Of the investigative pieces that 20 participating universities presented, ‘Taps of Misery’ edged the rest
BY EVANS ONGWAE
They thought they had to graduate first before their work could air on TV.
They were mistaken.
As they would learn last month, fate had other plans in store for them.
The trio, Ruth Ondiso, Ken Njenga and Samuel Gititu, were in for a delightful surprise; a career-defining moment.
They represented Mount Kenya University (MKU) at the Top Story Season 2 investigative journalism competition organised by media firm, Africa On Air.
The reality show aired on KTN Home.
Of the investigative pieces that the 20 participating universities presented, the trio’s story, ‘Taps of Misery’, edged the rest.
The story detailed the suffering Nairobi residents endure at the hands of greedy and devious water cartels.
The three fourth-year Bachelor of Arts in Mass Media and Communication students reaped the fruits of teamwork.
They were ecstatic when they were declared the winners.
There, they learnt more about their craft from seasoned TV journalists.
Winning the award “has launched my career and I don’t have to wait until I graduate,” Ruth declares.
Ken adds: “Through Top Story Season 2, I’ve learnt a lot from top journalists in the world such as Anas Aremenyew.”
Ken now stresses that choosing to study at MKU remains one the best choices he has ever made in life.
“Thanks to dedicated lecturers and availability of resources vital to journalism training, I can anchor and produce any news item,” he says.
Samuel concurs, saying: “The award has truly launched our careers as investigative journalists. I became a journalist so that I can tell people stories that change their perceptions and expectations on matters that affect them every day.”
He adds: “When we were investigating, recording and packaging ‘Taps of Misery’, it was about bringing our minds together as a team to tell a compelling story to the world. We successfully did.”
Ruth explains further how they went about their task: “We shared out roles among ourselves. Sam was the main camera person and Ken the reporter. I was the producer and also camera person for the cutaways. Despite the defined roles, we helped each other out.”
The journalism students say producing ‘Taps of Misery’ was a big challenge.
However, through persistence and teamwork, they delivered the story.
“This was a great challenge given that we were dealing with cartels whose rot was not easy to dig out,” Ruth says.
Ken agrees: “Unearthing water cartels is a delicate issue.”
Sam stresses how they had to “dig deep” to unearth the facts that made the story compelling.
“I will never regret being part of such a wonderful institution,” Sam says, adding that he values “the environment and the commitment of the lecturers”.
He says: “The availability of requisite equipment was all we needed. MKU provided all that. All we had to do was go out there and tell an effective story.”
Ruth thanks the MKU fraternity for trusting them with the task of representing the university in the competition.
Josphat Githua, Head of MKU’s Journalism and Communication Department, in analysing the students’ success, cites aggressive and positively mentored students, qualified and dedicated staff, committed leadership and maximum use of available resources as factors behind the university’s win.
“We have sufficient, state-of-the-art training facilities in our department,” he says.
“Each student has access to all studio facilities and equipment.”
The department has produced some outstanding names, among them sports reporter Robinson Okenye, writer Peter Ngila and outstanding Kiswahili master of ceremony Sarah Mauti, seen especially during state functions.
Many other students have gone through the department’s training are doing well in their various places of work.
They include Amos Weru Mwangi, a BBC radio journalist, and Halima Gongo, a reporter with NTV.