Young Storytellers Excel in Kenya

Part of InternewsNext, a series highlighting 30 youth-led media initiatives.

Littel girl with a cell phone
Young girls in Kenya face challenges on the way to getting an education. Joy Wanga, a young reporter in Kenya, used data journalism to illustrate her story on Kenyan girls. (credit: Wagema Munyori/Daily Nation )

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.

Related Stories

  • New Guide Helps Journalists Report on Oceans and Fisheries

    Cover: Covering the Seas
    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    The ocean is one of the most dynamic and yet most under-reported food systems on the planet. Close to one billion people rely on fish as their primary source of protein and, collectively, the nations of the world catch around 90 million metric tons of wild fish and shellfish from the oceans annually. But for journalists working on stories about often distant oceans and fisheries, engaging the general readership can be difficult.

  • Profile: Liu Lican, Environmental Writer

    Liu Lican
    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    Liu Lican is the Co-founder and Programs Director in the Greenovation Hub, a Chinese grassroots NGO focusing on environmental protection and innovation. He also serves as project coordinator of Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and helped develop two reporting toolkits, “Environmental Health and Climate Change” and “Global Trade Reporting: New Trends in Africa-China-Western Countries Economic Integration – Fair Timber Trade as an Example.” His most recent book, “The Sick Villages in a Strong State,” is the first book in Chinese that reveals the so-called “cancer village” problem in China.