Carlos Mureithi: International Journalist Inspired by Climate Solutions

June 12, 2024

Portrait of Carlos MureithiCarlos Mureithi always loved writing. He wanted to become a professional writer so that he could tell important stories. In high school he regularly wrote letters to the editor of The Standard, one of Keyna’s largest newspapers, and he decided that he wanted to pursue journalism. After spending five years working at the Daily Nation in Kenya, Mureithi desired to expand his skillset by pursuing a master’s degree; he wanted to develop his multimedia skills, learn more about digital journalism, and get help with writing long form stories. The master’s in journalism degree program at UC Berkeley was able to provide Mureithi with the resources and training that he needed to become an international journalist.

At Berkeley, Mureithi enjoyed and benefited from the aspects of the journalism program emphasizing practical application of the instruction.

“It wasn’t just theoretical, but it was a heavily practical program. We produced documentaries, podcasts, and wrote articles that would be published. We would go on the ground in the Bay Area, report, speak with people, and produce stories in different formats. So the practical aspect of the program for me was very enriching, in addition to having been taught by professors who were also these great experienced journalists, some of whom were still working for newspapers or websites in the U.S. or elsewhere, or some who had retired but had all this vast experience. I learned from them and networked with them, and also networked with classmates, because many of my classmates were also great journalists who had taken time off work to study. The Bay Area and the school itself being multicultural, being able to interact with people from different countries and cultures, and getting to understand people on a different level—that was all really helpful too.”

For these reasons, Mureithi selected to attend UC Berkeley over Columbia University and the University of British Columbia, in addition to the fact that Berkeley’s master’s in journalism is a two-year program. A two year, as opposed to a one year, program allows for more time to adjust to a different culture and learn, he replied, and the Mastercard Foundation’s full-ride scholarship program at UC Berkeley then solidified his decision.

Image of an article by Mureithi on efforts to protect rainforests.Berkeley’s Jennifer Kahn—a lecturer in journalism and writer for publications like the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and National Geographic—encouraged Mureithi to contact foreign editors at some of the top newspapers and news agencies upon graduation. With A-section bylines in The Times, it’s no surprise that Mureithi is now the Africa climate and environment correspondent for the Associated Press. The position allows him to merge two of the things he loves: journalism and nature. “I’ve always loved nature,” he affirms. As a general news reporter at the Daily Nation, Mureithi would often cover stories on the environment and wildlife conservation. At Berkeley he took advantage of a class called Earth Journalism, taught by James Fahn and Mark Schapiro, in which he had the opportunity to travel to Tanzania and cover the planned construction of a road across the Serengeti National Park. He now writes about climate change and how it impacts social life and conservation practices. His role as climate correspondent has helped him better to grasp the intersection of climate change with many other factors such as natural disasters and business.

Between an onslaught of heat waves in West Africa and extreme rainfall and flooding in Kenya, people in Africa are gaining awareness of abnormal climate. Mureithi views his impact as helping to make people aware of what’s happening and of the local solutions people are devising to face these new climate challenges. The impact shows through “getting all the feedback, whether it’s on social media or through e-mail, when someone says, ‘you’ve enlightened me on this topic.’”

He relates that “a lot of people have gotten in touch with me to see how they can help and how to connect with people doing the work—the people trying to do research on challenges I’ve written about and understand those topics better on a more scientific level.”

Image of an article by Mureithi about using sand dams to protect the water supply in dry regions..Mureithi has written articles on increases in wind power installations and the ways in which UN member states are addressing the demands of the climate crisis. One article covers how Kenyans resourcefully built sand dams in dry regions to extend the duration of the water supply.

“I like writing about solutions—about the things that people are doing to tackle challenges,” he states.

While some articles do deliver grim and sobering news about climate demands not being met or the hardships of facing extreme weather, Mureithi’s inclination to focus on solutions helps to challenge the perception of popular environmental discourse as misanthropic or pessimistic. Mureithi is confident that Africa, with its variety of natural resources, will be capable of moving toward renewable energy. Wind energy might be expensive, but Africans have plenty of sunlight and rivers to utilize, he explains. “We may not be able to go fully renewable everywhere, because of costs, and some countries may not have the resources to produce renewable energy,” he concedes. “But speaking for Kenya, in Kenya we have been using renewable resources for a long time.” We can all hope that Mureithi’s work in Africa will help to foster a more sustainable relationship with our world. He urges everyone to make an effort, no matter how small, to help the environment and conserve resources.