The ongoing Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Region of Cameroon has exposed some major weaknesses of Cameroon media landscape, especially as most Anglophones and Francophones journalists finds it difficult to draw the lines between being a journalist and an activist.
In recent times Cameroonian journalists have been seen playing the role of activists than being journalists. Some of them do it out of ignorance which is not an excuse before the law while others do it deliberately for their personal interest.
This situation has cost the freedom of some Anglophone journalists whom out of ignorance have been jailed for playing the role of activist than being a journalist, while some of their francophone colleagues enjoy full immunity for being bias in reporting the Anglophone crisis and painting Anglophones as terrorists.
But as 2018 elections approaches Anglophone born journalist peace advocate from Nkambe Division, Nfor Hanson Nchanji fears that if journalists are not educated on how to cover the elections and the ongoing Anglophone crisis Cameroon may become like Rwanda.
As a peace lover and a media practitioner CEO of Cameroon News Agency, Nfor Hanson Nchanji decided to organize a workshop on peace journalism and election reporting to stress on the importance of respecting the ethics of the journalism profession and the promoting peace in Cameroon.
The former Equinox journalist now CNA boss says journalists are peace lovers and should always try to ensure that they preach and unity to their audiences’ especially when covering elections.
The workshop had as guest speaker Barrister Ntumfor Nico Halle who schooled the participants on the need for peace in Cameroon and how to avoid issues that may bring in legal consequences.
This is what Nfor Hanson Nchanji told TNN at the end of the workshop.
“The workshop was essentially on peace journalism and election reporting, peace journalism why because we especially English speaking journalists in Cameroon have been reporting the Anglophone crisis I am not saying that francophone have not been reporting but we who are Anglophones and you know it is an Anglophone crisis and we have been reporting it.
How can we report it in an impartial way, how can we report it bringing the facts out, how can we report the crisis, how can we report other issues in Cameroon bringing facts out without hurting the two parties? This is what I describe as peace journalism.
How can we report the Anglophone crisis, How can we report excesses of the military, How can we report killings on both side, How can we do that standing in the middle and not supporting one camp or the other?
That is why this workshop was very essential for journalists because first of all, some of them discovered that, when we talk about Peace Journalism is not all about preaching peace it is all about equally asking those in power to maintain social justice, to maintain truth to maintain the rule of the law, to maintain equity, and in the absence of justice they can never be peace and so peace journalists should know that these are some of the fundamental principles of peace.
We equally talked about relating peace to elections reporting, you know on the 25 March they will be senatorial elections that will be coming up; how can journalists actually cover the elections in an impartial way, what are some of the election irregularities that they will meet on the ground.
What are some of the check list when they want to cover an election remember a check list is supposed to be done even weeks before you cover an election what budget do you need to have, how many personnel you need to send to the field, and are they safe have you given them safety measures those are the check list for election reporting.
We equally discourse what a journalist should do and what a journalist should not do when covering an election the type of words, terms that a journalist should use and some issues that a journalist should watch out for when covering elections.
We equally talked about Mitigating conflicts between two factions that is, in the case of the Anglophone crisis, if you are a journalist how do you mitigate conflict between activist and members of government. What do you do when you are faced with this situation? The activist want you to relate their message to the public, the government want you to relate their message to the public, is it any type of message that you relate to the public that can cause havoc? This is what we call peace journalism.”
Nfor Hanson told TNN