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Carleton expands journalism partnership in Rwanda: Media training program will involve Canadian journalism veterans

(Ottawa, April 6, 2007) – On the anniversary of the beginning of the 1994 Rwanda genocide, Carleton University is launching a new media training program in Rwanda that will deploy veteran Canadian journalists to the central African country.

The new media-training program for working journalists expands the Rwanda Initiative, Carleton University’s ongoing journalism partnership with the National University of Rwanda, which has already sent 16 journalists and 14 journalism students to Rwanda. [www.RwandaInitiative.ca]

With support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Carleton International, the Rwanda Initiative is launching this ambitious new phase of the project to build upon the current visiting lecturer program at the National University of Rwanda by establishing a new media training program with working journalists.

“The Rwanda Initiative has been active for more than a year now, sending visiting lecturers to the university to help foster the next generation of journalists in Rwanda,’’ said Allan Thompson, the Carleton journalism professor who is the director of the Rwanda Initiative. “Now we are expanding the project to provide essential training and support for working journalists in a country where the media sector was devastated by the genocide and is still struggling to recover,’’ Thompson said.

The new media training program is designed to foster greater professionalism in the media sector in Rwanda. Senior figures from the world of Canadian journalism will go to Rwanda as visiting editors and reporters, to work alongside their Rwandan counterparts at print and broadcast media outlets, including both government-owned and independent media. A host of veteran Canadian journalists will take part in the new program, which will have a focus on coaching, and hands-on media training in the newsroom. Among the participants:

  • John Honderich, former publisher of the Toronto Star newspaper, Canada’s largest circulation daily newspaper and current chair of the Torstar voting trust, will visit Rwanda to work with the New Times newspaper in Kigali;
  • Scott Hannant, News Director, CTV News, Ottawa, will work with TV Rwanda, the national broadcaster;
  • Debra Black, a reporter with the Toronto Star newspaper, will work with the New Times newspaper in Kigali with a special focus on developing stories dealing with HIV/Aids;
  • Claude Adams, a veteran journalist who has worked with CBC and Global television and recently taught journalism at the University of British Columbia, will work with TV Rwanda;
  • Joan Leishman, documentary reporter with CBC's The National and former correspondent in Africa and Latin America, will work with TV Rwanda and Contact FM and conduct workshops at the university.
  • Gary Dimmock, an investigative reporter with the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, will work with the Umuseso/Newsline newspaper organizations.
  • Huguette Young, a journalism instructor at Carleton who also worked with CBC, Radio Canada and Press Canadienne, will work with La Nouvelle Releve, the national French-language newspaper.

A number of other journalists will also participate in this phase of the Rwanda Initiative project, which will be undertaken with support from Carleton International and CIDA’s stand-alone public engagement fund. A minimum of 16 Canadian journalists and journalism educators will go to Rwanda in this phase of the project, which is being launched immediately.

The media training program with working journalists will also reinforce the Rwanda Initiative’s existing journalism teaching partnership with the National University of Rwanda. And additional Canadian journalists and journalism educators will go to Rwanda to work as visiting lecturers at the university.

In its submission to CIDA, the Rwanda Initiative put forward that media professionals who participate in the project are ideally placed to engage the Canadian public about development issues in Rwanda. In addition to their work on the project in Rwanda, these Canadian journalists will take steps to engage Canadians by making public appearances in Canada and by using their skills as media professionals to reach out to Canadians through blogs posted on the Rwanda Initiative website and through works of journalism.

In the first phase of the 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 graduate of the journalism program in Rwanda enrolled in Carleton’s Master of Journalism program. The media internship program will be expanded this year.

In addition, Prof. Thompson has just released 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 or consult Prof. Thompson’s book tour blog at www.allanthompson.ca. The Toronto launch of The Media and the Rwanda Genocide will take place at Indigo Books, 55 Bloor St. W., at 7 p.m. on Tues., April 10.  www.chapters.indigo.ca/home/storeLocator/storeDetails/280

Earlier this year, the Rwanda Initiative launched its 2007 program with an initial mission by four visiting lecturers funded by media giant Canwest Global Communications Corp. Later this month, another Canwest employee will join the Rwanda Initiative as a visiting lecturer at the university in Butare, with support from Canwest.

  • Lynn Farrell, photo editor at the Montreal Gazette, will travel to Rwanda to teach a photojournalism course at the National University of Rwanda, in Butare and conduct some media training workshops with working journalists in Kigali.

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 Rwanda Initiative will continue to make effective use of its website to inform Canadians about the important task of working to foster greater media professionalism and freedom of expression in Rwanda. This phase of the project will place particular emphasis on public engagement with Canadians.


For more information contact:
Prof. Allan Thompson ([email protected])
School of Journalism and Communication
613-520-2600 ext. 7439 (Mobile: 613-799-1791)



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