Journalists in Cameroon are using this year’s edition of the World Press Freedom Day to call for better working conditions as well as more access to information.
These are some of the challenges members of the press face ,says Ngah Christian, president of the Cameroon English Language Newspaper Publishers Association, CENPA who doubles as publisher of The Guardian Post daily newspaper.
This year’s theme for the day is “journalism without fear or favour.”
Speaking as Guest on CRTV’s flagship programme, Cameroon Calling today, Ngah Christian dwelled on the challenges of the profession and possible solutions.
In addition to inadequate kits for reporters as they cover the COVID-19 pandemic, the private media in Cameroon he said is sick.
“Sick because we don’t have the financial means to upgrade as it is happening in other civilised countries… For some reason, the private media in Cameroon is seen by especially the powers that be as an opposition party” he said.
From adverts given out to only a few media houses to the infiltration if the journalism profession by non professionals, and the refusal to disseminate information to journalists, Ngah says these limit the vibrancy of the private press. For example, media subventions for 2019 he says are yet to be dished out to media organs. “You may end up with about 600 media organs applying to share about 200 million francs CFA,” an amount he reveals is nothing compared to the cost of production for media organs.
For CENPA and some other journalism cremated groups, it will be a low key celebration he explains.
“We have decided that people should just go back to their newsrooms and reflect in the hurdles and see how we can move ahead.”
Making reference to the Ngarbuh massacre of February 2020, the publisher of Cameroon’s lone English Daily newspaper also asserted that the press has been subjected to being a tool for negative propaganda.
Citing what he calls ‘dirty jobs’, he says “We saw articles that were written especially in French newspapers. We saw things like ‘zero morts’. Those are articles that were being spin doctored but eventually we saw the truth.”
This too to him is fostered by disunity in the private media landscape, a division he believes government takes delight in.
At least seven journalists in Cameroon are still being held behind bars at the moment for their work at the moment, as government has remained silent to calls demanding for their release.
Mimi Mefo Info