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Ugly Journalism 

CameroonPostline.com — In Ugly Journalism: Choves Loh Launches Frontal Attack On Cameroon’s Ailing Media. Ugly Journalism by senior journalist, Choves Loh, is not just a simple book. It is an encyclopaedia that harbours a frontal indictment of the sins committed against the noble profession of journalism in Cameroon.

It is a mélange of opinions, comments and observations by journalists, civil society leaders and some keen observers of the media landscape in Cameroon. Tailored in fine prose, the book is rated as one that is somewhat reinventing the wheel. The publication stands tall in that it is a divorce from the status quo.

In other words, it takes exception to the situation wherein most authors focus on what good journalism is supposed to be, without doing an in-depth diagnosis as to what is wrong with the profession. The comments published in the book are embellished with exceptional flair. Many of the writers dressed their ideas with a plethora of literary devices, quoting some renowned authors and personalities to drive home their claims.
 

In the book, journalists (many of whom may be guilty of some of the malpractices that have slammed journalism in the murky water of shame) are unanimous that the profession is sick, very sick in Cameroon. The irony in it is that even some of the controversial journalists are frank. They look at journalistic sins in their face and call them by their name. For one thing, none of them is foolhardy enough to profess sainthood or proclaim the dogma of infallibility on a noble profession that has been raped and pushed down the abyss of quagmire.
 

The book represents Choves Loh’s audacity to give journalism a professional and moral link. It is an embodiment of the spirit that pushes the forces of radical insistence and the oafs of conservative resistance to cross swords in the journalistic Armageddon. It is a long bottle that can go either way. As stated in the acknowledgement of the author, Choves Loh, “Ugly Journalism” is the product of contributions by many people with concern to have many press men and women who have a mission and message for the greater respect of the public.”
 

It is the author’s patriotic zeal, fired by his consciousness of a professional prophet Joshua that led him to write the book. It bemoans the agonizing plight of a noble profession that has been hijacked by quacks, conmen and academic “panos” whose level of moral elasticity has gone beyond human understanding.

These “apprentice sorciers” who have no respect for journalistic decorum are often used by unscrupulous politicians and other miscreants of elastic morals to massage their egos and attack their enemies. The book provides the verge for journalists whose business is still about giving their whole garment of the reportorial enterprise to remove the pegs in their own eyes so as to be able to fix a critical look at the society. Anything short of this leaves the watchdog permanently in chaos.
 

Choves Loh seems to take exception to the shirking of responsibility to the effect that Cameroon deserves the kind of press that it has. He seems to wonder with Geoffrey Chaucer what iron will do if gold is allowed to rust. To him, the press should be the gold that should never rust even if all sectors of the Cameroonian society are drowned in a sea of corruption. Besides diagnosing what is wrong with the journalism in Cameroon, the various stakeholders in the book proffer solutions.

They make it clear that the ills that have stigmatized the noble profession in Cameroon cannot be the sole responsibility of the journalists alone. Thus, solutions must come from all the stakeholders with none of them trying to play Pontius Pilate. Prefaced by the President of the Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists, CAMASEJ, Tricia Oben, Ugly Journalism, can be referred to as an encyclopaedia of what journalism is not supposed to be.

It is a must read for policy makers as well as those interested in restoring the aura of nobility and sanity that the press has lost to malpractices. Woven with the art of a literary craftsman in 155 pages, Ugly Journalism gives a faithful rendition of left, right and centre views on journalism practice in Cameroon. The book is peculiar because of the brutal truths contained in it on journalism.

Its strong point is the in-depth write-ups it carries and the charisma of some of its authors. The author seems to have focused on quickly telling the story, rather than care much about the structure of the book. It defies the structured decorum; almost amorphous in terms of ideological chronology. Yet its themes on corruption, poverty, greed for material aggrandizement, spiritual bankruptcy and professional Machiavellianism stand out tall.
 

The problems ailing journalism are so huge that the senior pastor of the Etoug-Ebe Baptist church, Yaounde,  Rev. Dr Philemon Bungansa Nfor writes a “ Prayer for the … Journalists” in the book. For his part, the Parish Pastor of PC Azire Bamenda, Rev Dr Julius Ambe, prays for the death of “Armchair Journalism” while the Director of Communications, Archdiocese of Bamenda, Rev. Fr. Tatah Humphrey Mbuy, delivers a sermon on “The Moral Obligation of the Media in a Plural Society”. Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle, Peace Crusader, comes down hard on “Journalism by Ambush”, while the Government Delegate to the Bamenda City Council, Vincent Nji Ndumu, weeps over “Mercantile Journalism”
 

Ugly Journalism also carries news of other civil society members like Prof. Paul Nkwi, Cardinal Tumi, Laura Anyola Tufoin, Justice James George Ngwene, Barrister Kemende Henry Gamsey, Hon Lucas Tasi Ntang and others.
 

In the book, SDF Chair, Ni John Fru Ndi, scorns what obtains in Cameroon as “Sub Standard Journalism” while Governor Abakar Ahamat calls on journalists to respect professional ethics. Traditional rulers like Fon Martin Forbuzie Asanji and Fon Isaac Chafah XI also adumbrate their opinions in the book.
 

Many journalists, including Anne Nkwain Nsang, Charly Ndi Chia, Shifu Ngala, Gideon Taka and Joe Tiemuncho, take turns in condemning malpractices. The book also carries speeches presented by His Majesty Nfor Tabetando (now Senator) and the former US Ambassador to Cameroon, HE Janet E. Garvey, during the General Assembly meeting of CAMASEJ in 2008. The book will be launched in Bamenda on Friday, June 14, 2013.
 

First published in The Post print edition no 01432
 

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