The Media High Council (MHC) will, on Thursday this week, start a nationwide campaign to sensitize the public on the rights and obligations of the media and fighting corruption among journalists.
The media regulatory body seeks to, among other things, draw the public’s attention to journalists’ rights to access information and highlight the dangers of giving allowances or per diem to journalists in exchange for coverage.
The list of journalists who sign for what has now come to be known among local journalists as “Giti” is becoming long and the habit seems to be growing by the day.
The practice which is threatening the integrity of journalism has found space largely because event organisers or government officials do not know that journalists are not supposed to solicit or accept bribes in exchange for publishing a story.
Stories are supposed to improve the lives of the people and good stories should remedy the wrongs committed by the powerful, for the benefit of the voiceless in society. It’s the journalists’ responsibility to report stories without charging a fee.
A reporter who goes to a press conference or any event and gets a brown envelope from the organisers is not likely to tell the whole truth to their readers or listeners.
Demanding “facilitation” is unethical as far as the profession of journalism is concerned and the MHC’s move to sensitize both journalists and the public on the matter is spot on.
A report by the Center for International Media Assistance released last month titled “Cash for Coverage: Bribery of Journalists around the World’ describes giving journalists per diem in exchange for coverage as “the dark part of journalism.”
Rwanda has won global accolades for her zero tolerance on corruption and it is incumbent upon journalists who are the watchdogs of the society to exhibit a high level of integrity.