- August 7, 2023
On August 3, 2023, the Embassy of Rwanda in Washington D.C. hosted a delegation of 34 foreign correspondent journalists. The group was led by Eileen O’Reilly, President of the National Press Club, a media fraternity in Washington D.C.
This visit offered an opportunity to deeply explore Rwanda’s transformative journey, with a particular focus on its media landscape. Ambassador of Rwanda in Washington D.C. H.E Mathilde Mukantabana provided insights into Rwanda’s historical trajectory and its remarkable recovery after the genocide. She highlighted the role of media during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, detailing how hate speech was propagated through media channels.
She said that given the pivotal role of media in development, the government of unity implemented measures to reconstruct and reestablish the trust that media had lost.
She highlighted the progressive strides taken by the government including the establishment of the first-ever school of Journalism and communication and other reforms that led to a rise in the number of media houses.
Another turning point occurred in 2010 when the Government willingly relinquished its media regulation authority, leading to the dissolution of the government-appointed ‘Media High Council.’ Ambassador Mukantabana explained, “Media regulation has since been overseen by the independent ‘Rwanda Media Commission’, which is managed by journalists themselves.”
She continued to elaborate that another important milestone was reached in 2015 when journalistic offenses were removed from Rwanda’s Penal Code. This change created an environment where journalists no longer faced criminalization for fulfilling their professional responsibilities. “There are no journalists in prison currently who are jailed for doing journalism.”
Ambassador Mukantabana said that the country has put in place professional tools to effectively monitor the progress of Rwanda’s media industry and address its needs. Notably, the Rwanda Governance Board’s ‘Rwanda Media Barometer’ explains “It serves as a scientific and reliable tool to measure the state of media in Rwanda to promote professional media.”
Ms. Eileen O’Reilly, the 116th President of the National Press Club, extended gratitude to the Embassy for facilitating such an occasion to explore the media landscape in Rwanda and the transformational journey of the country in general: “Thank you for your hospitality!! We truly enjoyed learning more about Rwanda and its culture, business, and the state of journalism there. The dance and food were amazing, too!”
The event encompassed performances of Rwanda’s traditional dance and the chance to taste Rwandan cuisine.
Rwanda has five higher learning institutions providing journalism and communication training. Additionally, there are over 30 radio stations and 10 mostly private TV stations. Numerous online news websites offer content in Kinyarwanda and other languages. The Rwandan government’s substantial investments in internet and broadband infrastructure, coupled with a focus on the digital economy, have brought about a significant change in the media sector, particularly in the widespread adoption of social media.
The National Press Club is a professional organization located in Washington, D.C., United States. It serves as a hub for journalists, reporters, and communications professionals. The club was founded in 1908 and has since become an influential institution in the world of journalism and media.