For the media to perform its roles to professional standards, it is important for it to have access to information.
Unfortunately, for the case of Rwanda, other than the brief provision in the constitution and the law governing the press, it does not have an independent, detailed and separate freedom of information act.
Media experts have continuously argued that for the media to perform the information and watchdog roles it is important for it to have access to information.
Public officials routinely deny information to the media especially the privately owned media that often plays the watchdog role.
This blocks the work of the media and prevents the public from knowing whether public institutions fulfill their proper functions.
Denial of access has promoted a culture of secrecy and lack of accountability.
It has hindered the free flow of information and promoted rumors among the people and speculation within the media. This has resulted to sensationalism in the media instead of in-depth reporting and analysis of issues.
One of the prominent methods used to deny information is to delay official comment until the publication has to run the story without comment or drop it altogether to avoid unsubstantiated stories.
When it comes to news, time is important, therefore the tactic of delay always works for reports or stories that can’t wait forever.
For long, the media has withstood operating without an independent Access to Information legislation. This has clearly affected the performance and professionalism of the media in general.
All concerned parties, should therefore delay no further in drafting and passing this long awaited bill.