World Press Freedom Day 2022:
Women in Media Share Experience & Network!
In line with its #Women4Peace mandate, #defyhatenow in collaboration with Civic Watch organised a ladies’ afterwork with three women journalists association in Yaounde.
The 3rd of May was declared World Press Freedom Day by the United Nations to support the media from attacks on their independence and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in exercising their profession. In commemoration of this day, #defyhatenow and its partner Civic Watch organized a talk with women journalists from 3 different organizations. These organizations being; Journalistes d’Action, Femmes de Coeur (JAFEC), Cameroon Association of Women in Media (AFMEC), and Women in Communication (WIN). The women were 30 in number, the aim of the talk was to hear elderly female journalists share their experience with the younger ones and journalism under digital siege. How the digital era has impacted freedom of expression, safety of journalists and access to information.
How to practice their profession while maintaining peace despite the challenges they faced. Civic Watch and #defyhatenow being organizations that work with media organs saw the need to bring these women together so that they can use their profession for the promotion of #Peace, mitigation of #HateSpeech, fight against incitement to #Violence, violent extremism and #FakeNews in the creation of their content. Over the years, women have shown great strides in contributing to peace in their community, thus these media women will contribute greatly in promoting peace in their newsrooms, social media and their homes.
During the session, they shared perspectives on how women journalists contribute to peace initiatives and processes through their work; how they impact their direct audience and community, and also how to share such experience with the younger generation. In the course of the discussion, they also shed light on managing professional and family life. Emphasis was laid on the need to clearly identify each segment of their life and give the necessary attention they require. Two guest speakers, Dora Shey and Marie Francoise Ewolo, both working with the state broadcaster CRTV shared their work experience.
This year’s theme: “Journalism under Digital Siege” sheds light on the challenges faced by journalism in the digital age, especially with the introduction of online and new media. From a gender perspective, Marie-Francoise Ewolo of Women in Communication posit that journalism is not gender; as such women should learn to value themselves and showcase their talent especially when they graduate with distinction from their training institutions. She equally advised the women journalists to be professional, commit themselves to their job and take the challenge to learn through hard work. This is the only way to remain relevant, as acquire experience in the execution of their job, at a time where the digital world is fast reshaping information production and consumption methods.
Journalism practice, what is generally considered the Fourth Estate in the power logic, is difficult to dissociate from private life. The journalist is oftentimes trapped between personal opinion or life experience and objective reporting. To this, Dora Shey, Honorary member of AFMEC, urged them to stick to professionalism and specialization which remain the best possible way to manage the fast pace of information in the digital era, characterized by generality and irresponsibility. Added to this, she said the ladies should bear in mind the fact that as a journalist, they work for the public and the latter will judge them. Likewise, they should not fail to meet up with their responsibility as a mother, as they exercise their profession.
An interactive session ensued, during which participants asked questions, shared their experience and words of encouragement to the guest speakers. The event took place on the 6th May 2022, moderated by Tchonko Becky Bissong, National Coordinator of AFMEC. Jeaninie Fankam and Marie Noelle both presented their associations JAFEC and Women in Communication, respectively. Among our guests of honour were Marcus Davies of the Canadian High Commission and Pochi Tamba Nsoh, Journalist/Producer.
The take home message was for participants to learn from and support each other. The day ended with networking between members, as all three associations seek to further work toward achieving their collective goal of giving women journalists a voice in the society!
“I am very happy to take part in the event. I am based in Bamenda but I came to Yaounde for another event and fortunately I was invited. Dora Shey said we should focus on one domain and be consistent in it. I am a journalist and a blogger, based in Bamenda where there is a lot happening. I do my job out of passion, but also to earn a living. I used to be divided between focusing on one particular domain in reporting. I have to report daily happenings in the crisis zone and do my work as a journalist too. But now, I have a better understanding of my role as a journalist. I intend to review my strategy to create more impact through the stories I write.” Ndefru Melany, Journalist
“All of you excel because you are good at what you do. You have a community as a journalist and have good expertise. Expertise and professionalism should excel. Once one is a professional, they will be good at their job and they will excel.” – Marcus Davies, Canadian High Commission
"The take home message was, Learn from each other and support yourselves. Network, what matters is to love yourself and love what you do. It’s a tough world out there and there is no way you can do this by being someone else." - Becky Bissong, President of AFMEC.
At the end of this, the women went home very determined to apply what they learned from the event. They suggested having such talks most often.