The clock has been ticking for 30 years since the Windhoek Declaration for the development of a free, independent and pluralistic press; a declaration which led to the recognition by the UN of the World Press Freedom Day celebrated every 3rd of May. This year's celebration has as theme; "Information as a public Good." The choice of the theme so to speak brings in nothing very new, for information has since time immemorial remained a public good. Like any other public good, society finds itself challenged in the way it handles it. The sensitive nature of information tells of the important reminder from specialists of the danger of allowing it in the hands of just anybody. To avoid a situation where information could easily slip off the fingers of those in hold of it without due consideration of the consequences it might bring, it became necessary to create institutions, call them journalism schools or communication training centres capable of molding people who understand the sensitivity of information and who knows how, why and when to send out news for public consumption.
"Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets." The enigmatic European history writer, Denis Richard carefully brought out this quotation of the one-time French Monach, Napoleon Bonaparte to demonstrate how dangerous carelessly handled information can be to the development of society. The idea behind the choice of the theme this year is to affirm that information as public good is something worth cherishing and exploring what can be done in enhancing the production, distribution and reception of content in a bid to strengthen the profession of journalism. The choice of the theme seems to be quite timely considering that the profession of handling information has been thrown to the dogs and above all facilitated by the advent of the information and communication technology. And so any person having gone to school who think he or she can write a sentence in English or French jumps into the information dissemination trail.
The situation gets even worse as days go by. The propagation of the social media has made things even worse. And as nature would have it many people especially those in search of political and socio-economic power. Since they are capable of calling the shot, they dictate the content of what should be published in their news organs. Traditional news organs; Newspapers, radio houses and TV stations have fallen into the trap where anything but for journalism prevails. In Cameroon today, talk of a specific news organs and minds will quickly run to a certain political party or a certain tribe. The thrash that runs in the social media in the name of information is a translation of how rotten our society has become. This state of affairs has put society at loggerhead with the media as a whole. The credibility traditional media organs wield in the days past is virtually lost, The celebration of Press Freedom Day is occasion for men of the pen and the microphone to work out a strategy and gain back the confidence of the population. The seriousness of the media has completely disappeared in the eyes of the public. Today, newspapers rather serve as packaging material in shops and street vendors. It is equally time to cleanse the profession of journalism and flush out adventurers. How this can happen is another issue.