The news media played a crucial role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide: local media fuelled the killings, while the international media either ignored or seriously misconstrued what was happening. This is one of the conclusions of The Media and the Rwanda Genocide, the first book to explore both sides of that media equation.
The Canadian launch of the book, which is edited by Allan Thompson and co-published by Canada’s International Development Research Centre, will be held at Carleton University on Wednesday, 7 February 2007, in the foyer of the John Tory Building, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa.
Allan Thompson, a former journalist with the Toronto Star, is now a professor at Carleton University and director of the Rwanda Initiative, a project that builds media capacity in Rwanda. The idea for the book grew out of an international symposium held in 2004 on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the Rwanda genocide. The symposium, held at Carleton University and supported in part by IDRC, brought together for the first time an international collection of experts as well as some of the actors from the Rwanda drama: local reporters and commentators from Rwanda, and Western journalists, who were covering the events of 1994.
“The purpose of looking back at the media’s role in the Rwanda events is not just to remember," Thompson says. “We still have some learning to do on this subject. Examining the way journalists and news organizations conducted themselves in 1994 is not just a historical exercise. Sadly, we don’t yet seem to have fully discerned or absorbed the lessons from Rwanda.”
IDRC supported Thompson at the outset of his career with an international journalism fellowship. “We applaud Allan’s accomplishments as a journalist and his commitment to building a new professional press corps in Rwanda,” says IDRC President, Maureen O’Neil. “We felt it important to co-publish his book as part of our role to disseminate ideas and encourage debate.”
Allan Thompson recently promoted the book in the UK, the US, and East Africa. This tour included book launches in Rwanda where he presented President Paul Kagame with a copy of the book. Read about Thompson’s book tour on his blog at http://www.allanthompson.ca/blog.html.
For more information on the book, which features contributions from former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and LGen The Honourable Roméo Dallaire, Senator, visit: www.idrc.ca/rwandagenocide.
Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is one of the world’s leading institutions in the generation and application of new knowledge to meet the challenges of international development. For more than 35years, IDRC has worked in close collaboration with researchers from the developing world to build healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous societies.
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