To Understand What’s Going on in Kigali, Don’t Look to the News Media — at Least for Now
Careful examination of local media does not just provide insight into the flaws in our journalism and understanding of knowledge. It explains the nature of governance and accountability in institutions which are the cornerstone of our own civilisation. Essentially, it also constitutes an indication of how we treat information as a society.
Rwanda’s news media feeds through trending events, most of which are campaign launches, conferences or workshops and — not least — dinner parties. The outcome, in many ways, offers little substance and streams of distraction that lead audiences to retain mere slogans and miss a clear understanding of issues at hand. This is true even when it comes to policy. (Findings from this 2016 study by an independent network of journalists offer a comprehensive view to the weakness.)
In our world of media, most journalists cry access to concrete information and communications professionals overlook their potential, citing lack of skill and professionalism (this is emphasised in the 2018 media barometer, published by the Rwanda Governance Board). The views you get, from both sides, in a nutshell, are always interesting. And, to say the least, in the absence of smooth collaboration and candid respect between the parties, there is risk to go out of touch with reality in stories about modern Rwanda.
Get to the end of the story — this is just the beginning
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