30 journalists from different media houses operating in Rwanda completed a practical training aimed at equipping them with skills the need to report on COVID 19 pandemic consciously, provide accurate information, and raise awareness on prevention measures established by the Government of Rwanda.
The 7 days training held from 5th -11th June 2020 in Musanze, Karongi, Muhanga and Bugesera District was organized by The Media High Council (MHC), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC).
In the theoretical training held on 25th May 2020 via Webex meeting, Journalists were taken through an overview on COVID 19, where Dr. Menelas NKESHIMANA, a doctor in CHUK explained more about its symptoms, risks factors and Rwanda’s response.
They also had a chance to interact with Gasherebuka Jean Bosco, in charge of Communication in WHO Rwanda and Kamali Fulgence, Ag. Director of Health Promotion Unit in RBC, who talked about the importance of Risk Communication and Community Engagement and how journalists must behave while reporting on COVID 19.
Hitayezu Christophe, a journalist at NONAHA.com said that this training has not only been an opportunity to source vital local news about the pandemic but also share the best practices in the fight against COVID 19.
“From the start of the lockdown, many journalists were not able to go on the field. Now that local transport and businesses are gradually resuming, personal safety is at the forefront of every journalist’s assignment. Hence I was very eager to join a team of journalists assigned in Karongi District to exercise not only vital local news about the pandemic but also share best practices in maintaining our lives safe from COVID-19”. He said.
To Umutesi Yvette, who works for Flash FM and TV, this training helped her to realize that it’s possible to get your story without putting your life and those of your sources at risk, as she was able to do all the interviews while respecting the social distancing and wearing the face mask.
The Executive Secretary of MHC, Peacemaker Mbungiramihigo said that this training aimed at not only equipping journalists with skills they need to report on COVID 19 but also provide their contribution in mobilizing the citizens to respect all preventive measures provided by the government.
“We commend the contribution of journalists in the fight against this pandemic. Their well-sourced and fact-checked reporting helps the citizens gain more knowledge about COVID 19 and why they need to protect themselves and each other, but also allow the government to know where sensibilization and mobilization reinforcement is a need.” He said.
Mbungiramihigo also said that in the next five years, the Media High Council will put much effort in specialized reporting and plan to establish an e-learning center, where journalists can access training materials anytime and anywhere.
Prepared by: MUKANEZA Marie Ange
Public Relations and Communication Officer