Kenyan journalist named Journalism Now Scholar winner

Posted by Ewen MacAskill

An innovative journalism competition organised by Thomson Foundation has been won by Kenya-based journalist, Thomas Mwiraria, who wrote a graphic piece about a poverty-related plague in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Journalism Now Scholar programme, which is constantly-evolving and is at the forefront of online learning, attracted hundreds of entries from around the world. The final shortlist was made up of strong stories told through lively mixes of text, video and graphics. 

The five-week competition, which began in November 2019, required competitors to complete seven courses from a wide array of Journalism Now courses, including mobile journalism, social media newsgathering, data journalism and journalism across multiple platforms.

After completing all stages, participants had to submit a story either in text or video, or a combination of the two, that would be good enough for publication. Many of the pieces have since been published.

“Journalism now offered me an unprecedented opportunity to continue learning other aspects of journalism, to interact with instructors and other experts and with journalists from all over the world,” said Thomas.

“After completing seven Thomson Foundation Journalism Now Scholar courses, I am now confidently equipped to produce more engaging and important human stories.”

I am now confidently equipped to produce more engaging and important human stories.”

Thomas Mwiraria, Journalism Now Scholar winner

The online experience was designed to work for the busy lifestyles of journalists like Mwiraria.

“As I am a night owl and a traveller, I took some modules while perched on a recess at the mystical Komarock on the outskirts of Nairobi and, on some dull days, in a café over shots of espresso.”

Many of the participants had the opportunity to engage throughout with Thomson Foundation mentors.



“The ability to ask questions and get feedback on your work transforms the learning experience for the learner and encourages them to actually do the exercises,” explained Hosam El Nagar, Thomson Foundation’s director of innovation and learning.

Mwiraria’s prize is an all-expenses paid trip to London to attend a Thomson Foundation five-week journalism summer course from August 2020 that includes masterclasses, workshops, practical training and a week’s placement at a leading UK media organisation.

For his final submission, Mwiraria wrote about the destructive impact of a plague of jiggers, humanising it by concentrating on the terrible condition of one sufferer.

Mwiraria emerged from a strong shortlist that included Kavina Ragoo’s creative video about the government of Mauritius’s approach to Facebook; Bashir Alshria on the destruction of traditional trees in Libya; Lucia Posteraro on protests in Georgia; Elena Cobilean on the lack of cycle lanes in Moldova; Patrick Obumselu on freedom of speech; Fathia Eldakhakhny on age discrimination in cancer treatment in Egypt; and Sarah Marcellino on suspected extra-judicial killings by the police in Brazil.

Find out more about our innovative e-learning platform, Journalism Now, and sign up for some free online journalism courses.


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Ewen MacAskill

Ewen MacAskill

Investigative journalism

Ewen MacAskill is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former defence and intelligence correspondent for The Guardian who acts as a mentor for Thomson Foundation trainees.

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