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ASSESSMENT ON THE INFLUENCE OF MEDIA ON POLITICAL DISCOURSE IN CAMEROON

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ASSESSMENT ON THE INFLUENCE OF MEDIA ON  POLITICAL DISCOURSE IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

The media has a crucial influence on political discussions in all societies, as it serves as a means of spreading information, moulding public opinion, and encouraging political participation. Within the framework of Cameroon, a nation characterised by a wide range of ethnicities, languages, and socio-political dynamics, the impact of media on political discussions is of great significance (France, 2018). This comprehensive research endeavour seeks to investigate the intricate connection between media and political discourse in Cameroon, elucidating its historical, socio-cultural, and technical aspects. The political structure of Cameroon has been influenced by an intricate past of colonisation, conflicts after gaining independence, and a rich cultural legacy. The media landscape of the nation has changed in parallel with these historical advancements (Seib, 2019). In the colonial period, media outlets mostly catered to the agendas of colonial powers, disseminating their ideas and exerting control over the dissemination of information. Nevertheless, after Cameroon's attainment of independence in 1960, there was a progressive transition towards a greater diversity of media outlets and the promotion of freedom of speech. Cameroon has a notable linguistic and cultural heterogeneity, including more than 250 ethnic groups and a multitude of languages spoken across the nation. The media landscape exhibits this variety by including distinct media sources in various linguistic areas, each targeting unique consumers (Hamsley, Jacobson, Gruzd & Mai, 2018). The impact of media on political discussions is closely connected to these socio-cultural factors, since media organisations often associate themselves with certain ethnic or linguistic communities, moulding storylines and swaying public sentiment accordingly. The political landscape of Cameroon has been mostly influenced by a small group of influential individuals, namely the governing party and the president (Mbile, 2021). Despite attempts to foster multi-party democracy and political pluralism, the actual situation often entails limitations on freedom of the press, censorship, and governmental dominance over media establishments. This phenomenon has substantial ramifications for the impact of media on political discussions, since autonomous perspectives are often marginalised or repressed (Ndue, 2017). The emergence of digital media has revolutionised the political discourse in Cameroon, offering new avenues for the spread of information, citizen journalism, and political activity. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp have gained significant influence in changing public opinion and mobilising individuals. Nevertheless, the dissemination of false information, as well as the use of hateful language and the restriction of internet content, present obstacles to the excellence and honesty of political conversations. The impact of media on political discourse in Cameroon is a subject of significant discussion and controversy (Ngange, 2019). The topics encompassed in this context are media ownership and autonomy, the influence of state-controlled versus independent media organisations, the effects of digital media on political involvement and engagement, and the ethical obligations of journalists and media professionals in shaping public sentiment (Fra & Ngangue Eyoum, 2018). Although the role of media in influencing political discussions in Cameroon is becoming important, there are still substantial gaps in our comprehension of this connection. Subsequent investigations should prioritise the examination of the precise processes by which media impact political narratives, the effect of social media on moulding public opinion, and the capacity of media reforms to enhance openness and accountability in the political process. Therefore, the researcher sought to investigate the influence of Media on  Political Discourse in Cameroon.

1.2 Statement of the problem

The media has a crucial role in influencing political discussions on a global scale, serving as a channel for spreading information, moulding public opinions, and encouraging political participation. Within the intricate and varied political landscape of Cameroon, it is important to examine the impact of media on political discussions in order to comprehend its effects on governance, public opinion, and democratic procedures (Augustine, 2017). In Cameroon, the media environment is marked by a multitude of platforms, each with its own political alignments and predispositions. This gives rise to issues over the neutrality and fairness of media coverage, which might possibly bias political discussions towards certain ideologies or interests. The Cameroonian government exercises substantial control over media channels via regulatory frameworks and censoring procedures (Alawadi, 2018). This regulation restricts the liberty of speech and impedes the capacity of media to function as a forum for unrestricted political discourse. Moreover, the widespread existence of misinformation and false news in Cameroon's media landscape presents a significant obstacle to the integrity of political discussions. Online and offline platforms are filled with deceptive narratives, false tales, and altered material, which erode public trust and promote division.  Given the complex nature of these difficulties, it is imperative to thoroughly examine the impact of media on political discussions in Cameroon (Tanjong, 2022). Gaining insight into the interaction of media dynamics, political institutions, and society norms is essential for promoting a democratic process in Cameroon that is characterised by inclusivity, transparency, and active participation. This research aims to explore the intricate dynamics of media-politics interactions in Cameroon. Its objective is to provide valuable insights for evidence-based interventions and policy changes that might improve the quality and integrity of political discussions in the nation. Hence, the study will investigate the influence of Media on  Political Discourse in Cameroon.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to assess the influence of media on  political discourse in Cameroon. The specific objectives is as follows

Investigate the dominant media outlets in Cameroon and their ownership structures

Investigate the extent to which media consumption habits influence political beliefs, affiliations, and participation in Cameroon.

Examine initiatives aimed at enhancing media literacy among the populace to encourage critical consumption of political information and combat misinformation.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to further guide the study

What is the dominant media outlets in Cameroon and their ownership structures?

What is the extent to which media consumption habits influence political beliefs, affiliations, and participation in Cameroon?

What are the initiatives aimed at enhancing media literacy among the populace to encourage critical consumption of political information and combat misinformation?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to the following

Media Regulation and Policy makers: Research into media's influence on political discourse can inform policymakers about the need for regulations that ensure media plurality, freedom of expression, and ethical journalism practices. It can also shed light on the effectiveness of existing media policies and suggest improvements for fostering a healthier media environment.

Cameroon government: Understanding this relationship is essential for promoting democratic governance, fostering informed citizenry, and advancing political reform agendas. By delving deeper into these dynamics, policymakers, scholars, and media practitioners can work towards creating a more transparent, inclusive, and vibrant political discourse in Cameroon.

Academia: the findings of the study will be significant to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature on the subject matter.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on the influence of Media on  Political Discourse in Cameroon. Empirically, the study will investigate the dominant media outlets in Cameroon and their ownership structures,  investigate the extent to which media consumption habits influence political beliefs, affiliations, and participation in Cameroon and examine initiatives aimed at enhancing media literacy among the populace to encourage critical consumption of political information and combat misinformation.

1.7 Limitation of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

1.8 Definition of terms

Media: the main means of mass communication (broadcasting, publishing, and the internet) regarded collectively.

Political discourse: to frames of meaning and their ordering and disordering propensities.


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