Rwanda Media Strengthening Program
The Rwanda Media Strengthening Program promotes the sustainability of Rwandan media outlets, the professionalism of Rwandan media community, and the capacity of media associations to provide services to their members and effectively engage the government and public in the interest of their members.
This project is part of a USAID-funded Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) threshold program to advance a more professional and sustainable media sector contributing to enhanced media independence, more open government, a greater voice for civic groups, and improved access to public information.
• Increase journalists’ professional capacity to raise the quality of news and information available to the public
• Improve sustainability of media outlets through more professional business and editorial management
• Strengthen community radio to provide news and information to local audiences
• Develop media associations’ capacity to deliver services that are valued by membership, promote rights and responsibilities of journalists and outlets, and raise public and government support for role of media in development
The Rwandan media sector has great potential as the country moves towards development and technological progress, but there are significant obstacles stemming from the country’s recent history. The Rwandan media has lacked resources to professionalize in order to increase confidence and trust in its institutional role. The idea of media as a forum for debate and consensus-building as well as the source of accurate news and information needed to make informed choices is not well understood by the public. This situation hampers Rwanda’s development agenda and strengthening a free and professional media will enable economic progress, government transparency, citizen-government interaction, and widespread commitment to democratic ideals.
Institutional education and specialized training supported: RMSP supports Carleton University’s Rwanda Initiative (RI) to bring qualified journalists and journalism educators to Rwanda to teach practical-skills based courses, to revise the journalism curriculum at both the School of Journalism and Communication and the Great Lakes Media and to provide additional training certification programs to journalists from various areas of the Rwandan media. Pitch Labs and Team Feature Reporting Grants provide opportunities for trainees to practice the skills they have honed during training through independent reporting projects.
Journalists supported to report professionally on topics and issues related to the participation of civil society in the democratic process: RMSP supports the Rwanda Now Workshop to encourage journalists to research and report on MCC Threshold Program themes through both mentored reporting and facilitated access to officials. RMSP also funds the Rwanda Journalists Association to carry out election coverage monitoring and produce the Electoral Press Monitoring report, which contributes to the professionalism of the Rwanda media by giving them a clear assessment of their own work during the electoral process and highlighting the areas where they need to improve the quality and impartiality of their coverage.
New technologies and methods employed to expand media’s relevance: IREX will support the increased use of technology by journalism students, faculty and media professions providing a technology incentive grant to encourage the creative use and adoption of new technologies in media. Equipment is awarded to the best reporting grants to encourage the incorporation of technology into news gathering and specialized technology training further familiarizes journalists with the potential of new media to change the media landscape in Rwanda.
Media outlets improve sustainability through more professional business and editorial management: Media business training workshops provide best practices and tools for management personnel to improve the sustainability of their outlets; one-on-one business consultancy help outlets produce a viable business plan; and Business Incentive Grants plus expert assistance assist grantees in implementing their business plan efficiently to transform the concept into reality.
Community Radio provides news and information to local audiences: RMSP supports the establishment of Community Radio Stations in the districts of Karongi and Gicumbi in rural Rwanda. RMPS provides guidance to mobilize the population, advises associations in navigating the registration process, procures equipment and technical analysis and support and leads a comprehensive training program to the staff and core group of volunteers to operate the stations and produce quality content. RMSP also helps the Community Radio Stations in the development of citizen reporting using SMS technology and provides financial support through grants for initial operation costs and development of sustainable business plans.
Media associations develop their capacity advance the journalistic profession and raise government and public awareness of the role of the media: RMSP offers a comprehensive capacity building program to the Association of Rwandan Journalists (ARJ); Rwanda Editors Forum (REFO); and the Rwandan Association for Journalist Women (ARFEM) to increase their operational, outreach and advocacy capacity. The media associations employ these skills in the promulgation of a Code of Ethics. A project to develop media literacy among the youth population of Rwanda works through local youth NGOs and high school media clubs to instill an understanding and appreciation of independent media.