Bribery tops media corruption survey

Bribery is the leading form of corruption in the media industry, a new report by Transparency International Rwanda (TIR) shows.
Journalists interview a suspect paraded at the Police headquarters in Kacyiru.   (File)
Journalists interview a suspect paraded at the Police headquarters in Kacyiru. (File)

Bribery is the leading form of corruption in the media industry, a new report by Transparency International Rwanda (TIR) shows.

The report, the first of its kind in the sector, shows that members of the fourth estate are highly exposed to bribery temptations.

Gifts, sexual based corruption, favouritism, nepotism and extortion, were cited among the other forms in which graft manifests itself among media practitioners.

Entitled “Survey on corruption in Media in Rwanda, perception and experience of Media practitioners and stakeholders” the report was released on Wednesday in Kigali.

The survey covered 1,468 respondents with 76.5 per cent of them based in Kigali city.

Although 70.9 per cent of the respondents reported never being offered a bribe, the report shows that 29.1 per cent of respondents said they had encountered bribery.

The perception survey indicates that 11.4 per cent of respondents said sex based corruption is very high, 28.4 per cent said it was low, while 26.9 per cent said it does not exist.

Presenting the findings, Appolinaire Mupiganyi, the executive director of TIR, said the aspect of gender and sex raised quite a discussion during the investigation due to the nature of the work of journalists.

“Reasons for paying or seeking a for bribe range from publishing information, winning an advert, censoring information, blackmail, and hiring a relative to getting work trips, where sex mostly comes in,” he said.

According to the report, offering money in return for favours appeared most common, at 66.5 per cent while sex based corruption at 43.9 per cent, ranked fourth behind nepotism (60.6 per cent) and favouritism (54,4 per cent).

Gifts and coercion scored 39 per cent and 38.3 per cent, respectively, according interviewed journalists.

Up to, 63.7 per cent of bribery cases occurred between media practitioners and private sector, 35.3 per cent occurred between central government while  journalists and, local governments, and civil society organisations, were rated at 24 and 19.3 per cent, respectively.

Print media leads in corruption, at 55.2 per cent, followed by radio and television, that are rated at 37.2 per cent and 14.1 per cent, respectively.

In an interview, the TIR chairperson Immacule Ingabire said financial distress compels some journalists into taking bribes.

“There is need to assist them get financial support, the role of media is critical in promoting good governance and checking corruption. The media not only raises public awareness about corruption, its causes, consequences and possible remedies but also investigates and reports incidences of corruption,” she said.

Ingabire stressed that the effectiveness of the media depends on access to information and freedom of expression as well as its professional and ethical conduct.

“Therefore, having zero corruption in media is a prerequiste in the fight against corruption everywhere else,” she added.

Media practitioners received the report with mixed reactions with some saying receiving gifts is inevitable sometimes given circumstances under which they are offered, while others maintained that the findings will help in day-to-day businesses of the sector.

“Although the report made reference to an old code of ethics, the current version is very clear on corruption and bribery, there is need to revise some of its recommendations; otherwise the findings are useful,” said Cleophas Barore, a journalist at Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) and acting Chair, the Rwanda Media Commission.

“Bribery should be well defined here, if, I attend an event and the host freely offers me perdiem and I report my story professionally, such can’t be taken as a bribe, since I did not solicit for it,” said Ivan Ishimwe a freelance journalist.

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