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Journalists Must Take Responsibility For What They Say 

Interviewed by Walter Wilson Nana

CameroonPostline.com — The Vice President of the media regulatory body in Cameroon, National Communication Council, NCC, Peter Essoka, has cautioned journalists to take responsibility for what they say or do, especially at this crucial moment of campaigns and build-up to elections.

Just as stakeholders in the September 30 Parliamentary and Municipal elections in Cameroon are busy in their respective spheres, the NCC’s Veepee is in the Southwest Region, to not only monitor how the press in the Region is doing its job, he also has some advice to his colleagues on how they should carry on with their assignments. After meeting with media men and women in Buea, Esoka granted this exclusive interview. Excerpts:

What is the Vice President of the National Communication Council, NCC, doing in the Southwest Region?

I am monitoring the way the press and media organs are covering the campaigns of the September 30 twin elections in Cameroon. I have had meetings with media men and women and the advice is that they should go out there and do their job with dignity, integrity, objectivity and honesty. If we follow the ethics of our profession, nobody will complain.

What is the motivation for regulating the Cameroonian media landscape?

We want to see that the media landscape in Cameroon is effectively working, especially in terms of ethics. Media men and women must always be reminded of what their role is in society. Many of us have gone our way to say things that are not proper. They do not take into consideration the dignity and right of another person. Where do our rights end as journalists? That is where another person’s obligation begins. It is a question of taking responsibility for what we say and do. And if you are taking that responsibility, then, you have to examine yourself and do what is right, especially when you are reporting.

How should Cameroonian journalists and others coming into Cameroon cover the Municipal and Parliamentary elections?

They should go out, observe what is happening and report to their news organs. One thing that they will not be allowed to do, according to the law, is to publish the results. They will have to wait for the Supreme Court sitting in for the Constitutional Court, to publish the final results.

Is the law not infringing into freedom of speech?

It does not infringing into freedom of speech. It is calling for greater responsibility. We have to avoid bias by all means so as to be free from violence and other uncomfortable situations. That is not what we want in Cameroon at this time. We have to preserve the peace of the nation. However, the issue you have raised will be discussed in other quarters for a possible amendment.

First published in The Post print edition no 01467


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