Daniel Ogetta is a multimedia reporter with the Daily Nation Newspaper in Nairobi Kenya. This is a conversation we had regarding his work as a journalist, the experiences he’s had in the newsroom as well as his views on the future of journalism in Kenya.
How do you like to introduce yourself? Tell us about you, the things you like, your nickname if you have any and your hobbies
I’m Daniel Ogetta. I am a multimedia reporter with the Daily Nation Newspaper in Kenya. I am however deployed to the weekend desk where I mostly write for the Saturday Nation and the Sunday Nation. I have always thought of myself as Chanda Chema. And, I believe at the right time, nitavishwa pete…haha. Does it suffice for a nickname? Maybe.
I am an ambivert but more of an introvert. Again, that depends with whom I’m speaking with. Some of my friends would tell you am extroverted.
I read novels as pastime. I know this is low but, I’m on my 10th book because, I strive to read at least a book a month.
I work with the Nation Media Group as a reporter. Department: Editorial. I write on everything but I have a hankering for human interest stories and political stories. Churning content on a daily basis is never easy. It is mostly draining and mentally taxing. But there’s the gratification that comes with seeing your byline in the papers. It keeps me going!
Is journalism a career path you wanted to pursue of you just found yourself in it?
I always did well in Chemistry. I also enjoyed reading set books and novels for leisure in high school. At one point, I wanted to become a chemical engineer. Because my chemistry teacher always told me, that’s the job I’m cut for. But that has changed over the period. My love for literature outdid Chemistry. I’m now a journalist.
How is the experience in the newsroom?
There are people I always read, watched from when I was in college. Having the opportunity to speak with them, to be guided with them is something I’ve held dear. Most of the time, there’s pressure to beat deadlines. It is the adrenaline rush and the relief that comes with being done with the copy that excites me.
But there are also the low moments. Moments when the intro just refuses to be perfect.
Well, there’s a lot! It is always a rollercoaster ride full of emotions. Joy, sadness and the in-betweens.
What challenges do you face as a journalist in the newsroom and in the field and how do you overcome them?
J-school never told/taught me that by being a journalist, I would ideally be expected to have 364 story ideas. But because, kwa ground, that’s what’s expected, I have had to constantly on the lookout for possible story ideas and tips.
I read a lot of international news outlets. I read them to borrow from them. To see how they angle their stories.
You see, J-school never taught me that being in the newsroom means having about 365 story ideas in a year. Because, you’re expected to tell fresh, tantalizing stories daily, for a year. Over the period I have been here, I have learnt from my mentors just how they manage to research, interview and write stories year in, year out without feeling exhausted.
What would you want to see change in the media landscape in Kenya
I hope to wake up to a day when Kenyans will have changed their media content consumption habits. You see, in US, people subscribe to content from the legacy media. Yet here, people hardly see the sense in subscribing “at a little fee” for content. They instead opt for the same content but from the blogs and bloggers, who most of the time, lift the content from the mainstream.
Do you think there’s a need to constantly improve your skills as a journalist, or are the skills acquired in university enough?
Journalism is ever dynamic. And, this is the only way to survive the ever dynamic field.
Whom do you look up to in the industry, both local and international, and why?
Larry Madowo. Both locally and internationally. He inspires me with every bit of his life. I see everything I want to be in him. He is good at what he does; I’d dare say so because this man Larry has worked in all the reputable media houses in the world. His resilience is just out of this world. And, there’s something heavenly in how he inspires people all over the world.
He knows how to balance his career life and social life and knows where to draw the line. For example, for as long as I have always followed him, I’ve never seen share so much about his personal life…he just wows us with his career moves.
I want to be what he is to me to other people in future.
What are some of the stories you have done that you think are/were impactful? And what does impact mean to you?
I have done stories. Award winning stories. Stories that have rattled authorities. Even some with overwhelming feedback. But, I’m yet to write that blockbusters I have always wanted. When I do, that will be the most impactful story I will have ever done.
I only came close to living this dream when a boy I featured got an overwhelming support from well-wishers. This boy, Billy, was among the students who were likely to miss joining their peers in form one this year…I listened to the boy and the mum speaking on how their efforts to get his son to high school had hit a dead end. It was painful. Heartrending. I was moved by their narration, and prayed for the boy. I asked God to send a well-wisher his way. And when the heavens harkened to my prayer, I couldn’t hide my joy.
Billy was among the many that we featured on the story titled: Why I may never join form one.
An impactful story, I suppose, is one that influences policies of the land. One that changes someone’s life forever! Say, turn around the life completely.
How do you think we can solve the challenge of fake news?
This is very much a problem in the contemporary world now that the world is going digital. And now, everyone has a responsibility to fight the scourge of fake news. Ways through which this can be done include supporting investigative journalism, reducing financial incentives for fake news, and improving digital literacy among the general public.
If you could advise the next young journalist after you, what would you tell them?
Dare to dream. Write these dreams on a vision board. And pray about them. And, as you wait for your time, practice… Just so whenever an opportunity strikes, it finds you prepared….This is how I got a chance to join the NMG family as an intern.
What does the future of journalism look like in your opinion? Especially in Kenya?
Everything is going digital. Content is also getting diversified. And, despite a slow start. I also see journalism adapting the paywall method to sustain itself.
More stories on young Journalists in Kenya to come in the #YoungAndBold series. If you have an interesting story you’d want to share, write to me via: firstname.lastname@example.org