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Roles And Challenges Of Private Media During The 2018 Presidential Elections In Cameroon.

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The study focuses on the roles and challenges of private media during elections with a principal focus on the 2018 presidential elections in Cameroon. The study had as main objective to investigate the role newspapers and radio play during elections in Anglophone Cameroon.

In conducting this study, a Qualitative research approach was used, with the use of phenomenology type of research design through which interviews were collected as instruments for data collection.

A purposive sampling technique was used to get the opinions concerning the roles and the challenges faced by newspaper and radio practitioners in elections. The study focus on the application of the colazzi method to answer the research questions of this study.

The analysis of the raw data that was collected led to the emergence of three distinct themes which include the important role of Radio and newspapers during the 2018 presidential elections, Elections coverage in Cameroon riddled with challenges, and limited press freedom.

Therefore, based on this study newspapers and radio do have the function and obligation to be transparent, act as a campaign platform, and also open forums for debate and discussions as public mediators.



1.1 Introduction.

Francis B Nyamnjoh (1990) in his book titled “mass media and democracy in Cameroon in the early 1990s” noted that since the inception of these concepts of democracy and the print media, one has failed to play its role effectively which is the media. The media to him which is the fourth arm of the state in Cameroon has over time failed in its role to mediate and break the gap between the government and the govern, either because some private individuals turn to use this tool as a means through which they can pass across their political agenda.

He further states that a one-party logic, of which government, opposition, and the public are guilty and has prevented Cameroonian multiparty from addressing this major issue of using the media in the achievement of democracy that is promoting real participatory democracy.

So far democracy has served mainly as a face powder, an empty concept or slogan devoid of concrete meaning used to justify reactionary propaganda by the ruling party and its troubles on one hand and the revolutionary propaganda by the opposition and some pressure groups on the other. This polarization in the Cameroonian political arena corresponds to the same behaviors’ faced by the media in Cameroon.

There are two main political tendencies in the media in Cameroon. First, there are those who argue that all the government does is good and in the best interest of Cameroon and that the radical opposition is void of patriots and motivated only by selfish, regional, or ethnic self-interests.

These comprise the publicly owned, government-controlled electronic and print media on the other hand and pro-government privately-owned newspapers on the other side. Secondly, there are those who claim that all the radical opposition does or stands for is in the best interest of Cameroon and that the government and its allies are only motivated by a stubborn love for power and other selfish desires. This to the society of Cameroon accounts for the number of privately own newspapers in the country.

Gwellen (1996) traces back to the incident on the 26 of November 1990 during the launch of the social democratic party where six Anglophone youths were shot in cold blood by the forces of law and order but the state-controlled media made desperate attempts to refute the government’s involvement in the killing.

Nyamnjoh again in 1996, Konings and Nyamnjoh (2003; p.77). this triggered greater demand for democratic reforms compelling the government to liberalize political completion and press in December 1990 (Mbu 1993 Gabriel 1999)

Let’s take the case of the crisis in the troubled Anglophone region of Cameron where some print organ has since the crisis erupted into an armed conflict have never accepted that the military has masterminded any killing of civilians and same goes to others who believed the atrocities are carried out by the non-state armed forces.

In the absence of democracy where the private sector is not free to share their viewpoint due to the fear of the unknown, it becomes challenging as government forces may threaten them with heavy sanctions where the weaker ones will succumb just because the lack then backing among others.

The lack of objective reporting in the media today in Cameroon is because most private sector investors in the country cannot withstand the brown envelops give to them by those who think the private print can be silent with money. This observation has greatly slow down then need for the media to be used as a tool towards achieving democracy in Cameroon.

But nevertheless, there are still some print media in Cameroon that has over the years withstand the pressure from the government and other powers that be in ensuring that power for the people by the people is promoted in communities whose right and minority have been suppressed by selfish people who wish to stay in power for too long.

One of the key areas of development in any country is for it to have democracy, but democracy hardly makes the world perfect but it tends to engender open economies and more respect for human rights. Democracy’s promise to make the world more peaceful for democracies is less likely to go to war against each other than are totalitarian regimes.

Gereld f. seib journal of December 1999 noted democracy tells the real story of our century. The need for Cameroon to achieve democracy has been the reason why many young Cameroonians have taken up arms against their own flesh and blood with the reasons being that some political elite has stayed in power for too long.

The media coming in to mediate this political conflict in Cameroon as a way towards the attainment of a democratic state has attracted several sanctions on journalists be it from the audiovisual, print among others. This shows how the press in Cameroon has been suffering in the country over the years.

Unlike before where the media in the time of late President Ahmadou Ahidjo was censored with heavy sanctions where media organs had to submit copies of their report for censorship, this took another direction in the time of president Biya where many will testify the media was liberalized bet for the time the conflict in the two Anglophone regions erupted where the control of the media has been on a high rate.

The presidential elections were an occasion for each media organ to demonstrate it capacity of educating, entertaining, informing the listeners and readers, and acting as the watchdog of the society in giving maximum coverage to the different activities on the field.

On radio and television be it private and public media one could easily identify special feeds on election during news and as if that was not enough special independent programs to present in details the happenings on the field. Interviews were common, debates regular and analyses primordial.  The content of what occupied airwaves was eventually dictated by the candidates and other campaigners on the field.

Every media organ operated within the framework of breaking the news and bringing out what could appear as a scope. The underlining fact about media covering the elections was the general zeal for each media organ to position reporters behind each presidential candidate, but bigger media houses had, as a matter of fact, had reporters dotted everywhere on the field so much so that they ended up virtually flooding the paper, radio and television channels with election news.

The Cameroon media from the time when Ahijo was the president of Cameroon to the taking over of power by the Biya government has had a series of government-stated rules and regulations to be followed by media organizations that are not owned by the government but by private individuals.

Research over the years has revealed that one of the most embarrassing things between the African government and media is that, though they may state the media particularly the private press is a free one as stated in the 1990 law, they still face censorship.

In Ahijo, s time of media role in Cameroon private press editors and publishers had to submit copies of their reports to the ministry of territorial administration or the senior divisional officer for censorship, those that went against the government were ceased with the media institution fined but those reports that met governments need where given the go-ahead to be published.

The scenario went on and on still went the Biya government came in with what they termed” the liberalization of the media”, whereby more and more private press came into existence. But a majority say the press in the new deal government is not completely free as stipulated by the Biya government.

Firstly, the setting up of the national communication council to act as a government watchdog has caused a lot of controversies reasons have been that a number of persons in Cameroon have noted “ it is like a toothless bulldog that can bark but cannot bike”. Meaning the council is out to swallow only small babies in the Cameroon media landscape.

This explains why even in times of elections in Cameroon media organs that have a firm and solid foundation are given the free space to publish whatever falls in line with their editorial policies. Let’s the case of equinox television where since the advent of the socio-political crisis in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon despite their heavy reports that could promote hate speech and disunity all what government has done is to either threatened them with suspension or fines but has no powers to shut them down but let a small house or radio, newspaper that is not well known in Cameroon carry out the same action like equinox television the story will never be the same. All this boils down to the presidential election coverage in Cameroon.

Since most people have over the years in the country turn or shifted their attention from public media or government own, even the government has become more scared of the private media more than before. This is because they battle for space and with some politicians trying to use some private media to achieve their political agenda, some of the private press has changed their tone and it is now dancing to what these politicians say.

According to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (2015)   at the most fundamental level, the media are channels of communication serving to relay messages to various audiences. they are of the option that both tradition and new media play a very vital role in the election as they serve as watchdogs they scrutinize the electoral process, analyzing how well institution an electoral actor have performed, also they went ahead to explain that the media act as platforms for campaigns, where candidates disseminate their plans, promises, and vision for the future.

The media provides a forum for electoral public debate and election and educates voters by providing useful analysis of the news by presenting various interpretations of events and statements as it was the case in Cameroon where the Cameroon radio television ceaselessly informs Cameroonians on their rights and responsibility of voting.

1.2 Statement of the Problem.

In any democracy, mass media in general and private media in particular, play a determinant role in the promotion of democratic ideas. Media play a major role in a democratic society. Their first role is to provide to the masses a forum for information where they can discuss issues concerning to the choice of their elected officials, through their report, equip the masses with the necessary background information to make infirm discussions.

In another important watchdog role played by the private media is to ensure that citizens, civil and political rights are respected by reporting on their abuses and violations. This study intends to investigate the challenges, constraining the practice of this watchdog role.

Indeed, since the 1990 press law, private media have played a determinant role while going through several challenges. For example, the number of private media organs that have since the advent of the crisis in the two English speaking regions of Cameroon who have undergone sanctions by the government one cannot independently state either because they tried to report what the term facts but were prevented by those in authority.

To Cameroonians of the private media, it is a violation of them having access to factual reporting thereby slowing the process of the media promoting democracy in Cameroon. It is against a backdrop that this researcher decided to embark on the journey of finding the role of the print media in achieving democracy in Cameroon and the challenges faced by the private media in the attainment of this research topic.

1.3 Research Objective   

1.3.1 General objective

The main objective of this study is to examine what role newspaper and radio played during the 2018 presidential elections in Cameroon and what obstacles prevent them from performing this role.

1.3.2 Specific objective

  1. To examine the role newspaper and radio played during the 2018 presidential election in Anglophone Cameroon.
  2. To identify the challenges newspapers and radio in Anglophone Cameroon are facing when covering presidential elections in Cameroon.
  1. Roles And Challenges Of Private Media During The 2018 Presidential Elections In Cameroon.
  2. Roles And Challenges Of Private Media During The 2018 Presidential Elections In Cameroon.
  3. Roles And Challenges Of Private Media During The 2018 Presidential Elections In Cameroon.
  4. Roles And Challenges Of Private Media During The 2018 Presidential Elections In Cameroon.
  5. Roles And Challenges Of Private Media During The 2018 Presidential Elections In Cameroon.
  6. Roles And Challenges Of Private Media During The 2018 Presidential Elections In Cameroon.
  7. Roles And Challenges Of Private Media During The 2018 Presidential Elections In Cameroon..




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