YESTERDAY, a friend of mine sent me a link that she thought would amuse me. On the contrary, it incensed me. Some organisation called the International News Safety Institute had penned an article titled “Elections in Africa’s Great Lakes – a safety guide for visiting journalists” written by Yoletta Nyanga .
This so-called expert’s take on things amazed me. About safety and security, she says that “although not immediately visible to the eye of the unaccustomed, tension is present throughout the region.
Take care who you talk to, who you invite to your hotel. Pre-election violence has created a climate of fear. Public denunciations are well known and widespread in Rwanda.”
She continues with her falsehoods.
She tells journalists to not “walk after 6pm at night in Kigali. There is an “unofficial” curfew in place. Rwandans avoid being out after 6pm. If you have to travel, arrange transport and always inform your office.”
“Levels of common crime remain relatively low in Rwanda. There has, however, been an increase in reports of bag snatching and mugging incidents targeting expatriates and tourists” she says.
With lies like these being spread around, no wonder foreign journalists have certain biases. I won’t even begin to counter this ‘advice’ because it would be ridiculous.
However, I will say that very few foreign journalists actually heed this advice because, just the other day, I was at a nightspot with an American journalist and he didn’t seem to have any worry about his safety.
I urge the International News Safety Institute to stop spreading falsehoods. I believe that its rumor mongering is not helping journalism in any way. In fact, its my opinion that it is detrimental to the noble art.