Raymond Mujuni is an investigative reporter with NBS TV, Uganda and has been in the media industry for 6 years having worked for several media houses like NTV Uganda, Uganda Radio Network, Daily Monitor Publications and New Vision. He has been rewarded for both investigative and explanatory reporting at the National Journalism Awards. He had a chat with Sunday Magazine’s Sharon Kantengwa about his career and thoughts on investigative journalism in the region.
What made you leave radio for TV? Describe briefly your journey to being an investigative journalist.
I have always wanted to have an impact on the community I live in. It’s a noble lesson my Dad taught me. So when I was doing journalism at first I always felt like the news moved too fast for my liking. Stories would come and go without the much needed impact.
As a result I decided to focus on doing longer, more in-depth and impactful reports. It is here that I began investigative journalism. I was lucky that the newsroom gave me both time and resources to pursue stories for a longer time.
But I was also influenced by other journalists like John Allan Namu (Namu did a documentary about genocide fugitive Félicien Kabuga) who were doing big TV investigations. I have since then been on the path.
What tools have served you best as an investigative journalist?
The first and perhaps best tool has been conversations. I get many of my investigations from conversations with people. It is always important to listen to people speak and what they are passionate about. Many of the sources I speak to then reveal to me what investigative projects I should undertake.
The internet is another tool. A lot of things happen with the internet, collaborations have been made easier, data reporting tools are readily available but also great research is done on the internet.
Also several platforms like social media, TV’s and papers. I have taken great advantage of those tools to make stories impactful.
How according to you, has the increasing importance of online media impacted the quality and practice of investigative journalism?
There’s been both a positive and negative impact. The plus side is that online media has democratized information in far more different ways than we could have thought. More and more people now have access to quality information that is a product of investigative journalism.
The downside though, is that it has created an uncanny imbalance between the need to churn out stories and the quality of stories being churned out.
Do you see any improvement in the quality of journalism in the region?
The very first and primary improvement in the quality of our regional journalism has to come from our own understanding of our circumstances and our challenges.
Once we define ourselves, then it will be easier to tell our story. We are often trapped in the Western media narrative of our stories that we miss the important stories, we miss the stories of our market men and women rising to feed families and building on the economies we relish. We miss the stories of the young people making innovations to increase access to basic services like health and education.
We also need to hold our civil servants to account. They need to tell us how they are spending public funds and what impact they are having on the societies we live in.
We need to also create a regional – if not continental – focus for our storytelling. Our leaders recently signed the Continental Free Trade Agreement, I think that focused newsrooms need to tell the stories of why there are delays in ratifying, what lies in it for the common man on the street and what future does Africa stand to benefit from it.
So, on the whole there is an improvement in the quality of journalism but it is not enough yet to tell the story of our people.
What is the biggest threat to investigative reporting and what advice can you give to young investigative journalist in Rwanda?
The biggest threat to investigative reporting is conviction. Newsrooms need to convict themselves at the altar of truth and holding power to account. Whether that makes people in power [both in private and public sectors] unhappy is a secondary consideration.
The need for investigative journalism is not to bring down people, it is to shine a light on the use [and abuse] of power for the benefit of the people we report for.
You come a lot to Rwanda for conferences, what hangouts impress you the most?
Ha! That’s a tricky one. I eat a lot at Choma’d. They have the best burger I’ve had here. I also make sure I visit the Kigali Genocide memorial center and once in a while I’ll take to a live band at the Serena Hotel.
I don’t really have an active social life.Outside the journalism world, I am a very reserved fellow drown in a book every month and spend a lot of my time engaged in deep conversations with few of my friends.