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Digital Age - What Future for Print Media?

25 July, 2014

Source: Cameroon Tribune

Eminent panelists on July 24, 2014, debated the issue as part of Cameroon Tribune's 40th anniversary celebrations.

The survival or not of print media in the phase of competition engendered by the digital age has come under discussion as Cameroon's national bilingual daily, Cameroon Tribune, celebrates 40 years of fruitful education and sensitisation of the national and international community. A high-level roundtable discussion held at the Yaounde Hilton Hotel yesterday July 24 on the theme, "The future of the print media in the face of growing internet age."

The roundtable brought together fine media practitioners from within and without Cameroon to share their experiences on the print media and evolutions in information communication and technology. Moderated by Cameroon Tribune's Editorialists, Maurice Nkendem Forbinake and Augustin Fongang, the roundtable benefitted from the expertise of Dr. Baba Wame, Senior Lecturer at the Yaounde Advanced School of Mass Communication (ASMAC), and Eugene Nforngwa, Publisher of Standard Tribune online newspaper.

Speakers among whom were media gurus from Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Burkina Faso and Senegal were unanimous that the advent of the digital age certainly altered the way information is gathered and treated. They said although print remains the untouchable mother of the entire media, there is need for it to adapt to changes and evolve else it could face out.

They noted that print media represents a veritable tool for research and will forever remain a form of documentation for the future. Instead of looking at the internet as a threat to print media development, the panelists prayed media practitioners to rather seize the numerous advantages the innovation offers to broaden their readership and reap better dividends.

The guest of honour at the roundtable, Turkey's Ambassador to Cameroon, Omer Faruk Dogan, noted that the media remains the unquestionable fourth power and its good health is absolutely needed for the wellbeing of society. " I am sure that the debate on the future of the print media will contribute to the unity and solidity of the newspaper in Sub-Saharan Africa," the Turkish diplomat said.

The panelists also prayed Cameroon's print media to rethink its distribution strategies. "While there are people who want to buy newspapers and can't find them, there some parts of the country that are inundated with newspapers and nobody is reading them. The news industry needs to take back into its hands the distribution of newspapers because I believe that the people who currently distribute newspapers do not understand the needs of the industry so well and they think that the best distribution strategy is to get the papers to as many places as possible," Eugene Nforngwa said.

From Nouha Sadio, member of the African Media Council passing through Rabankhi Abou-Bâhr Zida, General Manager of Sidwaya of Burkina Faso to other luminaries who spoke during the roundtable, the print media has not and will not die with the internet. It should rather evolve with evolutions to stand the test of time.

While praising the level-headedness of the panelists, the General Manager of SOPECAM, Marie-Claire Nnana, expressed the need for more readership for the national bilingual daily newspaper to augment its current 25,000 print run. She said for a population of close to 22 million, 25, 000 print run for a paper like Cameroon was rather discouraging.

The 40th anniversary celebrations round off this Friday with final in football and most especially a gala evening at the Yaounde Hilton Hotel to be presided over by the Prime Minister, Head of Government, special representative of the Head of State.

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