As a child in Nakuru, Kenya, Estelle Mwai remembers addressing imaginary crowds with her microphone of folded newspapers.
Ever the inquisitive young woman, Estelle has always had a “passion for stories” and for “inspiring positive change.”
Now the head of television and content development at Nakuru TV, Estelle is advocating for media literacy across the state and sees young leaders, in particular, as important in ushering in a more transparent, accountable system.
“I was always interested in learning more about the issues around me,” Estelle says. “Journalism gave me a chance to tell the stories affecting my community.”
For Estelle, reporting on the world around her was not only natural but also necessary in bringing to light wrongdoing on a local and national level.
“As a member of the media,” Estelle says, “it’s my responsibility to inform the public without being discriminatory or biased in any way.
“For those interested in citizen journalism, the same holds true: You have to be honest and careful, especially when delving into people’s lives for stories.”
As Estelle sees it, being a journalist also demands a kind of patience to thoroughly understand someone’s point of view and inspire in audiences a curiosity about those viewpoints.
“You have to have the zeal and the tenacity to withstand challenges,” Estelle adds. “Passion is key in this field.”
In Estelle’s view, the media offers young leaders not only a space but also a language with which to voice their concerns and challenge wrongdoing.
As she sees it, a reliable story clearly lists an author’s name and affiliation, when any research cited in the piece was conducted, and where the author found his or her information, all with links to original sources.
“Young adults can get involved in citizen journalism by being vigilant, by being actively involved in their communities, and by seeking out accurate information.”
Estelle, who also urges young leaders to attend journalism seminars and workshops, sees the next generation as pivotal in the production of balanced, accurate news stories.
“You have to highlight both the positive and the negative aspects” of fellow citizens and of those in power, Estelle says, adding that it is up to young adults to “get involved as agents of positive change, as a voice of reason.”