From hate media to great media? : Rwandan radio journalist’s view of the media climate in their country
Abstract: In 1994 a brutal genocide took place in Rwanda were one part of the population killed over 800 000 of their own people over a period of one hundred days. Rwandan radio, the biggest and most influential medium in the country, played a crucial part in the tragedy and today, almost 22 years after the genocide, Rwanda is trying to rebuild the media system as well as the trust between the public and the journalists. Over recent years Rwanda has made a huge development within the media sector and keeps moving forward from its dark history. This study aims to examine how radio journalist at the government owned radio channel RBA, Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, experiences the changes in the media climate and focus will mainly lie on the period after the introduction of new media laws in 2013. This study also examines how journalists have experienced different international collaborations, especially between Western countries and Rwanda, that are aiming to develop the media system. In total eleven radio journalist from RBA were interviewed and our research questions were as follows; How do Rwandan radio journalists within the RBA experience the media situation in the country today? How do Rwandan radio journalists within the RBA regard their role within their profession? How can Rwanda’s media climate be interpreted through different normative media systems? To understand the media climate at RBA three theoretical perspectives were used as a base; Agenda Setting Theory, globalisation and domestication. To study the media situation an ethnographic method was applied and put into the context of Rwanda's history and culture. During our interviews we have talked about how the journalists regard their role in the society, how it has changed, what may still change, how they value their independency as journalists and what they think the future holds for Rwandan media development. The informants all agreed that Rwandan journalism is constantly developing and journalists are learning how to work in a society where the media's biggest aim is to be trusted by the public. Rwandan journalists and international journalists, the latter group also partly represented in the study, regard Rwanda's media situation differently but both parts agree upon the fact that the country has a long way to go to reach an open media climate. Our result leads up to a cultural conclusion; it is difficult to make a fair judgement of the media situation in Rwanda only by measuring the country's development and the journalistic competence according to Western ideals.
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