Tuesday was a special day for the media fraternity. On the African continent’s perspective, it was the African Day of Information, but locally, two major events took place.
The National Media Dialogue went into its ninth year. The annual event is meant to gauge the state of the media in the country, identify challenges and seek solutions.
The event has grown over the years and attracted partnerships with many international media organizations who continue to accompany Rwanda as it continues to build its media landscape. Next year, there are plans to make it even bigger and involve many more international stakeholders with the hope of becoming a regular fixture on the media calendar.
The day also coincided with the Development Media Awards to honour outstanding achievers in the industry. The fact that many government institutions and international organizations came on board is an indication that the media is becoming an integral part of and important partner in society.
The media has come a long way; in 1994, there were only two radio stations – including the infamous Radio Television Libre de Mille Collines (RTLM), one TV, and a handful of newspapers.
Today, the landscape has evolved greatly with 36 radios, 12 TV stations as well as 40 newspapers and 80 online publications. To add icing on the cake, Rwanda is one of the only 11 African countries that have an Access to Information Law.
All the above achievements should be enough to quell the nonsense about lack of press freedom by a section of self-appointed arbiters of human conditions, who talk from an ignorant – or intentionally malicious – point of view.
That perception should be defeated in all corners if the local media played its part in portraying the true picture and taking advantage of the prevailing conditions to build a vibrant and responsible media, not a clearing house of foreign biases and false narratives.