Citizen Journalists as active democrats

This was the perceived recurring message that ACTEE sought to put across recently when the organization met in Douala on May 18, 2017. Determined to portray the
importance of the participation of all citizens in a society, the Action Citoyenne Pour La Transparence ETL’equite Electorale au Cameroun, ACTEE, has been emphasizing its “Development of man, for man and by man” mantra.

ACTEE is an initiative developed toward transparency in elections, reinforcement of democracy of every society, Cameroon in particular and massive participation of citizens during elections. “Transparency of elections is considered the number one criteria of democracy and cannot be reinforced without the participation of citizens”,
says Philippe Nanga, one of the educators on human rights as well as the animator and coordinator of popular education. Citizens in this case will refer to all, but special note on youths from 30-40 years because they are the leaders of tomorrow, political parties, ELECAM, civil society activists and most importantly, media which is the watchdog ofevery society.

“Citizenship is the ability to participate actively in the democratic life of a nation, the right to take part in the construction of the society and its living standards, the right to participate in a sovereign power while contributing in making laws and putting in place institutions that will allow you to apply those laws,” added Nanga. In order to achieve this, the media, one of the main arms of the Government must favour the intervention of citizens on issues that concern them. They should work hand in glove by producing programmes and reporting issues that will bring a positive effect on society rather than reporting on large enterprises and Government personnel because they give them bribes and advertisements.  Journalists were reminded of some of the reportorial principles such as objectivity, impartiality, integrity, and respect for fundamental rights. “You are a citizen when you actively participate in the things that concern the society,”

Nanga stressed. So it is the journalist’s place to create platforms, not forgetting its basic principles, tuesday, May 23, 2017 that will give citizens the opportunity to express themselves critically and together they can produce positive effects in a society. Distinguishing human beings in terms of their age, sex, occupation, status, or cultures are the things journalists were warned against in their reports and programmes. These are aspects that if not carefully handled, could marginalize citizens. But rather they should
create an arena were things are looked into critically, permitting  citizens to exchange their experiences and views. The first preoccupation of a citizen media is that the effect of his production must be seen on society.

Monique Ngo Mayaj shared her experience on a story on child labour featuring children who carry things on their heads and sell. She met a 10 year old boy who hawks to
pay his schools fees. The boy said he would like to be an accountant in future. When she published the article, an anonymous person called and insisted she looks for the
boy. At the end of the day, in collaboration with the parents and Monique, this anonymous person opted to pay fees for this child; even
though she did not follow up to
know how far the man went.
Another experience from Augus-
tine Wendung of Radio Veritas
tells of how justice prevailed in
kumbo during the 2011 elections.
In the course of his stay, he invited
a prostitute in his room. In the
middle of the night, this prostitute
revealed to him how there are
many of them in the hotel brought
by ministers for the night. She fur-
ther explained that, those cars
packed outside were filled with
electoral cards and that the hotel
was also filled with anonymous
voters brought in from other parts
of the country to vote in this Re-
gion. He immediately made the
right calls and the military re-
sponded and took away the cards
as well as those who came in to
vote arbitrarily. He kept the girl’s
identity a secret and CPDM lost
the elections in that area.
Claudia Nsonon of Hi TV equally
shared an experience of a woman
running an orphanage in her home.
It comprised of children of about 13
to 18 years, some of them siblings.
What happened was that she used
some of these children for prostitu-
tion. Worst of it all, the children
were also having sex amongst
themselves as far as incest was
being practiced. “We covered the
story and the orphanage was shut
down and damages paid.”

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