Knight International Journalism Fellowships

Rwanda: From Hate Radio to Responsible Reporting


In a country where radio helped incite genocide, Knight International helped produce balanced broadcasts on the recovering nation. Knight Fellow Sputnik Kilambi improved newscasts in French and Kinyarwandan and launched the first news programs in English at the country's first privatized independent radio station, Contact FM.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Launched English-language news service that is used by government leaders and is attracting new sponsors.

  • Raised the station's profile: Before the U.S. president's 2008 visit to Africa, five African journalists were invited to interview George W. Bush at the White House. Contact FM was the only representative of independent media.

  • Launched news analysis show that distinguishes itself with its in-depth exploration of subjects such as the global economic downturn, the food and fuel crises, and the war crimes tribunal in the Hague.

  • Increased coverage of East Africa, focusing on neighbors Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and Congo.

  • Developed special series on woman's issues including the fate of Rwandan women refugees in neighboring Congo.

Our Stories

  • Jul 102013

    A Tribute to Sputnik Kilambi

    Sputnik Kilambi, a tireless and passionate journalist and former Knight International Journalism Fellow, died on July 6 after a battle with liver cancer. She was 55.

    A veteran broadcaster, Sputnik had worked in Africa, Asia and Europe covering wars and humanitarian crises. She also trained teams of reporters dedicated to journalistic excellence and promoting peace in countries wracked by violence and poverty.

  • Sep 172008

    Rwanda's Contact FM Reports on Genocide Suspects

    In August, the arrest of two Rwandan genocide suspects in France was welcomed in Kigali as a belated but important step towards normalizing relations. Rwanda broke off diplomatic ties with France late last year after a French judge called for the prosecution of senior Rwandan officials, including the president, on charges of involvement in the plane attack that killed then Rwandan President Habyarimana. However, even as the new French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner spoke of visiting Rwanda in the near future, a French appeals court ordered the release of the two men, arguing the arrest warrants issued by the International criminal tribunal for Rwanda could not be executed because it was an infringement of the right to be presumed innocent.