By Stephen Njumbe Sako
The Association of Student Journalists in the University of Buea (ASJUB), on Thursday May 3, 2012 joined journalists across the globe to celebrate the 17th edition of the World Press Freedom Day under the theme, “New voices, media freedom in helping to transform society’’. The event which took place at the Open Commons of the University of Buea was celebrated by ASJUB under a localized theme, “Media freedom in promoting professional ethics.” The event brought together more than 500 students and some university lecturers of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Regional Manager of Cameroon Radio and Television (CRTV) for the Southwest, Mr. David Chuye Bunyui while presenting a discourse on “Press Freedom in Public Media: the case of CRTV,” said CRTV was created with the goal of communicating the policies and objectives of the government of Cameroon. In meeting this ordained task, CRTV journalists have over the years battled for their freedom to independently articulate the workings of government. According to Mr. Bunyui, “press freedom has never been attained on a platter of gold.” “Journalists have to work hard to attain it,” he said.
In another discourse, Nchechuma Banla Nchetievie, a former journalist at CRTV and now a Media Relations Officer at the Douala Ports Authority, reviewed “The Damage that Quacks Have Caused on Journalism in Cameroon.” In his view, Journalists variously described as charlatans, pretenders, half-baked or ‘okrika journalists’ have “invaded and hijacked the profession for their own parochial interest and wreck havoc with impunity, and so are a permanent threat to social peace, national unity and cohesion.”
Mr. Banla bemoaned on quack journalists who more often than not practice sensational journalism are not able to respect the canons and norms of the profession because their way of practicing journalism does not respect laid down legislation, professional codes and moral values and so turn to cause untold damage on the profession.
A veteran journalist of his caliber, Mr Banla said for the government of Cameroon to reduce frustration on the part of journalists working in the private press, “Government should take the bold step of stopping her two main media organizations, CRTV and Cameroon Tribune from publishing adverts and finance them solely from the public treasury. In this way, “private media outfits will earn more money that will permit them survive and pay better salaries than in the present context where they survive from remnants of adverts left by CRTV and Cameroon Tribune and paltry subventions from the government ,” he said.
On his part, Barrister Njualem Charles, speaking on “The law as a tool to regulate media output as well as punish libelous and defamatory statements,” said “the law remains a vital tool in promoting responsible journalism.” He opined that, “for the law be respected, the law itself should be respectable.” Therefore, “is the law governing the practice of journalism in Cameroon respectable to men and women of the profession?” This is the million dollar question that Barrister Charles Njualem eloquently addressed and called for the refinement of the existing law, not only to safeguard the dignity of journalists, but also to contribute to a climate which decriminalizes the practice of journalism.
Observed every May 3, the World Press Freedom Day is a traditional yearly event celebrated at the University of Buea bringing together aspiring student journalists, academics and experts in the Department of Journalism and Mass communication, and thousands of guests and well-wishers other departments across the university.
Activities marking this years event included intellectual discourses and sociocultural displays through drama and songs.
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