The Nyarugenge High Court on Friday sentenced a local journalist and publisher of a news paper called Rugari to two years of imprisonment after finding him guilty of extortion. Two co-accused, one also a journalist were acquitted and set free.
This is not the first case involving journalists in extortion and or blackmail. Now that it has been decided by the courts, then we can comment on the case. Foremost, extortion and blackmail are serious crimes in society.
But when it comes to a point where journalists, who are supposed to be at the forefront of fighting and exposing such vices in society get involved in the cases, then there is cause for alarm.
There can never be an excuse for a journalist to get involved in bribery and extortion. Even if one works for a media organization that is unable to meet their financial expectations or compensation, there is no excuse.
Ideally and also in realistic terms, people who practice journalism must be above suspicion, because of the nature of the work they do.
So when one makes a career choice to become a journalist, they must be able to have the courage to accept what they get in terms of returns or compensation.
If that is not acceptable, a change of career or company may be an option.
That a publisher and owner of a newspaper should get involved in such is just unacceptable. By handing down a two year sentence, a message has been sent to those who may be susceptible to temptation of doing what the convicted journalist did.
It should serve as a lesson and deterrent to people-including journalists who may want to use their occupations to make dirty money and or get involved in unethical behaviour.