James Smart



About James

James was raised by his grandmother in a mud-thatched house with no electricity.
There was a reporter, from the Nation, who used to come around his neighbourhood when there was some kind tragedy, which was pretty frequent. He and his neighbours would see the pictures in the paper the next day with a small caption: two people drowned in a river and houses swept away in a flood.
“People killed by the floods were people that I knew, houses that were swept away were of families that I knew,” he said.
As James grew up, he grew frustrated that the papers were not telling the story the way he would tell it. He grew frustrated that the lives of his neighbours seemed worth so little ink.
When James’ exceptional gift for writing and speaking earned him an opportunity to work in television, he set out to make media a more democratic place with youthful self-righteousness.
“In my mind, I knew there were 30 million stories to be told. I tried to give people a platform to tell their own story; stories of how tough life is, of how things are not working out, of how being poor is a punishment in this country.”
James has been a pioneer in fusing social media with journalism in Kenya, earning him professional accolades and a loyal public following.
Now on a Chevening Scholarship to complete his Master’s Degree in International Journalism at Cardiff University, James continues to pursue his interests in history, politics and journalism, though he has learned to be more strategic – and more patient – about changing the news culture. He is participating in the Networked News Lab in the hope of creating innovative forms of news that reveal the stories that lie behind the images and captions.

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