The grassroots community, peace-building, training and conflict reconciliation initiative dub #defyhatenow has completed a mentorship program for some print, audio-visual and online Journalists selected across the country.
The program was launched through a series of regional capacity building workshops, where media men and women started by being drilled in Buea (August 2020), Yaounde (September 2020), and Bafoussam (October 2020) grouping journalists from Bamenda.
Focus was on catalysing media for peace and justice in Cameroon.
Results were satisfactory as the participants returned with a broader knowledge on how to better identify and understand a conflict before commiting to report on.
“Journalists should always try to master a conflict before reporting on it, because their reporting can either make or mar the situation”. One of the facilitators, Eugene Nforngwa N. from the African Knowledge and Policy Center, AKPC, told News Upfront during the Workshop in Yaounde that took place at the Solomon Tandeng Muna Foundation from September 3-5, 2020.
Despite the satisfactory results obtained according to scribes of #defyhatenow, the ongoing crisis in the North West and South West regions of the country was a good reason to further sharpen the skills of some of the media practitioners so that they can constructively contribute to bringing peace in the country.
The Mentorship Program
Among the cream of journalists, 25 per region who participated in the series of capacity building workshops, fifteen (15) were selected for mentorship on #Media4Peace, ie Five (5) per region.
The first mentorship camp was in Limbe, Fako Division of the South West region of Cameroon from November 13-14, 2020.
The last phase of the Mentorship program was in Douala from February 18-19, 2021.
Through out the #Media4Peace program, the reporters and promoters of online news sites received additional training on;
– Mentality Change,
– Free speech and hate speech,
– Journalism standards and tensions,
– Conflict reporting,
– Managing Biasis,
– How conflicts end … etc.
The main facilitator, Eugene Nforngwa, from AKPC, told participants that in a conflict situation, special attention should be given to free speech and hate speech.
He said freedom of expression is not absolute in no circumstance, so the media can filter freedom of speech.
“The decision to filter freedom of speech should not be motivated by an external factor, it should come from the journalist as an act of responsibility.” Eugene Nforngwa added.
Another facilitator at the #Media4Peace mentorship, Blaise Bebey Abong, enjoined the media promoters and reporters to always lay emphasis on all the layers existing in a conflict situation, because they usually exist more than one he said.
The Country Director for Cameroon of #defyhatenow, Ngala Desmond Ngala, evaluated the mentorship with a pass mark but said more still need to be done because some reporters are still very reticent in changing their mentalities.
“… we are challenging journalists out there to step out of their comfort zones and look for better information, and there is nothing that is as good as training yourself more and more…” Ngala Desmond told News Upfront.
News Upfront gathered from the participsnts that the #Media4Peace mentorship program was one of the richest in terms of knowledge they have ever attended.
“…The engagement i take is that I will not consciously make any conflict worse, … I will not pull any punches in terms of telling the story and revealing wrong doing where there is wrong doing to be revealed.” Senior Journalist Frankline Sone Bayern told News Upfront.
The media promoters / reporters seperated in Douala with a mission to continue networking untill there is peace in the country at large.