John Muchangi began his journalism career in 2005 at The People Daily newspaper in Kenya — first as a science features writer, and later as the publication’s science editor. In 2007 he moved to The Star, a startup newspaper based in the capital city Nairobi, where he currently serves as science editor.
John was awarded a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship in 2012 and he arrived in Cambridge seeking to deepen his understanding of the tensions that arise when science, politics and public health intersect. He says he brought that new understanding back to Kenya. “[The fellowship] equipped me with a lot of knowledge,” John said, “and the confidence to go back and do all these great things.”
Among those great things: Launching a dedicated science section at The Star — an idea that was born and nurtured during his fellowship. Today, three times a week, Kenyans read special pullouts related to health, agriculture, and the environment. His efforts not only increased the newspaper’s circulation; they also spurred two other newspapers to launch their own science sections.
John also launched Nairobi-based Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture, an organization aimed at mentoring young science journalists. In addition, John’s 2013 article, “Life Is a Tall Order for Kenya’s Short People,” which documented the stigmatization of dwarfism in Kenya, was a runner up for CNN Africa’s Journalist of the Year Award in the health category.
“Being a Knight Science Journalism Fellow,” John said, “really changes you.”