Student journalists urged to remain resilient despite difficult working environment.

Student journalists at the University of Buea marked World Press Freedom Day on May 3 with a call to remain steadfast in their pursuit of journalism, despite the daunting challenges facing the profession in Cameroon.

Under the theme, “A press for the planet: Journalism in the face of environmental crisis,” over a hundred students from the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication gathered on the UB campus for the celebration.

It was marked by a symbolic march from the school entrance to the Open Commons where the event took place.

Led by the Head of Department, Dr. Nenghie Watchami Lizzie, and other lecturers, the ceremony emphasized the importance of resilience in the face of adversity.

Dr. Lizzie urged the students not to be discouraged by the attacks and challenges faced by journalists in the country.The attacks and challenges on reporters should not frustrate the students on practicing the journalism profession,” she said.

Cameroon remains a dangerous environment for journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders, with incidents of killings, arbitrary arrests, detentions, and threats.

The institution ranked Cameroon 130th in terms of press freedom worldwide, with a score of 44.95/100.

These factors, combined with low pay and poor working conditions, often discourage aspiring journalists from entering the field after graduation.

However, Dr. Lizzie and her colleagues believe that the students they train can make a positive impact in journalism, especially in combating fake news.

“This is why we called in guest speakers who spoke to them about environmental reporting and there is need to understand that we need to fight against misinformation and disinformation because it has consequences on the country and on the society,” said Dr Lizzie Nenghie.

The focus of this year’s WPFD was on environmental journalism, a vital aspect of journalism which is, however, absent from the curriculum at the JMC Department.

“Notwithstanding, in due time we might have specialized short courses on this particular field of reporting to enhance capacity in various disciplines on other social issues journalists need to be versed with,” Dr Lizzie said.

Guest speakers, including TV host and journalist Etang Sidony, emphasized the importance of environmental reporting and the need to combat misinformation.

“We like it or not, we can’t run away front he aspect that climate change is existing and the psychological and the social aspect of it follows suit. We are concluding today after this event saying that one aspect of the solution should be looked out for,” Etang said.

During the presentations, students actively engaged in debates and discussions, expressing their newfound appreciation for environmental journalism.

Besong Sarah, a final-year student, expressed her enthusiasm: “I was so happy hearing from the guest speakers because I didn’t know there was so much reason in environmental journalism. I know after this I will find a mentor as advised and give it a try for my career.”

By Beatrice Manka’a