Meet the Fellow: Bianca Consunji

To report with Bianca is exhilarating. Even at the end of a long day of driving to Gisenyi, which lies at the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and back, Bianca is all smiles and far from tired. Her energy is contagious. During our time together, Bianca never ran out of fun and interesting stories. This isn’t surprising considering the fact that she has had a remarkable international career that spans several reputed media organisations in Philippines and the United States.

Bianca Consunji in Akagera National Park. Photograph by Patty Guerra, also a 2019 Rwanda Fellow

Bianca began her career as a print reporter in the Philippines, working for national newspapers and reputable women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan and Seventeen (where she also learnt to love a little drama in her clothing!), and was soon promoted to the rank of magazine editor. Her passion for learning multi-media skills led her to Berlin on a fellowship, and later to the Columbia Journalism School where she fell in love with digital video. Since then, Bianca has worked in multiple digital newsrooms and has developed a versatile portfolio by working on short documentaries, comedy shorts, and breaking news. She has been an instrumental part of the video teams at reputed organisations like Bustle, Buzzfeed, Broadly, and Mashable, some of which she led to huge, viral success with her leadership, and others which she built from the ground. She is currently a senior producer at NBC News for the the platform-based show, Stay Tuned.

Bianca is constantly on the lookout for nuanced and immersive stories about communities and cultures. She previously received the IWMF’s African Great Lakes Reporting Initiative fellowship, during which she reported in-depth on the human cost of conflict minerals in Congo.

I asked Bianca why she wanted to report from Rwanda this time:

Rwanda is a country that I’ve repeatedly heard as “the Singapore of Africa,” and as a Southeast Asian, I wanted to have a better understanding of what that meant because that’s a pretty loaded description. What is it like to report from a country that is consistently lauded for its policies and discipline, while still being just one generation away from the genocide in its history? Now, I think a lot of that comparison holds up, but it’s also such a different culture that you can’t make a side-by-side analysis. I had reported from the neighboring country, the DR Congo, and had only been to Rwanda in passing. So it was eye-opening to see just how culturally different two neighboring countries in the Great Lakes region can be, and how much I needed to adjust my reporting style for both.

Keep an eye out for Bianca’s exciting now work at NBC and find her on twitter @biancaconsunji