The press stands accused

EDITORIAL 10 Mar 2020
The press stands accused

The Minister of Territorial Administration, Mr. Atanga Nji, in his criticism of international NGOs in Cameroon, seemed to have, in the process, equally stepped on the toes of the press in Cameroon, specifically the private media. The minister seemed convinced that some Media Houses are being financed to slant their reports against the government, reports which, according to the minister, are usually intended to destabilise Cameroon.
This is indeed a very serious allegation against the media, especially at a time such as this when all hands must be put on deck to find a solution to a crisis that has been allowed to turn bloody. And it becomes pertinent to ask the question: who allowed it to degenerate to this level? This question has become pertinent only because the minister now seems to ignore the gaping opportunities that stood before the leadership of this country, beckoning for good judgment to avoid what we now experience. That Minister Atanga Nji, now prefers to follow the path of laying blame on the door steps of international NGOs and the media, only shows how much we lack the political will to bring this bloody war to a justifiable end and regain our respect as a peace loving nation.
We are certainly not holding brief for whichever media house the minister might have addressed his anger. We are simply concerned that the minister in his latest outing seemed to have forgotten, or that it never occurred to him that very responsible press is usually out for nothing, other than the truth. Just as the scripture says, that the Truth shall set you free, so does every media person or media organisation worth its name believes that nothing but the truth can justify its noble mission in situations such as we find ourselves today, no matter how contrary the politician, or those who rule may argue their case against this truth.
Experience has shown that the relationship between politicians and the media people, or to be precise, the media as an institution, has always taken the form of the movement of the ocean tide that ebbs and flows, carrying on its course, all manner of substance that litters its shores. This movement certainly does not dry up the ocean. It simply illustrates its nature in the eyes of the beholder. So too, is the interaction between those who find themselves at the helm of the state and the media that only plays its role as a watch-dog.
The difference is that in the course of this interaction there is always a clash of opinion in the perception of issues. The unfortunate situation here is that, those in Authority have the tendency to impose their will on the media, especially in a political environment where the full impact of the norms of democracy is being manipulated upon while simply assuming the posture of a democratic society. The truth is that at whatever angle the government places the media in this country today, the Media remains closest to the people and feels along with them, the heat ant the cold that the governance process is likely to produce. It is this closeness that accords the Media every opportunity to report what it sees or gathers from investigations and interviews. It is worth noting that in some other countries where good governance prevails, the media has always the reputation of reaching the scenes of incidences first even before the police or other government investigators and the media has always been in a vantage position to help the police in following up cases of investigations which have been opened by the media.
What we have discovered which Minister Atanga Nji, would want the other side of the Media, that is the private Media to do, is that the private Media should accept the official version of every given situation as authentic. We have several cases of situations where the private media has been prompt in its coverage, far ahead of the official media. The official media normally comes up several days after an incident.
We certainly appreciate government efforts in finding a solution to the ongoing crisis. But despite all these efforts, it would appear we are not getting anywhere near a solution, talk less of ending the blood bath. We strongly believe the measures so far taken have not been appropriate or relevant enough to produce the expected results. This is certainly not the appropriate time to lay blames on anyone while the fire continues to burn. We sincerely call on the minister to take this seriously. It will help him in the noble task before him.

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