By Ndefru Melanie
More than ever before, reporters in the Northwest region are willing to factor in the element of inclusion in their reporting, but how well to do so without stigmatising persons living with disabilities has remained a great challenge. These challenges faced in inclusive reporting, is one of the main reasons why most news articles done on paper or online, radio or television leave out the aspect that touches persons living with disabilities.
To better equip journalists in inclusive reporting, a two-day workshop on Digital inclusion and the Media” held in Bamenda on March 30 and 31, 2023to have them communicate development stakeholders on the need to be inclusive when carrying out development activities at the community level.
The media is expected to play a key role in fostering Community-Based Inclusive Development and that is why in the course of the workshop, participants were given; a background of the project, its current phase, the size of the disability problem, the legal instruments on legal inclusion, key principles guiding disability inclusive journalism, barriers to disability inclusion, use off diction in reporting, the need for journalists to accompany development actors in ensuring community based inclusive Development.
The workshop falls inline with the Community-Based Inclusive Development Project (CBID), phase II of the Socio Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SEEPD) program of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS). The project Coordinator, Loshie Eugene engaged participants in both theory and practically to best educate them on the essentials needed in inclusive reporting.
“Journalist and the key role the media could play in ensuring that there is a paradigm shift in the way the people with disabilities are seen in their communities by their peers without disabilities. To bring about the paradigm change in how community development actors see the development initiatives from an inclusive perspective. The journalists came together to grab this opportunity one of CBCHS’ program is offering to build their capacity, start questioning development efforts from an inclusive perspectives”.
“We have lofty expectations, development and communication cannot be done in one day. The first thing is that journalists should change the way they communicate, that inclusion is embedded in everything moreso, disability inclusion is the talk of the day. Journalists practice in a society where development actors on a daily basis, implement development initiatives. Please question development initiatives if they meet the needs of those in the communities who have one form of impairment or disability, ask development actors what efforts they are making that these people are not left out of their development efforts”, Project Coordinator, Loshie Eugene.
Participants seized the opportunity from the SEEPD program to begin changing their angles of reporting. Unlike other workshops attended, they felt that in depth knowledge was satisfactory during the two-day workshop, to effect their new skills in reporting.
Wanchia Cynthia is Northwest bureau chief for The Guardian Post Newspaper. She averred that “With the 2 days that we’ve spent on the implementing of the CBID project, I am leaving the workshop committed to keep promoting disability inclusion in the way I do my reports. I am thinking that whatever news angles or programs that I get to do, I should factor in disability. There is alot to hold stakeholders to account on how they are promoting inclusion, 15% is not a small number excluded when policies are being crafted, when development initiatives are being taken. These are things I want to comite myself doing. The training will refine my choice of words, refine the way we anchor persons with disabilities, not making it people-centred but anchoring more on activities”.
Barkah Derrick is promoter of Hilltopvoices.com, a well-read website in Bamenda, Northwest region of Cameroon and beyond said “It will be important to commit ourselves in improving content we deliver on our website and social media platforms, make them inclusive as much as possible with text, audio, and video content. To make sure everyone can access information and also to be more intentional about the work we do for the benefit of everyone in our community. We cannot continue to do things like 15% of persons with disabilities do not matter”.
Participants left the workshop with one objective, rethinking the content of their publications and be conscious in their way of reporting, not leaving out the aspect of being an inclusive-oriented journalist.