Kigali, 10 August 2012
On the second day of the East African Community Media Summit, President Kagame held an interactive session with over 100 journalists from the region. The session was an opportunity for those present to continue the conversation that began on the first day of the summit.
Recognizing challenges experienced by media in competing with internationally recognized media, President Kagame told the journalists that they should not accept this unequal relationship. “You should let the world know that you are here to stay and will do your job until the world recognizes that you matter,” President Kagame said.
Speaking on the coverage of the situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, President Kagame pointed to the fact that although all present had reported on the situation only few had in fact been to DRC. “Those who have been to DRC either remain silent or report on what someone else in western media said they saw…the blame has been shifted to Rwanda and those who control the media are shaping a false narrative that is being perpetuated. That is how perception becomes reality,” President Kagame said. To improve reporting in this region, President Kagame urged the media present that they should have the courage to be accurate and tell a story based on fact. “It is our duty to shape our stories,” President Kagame reminded those present.
One of the challenges addressed during this session was the need for greater collaboration and information sharing between government and media. As the CEO of New Vision Robert Kabushonga put it:“Let’s not be an abusive marriage, let’s build true partnerships.” “Our strength come from the kind of dialogue we are having right now,” the Head of Media Council in Uganda Captain Babu added
President Kagame agreed that relationship between media and government should not be one of opposition but rather one driven by the common interest of the citizens of East Africa. “We should not fear each other and we should collaborate,” President Kagame added.