World Press Freedom Day 2022: “Journalism Under Digital Siege!”

#defyhatenow and Civic Watch engage media professionals & organisations in Cameroon in a series of hybrid activities to mark May 3, in Buea, Bamenda, Yaounde and Bafang. 

On May 3 every year, journalists around the globe commemorate World Press Freedom Day (#WPFD). Last year, the 2021 theme “Information as a Public Good” stressed on the necessity to ensure economic viability of news media, in the face of the ever-changing communications system. The advent of new digital media and social media has modernised news production, dissemination and reception processes, thus directly influencing the quality of new contents and their impact on our health, human rights, democracies and sustainable development. At the same time, the digital era has introduced an unprecedented spread of information, usually marked by a rise in the proliferation of mis/dis/malinformation. The rise of “citizen journalism” also raises the question of how media are adapting to evolving trends in the news production and consumption chain.

About 30 years after the institution of this day by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1993, journalism continues to play a major role in shaping narratives in todays’ society, the more reason why accessing ‘quality’ information remains capital. This year, the 2022 theme: “Journalism under Digital Siege”, further lays emphasis on the digital era’s impact on freedom of expression, the safety of journalists, access to information and privacy. It also seeks to address the threats posed by increased surveillance to press freedom and privacy.

World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) reminds governments of their commitments towards ensuring press freedom, ending impunity for crimes against journalists and ensuring their safety. It is equally an opportunity for media professionals to reflect about issues relating to their work, especially press freedom and professional ethics. 

Between 2020 and 2021, #defyhatenow through its #Media4Peace mandate engaged over 150 Journalists serving English-speaking audiences through nine Regional workshops and mentorship sessions on conflict-sensitive reporting. In addition to building the capacity of mainstream media actors, under the theme: “Catalysing Media for Peace and Justice in Cameroon;” a pidgin version of the project was developed in collaboration with members of the Association of Broadcasters in Pidgin English. In a bid to counter the spread of mis/disinfonrmation both online and offline, we have gladly trained 75 Fellowship under our quarterly Africa Factchecking Fellowship – #AFFCameroon, creating a critical mass of journalists, bloggers and civil society activists working as frontline actors in promoting #SafeDigitalSpaces for ALL internet users. 

Engaging media professional at regional levels

In a bid to foster #Media4Peace by mobilising mainstream and new digital media stakeholders towards contributing to peace processes through their work on a daily basis, #defyhatenow envisages a series of hybrid activities in different parts of the country. In Buea, South West Region, 30 journalists are gaining skills through a one-day training on media laws and ethics, led by the African Communication Center for Ethics and Standards (ACCES). Meanwhile, their peers under the canopy of the Cameroon Journalists Trade Union – CJTU will met in Bamenda, regional headquarters of the North West Region.

In line with our #Women4Peace mandate, #defyhatenow will equally mobilise women in media for a discussion session on journalism practice in Cameroon. Three leading Associations with 10 members each will meet in Yaounde on Friday May 6, for a fire-side chat on this year’s #WPFD and media related issues. They are Journalistes d’Action, Femmes de Coeur – JAFEC; Cameroon Association of Women in Media – AFMEC and Women in Communication – WIN. Later in the month, the over 300 members of the Cameroon Media Community Network (CCMN) in all 10 regions will participate in a virtual session co-organised with #defyhatenow, to address issues relating to journalism practice in Cameroon. The West Regional Chapter will close the month on the last week of May with a training session on promoting peacebuilding via community media to hold in Bafang, West Region. 

#WPFD2022 #Media4Peace #Women4Peace #HateFreeCameroon 

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