CCJ: Polishing journalism skills at The New Times

The New Times is the only independent newspaper that is allowed to publish in Rwanda. The Centrum voor communicatie en Journalistiek, CCJ, ( asked me to train the journalists at the newspaper 2 x three weeks to improve the quality.

The in-house training meant that I worked with the journalists on their pieces and discussed how to approach a subject. The basic journalism skills were often lacking and operating as a reporter in a country with basically no free speech is a daunting task. Most journalists originated from Uganda where they had grown up but after the genocide they went to their ancestral country: Rwanda.

Sensitive subjects were not touched and even some straight forward stories could trigger phone calls to the editor from people in government. Most journalist knew exactly what to write and what not. Writing skills were often poor due to lack of a good basic and solid journalism education.

But I managed at least to bring some enthusiasm for their work by coming up with ideas for relevant stories which had their interest. Their improved productions triggered compliments which helped the reporters to enjoy their work more which had a positive effect again on their work.

But it remains sheer impossible to produce a readable newspaper in a country where media freedom is curtailed and only what the state wants to be published is produced on a daily base.