KIGALI - A two day National Dialogue on Media Development ended yesterday in Kigali, with Rwandan Journalists being advised to build their journalism careers on the Rwandan context and not copy other countries.
The advice was given yesterday by Andrew Mwenda, the founder and owner of a Ugandan news magazine, The Independent, on the second day of the The two-day dialogue convened to provide a platform for open debate by all stakeholders on the challenges of media development, professionalism and media freedom in Rwanda and agreeing on appropriate strategies to ensure a free, responsible and sustainable press.
Speaking at the forum, Mwenda said that though Africa’s problems are local, there is a tendency by Africans to seek solutions from totally different settings and yet these solutions cannot help solve the problems.
He urged Rwandan journalists to go down to the grassroots and try to understand the problems of Rwandans and stop duplicating journalism of other countries because it cannot work here.
“You have to be truthful because if you don’t, you will have not done a service to your country,” he counselled adding that Rwandan journalist ought to reflect and value what Rwanda as a country has achieved instead of addressing non-issues that cannot benefit the local Rwandan citizen.
Mwenda pointed out that Rwanda has made remarkable achievements, over the last 16 years, that are hardly reported about.
He noted that a succession of polls carried out by western organisations, including Gallup, Transparency International and the World Bank have consistently placed Rwanda among the best governed countries in the world, and yet western media seek to portray a totally different image.
Mwenda went on to explain that there is no way a government could be governed so well and at the same time be accused of lacking in democracy and freedoms.
Lecturing on the issue of media freedom, Tanzanian veteran journalist Jenerali Ulimwengu said: “When talking about media freedom, it is paramount to know whose freedom it is.”
“Information is a public good, so the media freedom should be fought for in the interest of the public,” he said.
Ulimwengu remarked that as public disseminators, journalists need to be equipped with the best skills, which are a prerequisite, coupled with being ahead of others as far as being informed is concerned.