YAOUNDE - News editors have been urged to attach the same importance to culture as is the case with politics, economics and sports reporting.
CRTV's Emmanuel Wongibe and Alain Blaise Batongue of Mutations, made the call at a press lunch and discussion on culture journalism organised by the German Cultural Centre, Goethe Institute, in Yaounde last week.
Culture reporting is often relegated to the background, giving little or no consideration in several newsrooms, the two facilitators observed.
Not only do reporters prefer "lucrative" areas such as politics and sport, culture news is usually given little space or airtime, at times, coming at the end of the newscast or the back pages of the publication.
Editors and reporters erroneously feel that culture is inferior and fetches little for the newsroom, both men said.
"In a country like Cameroon, endowed with cultural potentials, culture should be a leading beat," said Wongibe, who is also the Director of Cooperation at CRTV.
Alain Blaise Batongue, Publisher of Mutations, pointed out that if little interest was placed on culture, it was also because some reporters on the beat do not package and deliver the stories in a captivating manner.
A good example, he said, was the non-illustration of articles in newspapers or magazines.
"Even when they do, the writers keep coming back to the same photos for different stories," he remarked.
Batongue also frowned at the fact that reporters paid more attention to music, cinema and fashion to the detriment of other forms of arts such as craft, literature, paintings, language and cuisine.
To revitalise culture reporting, editors were urged to encourage and guide their reporters in a bid to make them more productive.
They were also advised to avoid assigning them to other beats all the time. This could be detrimental to their skills in handling culture issues, it was established.
Participants in the discussion included Charlie Ndi Chia of The Post, Eric Ndien of The Herald, Parfait Ziki of Repère, Thierry Ngongang of STV and Joseph B. Dzéné Edzégué of 100% Jeunes.
Each editor explained how the situation of cultural reporting in their various newsrooms.
Talking on behalf of the Goethe Institute, Margit Djiango of the langauge section explained that as a cultural centre, her organisation was interested in knowing that culture occupies a comfortable place in media reporting.
"That's why we've come up with this initiative," she said. Djiango promised that the Goethe Institute will not relent in its efforts to valorise culture reporting.
The discussion came on the heels of a workshop on culture journalism, held in February with reporters, during which problems encountered on the field were identified. Similar workshops have been planned for the coming months.