EJC and local Kenyan partner AfricaonAir announced the winners of the first ever “Top Story” student investigative journalism competition in a gala award ceremony in the Rift Valley city of Nakuru on 18 October 2014. First place went to the team from Kenya Methodist University followed closely by the University of Nairobi. The top team was awarded a one-week media study visit.
A total of 65 Kenyan journalism students competed from 13 universities in reporting a mock scenario focused on white rhino poaching, a growing issue which afflicts many of the country’s game parks. Over three days the investigation brought the teams to various locations around the city, including Lake Nakuru National Park, home of most of the country’s remaining white rhino population.
Final submitted student team reportages were appraised by accomplished Kenyan journalists Rose Lukalo-Owino, Alex Chamwada and the BBC’s Dennis Okari. In their story evaluations judges took into account the level of journalistic professionalism, the correct use of sources, strong adherence to journalism ethics as well as thorough investigation of the story. The competition tested writing and interviewing style as well as featured embedded journalism ethical dilemmas and issues related to press freedom. Kenyan students all had the opportunity to enrich their university education by simulating the reality of the daily business of investigative journalists and submitting stories on deadline.
Students were mentored by AfricaonAir trainer Joseph Warungu along with KTN award-winning investigative reporter John Allan Namu. Simultaneously practical curriculum development workshops were arranged for professors from the competing universities and led by AfricaonAir experts.
The competition was first successfully initiated by EJC in Armenia in 2008 and is part of the EJC’ s five year Press Freedom 2.0 consortium global media development programming funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.