Part of InternewsNext, a series highlighting 30 youth-led media initiatives.
Like many young journalists, Rawlings Otieno, struggled to compete with seasoned journalists, who mainly report on politics. Then he began to carve out a niche for himself in health journalism.
“I realized that no one was interested in writing about health,” he says “So I took it up.”
Otieno, 26, writes for The Standard, one of the leading newspapers in Kenya. Internews’ health journalism training has helped him blossom in health storytelling.
In spite of the challenge of selling the health story in newsrooms bent on telling political stories, many journalists who have undergone Internews health journalism training and mentorship have been able to succeed in getting health issues publicized.
Saida Swaleh, a reporter with the Kenya Television Network, is only 23 years but has gained ample recognition for her work. In the inaugural 2012 Media Council of Kenya Awards, Swaleh was second runner up, in the young journalists of the year category.
Her story on voluntary medical male circumcision was first runner up in the best TV story category in Storyfest 2012, an awards competition organized by Internews in Kenya to celebrate the best health stories of the year.
Internews health journalism trainees have the opportunity to experience new ways of storytelling such as data journalism. Joy Wanja, who works for the Daily Nation, the largest newspaper in Kenya, is a young journalist who is using data to tell her stories.
“By the time this child reaches adulthood,” starts a story by Wanja about girls in Kenya, “she will have paid a national debt, cheated malaria, fought for meager secondary school places, and probably escaped a tribalist’s misguided fury.” The data story – “Hello, my name is Nimo” – has won a number of awards including the Storyfest 2012 in the print journalism category.
Internews’ health journalism program in Kenya is supported by the US Agency for International Development.