DW Akademie's one-week "Media Trialogue" in Bonn, Berlin and Strasbourg brought together journalists from Rwanda, DR Congo and Germany. Discussions also touched on the on-going conflict between the two African countries.
Pascaline Umulisa is from Rwanda and works for the Rwandan Signifide Group. The organization looks at ways to include women and girls in trade and development issues. Umulisa is also a journalist and correspondent for the Rwandan online news site, Kigali Today.
How do the Rwandan media cover sensitive issues like the conflict between DR Congo and Rwanda?
The population remains traumatized by the 1994 genocide and so the media carefully handle news that could shock people. As for the conflict between DR Congo and Rwanda, the media have not taken a clear position on this. I believe that's because they do not have reliable information sources.
How much contact is there between journalists from Rwanda and DR Congo?
Not enough but there is some, especially at regional meetings. Workshops like DW Akademie's Media Trialogue provide a good opportunity for exchanging views and ideas. There's always a friendly, open atmosphere.
The German media's portrayal of DR Congo and Rwanda is still fairly limited. How do the Rwandan media portray Germany?
Germany colonized Rwanda and so we first usually learn about the country during history lessons at school. Otherwise we only hear about Germany if something unusual happens. Local, current news definitely has priority over international news. The media's portrayal of Germany is similar to the way they portray other European states. They see Germany as a wealthy, independent country with an advanced technological sector and as the driving motor behind Europe's economy. German reunification and any remaining disputes are rarely touched upon.
What are your expectations of the Rwandan media?
Professionalism should have a higher priority and more attention needs to be paid to issues like copyright and privacy. But I would also like people to better appreciate the role journalism plays and understand that information is part of their overall education and development. I also think it's important to expand Rwanda's media sector, especially when it comes to television.
The Media Trialogue was sponsored by the German Federal Foreign Office. It offered African colleagues an opportunity to learn more about Europe's media landscape and also provided a platform for discussions among journalists from all three countries.