KIGALI - The Rwanda Journalists Association (ARJ) yesterday released its maiden media report on the media coverage during the August 9 Presidential elections, which were overwhelmingly won by President Paul Kagame.
The 40-page document provides a general impression of media coverage a week before the campaigns and partly concludes that, among other findings, the majority of news reports were unbiased.
James Munyaneza, the first vice president of ARJ, noted that the initial media monitoring exercise was a tool of self assessment and “not for finger pointing,” as well as an element to build on for the future.
“This is a beginning, a good start and we hope to do a better job in future. We are proud that for the first time, ARJ was able to contribute to our country’s democratization process through an election coverage monitoring exercise,” said Munyaneza.
Peacemaker Mbungiramihigo, a journalism lecturer who coordinated the project, revealed that even though the media was generally not biased, limited resources, particularly in the private media, was an impediment.
“About 85 percent of the private media worked under insufficient financial capacity,” he said, adding that in the electronic media, a new trend was observed since more than 95 percent of radios gave each candidate airtime.
ARJ initiated the project in partnership with IREX, an international non-profit media NGO providing innovative programmes to strengthen independent media, and foster pluralistic civil society development, and the Rwanda Media Strengthening Program (RMSP).
The exercise was jointly supported by USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) threshold programme.