On January 6, 2019, I was invited on the panel of the year’s first edition of the Rwandan debate show #InFocus. Hosted by Eugene Anangwe, I discussed together with Jesse Maxella and Matthew Rwahigi the obstacles media and journalists are meeting in Rwanda to become influential and deliver quality journalism in times of social media.
As a first question, I was asked if I think if media was slow in Rwanda. To reply to this, it is important to understand: Slow in/with what? Are we slow to deliver Breaking News, competing with the public posting anytime anywhere on social media right from the ground? Yes, with this we might be slow in Rwanda. This is caused by the lack of press agency covering the country and sending breaking news and happenings to editors, by lacking infrastructure and money for reporters to be on ground in time, and the ease of just jumping on the social media train, waiting for sharing “old” news then. However, we should ask ourselves, are we really slow with what journalism is really defined by? Journalism is and should not consist of running behind events and breaking news of sudden happenings. No doubt, these things and information need to be distributed. But what about a follow-up, different perspectives to the story, the real journalistic work that comes when getting a headline? I personally don’t think that Rwanda media is slow in that. I am convinced the public would understand that we journalists may need a day or two to cover the full story, and to dig deeper than the Breaking part of it. And this leads us then to another question: Are we perhaps not slow but just not delivering at all? Obviously the public considers our work slow if big media in Rwanda need a day or two to just “break” the same news as it can be found already all over social media.
From this perspective, a whole new area of dicussion can be opened: what is quality journalism, and why apparently don’t we have it enough in Rwanda? Without delivering the quality the public deserves, we can’t expect any influence on society. But what are the obstacles to really deliver a such and to get shaped by and at the same shape the Rwandan society?
Watch the video below (1 hour) to get some answers and see where’s my stand in that discussion!
PS: #InFocus with Eugene Anangwe is live every Sunday at 9pm (local time) and I highly recommend watching it on RTV or via live stream. With the rise of this debate show, public discussions in Rwanda became more popular – and we started having an impact already!