A cream of reporters from The Centre, North West and South West Regions of Cameroon converged on Limbe, South West region last November 13, 14, 2020 for a mentorship Workshop organised by #DefyHateNow West and Central Africa.
Focus of the workshop was to further sharpen their skills in Conflict Sensitive Reporting in Cameroon, Africa and the world at large.
For two days, the reporters from print, audiovisual and online news outlets were drilled on advanced techniques of news gathering and editing in conflict related stories.
During the training that took the form of an exchange of ideas between the experts and the reporters, both sides agreed on certain principles;
1) – That Conflict Sensitive Reporting goes far beyond mere principles of objectivity, impartiality and fair balance.
Eugene Nforngwa from the Africa Knowledge and Policy Centre, AKPC, told the trainees to always think of the underprivileged, the vulnerable and the voiceless in conflict situations because as he puts it, “the crowd usually doesn’t know what exactly is going on during conflicts”.
To him, Conflict Sensitive Reporting is all about Truth and Accuracy, with emphasis on reporting only what happened.
“What happened is essentially about the facts, though some opinions can be presented as fact, but the ideal is to move from what was said to what happened” Eugene Nforngwa told the trainees.
2) – Another point where the participants agreed on was the fact that the media has a great influence in conflicts as well as conflicts do to the media.
Eugene Nforngwa said during the deliberations that Conflict Sensitive Reporting is not only about reporting conflicts, but also understanding how conflicts affect the media.
3) – An important agreement reached during the workshop was on the fact that media practitioners should try as much as possible to manage their biases such as;
– Confirmation Bias
– Motivated reasoning and,
– Availability heuristics.
These are some factors that can push a journalist to report a story wrongly.
Besides Conflict Sensitive Reporting, the participants were schooled on the notion behind fake news and hate language and on how to fact check stories.
According to Ngala Desmond, from DefyHateNow West and Central Africa, the mentorship workshop that came after a series of workshops in Buea, Yaounde and Bafoussam was part of the organizations move to build pacesetters of Conflict Sensitive Reporting.
“Though the results this far are very satisfactory judging from the interactive participation during the Limbe Workshop, we are working on another similar event to iron the skills aquired by the reporters.” Ngala Desmond told News Upfront.
The participants seperated with a common vision to continuously work as a team in order to act as Ambassadors of Conflict Sensitive Reporting in Cameroon.