46 year old Line Curie Muco is the first Burundian female sports journalist, she spoke to Burundi Times’ Joella Nticiteretse on her long journey in journalism and how it shaped her life when she was in early 20’s.
What pushed you in to covering sports as a journalist?
Honestly speaking I have never thought of covering sports events and broadcast them. Was expecting to be a simple radio presenter who plays basketball. It never crossed my mind that I could host a sports show.
My fellow journalists told me that the cultural radio director thought I could make a good radio sports host because I was already in that domain. They had a fitting subject to host a show that they could run a sports show. I did not hesitate to say yes when they proposed to me because in the beginning, I was already doing what I like without having determination of where I was heading. I was pleased to present that sports show.
Where did it all start becoming a journalist?
I started working for Cultural Radio, I would not say I was an intern but I was a volunteer. I was doing it for fun as the matter of fact I didn’t plan to become a real or a professional journalist one day.
But in February 1998, I was hired as a professional journalist at the same radio station. I will not miss to say that it was or it remained the only media house I worked for so far, I mean until I changed to something else not far from journalism.
How was it like reporting as a sports journalist for the first time?
It was not too difficult to integrate in the sports field because I was a basketball player. I was in contact with players and with the sports radio presenters such as Theodore Ntunga, Tharcisse Tungabose,… they made my integration very easy. I was surrounded by wise journalists whom I considered my parents. They used to take me at their fingertips like a child to build in me that confidence. These journalists were my mentors. Moreover, they made this environment easy to live in.
It was rather very difficult to edit different sounds bytes back in the 90s. Certainly there were recorders, but they were not as efficient as they are today. I could record on a cassette, but imagine the hustle of cutting out what I recorded from one cassette to another. After cutting that sound, I could listen to it and realize that it wasn’t good and redo it.
What are the challenges you faced as a sports journalist?
Quite often sports is not given much attention as it is supposed. The institution would not allocate enough resources to the sport section as it was for other domains. I got to cover different matches during weekends without any facilitation or vehicle from the radio station. So imagine, being proposed to host a sports show without being given facilitations, It took me patience and passion. Even if I was found in a purely male environment, I was not shy.
How does your typical workday look like?
I used to host this famous sports show once a week. As you know sporting events are held during weekends except European football championship which take place during other days of the week. However, collecting all information throughout the week was not easy and could not be enough.
I used to cover the grounds during weekends. But when I did not cover the activities, I could ask my fellow sports journalists or collect them from everywhere either from my friends from diverse disciplines. Getting information or comments from my fellow journalists was enough for me.
What kept you to continue reporting on sports?
Basically, I was playing for “Les gazelles” Basketball Club, to mean this was my world. I knew better this field, I understood better this domain. This domain allowed me to travel. I traveled inside as well as outside the country. It allowed me to accompany teams from different disciplines. It helped me to meet and talk with people from different domains. In fact, this environment helped me meet several people from divergent backgrounds. This world opened doors to me in ways that I could have not imagined.
I assure you that I am thankful to this sports journalism profession because I was able to attend and cover the 2004 Olympic Games which took place in Athens.
As days went by, my passion kept growing. I got used to living my passion in a better way, kept witnessing new opportunities I was embracing. So nothing could never ever stop me because there I was me in a better way.
How did the profession made you grow mentally?
I had to find a way to build a whole radio show that lasts 60 minutes. I had to figure out how other people managed to find information, where they would dig deep for information, how did information from other disciplines around the world reach them, what or who were their sources.
However it was not really easy to build a whole hour long program that interested the audience without boring them and putting on transition music from one minute to another.
At the time, there were no emerging technologies as today. It is obvious that we did not use the internet, we rather used dispatches. These dispatches were information we used to receive from reports that were made by international journalists. After getting dispatches, we used to transcribe and repeat practically what other journalists had already done. I didn’t know how to get these dispatches but the former journalists of National radio Theodore Tungabose and Venant used to make sure I got a copy of them every Monday. In the beginning, I was literally reading these international journalists’ reports entirely. I was not that experienced to take out essential information from their pieces.
However as a basketball player, I had mastered the field. So I had to do my very best to prevent myself from leaning one way or the other, especially on the basketball side.
What advice would you give to sports news reporters in general and female young reporters in particular?
For all sports journalists, female ones particularly, I would advise them to live their passion and transfer it to their audience. Because when you work with passion or by loving your job it pays off. So journalists should give what they have without expecting anything in return. Working hard at a 100% and doing their job professionally edifies a journalist and opens for them doors that they could never imagine.
What was the biggest dream you aspired to but yet to be achieved?
I was dreaming about doing a live football report on behalf of Burundi while once abroad, for instance somewhere in Europe. It was too exciting for me as it seemed to be a great challenge to take up. I was crushing on football because I felt like it would be much easier to do it in other disciplines. In fact, reporting an international football match would mean that I would be approaching another level especially as a woman.
How have you or your surrounding changed since you started working as a professional journalist?
Journalism has changed my entire life. I grew up because of that. It has blossomed me in all aspects of life whether socially or professionally. My professional career has been developed through sports and through what sports professionals assigned me as a basketball player and as a journalist.