Promoting Ethical Journalism; Informed Citizenry and Free Debate
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The Chronicles online media is re-launching after sometime off-the-grid in order to partake the opportunity and gap caused by changes in information communication technology that has affected how news and information is accessed and shared in the processing making traditional media business models obsolete.
This technological disruption has transferred the role of “breaking news” away from traditional to social media, making it difficult to adjust; as study by Pax Press published in 2016 indicated that only 2.1 percent of stories published; aired or telecast in are investigative stories and 2.4 percent are interpretive stories. The Chronicles comes to fill this gap by focusing on interpretive and investigative journalism.
In addition, the same study shows that only 56% of overall stories in the media focus on policy in a general manner with most of the stories coming from meetings and workshops and we are re-launch The chronicles to cover policy in more substantive manner rather than as events in workshops or conferences.
The founding philosophy of The Chronicles is that human being, including Rwandans, have an inalienable right to think and self-express freely. For this right to be meaningful, Rwandans, like any human beings need a trusted forum to mediate the exchange of ideas, views and information. We believe that it is through this kind of interaction that Rwanda can pursue sustainable development, peaceful co-existence and entrench a democratic culture.
For to entrench a democratic culture watered by a shared future and peaceful co-existence, Rwandans need not only to openly and freely express themselves, but also to hear views of others; know the truth of what is going on in their society; read and hear about what is being done in their name by public officials and how it is being done. It is through access to such news and information that Rwandans take and will continue to take informed decision about their lives and their country. The Chronicles comes and promises to play this role─acting as a trusted platform for open, free and reasoned debate.
This does not mean that there are no newspapers in Rwanda contributing to this. In fact, there are about 27 registered newspapers and magazines in the country today. However, even with the contribution of these media outlets, there are specific, identifiable and critical information gaps that The Chronicles comes to fill.
For instance, a 2008 MHC media monitoring report notes that while there are a numbers of papers in the country, “In terms of quality of content, especially with regard to analysis of policies and programs… [the] media still fall short”. The report adds that “A review of types of stories covered, regardless of medium; there is an overwhelming coverage of news stories…in a descriptive manner rather than…analysis, commentary…or engaging readers….” The 2010 Media Coverage of the Presidential Campaigns and Election report documents a similar trend emphasizing that “…what was covered and reported constitute descriptive news stories with limited interpretation and analysis of the meaning of the issues in the news and programs presented by the competing candidates”.
As a percentage of stories published in the entire campaign and election period, only 0.96% published stories are analytical and only 0.43% commentary compared to over 90% hard news. This is one of the critical gaps The Chronicles comes to fill: providing interpretive, analytical and investigated news and information important for an informed citizenry.
And as President Paul Kagame told the Rwandan Diaspora on September 12 that convened in Paris to witness the rejuvenated Franco-Rwanda relations the “Opportunities comes once, when you have a chance, you use it. When you relax a bit, the opportunity goes…”
We believe, like the President, that there is an opportunity in Rwanda to exploit today. The ongoing media reform whose stated objective is to foster greater media freedom and encouraging investors to invest in the sector is a clear opportunity to exploit. The Chronicles come to partake in the opportunity by serving Rwandans’ right to know the truth about what is going on in their society and beyond as well as providing a free and reasoned forum to debate and contribute to informed citizenship.