In the framework of commemorating the 66th Anniversary of the Genocide Convention, the University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences/School of Journalism and Communication organized a public talk in Kigali on Wednesday, 10th December 2014. This public talk focused on analyzing BBC’s Documentary “Rwanda’s Untold Story” vis-à-vis universal media guidelines.
BBC’S DOCUMENTARY BREACHES JOURNALISM GUIDELINES
Mr Joseph Njuguna, the Dean of the School of Journalism and Communication explained that journalism is exercised in respect of guidelines such as accuracy, impartiality, integrity, accountability, fairness, transparency among others. According to Mr Njuguna, BBC as one of the most prominent media houses is supposed to abide with the mentioned guidelines. In his analysis after watching “Rwanda’s untold Story” Documentary, Mr Joseph Njuguna asserted he found a lot of breaches of media guidelines. “To the principle of impartiality, I found a lot of bias in the documentary because the producer Jane Corbin did not give the chance to both sides concerned with what she was talking about in the film.” Regarding the accountability principle, Mr Njuguna argued that in journalism, only facts are valued rather than opinions but in the documentary the journalist’s interviews are based on opinions whereby some sources used terms like “I believe, I think”.
The principle of using “Truth” compared to the content of “Rwanda’s untold story” was also questioned by media scholars for instance Dr Margaret Jjuuko, a senior lecturer of media studies. “In the beginning of the film, Rwanda was described as a country defined by only a dark history whereas 20 years after Genocide there are a lot of good achievements to talk about”, said Dr Jjuuko.
RWANDA’S UNTOLD STORY COMPARED TO PRODUCTS OF HATE MEDIA
Dr Raphael Nkaka, a senior lecturer and researcher in media and Genocide studies compared “Rwanda’s untold story” Documentary with some media outputs of the hate media before and during the Genocide against Tutsis. Dr Nkaka: The Documentary gives the platform to the revisionists like it was the case of hate media before and during the Genocide against Tutsis. Remember Kangura no6 of December 1990 on pages 6-8 which published Hutu 10 commandments. Another example is RTLM which gave a platform to a politician called Stanislas Mbonampeka on 28th May 1994 who said: “Those who know history tell us that the tutsis have governed Rwanda more than 400 years. During this time, the Hutu were dominated by the Tutsis until the arrival of Europeans...”
Senator Prof. Laurent Nkusi, a former Minister of Information described BBC’s documentary as a driving force of enhancing the former narratives dividing Rwandans which led to the Genocide against Tutsis. “This documentary is not different from the media products which educated the population that Tutsis and Hutus will never reconcile.”
Mr.Jean de Dieu Ndayisenga, a student in the School of Journalism and Communication regretted the unprofessional production of BBC’s documentary and called upon his comrades to make a documentary contradicting “Rwanda’s untold story”.
Mr Charles Kayitana, a lecturer at University of Rwanda’s college of Business and Economics slammed the BBC’s editorial team which allowed “Rwanda’s untold story to be aired whereas the editorial team is supposed to serve as a gate keeper.
To some audience like Dr. Rose Gasibirege who is Director of CASS/Kigali campus, the documentary “Rwanda’s untold story” is a shock to the dignity of Rwandans. “That documentary is against our dignity as Rwandans. We must fight all together to defend ourselves.”
In her closing remarks, Dr Usta Kaitesi, the Principal of CASS urged students to be responsible professionals in their area of specialization. “If you are studying journalism, we want you to grow as a responsible professional journalist as well as critical thinker.” She also called upon journalism students to engage actively in projects contributing to the development of Rwanda in different ways.
L-R,Dr Margaret Jjuko, Mr Joseph Njuguna, Dr Raphael Nkaka, Dr Usta Kaitesi and Prof Laurent Nkusi
Prof Laurent Nkusi speaking at the public talk organized by CASS-SJC
One student asking a question
By Jean Baptiste MICOMYIZA