Diane Iriza is a journalist and hosts Business Digest on RTV. She has lived and attended schools in Tanzania, Malaysia, Rwanda and Uganda, which she believes have shaped her personality and career path.
She shared with Sunday Magazine’s Sharon Kantengwa about journalism, and her future plans.
How did your journalism career unfold?
Like any other child, I was exposed to so many things, a bit conflicted and always picking many careers. I wanted to be an archeologist, because I loved history so much but in my teenage years I developed so much interest for television. I grew up in a very strict household and we were always indoors, so I spent so much time just watching television and that’s how I got into TV.
During my high school days, I always took part in entertainment and I was very sure I was going to be in the entertainment field but for some reason, I got pushed into this more serious field of broadcast.
It’s new to me, but I’m learning. I prefer to have a very rough and difficult beginning than having a soft one, then moving to a difficult one.
Who have been your biggest inspiration for your career?
My inspirations are definitely people that I would see on TV, talk show hosts and celebrities that have made huge impact in their societies and communities, those are the people that I look up to.
People that came from a very simple background and made it big like Oprah Winfrey.
I also watched a lot of Tyra Banks who was from the modeling industry and surprised people because they thought that she couldn’t talk. That really inspired me being someone who wasn’t really talkative and thought I don’t fit in this industry.
How did living in different cultures shape you?
It has really shaped up my personality. Ugandan students pushed me to be active, and confident and in Malaysia I studied with Chinese students, who are workaholics. So it pushed me to be active in everything. That’s why when I was brought to RBA I had to go back to bed knowing that I had accomplished something. I killed laziness in me.
How can you describe your experience in the media?
It was very rough in the beginning. I had very high expectations, I didn’t know that it takes time to get somewhere. I spent a very long time without getting any pay and I think that really tested my faith. I noticed that most of the females kept giving up but I just stayed and I think that’s what made me stand out.
Joining Business Digest, was so challenging given that I was used to entertainment. I had to learn and teach myself, because I didn’t have anyone to take me through content. Luckily, I had knowledge of how television works, and knew how to package a show. With time I started growing, knowledge wise.
Why do you think the newsroom still struggles to attract female women?
Journalism is a very challenging job I think that most females prefer to do jobs that are comfortable and when it comes to media houses, mostly in Africa, they don’t pay well, so most females are not patient with that. I think we can still do better because I believe when you do something wholeheartedly, you can succeed in it no matter what obstacles you face.
What do you find fulfilling about your job and what has it taught you?
I have learned a lot about the country’s growth, in terms of business and economy and I feel more inspired to do this show and the fact that we are using English, can attract viewership from foreign countries.
What is more fulfilling is getting feedback from people, telling me that I am doing a very good job because in the beginning I was never satisfied with my job. There are few negative people but you get used to it.
Do you consider yourself successful?
To me the word successful means being happy and contented with what you’re doing, and the fact that I don’t feel that way I don’t think I’m successful. I always feel there’s something I’m not doing or something I’ve not learned.
What are some of the challenges that you face as a female journalist?
Earlier this year I had to figure everything out on my own, I didn’t have anyone to direct me on what to do and what not to do, I learned everything on my own and the hard way.
Also, not having that much of a social life, I barely meet any non-work related people or do any non-work related activities, I’m always working, if I’m not working, I’m thinking about work. I think it’s quite unhealthy I must say.
What are your long term goals, professionally?
For now, I will continue with the Business Digest but I would hope to get to something softer in the future like humanitarian work or spiritual stuff. I feel I would do a really good job and I would be more of myself, doing that show. But at the end of the day it’s all God.
If he gives me all these opportunities, maybe I will get there. Also, I would like to do something out of the journalism field, like a business on the side.