Eighteen years after media professionals converged on Cameroon's National Capital to delve into crucial issues concerning efficient and effective communication, these social scientists have again met here to face the challenge of giving more meaning to this exacting profession.
In the Grand Premier, of 1994, 110 papers were presented to some 300 delegates and special invitees with the aim of making known the media issues at stake and provoking joint action that would lead to a redress. Whether or not the "quantity of eggs" that were broken to make the long-awaited omelette was worth the sacrifice is not the crux of today's matter. For, it pays to forge ahead while learning from deeds and misdeeds of the past.
While we appreciate the work, tackled at the 1994 national communication forum, we do not need to spend precious time regretting the failures of yesteryears.
Rather, our concern and indeed a challenge, is to get the best from what media experts in this forum have come out with so as to give a new meaning to our media landscape. We need this action without which these communication fora would be relegated to window dressing.
There is a general cry that media practitioners are more attracted to sensationalism and materialism than effective education and mobilization, but these professionals on their part deplore the lack of incentives for commitment, and effective stewardship. In the face of this uncomfortable scenario, who can be blamed for failing to do what? What should be done to alter the trends?
The organization of a national communication forum is indeed a rational step toward appraising a disturbing trend. But what next? The presentation of brilliant papers which x-ray problems and suggest action are vital. But such vitality can be meaningless if it is not followed by implementation of resolutions. Fortunately the Minister of Communication plans to set up a follow up committee which we hope will be efficient and effective.
In Cameroon, like in most African countries, the problems of the press are well known. Seminars for the sensitization and education of journalists are many with the government giving assistance. But what a surprise, and even a scandal that the results hardly compromise the action being taken! Media practitioners and the authorities must render, or keep the press an effective catalyst of education and development.
Of the four Estates of democratic governance, the press generally believed to be a watchdog and indeed lever to patriotic action, is regrettably the most abused by other forces and worse, by media professionals themselves. This is unfortunate, but can be redressed.
In the face of this disturbing trend, redress strategies like national communication fora are necessary, but could be rendered ostentatious if brilliant resolutions are not well studied and implemented.
The 2012 communication forum which has come up at a time when Cameroon, and other nations are talking the New Millennium Development Goals and other challenges of globalization is indeed a challenge for us to give communication the place it deserves as a catalyst of development.