In the modern society, the media has become the chief outlet of information. Journalism’s role in society is to act as a mediator or translator between the public and the policy making bodies.
Therefore, a journalist becomes the middleman. When policy makers speak, a journalist listens and records the information, distills it and then passes it on to the public for their consumption.
This makes journalism one of the most important functions of society since it acts as a state watchdog on the government, businesses and actors, who are forced to serve the public well because someone is watching.
Journalists do a lot of research and travelling, from one function to another, from one village to another. During this movement, they do get hungry, need transportation and communication facilities just like any other employee.
As we know it, Rwanda’s media has just risen from the ashes and not until recently, have we seen professional, unbiased and developmental reports coming from the media.
This means that many media outlets operating in Rwanda still find it hard to offer quality services to their journalists, such as transportation, lunch and communication facilities while they are in the field.
On the other hand, most Rwandan journalists cannot foot such expenses on their own. Personally, I am not ready to invest my hard earned francs into my organization’s work, otherwise, I may fail to save for land, or even fail to finance my wedding; a total embarrassment for an elite working-class person like me.
Many policy making organizations have therefore mandated themselves to offer facilitation to the journalists who attend their events or meetings. This is because all organizations foster one another to achieve common development in Rwanda.
This facilitation, which in the journalism circles has been tagged “Giti” God only knows why, varies from free lunch, free airtime and some money for transportation.
This facilitation has in no way violated the ethical standards of professional journalism as some may try to convince us.
This facilitation is usually signed for in public, and not given in secrecy. In other words, a professional journalist can tell the difference between facilitation and a bribe.
If giti was given in secrecy, where a journalist has to compromise his professionalism to the demands of a particular organization, then that would seize to be facilitation, it would be a bribe, a crime punishable by law.
Quality journalism takes training, time and persistence.
Therefore, journalists must be treated well. They shouldn’t find any huddles in their work simply because they can’t communicate, access transportation or have a decent meal.
As a human being, it is scientifically known that the more empty calories you consume, the unhealthier you get and the more unproductive you become.
It wouldn’t be good for our democracy that journalists lack even such simple basics while in the field. Otherwise, they may be required to stick inside the newsroom and avoid the adventure of going out in the field to look for stories.
However, if there is any organization that treads the dangerous route of devaluing journalism by trying to manipulate journalists with bribes instead of providing giti/facilitation, I hope that the long arm of the law plucks them out.