“I’m discovering a new world. It’s all very strange,” said Assala, director of the Advanced School of Mass Communication at the University of Yaoundé in Cameroon. “For us, advances like online journalism are new concepts. It’s interesting to see the different views and new forms of journalism here,” he explained.
The WJEC has introduced diverse standpoints from across the globe. Bridging the gap between developed and underdeveloped journalism schools has been testing for many educators attending the conference.
Assala’s biggest struggle is the language barrier, and understanding new practices in a language that is not his own. English has become a standard language for global communication, and global networking relies on understanding the language.
Not only is the language barrier a struggle for Assala, whose first language is French, but the various journalistic practices emerging in the rest of the world are yet to appear in Cameroon. “We feel like we are neglected in new experiences in journalism practice and education,” Assala said. “And when it comes to accessibility and infrastructure, we are left behind.”
Assala noted that only 40% of Cameroon’s journalists are properly trained and that journalism students needed efficient training before getting into the newsroom. Issues like bribery and the loss of journalistic ethics are major concerns for Assala. “We need to establish journalism-literary bodies to train journalists,” he noted.
Assala said that social awareness and education are important for success in journalism, especially in Cameroon. He noted how the fresh journalists who come into the newsroom change and how they go into the government-influenced newsroom.
That WJEC provided him with information to experience what he called “a changing phenomenon and practice”. At panel discussions, Assala would listen to some of the technological advances of developed journalism institutions from across the world.
For him, the role of French-speaking media in mass communication is a concern.
“While the conference brings about mutual experiences and we experience fruitful contacts, it is very different,” he said. “We need to ask what French-speaking countries need to do to transition.”