The Nation Media Group (NMG) Friday launched its ninth class of graduate trainees for the Media Lab (ML) programme in partnership with the Aga Khan University (AKU).
Seventeen trainees from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania were selected to take part in the four-month course undertaken in collaboration with the AKU Graduate School of Media and Communications (GSMC).
The students from various disciplines, including law, criminology and journalism, will be taken through a rigorous training designed to produce all-round journalists who will be attached to the digital, print and broadcast platforms of East and Central Africa’s largest media house-NMG.
“This is a unique class. We had very many applicants and we got the best from the region. They have various skills from different faculties and also a good mix of gender. We expect them to be multi-skilled and handle story-telling across the platforms,” NMG Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Stephen Gitagama said during the launch of the cohort at the new Aga Khan University Centre in Parklands.
Mr Gitagama emphasised the need to fully embrace convergence journalism, where news is first broken on digital platforms for immediate consumption by online readers, and also creation of specialised content that targets a majority of consumers.
“We're relying on you to inject the youth agenda in our reportage, create more content targeted at the majority (youth),” the CEO told the 2021 group.
NMG Editorial Director Mutuma Mathiu, using a background of a biblical story, articulated the need to have unique attributes like eye for details and stay power beside hard work in order for the young professionals to excel in journalism.
“Journalists must have certain attributes to be successful. You must pay attention to detail, what the source tells you should not be taken at face value. Also, hard work is paramount in the industry as you have to endure the long hours of work,” Mr Mutuma said.
The Media Lab is hosted at GSMC, which also offers the academic and technical input.
GSMC Vice Provost Dr Alex Awiti said the programme will offer the students hands-on training and a first-hand experience of the newsrooms where they will build relationships and tap experiences from seasoned journalists and industry leaders.
Dr Awiti said the idea to incorporate faculties other than just journalism in the newsroom is progressive and aimed at enhancing specialised reporting.
“This is where journalism needs to go. If you look at some of the best media houses in the world, they have legal, health and education correspondents, who are experts in their field. This is what’s lacking in local journalism. The primary education should not be journalism. You first need to do a degree in some field, be it environment or education, for our reportage to be more in-depth,” he said.
Agatha Gichana, who studied law at the University of Nairobi, and Dudley Muchiri, with a degree in criminology, are among the trainees in the Media Lab.
“With my background in law, shifting to journalism made me a little anxious. But just a few days into the Media Lab class erased every fear and I am confident that this will sufficiently prepare me for the newsroom,” said Ms Gichana who is inclined to human rights and social justice issues.
For Mr Muchiri, the change of career from a criminal intelligence expert to investigative journalism was unexpected, but is now exciting.
“I am a storyteller in my own right. But with the training and platform, I am going to tell interesting and impactful stories,” he said.