THE ROLE OF PEACE JOURNALISM IN RESOLVING THE CAMEROON ANGLOPHONE CRISIS
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Peace journalism was introduced in the 1960s (Galtung & Ruge, 1965). Scholars like Lynch and McGoldrick (2005) 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 analysis and a nonviolent response to conflict. Some of the characteristics of peace journalism brought out by Mogekwu (2011) 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( Mogekwu 2011)
Journalists who promote peace must be determined to initiate and promote dialogue. This can be applicable in the conflict in Anglophone Cameroon. The contrary here is proven from the fact that no journalist was a key factor in the National Dialogue held in Yaoundé Cameroon that was criticized by many.
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 still remaining below the level of manifest conflict, peace journalists are working to maximise 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 endeavour can only be meaningfully pursued if the journalist is local to the environment. Peace journalism should be 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 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.
Tracing back to works by Galtun and Ruge (1965), Galtung’s model of peace journalism has its theoretical foundation in media-scientific news value theory (Kunczik 1990, Eilders 2016), which holds that international news are selected according to the same criteria as national or respectively local news.
Negative events (e.g.,catastrophies, riots or coups) are regarded as particularly newsworthy. Elite countries (e.g., great powers or geographic or respectively culturally closer countries) enjoy more media attention than countries on theperiphery. News concerning persons is more interesting than news about structures or institutions, and it is all the more interesting if the persons involved belong to elites
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 (Mogekwu, 2011)
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, and material, social and environmental loses.
A crisis is the response to a dangerous experiences that mental equilibrium which 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 to be published online.
What is termed the Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon (2016-2021) started in October 2016 with lawyers and teachers strike. It became more popular through the dissemination of information on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and twitter and so on.
Most information pasted on these sites areoften unverified partly because anyone can post any information on social media even if they are not a journalist. According to Butler (2018) journalists risk being manipulated by actors who go beyond the ethics of public relations by attempting to mislead or corrupt journalists into spreading disinformation.
There is a high possibility of finding wrong statistics, manipulated stories and even manipulated pictures to make matters worse. During a crisis, it is very essential for the media to be credible so as not to worsen the situation, cause uproar and eventually lead to a full blown war.
In s supported, Nounkeu (2020),reiterated that Social media platforms are increasingly used by non-traditional journalists in Africa. It is therefore a problem that most Students depend and believe everything posted on social media without verification. Thus, this study, attempts to situatethe 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;
- General research question
- What is the role of peace journalism in resolving the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon?
1.3.2 Specific research questions;
- What is the level of dependence or reliance and trust of Anglophone Cameroonians on the media for information on the crisis?
- What are the challenges and threat face in practice of peace journalism
- What measures been put in place by stakeholders(government, civil society etc) to promote peace journalism as a tool to reducing crisis
1.4. Objectives of the study
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 resolving the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon?
1.4.2 Specific research objectives;
- To examine the level of dependence or reliance and trust of Anglophone Cameroonians on the media for information on the crisis?
- To bring out the challenges and threat face in practice of peace journalism
- To identify measures put in place by stakeholders(government, civil society etc) to promote peace journalism as a tool to reducing crisis