PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF THE CONVENTIONAL STATE OWNED AND SOCIAL MEDIA CREDIBILITY ON THE ANGLOPHONE CRISIS: A SURVEY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF BUEA STUDENTS.
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In crisis situations, the media is always at cross roads but the media must play the role of being balanced so as not to aggravate the situation. With the ongoing Cameroon Anglophone Crisis, this study sought to examine if Cameroonians (this case University of Buea students) find social media more credible over other forms of the media and to determine if the public lost trust in the media during the crisis.
For this study, the quantitative approach was used. 100 questionnaires were administered to students of University of Buea through the random sampling technique. This sample was selected because the University of Buea is in Buea, South West region of the country happens to be one of the regions affected by the ongoing crisis.
Results from this study show that social media is used by a great part of the population but is not considered as a more credible source over other forms of media. Reports from traditional media are still considered objective but the public generally believe that the media lost credibility during the crisis.
This means most Cameroonians spend a lot of time on social media, prefer information from traditional media over social media but consider the media untrustworthy in crisis situations.
1.1 Background to the study
The effective functioning of democratic institutions is assumed to rest on the pervasiveness of the media in a society thus; media are often deployed by different power interests in the society to achieve power leverage. However, credibility is the goal of every media channel that seeks to build and maintain large audience.
Qing &Oyedeji (2011) stated that news credibility deals with trust worthiness and believability of the information that is being disseminated, news source and how true the medium can be. In this light, for news to be credible or truth worthy, the final consumer or the audience takes into consideration the content of the message, the source from which the massage is emanating from and the medium through which the massage is delivered.
Also Abbasi& Liu (2013) noted that there are three parts of information credibility which are greatly considered in communication research namely the source, message and medium therefore looking at all the above mentioned researchers, they focused on almost the same points which shows, it is with no doubt that the three steps of news credibility are very important to a media channel.
In the above study (Abbasi et al) proposed a method to measure user credibility of social media content maintaining that they cannot assess the credibility of the content without this measure to the user. This measure includes the source of the information based on the user’s profile.
The authors equally proposed the CredRank algorithm which helps in analysing users’ online behaviour to measure the credibility of social media content.
Television did not make its debut (starts) in Cameroon until 1985 when the first images were broadcast at the Bamenda congress hall. At the time it was known as Cameroon television (CTV), it was said that the government wanted the best in central Africa (a coloured image television) reasons why it took about twenty years to actualise the project.
At the end of the project, it cost some one hundred billion francs cfa. Following the pressure from the radio sector about the impartial treatment in position and pay package, CTV was merged with the radio to form the Cameroon radio television (CRTV) in 1987. Today, CRTV covers all the ten regions of Cameroon and it dominates the broadcasting sector in the Cameroon media landscape.
Until 1990 when the clamour for democratization reached fever pitched in Cameroon where political actors pressed for the liberalization of the audio visual media and landscape, since a liberal and pluralistic press is a maker of democracy.
Though the 1990 “Liberty Laws” provides for an independent print and audio-visual media in Cameroon, a report published by Freedom House in 2013 indicates that state authorities were active in attempting to silence critical journalists through legal means in 2012.
On his part, Tanjong (2012) also noted that debates on media balance in Cameroon have laid emphasis on the inability to respect the cardinal principles of news gathering and reporting. Some of the blames for journalists in respecting these principles are related to the fear of being implicated by state authorities through legal means as stated in the Freedom House report of 2013.
The Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) being a state media, one will hold that the media will also function on the principles of the authoritarian theory where the media is expected to operate under state control.
Operating under state control, Baran& Davis (2010) stated that there is limited press freedom for media functioning within this kind of socio-political structure.
Looking at the fact that the English parts of Cameroon is at the peak of crisis with some groups demanding for independence or restoration of the Southern Cameroons Independence, it is therefore important to investigate how the public, especially students perceive the credibility of the state owned and social media during this crisis.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The conventional state broadcaster CRTV is the mother of broadcasting in Cameroon. Before the liberalization of the audio-visual media landscape in the 1990’s in the country, citizens depended on this media facility for both local and international news.
Today with the present of privately owned radio and TV stations alongside the advent of social media, the population is exposed to other news sources. This news sources at times gives information that CRTV fail to disseminated especially when it comes to matters that affects the image of the government.
CRTV being a state media, the interest hear is to find out if this will influence the way it reports especially in issues where the government has stakes, like in the on-going Cameroon Anglophone crisis and to compare it with the social media.
Baran& Davis (ibid) had noted that media under state control have limited press freedom. It is based on this background that this study has been conceived to investigate the level of credibility of news regarding the Cameroon Anglophone crisis amongst students of the University of Buea.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to assess the level of credibility on the conventional state owned and the social media during the Cameroon Anglophone crisis amongst students in the University of Buea.
1.3.2 Specific Objectives
- To determine how often the students depended on the conventional state owned and the social media for news on the Cameroon Anglophone Crisis.
- To determine if the students considered news concerning the Cameroon Anglophone crisis on the conventional state owned or social media to be credible than each other.
- To find out other media the students depended on for information on the Cameroon Anglophone crisis and reasons why
1.4 Research questions
- How often did the students depend on the conventional state owned and the social media for news on the Cameroon Anglophone Crisis?
- Do students consider news about the Cameroon Anglophone crisis disseminated on the conventional state owned media to be more credible than that of the social media?
- What other media sources did the students depended on for information on the Cameroon Anglophone crisis and reasons why?