“It has been a wonderful opportunity for us to be trained on best practices in humanitarian reporting with a focus on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a lot of discord across the media landscape in the region around COVID-19 reporting,” says Bah Tokoh, a journalist from a local radio station in Bamenda. “For two days, we have reinforced our skills and are going back as ambassadors in the fight against the pandemic.”
Plan International recently brought together 17 journalists from major media organisations in the North West region of Cameroon for a training workshop on child and youth safeguarding, and quality and effective reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cameroon has now recorded 9,864 positive cases of COVID-19, with 5,570 recoveries and 276 deaths (as of 18 June 2020).
The pandemic adds to the vulnerability of children and girls in the NW and SW regions of Cameroon who have been suffering from the impact of armed conflict since 2016. Besides, being at risk of contracting the virus, the pandemic has made children, particulalry girls, more likely to suffer from different forms of abuse and neglect in both regions.
During these times, media outlets have an important role to play as they are the source of useful information to affected communities. This includes educating parents and caregivers on protecting their children from abuse and neglect in the face of the pandemic, COVID-19 prevention methods and busting harmful myths, among others.
The journalists were reminded of this role and urged to always consider the best interest of the child in their reporting. Other aspects discussed include choosing story ideas, selecting credible sources, verifying facts, choosing words carefully and media guidelines for journalists.
The journalists appreciate the training and pledged to put the knowledge acquired into practice. “The messages that we will be disseminating from now on will be of higher quality. Our messages will also focus on helping children and youths understand how they can respect the barrier methods and stay safe,” says Bah.
It is hoped that the media will now take a more active role in developing key messages around COVID-19 that will take into consideration the vulnerabilities of children and young girls in the North West region of Cameroon.
“I will now better engage with children and youths in my community to produce and broadcast quality programmes that will engage and teach children and young peiple to better protect themselves from abuse and other risks,” committed Mbuh Stella, a journalist from a TV station in Bamenda.