QUEBEC: François Bugingo, freelance journalist of Rwandese origin, admits fabricating stories
MONTREAL — Journalist Francois Bugingo published a post on Facebook on Friday night admitting “errors of judgment” that, according to him, should not “erase all the rest” of his career.
The well-known foreign correspondent in Quebec, whose credibility was put in doubt by an investigation by daily newspaper La Presse last week, had already announced he would step back temporarily from public life.
In a post titled “A whole career for errors of judgment?” he admitted having “romanced a story seen on the Internet of the execution of an ex-torturer in Misrata,” and having “appropriated a story learned about Sarajevo.”
“These are infringements of the code of the profession that do not do me honour. I regret them profoundly. I sincerely apologize to my colleagues, to the public and to my friends. I accept the profession’s disapproval for the acts that I admit, and I accept the consequences,” he wrote, adding that he will hand in his press card to the Quebec federation of professional journalists.
In the La Presse report that threw the journalist’s reputation into question, several named sources cast doubt on the veracity of the reports filed by Bugingo at different points in his career.
Saying he is paying the price of a “media lynching,” the journalist and columnist specializing in international news said he would wait for a “window of appeasement before making (my) voice heard.”
“I will take a long step back to reflect on my future. I exercised my profession as a news worker with passion, enthusiasm, generosity and openness … No matter the hat I wear tomorrow, I am not saying goodbye but rather see you later,” he concluded.
Bugingo had been a regular contributor to several media outlets including 98.5 FM radio and the Journal de Montreal. He has also appeared on TVA television, Tele-Quebec and Radio-Canada.
TVA, 98.5 and Quebecor media all issued statements last week that they were suspending their collaboration with Bugingo.