On 7 December 2018 the 15 CCMN network meeting of the SW/Littoral chapter held in the premises of the CBS Radio 95.3 MHz in Buea.
In an opening speech from the President of CCMN SW/Littoral Rev. Geraldine Fobang, she welcome all present and emphasized that their presence was a complete indication of how serious and committed on network issues and field activities the members are. She also urged all the journalists and representatives of member media houses to keep reporting on the basis of the peace journalism principles such that collective the call for peace will be resounding in both the South West, North West, Littoral and West regions of Cameroon and beyond. She requested all participants to feel free to ask questions should they have difficulties. She finally urged the participants to be attentive and follow the different presentations and learn from them in order to apply the skills.
Key Note: The Role of Media in Times of Conflicts
This presentation was done by Rev. Brother Sinfred Sinor of the Catholic Communication Service and editor in chief of the Catholic Panorama. In his presentation he highlighted and elucidated conflict situation in Indonesia. He vividly presented the conflict situation in Indonesia highlighting its failure in addressing past human rights violations. The rights to freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly and of association had continued to be arbitrarily restricted. Blasphemy provisions were used to imprison those who peacefully exercised their rights to freedom of religion and belief.
At least 30 prisoners of conscience remained in detention for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression or of religion and belief. The security forces carried out unlawful killings and used excessive force during protests and security operations. Two men were caned in public in Aceh after being convicted by a local Shari’a court of same-sex consensual sexual relations. All such conflict scenarios he reiterated can only happen in the midst of a society. He classified conflicts in five different sectors bring out two sectors working together which he listed as communication and media. Media is functionless without the journalist. Therefore journalists ought to put power behind the media to make it meaningful to the society. The essence of putting power lies in the ability of objectively and balance reporting. This in essence can be coined as neutrality in journalism. The conflict situation in Indonesia is a case study from which many media and journalists can draw reporting lessons of objectivity and balancing. Also to be objective in reporting requires investigation to get the facts straight in order to counter controversies.
The role of Journalists
Highlighting the role of journalist in crisis situation, Rev. Bro Sinfred mentioned that journalists will only report what they see.
- That is the truth and nothing but the truth.
- It is an established fact that all governments fighting war always do everything to eliminate journalists who expose their excesses or if the journalists are not eliminated are bought over.
- So in the midst of all these journalists most have the passion to promote the quality of life they must be bought over to do the contrary.
- A journalist must seek to promote peace news, which must be truth even though “not every truth is news”
Key Note: CMA – The Community Media Archive in West and Central Africa
This presentation was done by Mr. Alexander Vojvoda (Community Manager CBS Radio 95.3 MHz/CPS Seconded Personnel) who happens to be the lead expert in this project in collaboration with colleagues from Culture Radio from Sierra Leone. This project was an effort of the Civil Peace Service Programme in the Central and West Africa. He explained about the conception and development of this project and how it will be a useful tool for many media practitioners. He further explained that the creation of creation of the online data platform for Cameroon and Sierra Leone was based on a good number of common challenges identified namely: Lack of technical infrastructure such that programmes get missing after broadcast
- The non-visibility of community media (CM) work (activities and programmes)
- Unavailability of knowledge, skills and strategies
- Lack of documentation and archiving strategy
- Lack of professional access and sharing of content
- Ad-hoc alliances
- “Expert Bubble” and “Expert for Everything”
- Restricted access to material and resources
In the online data base, important functions were illustrated with the capacity of uploading and downloading exchangeable files for the purpose of networking. He demonstrated that the database could enable users create accounts and personal profiles. Material uploaded for the purpose of sharing shall only be accessed and downloaded by accredited members of the network. Documents like reports, publications, leaflets, information booklets, flyers, and news brief shall be uploaded and archived on the database for reference.
Mr. Gemnda Emmanuel and Tata Issac were in charge in this presentation and underscored the fact that many journalists representing their media houses do attend meetings but would hardly conduct a follow-up of the skills and capacities acquired regarding their application. He pointed out that various media houses will have to choose thematic areas to work with based on the needs of their communities in coverage. His presentation was aimed at informing participants in programs production and presentation as well as to point out what is exactly not forging ahead. He reiterated that Peace Journalism perspective is the voice of the underprivileged. For example, they should be the voices for market women and children and not for the government. As a journalist one must be conscious about hate speech. The Journalist must make a clear decision to bring out those who don’t have their voices heard in order to make their opinions in public. To cut a long story short, program should be recoded through vox sport, interview etc. Invite local community members to the media station.
Mr. Gemnda also presented a radio jingle to the participants to listen it in English, French and Pidgin. It was about peace some copies of these jingles were produced by the production manager of CBS radio and distributed to the participants for broadcast in their various radio stations.
SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS OF ANGLOPHONE CRISES AND IMPACT ON THE MEDIA
The participants were put into groups by thematic location and moderated by Mr. Alexander Vojvoda and Kum Leonard. The thematic locations in which the groups were formed consisted of Limbe, Kumba, Buea, Douala and Kupe Manenguba.
The common points from situational analsysis included but not limited to the following:
- The Anglophone crisis is major conflict event that has brought about socio- political and economic instabilities in Cameroon
- That the Anglophone crisis that started with mainly grievances of Anglophone teachers and common law lawyers was left unresolved and later escalated into an armed conflict.
- Media houses and journalists were restricted to reporting on the issues related to and the happenings around the Anglophone crisis
- Many journalists have been hunted as a results of statements or reports made concerning the Anglophone crisis
- Many community people have been ripped of their rights to quality information regarding the happenings around their lives and wellbeing.
- A couple of media houses and journalists have shunned away from reporting issues arising from the Anglophone crisis or mainly making any public opinion and statements.
Widespread displacement of populations in the localities to other safer areas.
- Many killings and human rights violations
At the end the conclusion made was that the Anglophone crisis and government policy has restricted many media houses from reporting making them almost not to be playing their role in information dissemination as well as the effective practice of Peace Journalism.
OTHER DISCUSSIONS AND CONCLUSION
Generally the president lay emphasis on membership registration in the CCMN. Discussions also held on informing members of the network about the president’s invitation to training and conferences abroad specifically in Germany. There she shared the activities of the CCMN and challenges faced as a network.
The CCMN has also had exchanges with MPs in Douala at Akwa Palace. A media tour took place in Douala and same was to be conducted in Buea but couldn’t due to the socio-political situation that escalated before and after the presidential elections in October 2018.
A workshop was held in Douala on Peace Journalism during which the workshop was abruptly ended by the military under the orders of the Divisional officer for Bonaberi claiming meeting was illegal. Training with civil society was also held in France. The president insisted on the fact that members should the work of CCMN visible in every media talking ceaselessly about CCMN and benefits in order to pull in interested members.
WAY FORWARD FOR 2019
Discussing about plans for the 2019 fiscal year, members agreed on the following key plans:
- Extend CCMN membership in all the ten regions of Cameroon.
- Hold at least 7 network meetings in 2019
- Hold a training in media laws
- Next meeting February 2019 date to be announced