it so interesting that some people might think when you get hard on them, you are wicked not knowing that you are only trying to help improve in their work.
At FTN when it was 7:00 PM and knowing fully well that news will be coming up at 8:00 P.M, I will be all over the place for my news because I have a deadline to meet and my boss had already instructed me. I had to ensure that I get the news from the reporters or producer for the day so I will be after their back here and there to ensure they get me the story, my goal was to ensure I have over 8 news every day. My colleagues use to get angry but after the news has been produced, we use to come together in the newsroom and laugh over it. I could remember two ladies who left FTN to other institutions thanking me for the pressure I put on them to get the news on time. In their new place of work, they have seen the need in taking their work seriously. I most times receive calls from them and other colleagues thanking me for making them better journalists. I felt good knowing that I have created an impact on their lives. I believe success doesn’t depend on the amount of money you have but rather the number of lives you have helped transformed positively. The newsroom was really hectic but also fun. I continue to thank my late boss, Josephus Olumama who greatly inspired me to do more. May his soul rest in peace.’’
S.K: With this COVID-19 pandemic, how are you coping with your colleagues in the newsroom?
R.C.D: We all know, the Covid-19 has affected all professions and facet of lives across the world, as journalists it is our duty to update the public on current happenings in the country, so in the newsroom where I work with other colleagues, we do observe all the precautionary measures by the government, ranging from using a facemask, when we want to cough or sneeze we should do it on our elbows and observe social distancing, in fact in our office at SLBC, whenever you want to enter the building, you must put on your facemask and wash your hands at the gate. I do follow the precautionary measures to ensure that I am safe.
S.K: Which local and international journalists inspire you?
R.C.D: ‘’Mr. Umaru Fofana, BBC reporter, and Samuel Wise Bangura who works for AYV both inspired me. The way they do their reporting amazes me a lot. Internationally, I admire the Chief International Anchor for CCN Christiana Amanpour and Richard Quest.’’
S.K: As changes are inevitable and everyone is entitled to one, where would you want to be in the next 5 years? What are your aspirations?
R.C.D: ‘’well, in the next five years, as I said earlier on, my passion deeply is rooted in human interest journalism and I want to be focusing my work on documentaries, so in the next five years, I want to see myself as one of the top-notch documentary producers in Sierra Leone, Africa and the world at large, I want my name to be in the book of record base on the documentaries I will be embarking which are more centered on the exploration of human interest stories: telling the stories of Sierra Leoneans. Again, I want to see myself being pictured as one of the Sierra Leoneans who tells the stories of the country in a positive way and ensures that I bring out the views, concerns, and comments of people in every corner of this country. So, I want to spend my entire life trying to achieve these goals which I have started. I want to see myself winning awards like how we have seen it been done with international countries and other Africa countries.’’
S.K: What would be your message to other young journalists coming up or those that are aspiring of becoming journalists?
R.C.D: ‘’My message is simple, you have to believe in yourself, in anything you want to do, I could remember a few years back when I started my journey, I had a lot of discouragements, I could remember seated closer to my friend sometime back in the church and he asked me what are you studying in college and then I said, Journalism, he said I quote ’’ na hangry woke u dae learn so, dat nor get betteh money at all’’ it almost discouraged me but then I had this passion and believed In myself. Thus, I never give up on myself. I went for it, to be honest; I have no regret being a journalist. I have learned a lot. I have been to so many places and met with state and non-state actors during my journey as a young person so if you are dreaming of in the field of journalism, I want you to believe in yourself, don’t limit yourself and do research, be humble and don’t focus on money.
We hope and pray to see the end of this pandemic in our country and across the world so that we can all hug each other again. Thank you, Salone Messenger for telling my story. continue to tell our Sierra Leonean stories’’