By Ernest Epan, Gracious Berinyu & Matute Endale Ngowo
Cameroon’s media landscape today is inundated with propaganda.
This is not only posing a serious problem to journalism ethics, but it is equally fuelling the various crises plaguing the country such as the Boko Haram war in the Grand North, the post-electoral violence in the Centre, South, East, Littoral and West Regions, and the socio-political crisis in the Northwest and Southwest Regions.
At the centre of these crises is the media.
In a bid to change the narratives, cause a paradigm shift, and make the media a vector of peace, the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, JMC, of the University of Buea, UB, at the behest of the Head of Department, Dr. Kingsley Ngange, recently organised a Guest Talk on the theme: The Place of Peace in Crisis Situations.
Speaking at the event, the Guest Speaker, Roseline Obah, who is the National Coordinator of the Cameroon Community Media Network, CCMN, exhorted the student journalists to report conflict in a way that identifies the problem that can help the stakeholders to better understand and resolve the conflict, rather than escalating the situation.
She further cautioned the students to refrain from reporting hate speech, fake news, misinformation and sharing gory pictures and images that can further exacerbate a conflict.
“If journalists do their work the way it is required, it will create a lot of positive impact in crisis situations. They should explore the backgrounds and contexts of conflicts. They should be transparent to the audience, give a chance to all rival parties to air their views, offer creative ideas for conflict resolution and encourage conflict transformation,” she added.
She asserted that peace journalism has come as a third party in stimulating mutual positive motivation to reduce conflict and develop society.
“Peace journalism takes an analytical approach to conflict, seeking opportunities and shedding light on the structural and cultural causes of violence as they impact the lives of people in a conflict arena…”
Meanwhile, the Moderator of the Guest Talk, Dr. Kingsley Ngange, urged the students to adopt best practices in reporting. “You should do your work in compliance with the ethics of the profession, focusing on accuracy, truth, fairness and objectivity.”
At the end of the talk, the students said they shall be guided by the ethics and deontology of the profession, and shall not be conveyors of fake news and misinformation.
One of the students, Martha Namondo, said: “the Gust Talk was very educative and I liked the speaker’s emphasis on students to be diligent in their work and avoid collecting bribes to alter the truth. I have also learned that journalists must be socially responsible because they are out to build and not to destroy a society.”
Another Student Journalist, Michael Ngome, said “I was moved and inspired by the message and have realised how important it is for me to teach the quack journalists, who have invaded the media landscape. I would strive to always send out fair, objective and balanced reports that will build the society rather than escalate a conflict “.