Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Executive Masters in Media Leadership and Innovation (EMMLI)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Prof. George Nyabuga


Graduate School of Media and Communications


Many scholars have investigated the impact of digital technologies on journalism ethics, citing falling ethical standards and urging the protection of the basic tenets of journalism. YouTube has emerged as a major conduit of information, thereby helping democratise content. But scholars like Ward have wondered if the old journalistic ideals of objectivity and editorial independence apply to citizen journalists as much. Indeed, Hulin attempted to draw a line between journalists and other online content producers, noting that journalists retain a major responsibility in the promotion of democracy. Democracy, he argues, still needs professional journalists. As such, media outlets need to embrace new media spaces like YouTube, which, according to Juliane & Garz, are primarily driven by new concepts like algorithmic curation. In Rwanda, YouTube has become a cultural phenomenon, ranking among the top two most consumed media by 2021, according to one survey. The platform has been embraced by many journalists, especially owing to a myriad of daunting challenges facing legacy media. But the chase for engagement, views and click-through rates is undermining journalistic ethics on the platform. The existing media self-regulation framework is anchored on a code of ethics largely deemed outdated by YouTube creators. This study, which included nine respondents drawn from three media outlets, sought to explore how ethical considerations influence the production of YouTube editorial content. This qualitative research found that none of the sampled outlets had an in-house YouTube-specific editorial guide, and were generally short on gatekeeping, while cases of noncompliance with ethical requirements were not uncommon. The study found considerable skills and staffing gaps, as well as a lingering distrust for the existing self-regulation regime. It recommends the development of ethics guides for YouTube content, review of the RMC code, creation of a YouTube-specific self-regulation department under RMC, a tailored training approach, and digital media literacy campaigns.