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Carleton University expands journalism partnership in Rwanda with help from Canwest Global Communications Corp.

(Ottawa, January 30, 2007) — Carleton University has joined forces with Canada’s leading media company Canwest Global Communications Corp. to launch the next phase of the Rwanda Initiative, Carleton’s journalism partnership with the National University of Rwanda. The Rwanda Initiative is sending at four more journalism teachers to the central African country this month, with more to come. And for the first time, the Rwanda Initiative will be hiring a journalist in Africa to work as a visiting lecturer in Rwanda and will be placing some teachers in Rwanda on extended, six-month assignments.

In the first phase of a successful journalism teaching partnership, launched in January 2006,  between Carleton’s School of Journalism and Communication and its counterpart at the National University of Rwanda in Butare, project leader Prof. Allan Thompson and nearly a dozen other veteran journalists and journalism educators traveled to Rwanda to take up positions as visiting lecturers in 2006. All published blogs on the project website - www.RwandaInitiative.ca  – describing their experiences. The Rwanda Initiative project also grew last year to include a media internship program, which took more than a dozen Carleton journalism students to Rwanda to work as media interns. Two Carleton students attended the National University of Rwanda as exchange students and a recent graduate of the journalism program in Rwanda enrolled in Carleton’s Master of Journalism program.

(Prof. Thompson has just visited Rwanda again to formally launch the Rwanda Initiative’s first publication, an edited collection called The Media and the Rwanda Genocide. For more information on the publication visit www.idrc.ca/rwandagenocide).

Now with financial backing from Canwest, the Rwanda Initiative is launching its 2007 program with an initial mission by four visiting lecturers. More teachers will come on stream in the coming months.

“CanWest is committed to supporting the development of journalists in Canada and around the world. We understand the importance of building a strong media sector in an emerging democracy like Rwanda,” said Bruce Leslie, Vice President of Community and Public Relations. “In addition this program was attractive because it was initiated by our journalists and their desire to contribute to the development of their profession in a part of the world that really needs a strong and free media.”  

Prof. Thompson, the director of the Rwanda Initiative, said Canwest is setting an example for other media organizations. “There are so many Canadian journalists out there who want to give something back, who want to make a contribution in a place like Rwanda,’’ Thompson said. “We are very grateful that Canwest has stepped up to help some of these Canadian journalists make this important voyage to Africa.’’

The central aim of the teaching partnership is to address the shortage of journalism educators in Rwanda, to build the university’s capacity to teach journalism and to improve media standards in the country. The new teachers are Montreal Gazette reporter Sue Montgomery, Ottawa Citizen columnist Charles Gordon,  community radio specialist Shelley Robinson and Margaret Jjuuko, of the Mass Communication department at Makerere University, in Kampala, Uganda.

Sue Montgomery, a graduate of Carleton’s journalism program, has been a journalist for 20 years. She has worked at the Toronto Star, Canadian Press, Gemini News Service in London and is currently a reporter/columnist for the Montreal Gazette. Montgomery has travelled widely with her job, covering the Velvet Revolution in the former Czechoslovakia, the independence of Namibia, the release of Nelson Mandela in South Africa and the violent departure of Haiti's former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In 1995/96, she and her husband were CUSO volunteers in Thailand. In 2003, she was given Amnesty International's media award for her coverage of Algerian refugees in Canada. This is Montgomery’s second assignment at the National University of Rwanda. Last year she taught a second-year reporting course. This year she will be teaching the fourth-year advanced print reporting class.

Charles Gordon, recently retired after more than 40 years in journalism in Canada. Best known as a humour columnist, Gordon has also been an editorial page editor, managing editor, city editor, feature writer and books editor in a career with the Brandon Sun in Manitoba the Ottawa Citizen. He still writes a weekly column for The Citizen. He has six books to his credit, one of them a novel. Gordon has freelanced extensively, including a 20-year stint as columnist with Maclean’s, Canada’s news magazine. In 2002, Gordon was writer-in-residence at the University of Ottawa, where he mentored writers both within and outside the university. He will be teaching Opinion Writing at the National University of Rwanda.

Margaret Jjuuko is an experienced communications specialist and media trainer with 23 years of working experience in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Africa. She is currently attached to the Makerere University Mass Communication department. As a journalist, Margaret worked for UBC, formerly Radio Uganda and Uganda Television, for 17 years before going into academics. She is a graduate of Rhodes University – South Africa, Makerere University-Uganda and BBC Open University, UK.  In Rwanda, Jjuuko has been engaged in the training of broadcast journalists in Kigali, particularly in the areas of news and current affairs production, and environmental journalism and communication.   In addition, she has been a guest lecturer of the National University of Rwanda (NUR) School of Journalism and Communication since 2002. In mid-February she will take up a six-month appointment in Butare through the Rwanda Initiative.

Shelley Robinson studied political science at Dalhousie University in Halifax, eventually running both the student newspaper, The Gazette, and the campus-community radio station, CKDU-FM. In 2000 she moved to Belfast and was editor of a community newspaper on the peaceline, Citywide.  In 2005 she worked in Afghanistan with a women's community radio station, Radio Rabia Balkhi, named after a famous female Persian poet who is said to have written her last poem, in her own blood, on the walls of the cell where she was imprisoned for loving a servant. In 2006 Robinson joined the professional entry stream of Carleton University’s Master of Journalism program. This year she will be teaching print and broadcast journalism at the National University of Rwanda during a six-month placement. Robinson’s particular focus will be working to integrate the work that students do with Radio Salus and the Ibanga newspaper into the journalism curriculum. She will also be acting as a local coordinator for the Rwanda Initiative.

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For more information, please visit:
www.RwandaInitiative.ca, or contact:

Prof. Allan Thompson ([email protected])
School of Journalism and Communication – Carleton University
613-520-2600 ext. 7439

Bruce Leslie - Vice President, ([email protected])
Community & Public Relations,
CanWest Global Communications Corp.
(204) 956-2025



    © 2006 Carleton University School of Journalism and Communication DESIGN: SMDESIGN