Since late 2016, Cameroon has been faced with instability in the North West and South West regions, in the Far North region by Boko Haram insurgencies and in the East by refugees from Central Africa. Some of these conflicts are flamed by journalists, self-claimed freelanced journalists on social media users and some social media influencers through #FakeNews, #Misinformation and #Disinformation. In order to fight these ills that are eating deep into the minds of Cameroonians, #defyhatenow and its implementing partner Civic Watch borough training programmers to educate journalists, bloggers and content creators how to publish and produce verified and true information for consumers. This is done through their programs like the Africa Fact Checking Fellowship and Media for Peace. It trains journalists on how to share information that will not provoke crises in a community.
#defyhatenow and its implementing partner organized a press breakfast event on the 17th June 2022 at the epistopal conference center Mvole. The aim was to bring journalists together and let them discuss how they could contribute in promoting peace in Cameroon. The event was composed of three media institutions; Union de Presse Francophone (UPF)-Cameroun, CAMASEJ Yaounde, SNJC Center. Each institution had 10 journalists with invitees from embassies, government structures and youth organizations.
The event had moderator journalist Pochi Tamba Nsoh, 3 panelists; Eric Elounga from UPF Cameroun, Ajumane Francis from CAMASEJ Yaounde and Thierry Eba from SNJC. The purpose of the press breakfast was to share perspectives on journalism practice in Cameroon and how journalists can promote #Peace.
A word of welcome from #defyhatenow was given by Kinaga Derick Fai who is Conflict Researcher and Project Administration Associate. He called on journalists to stand for #Peace and and defend the fight against #HateSpeech both online and offline. He called on all to join #defyhatenow and Civic Watch in the fight against hate speech and building of a #HateFreeCameroon.
The first penalist Eric Elouga from UPF spoke on a trustworthy media forum for sustainable peace. He talked about a credible press for sustainable peace. He encouraged journalists to be credible, to be the kind of press that gives out verified information for the consumption of the public. The media is supposed to be that platform where people rely on for good information.
Ajumane Francise panelist from CAMASEJ who spoke on Reporting in times of crisis; the case of the North West and South West regions in Cameroon. He addressed the kind of report journalists can publish. He encouraged journalists to report on the crisis in the North West and South West without having to take sites but state it as it is. He stressed that reporting can be done in times of crisis to inspire, encourage people and not fan the flame of the crisis.
The trade union movement within the Cameroonian media,was addressed by Thierry Eba from SNJC Centre. He enlightened how best syndicates, civil society organizations as well as individuals can contribute in the promotion of peace.
The session was interactive with participants who engaged themselves and made mention of the fact that some of them do not feel pressured by social media. It was mentioned that journalists are in competition with social media. That is why we find a lot of #FakeNews, #Misinformation and #Disinformation online which turns to spur conflict online and offline. It is imperative for journalists, bloggers and individuals to verify information before publishing, we do not need to forward as received like some messages we receive on Whatsapp and Facebook.
The session ended with a word from Pochi Tamba Nsoh who said “ Are we going ahead to publish ahead of social media or we put our ethics in front before publishing. We need to protect our credibility. And to be credible we need to have ethics”. The journalists were advised to publish verified information, and if their sources were not sure, they need to dig deep before sharing, be it online or offline.
To get more insight on the event, you could follow the session on Facebook page: Mbuh Stella official
Links to the session: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=388508903249560