Cameroon Media Sustainability Index (MSI)
About the MSI
IREX designed the MSI to measure the strength and viability of any country's media sector. The MSI considers all the factors that contribute to a media system—the quality of journalism, effectiveness of management, the legal environment supporting freedom of the press, and more—to arrive at scores on a scale ranging between 0 and 4. These scores represent the strength of the media sector components and can be analyzed over time to chart progress (or regression) within a country. Additionally, countries or regions may be compared to one another. IREX currently conducts the MSI in 80 countries, and began studying Africa in 2006.
MSI Cameroon - 2012 Introduction
Overall Country Score: 1.89
The complexity of Cameroon is apparent at all levels. The country continues to suffer through internal upheavals, including major flooding in northern areas in recent years. The government maintains a virtual monopoly on political power in the country. There are never-ending court cases against former officials, including the former ministers Titus Edzoa, Marfa Hamidou Yahya, and Olanguena Awono. All have been political and legal sagas that have attracted the media’s attention.
The media have become slightly more diverse with the advent of new technologies and opportunities. Accepting this trend, Cameroon finds itself largely in the same place as in 2010, with most objectives showing little change.
Professionalism among journalists and economic vitality of the firms where they work remained top concerns. With these weaknesses built into the system, journalists and their employers have become more likely to market their news content to bidders, or engage in blackmail and other perversions of the practice.
Controversy surrounding the publication of a book alleging that leading officials have ties to secret societies like the Freemasons were played out in the public sphere, with writer Charles Atéba Eyéné, a ruling-party member, calling on President Biya to root out such influence in his government. The author was sued by at least one of the accused ministers, which led to the suspension of sales of his book. Further controversy was stoked with reports that Biya would host an anniversary celebration for one of the groups in question.
The events surrounding this incident showed a variety of tendencies in the Cameroonian media—prone to scandal and intrigue reporting, though with low investigative standards, and insufficient attention to the more important issues of the day.
In Cameroon, even in the absence of war or elections, journalists are still under close scrutiny. For instance, a journalist at Le Messager daily newspaper was held in custody by the police, ostensibly while investigating medically assisted reproduction at the general hospital in Yaoundé, on the pretext that she was infringing on the privacy of the first lady.
Despite some progress in establishing independent news outlets, the highest reaches of power remain beyond the reach of journalists in the country.
The Cameroon study was coordinated by, and conducted in partnership with, Journaliste en Danger, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.