A former reporter with NTV who was recently feted by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) for her spell-binding stories based on issues affecting the Kenyan populace, has landed a prestigious job with an international media house.
Mercy Juma Okande, whose stories shed light on sensitive topics including early marriages especially in the Muslim communities, was named winner of the inaugural Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling on Wednesday, April 19, according to a statement on ICJ website.
She emerged top of the 354 scribes who had applied to be considered for the career-impacting award.
“The reports by Juma, who until recently worked as a senior health and science reporter at the Daily Nation newspaper and NTV, its sister station, bring to life the stories of often-voiceless Kenyans who face difficult human challenges and aim to overcome them,” ICFJ wrote.
A story that was of interest to the judges and one that that helped her scoop the top price was a feature titled ‘Teen Mums of Kwale’, where she showed how young girls in Kwale were falling pregnant and their families forced to make hard choices on whether to use contraceptives to prevent early pregnancies.
Amid the recent success, the Moi University alumnus has left NTV after accepting an offer from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), one of the biggest media houses in Europe.
“Juma will receive the award and a cash prize at ICFJ’s Annual Board Dinner in New York on May 31. She also will spend time in US newsrooms to learn new skills and share knowledge in a program run by ICFJ,” the statement also said.
Up until leaving NMG, Okande was a health and science reporter with NTV where she joined after she completed her undergraduate degree.
She will be joining her ex colleague Beryl Wambani, who also joined BBC after leaving NTV earlier on.