the role of peace journalism in resolving the Cameroon anglophone crisis
|JOURNALISM AND MASS COMMUNICATION|
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Peace journalism was introduced in the 1960s Galtung & Ruge 1965). Scholars have focused on the phenomenon of peace journalism and some of its fundamental aspects. In a general sense, peace journalism is a form of journalism that frames stories in a way that encourages conflict analysis and nonviolent response. Some of the characteristics of peace journalism brought out by Matt mogekwu include:
Peace journalism must be local and community-based and, as such, peace journalists cannot afford to be aloof. Journalists are involved because they are part of the community even if they are not part of the ‘warring’ parties. In intervening, journalists are also trying to protect their own interests. Maintaining a conducive environment for continuous and productive activities and interaction is in everyone’s interest, including the media’s(Matt Mogekwu 2011)
Journalists who promote peace must be determined to initiate and promote dialogue. This can apply to the conflict in Anglophone Cameroon. The contrary here is proven by the fact that no journalist was a key factor in the National Dialogue held in Yaounde Cameroon that was criticized by may. But even as journalists pursue this goal of initiating dialogue and sustained conversation on the issues in question, they are simultaneously bringing the issues to the attention of national and ultimately international media. When the issues become part of the national and international agenda, while remaining below the level of manifest conflict, peace journalists are working to maximize peace prospects without getting involved in the kind of conflict reporting to which we are now accustomed. The local and community-centered nature of the peace journalism enunciated here is necessary because it is only in that state that the practitioners can feel drawn to the issues in contention. Distant media would neither be interested in local events nor feel the need to report on them until they have exploded, threatening national or international peace. Peace journalism is persistent. It needs to carefully deconstruct all activities to make sense out of them and construct viable options out of the dilemma to ‘sell’ to the various parties. This endeavor can only be meaningfully pursued if the journalist is local to the environment. Peace journalism should be an interventionist in character. It aims to do at an earlier level what the fighting parties and mainstream media struggle to do after the conflict has become manifest and destruction has been perpetrated against groups. It works at winning the hearts and minds of people involved in a conflict. Hearts and minds would be more receptive to such overtures if serious harm has not yet been done. The intervention of peace journalism at the latent level would make this much easier. Peace journalism should be considered a genre of its own – with rules, standards, and ethics. Practitioners must appreciate the demands of this genre and be prepared to adapt. It should initiate its own curriculum for training and it should stand out as a journalism specialization area (Matt Mogekwu 2011)
Some scholars and practitioners argue that journalism concerns itself with reporting the facts ‘as they are’; recognizing the need for objectivity and reporting as many sides of a story as possible; working within ethical parameters; and recognizing the newsworthy elements of news Matt Mogekwu(2011, P.249.250). These are all useful. But when journalism is limited to these, it tends to become mechanical and less instrumental in bringing about peace in a crisis. The kind of journalism that helps bring about peace is that which is discerning and can understand the mood and context in which an event occurs. It is journalism that understands the people involved in an event, their psychology and sociology, religion, and psyche, and the nuances surrounding the event as well as the consequences and ramifications of the conflict. This kind of journalism (as Futamura pointed out) inspires people, prompts them to reflect, and helps them to learn about others. If traditional journalism that mainstream journalists practice, with its emphasis on the rules mentioned above, is seen as ‘good journalism’, then the position of this chapter is that good journalism is not necessarily the same as peace journalism. Peace journalism must be devoid of some of the parameters that tend to restrict mainstream journalism practice (Matt Mogekwu 2011, P.249.250). It must free itself from the mainstream journalism straitjacket to be able to focus on bringing about change, preventing the escalation of crises, and doing its utmost to institute dialogue among people with conflicting ideas and values on any given issues at an intra- or international level. It should not be overly concerned with the showmanship and excitement of traditional journalism. It should not hide its goal, which is the prevention of violence Matt Mogekwu(2011, P.249.250).
The promotion of peace should be its mission statement. Obviously, this kind of journalism is a departure from traditional journalism and therefore requires a different mindset for journalists. It does not accommodate the brushfire approach to journalism that has been the modus operandi of mainstream/traditional journalism. This mindset is not expected of journalists who go through traditional journalism education and training. Peace journalists may still be trained in some fundamentals of journalism, such as good writing, accuracy, fairness, and being guided by ethical standards. More importantly, however, peace journalists must be well grounded in such areas as psychology, sociology, cultural studies, conflict management and resolution, indigenous knowledge systems of the local communities where they may be practicing, and in similar disciplines that will help the journalist have a broad understanding of issues, persons involved and the contexts in which those issues are evolving. This will lead to a greater ability to discern and therefore a more effective intervention into issues that have the potential to explode into serious crises(Matt Mogekwu 2011, P.251)
A crisis is an unpleasant event, which goes beyond the everyday levels due to high intensity and cannot be controlled. Characteristics of crisis are; they are serious disorders of the function of a society, causing widespread human, material, social, and environmental losses. A crisis is a response to a dangerous experience that mental equilibrium is put to test the existence and operation of an entity to four basic levels. Society, organizations, groups, and individuals.
With the advent of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, new media such as social media have changed journalism. Most people rely on social media platforms, websites, and blogs for daily information. The problem is online information can be created by amateur sources and the issue with instant news increases the chances of inaccurate and unverified information being published online.
The Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon started in October 2016 with lawyers and teachers asking for professional reforms. It became more popular through the dissemination of information on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and so on. One extremely shocking thing but a real fact is how Cameroonians especially Anglophone Cameroonians easily believe anything posted on social media whether verified information or not. Most information posted on social media is often unverified mainly because anyone can post any information on social media even if they are not a journalist or belong to a news house. There is a high possibility of finding wrong statistics, manipulated stories, and even manipulated pictures to make matters worse. During a crisis, the media need to be credible so as not to worsen the situation, cause uproar and eventually lead to a full-blown war. It is therefore a problem that most Students depend on and believe everything posted on social media without verification. In this study, I will be trying to find out the role of peace Journalism in Resolving the Cameroon Anglophone crisis
Research questions for this study were divided into the General research question and the specific research questions;
1.3.1 General research question
What is the role of peace journalism in the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon?
1.3.2 Specific research questions;
- Have the Anglophone Cameroonians lost trust in the media in general?
- What are the challenges faced by journalists who respect the ethics of the profession and practice peace journalism?
- What are the measures to promote peace journalism and stop the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon?
Research objectives for this study were divided into the General research objective and the specific research objectives;
General research objective
- The main research objective of this study is to critically examine the role of peace journalism in the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon?
1.4.2 Specific research objectives;
- To investigate whether Anglophone Cameroonians have lost trust in the media in general?
- To bring out the challenges faced by journalists who respect the ethics of the profession and practice peaceful journalism
- To identify the measures to promote peace journalism and stop the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon
1.5 Hypothesis or Assumptions
This study is based on the following assumed hypothesis