An Assessment of Sports Reporting In Cameroon, Its Challenges and Prospects
This is to certify and attest that, Sports Journalism in Cameroon, Its Challenges and Prospects is the original work of Solomon LYONGA IKUNDI (SM07A474).
Kingsley Lyonga Ngange
This dissertation is dedicated to my mother, Stella-Maris Nalowa Ikundi for all she has done for me and all she will do. To her, I am most grateful.
I want to begin by thanking God for his abundant blessings in my life. Yes indeed, the good lord has carried me this far and he has made me to realise some of my big dreams.
To my supervisor, brother and senior colleague, Kingsley Lyonga Ngange, I say thank you for enduring my weaknesses. Your intellectual support and your friendship gave me great inspiration and a motivation to move ahead. You are the best!
My deepest and profound gratitude goes to my grand parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ikundi in Small Soppo, my mother, Stella Ikundi, my aunt in Canada, Elizabeth Ikundi.
Today, I also think in a special way of Lydia Limeni Ikundi, Louis Ikundi, Joseph Lyonga Ikundi, Cecilia Eposi Ewunde, Emma Ikundi, Fidel Ikundi, Irene Ikundi, S.L. Ikundi and all the Ikundis. I think my plans would have backfired without these people.
I am also indebted to all those who have always made me to hope. I think of Mr. Charles Ndi Chia, Mr. Matute Menyoli, Mr. Samuel Bokuba, Mr. Zachary Nkwo, Mr. Njomo Kevin, Simon Lyonga, Mr. Mbua Evelle and all my friends.
Thank you Richard Ashu Atem-Ojong for proof reading my work. You are a friend indeed.
To all my lecturers, Dr. Enoh Tanjong, Henry Z. Muluh, Diffang Funge and Divine Besong, thanks a million!
May the good lord reward you all immensely.
TABLE OF CONTENT
Table of Contents………………………………………………………………………………………v
CHAPTER I: Introduction
History of Sports Journalism……………………………………………………………………….6
Statement of the Problem…………………………………………………………………………….9
CHAPTER II: Literature Review……………………………………………………………………..13
CHAPTER III: Methodology…………………………………………………………………………….18
Sampling Plan and Procedure……………………………………………………………………….19
CHAPTER IV: Discussion and Inferences…………………………………………………………25
Chapter V: Conclusions and Generalisations…………………………………………………..32
Challenges of Sports Journalism in Cameroon………………………………………………..37
History of Sports Journalism
Mark Inabinett (1994) notes that the decade or so between the end of World War I and the beginning of the Great Depression was described as a decade of change.
America and the world wanted to put the memory of the Great War behind them and enjoy life. The economy was booming and Americans fell in love with sports.
The 1920s was described as the Age of the Spectators as new and bigger stadiums and gymnasiums were built and the radio became the most favourite medium that provided news about sporting events. Newspapers too increased their coverage of sports and fans were able through the media, to keep up with their favourite teams. Baseball was the most important discipline in America in the 20s and it was during this golden age that sport fans began to emerge.
Inabinett(1994) notes that Grantland Rice wrote about the athletes who made the age golden. He is celebrated as the pioneer in sports writing with a writing style that employed both hyperbole and lyricism to paint vivid images of athletes.
In August 1954, sports journalism in America was changed forever with the birth of the Sports Illustrated Magazine. During its first five years of growth, the magazine was aimed at the American middle class consumer and covered just about middle class consumer and covered just about any sports story it could cover. As years went on, the magazine began to specialise on sports like baseball, football and basketball.
HISTORY OF SPORTS JOURNALISM IN ASIA
Sports journalism in Asia started gaining importance only after 1985 in Nepal, according to Acharya(1998). At that time, there were only two broadsheet dailies, Gorkhapatra and The Rising Nepal. In those days, it was difficult to talk about a separate page for sports in a newspaper and even the coverage that was given was very scanty (Shakya, 1999)
The history of sports journalism began with Sporting Times, a sports magazine published in 1956 and edited by Manindra RajShrestha. It was an English fortnightly ( Shakya.1999). The magazine ceased publication after a few issue. Since then, a number of sports magazines were published, but none of them lasted long e.g. Rangasala and another magazine published by The National sports council of Nepal called Khel Ra Kheledi in 1968.
HISTORY OF SPORTS JOURNALISM IN CAMEROON
Basically, the first sports reporters in Cameroon went on the airwaves of Radio Diffusion du Cameroun (Radio Cameroon) in the late 1960s. But it is Peter Essoka and French colleague, Abel Mbengue who quickly gained prominence when they were sent to Sudan to cover the 1970 edition of the African Nations Cup.
According to Njomo Kevin, who covered the 1994 World Cup for CRTV radio, late Mark Nebo was one of the first to present sport programmes on the national radio in the 1960s. Denis Lafon was equally running sports in Radio Buea almost at the same time.
For the broadcast media, the pioneers in English sports reporting were Mark Nebo, Peter Essoka, Zachary Nkuo, Ben Becka Jovens, Njomo Kevin, Michael Nzeh, Gregory Alem, Peter Afuh in Bamenda(RIP), Joves Ngwa, Mboh Herbert, Ignatius Fon Echekiye. Njomo narrates that in the French desk, names like Andre Ngangue, Abel Mbengue, David Walter Lea, Ernest Mbende, Daniel Anicet Noah, Joseph Eloundou Nzieh, Samuel Alame, Jean Lambert Nang proved to be colourful scribes.
According to Professor Boyomo Assala of the Advanced School of Mass Communications, the first all-sports newspaper in Cameroon was Courrier Sportif du Benin published from 1955 to 1974.
Historically, women have not been extremely involved in sports reportage. According to Njomo, the first female sports reporter in the country on Television was Pamela Messi in 1988, while the much loved Judith Ngale did sports on radio. Others like the late Christiana Nkuo Ufenyi gave a proper account of themselves. In 2004, a female journalist, Magdalene Soppi Kotto was raised to the level of chief of the Sports desk at the national station of the Cameroon Radio Television.
HISTORY OF WOMEN IN SPORTS JOURNALISM
Robyn Gordon(2010) notes that the past ten years have seen a growth in the number of women in sports broadcasting with such well known broadcasters like Lesley Vissey, Robin Roberts and Andrea Kremer.
While male sports casters still outnumber female broadcasters in Cameroon, women are participating more and more in sports, and even even given play by play commentaries. CRTV’s Tina Kwo covered the 2009 edition of the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope and chief of radio sports, Magdalene Kotto has been covering the African Nations Cup since 2004 and gave play by play commentaries on radio and Television during the 2010 edition of the African Nations Cup in Angola.
Today, women even comprise a growing percentage of the sports audience.
Jane Chastain, Dona De Varona and Jeannie Morris are considered the pioneers in female sports broadcasting. Chastain became the first woman to work as a commentator for a major news network (CBS), according to Robyn Gordon(2010)
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Sports journalism that recorded high points in our country with the excellent performance of some local sport reporters has been experienced some low points lately with very few Cameroonians relying on local and national television, radio and newspaper for sports news.
Many a time, the local media have been accused of failing to be current in satisfying the thirst of sport fans.
The audience seems to prefer following sports on foreign media outlets, sports reporting is even ignored by some media houses in the country; a country that has no specialised sports broadcast media. As a result of the advances in communication technologies, many channels and stations exist, almost all given some quantity of sports. The audience can now freely choose and use the media for their gratification. Many interesting sports programmes on local television like Sports Vision and one time highly loved sports panorama are being rejected for others on Supersports like Soccer Africa. Today, the foreign media and foreign sports channels have grown so powerful, so much so that they set the sports agenda in Cameroon.
This research will be examining the following hypothesis:
Cameroonians sport fans have not derived great satisfaction from the local media, and they seem to be turning elsewhere for their sports.
ü To what extent do All-sports foreign TV channels limit the sports audience for local television
ü Can the reporting of sports influence our choices and attitudes?
ü Which do Cameroonians rely on for sports between local and foreign media?
ü Which do Cameroonians rely on for national sports between the government owned media and the private local media?
ü Which media do Cameroonians prefer for sports between TV, radio, newspaper, internet and others?
ü Are women athletes treated and presented differently by the media?
ü Which is more covered between male and female sports?
ü What is the place of sports in the media compared with other programme genres?
ü Which sports is given greater attention in the local media?
ü Has the fusion of the media into sports contributed to the development of sports?
This study is not a practical guide on how to become a good sports reporter. Our objectives therefore are:
To identify and situate sport journalism’s wider place within the broader field of the media in Cameroon.
- Ø It will also offer a historically informed snapshot on some of the issues, personality debates and challenges that have influenced the growth of sports reporting in this country.
- Ø The study also seeks to establish the role the media has played in making some sporting disciplines popular and world class.
- Ø It will equally examine the extent to which sports journalism in the developed world delimits the advancement of local sports reporting.
- Ø At the end of it all, this study will reveal the sports discipline that is most loved by the sports audience.
v Apart from understanding the essence of this academic work, it would be important to anticipate the logical outcome of this study on Sports journalism in Cameroon.
v This study will first and foremost help me to put into practice the theoretical concepts and facts gained in class for as John Maxwell puts it, “practice does not only make perfect, it makes permanent”.
v It will also reveal the level of exposure of Cameroonians to foreign and local media for sports update.
v The study will diagnose reasons why Cameroonians practice escapism, ignoring local media and local sports for foreign media and foreign sports.
v This study will pass across a strong message to media moguls in our country and even the government to consider possibilities of starting specialised sports channels and also to change mindsets of media employers to begin employing sports casters.
v In a special way, this study will reveal the place of women sports reporters in the media and also examine the coverage and attention given to female sports championships.
v Above all, the study will lay the platform and set the pace for subsequent studies on sports reporting in Cameroon and elsewhere.
Sports has become increasingly important in the world today. In Cameroon, sport is seen as a culture, a religion and a way of life. According to ace sports reporter, Zachary Nkwo, when the Indomitable Lions succeed, alcohol is often made a virtue.
The power and audacity of sports is unquestionable and over the years, the United Nations Organisation has been using sports to preach the message of peace in war torn regions like Haiti, Darfur, Ethiopia. Many communication scholars have argued that the fusion of sports and the media has contributed immensely to crystallize major sports competitions in the world, thereby making sports reportage an important component in the print and broadcast media.
Acharya (1998) opines that sports journalism is the process of collecting, editing and disseminating the news about the activities of sports. Shakya (1999) further states that because of its vital role in disseminating news on sports events, the media is involved in the development of sports.
David Gallagher (1991) notes that the 1970s were a low point in Cameroonian journalism. He reveals that over thirty papers and disappeared in rapid succession and all or a majority of them supported the Ahidjo regime because they had no other option since Ahidjo had imposed censorship on them. Gallagher notes that most of these newspapers were heavy on sports reporting and greatly avoided politics to stay out of trouble.
Laurent Charles Boyomo Assala (1998) reveals that the first All-sports newspaper was Courrier Spotif du Benin, first published in 1955. It folded in 1974 with its downfall prompted by the expensive failure of the Cameroon National team at the 1972 Nations Cup at home. (Boyomo)
“When President Biya came to power, other sport papers came up like, Football Elite of Jean Pierre Betfiang, Sports Panorama of Bounougou Fouda, Jacques Joseph Akana’s Sports Afrique and Progress Sports edited by Joseph Eloundou Nzie.”
Boyomo (ibid) states that most of the sport papers featured football news prominently. In Football Elite, 153 out of 160 pages were dedicated to football. CRTV Television has a one hour programme entirely for football( FOU FOU FOOT).
Boyomo Assala(1998) notes again that sports journalists in Cameroon must be careful as they report because the eye of the world is on them. He explained in his paper that supporters don’t like sports reporters who give wrong facts, who flounder with the choice of words and don’t even know the rules of the game. He quoted the example of Casimir Amassana who was trashed by fans of Tonnere for giving wrong facts.
Mutations newspaper, in its 27 JANVIER 2009 edition published reactions on the life of Zachary Nkwo. Most of those who reacted suggested that Nkwo is one of the most loved of all the sports reporters is Zachary Nkwo for his immense contribution in shaping Cameroon’s sports history. Some of the contributors noted that Nkwo painted the picture of matches in their mind and practically made players like Nkono, Abega, Mbida…Milla mystical. He received the 2008 CAMASEJ award for being an untiring professional and contributing to the growth of sports journalism in Cameroon.
Andrew Boyd (2001, 25) states that many in the audience tolerate the news only because they know that if they stay tuned they will get the latest football, cricket, or rugby results.
Local teams and clubs often feature strongly in regional news, especially if they are doing well or badly in their leagues, and this is reflected at a national level, where news usually focuses on the promotion battles and relegation struggles that mark the changing fortunes of the top and bottom contenders.
Writing about sports, Jerry Azar(1999) pontificates that sports game settings are often a war zone, a minefield of bruised egos who have undergone rejection, dejection and in some cases ejection. Azar warns sports reporters to avoid asking the wrong questions after a bitter loss because it can set fireworks.
Boyle(2005) states that sports have become increasingly global in the contemporary mediated age. To him, the fusion of sports and the media has helped propel and transform major sports competitions such as the FIFAWorld Cup and the Olympic Games.
Organisers of major sporting events have always stressed the need for sports reporters to follow ethics. During a workshop on ethics in sports reporting concluded in Beijing on November 30, 2007, the International Olympic committee stressed the importance of the increased awareness of ethical issues in sports. Organised in close collaboration with UNESCO and the Communication University of China, the 40 journalists who took part acquired reporting skills and were drilled on the culture of China to enable them develop cross cultural strategies.
In an open letter to Michael Bascombe (2010), publisher of the news today in Grenada, on the poor state of sports reporting in Grenada, Beverly Sinclair calls on experienced sports reporters to improve on the quality of sports reporting in Grenada by imparting their skills to the cub sports reporters through seminars and workshops, and not just sit and complain that the standard of sports reporting in their country is depreciating. Sinclair notes that training for sports reporters is sadly lacking, but the old names can make sports reporting better since they are role models.
Robert Gordon (2010) notes that female sports reporters are becoming highly professional. He quotes Lesley Visser, the first female NFL analyst on TV, who was voted the number one female sports caster in the United States by the American sports casters associations, who notes that even though female sports journalism is still considered young and novel by many sports fans and commentators, female sports casters are determined and will continue to convince the world that gender should not and does not affect an individual’s manner to report a story, regardless of its content and report it well.
Silwal, in Acharya(1998) notes that there has been a frequent publication of sports magazines, but all of them cease publication after a few issues. To him, the main reason for this closure of all these publications (in Nepal) is as a result of financial instability. He opines that lack of financial resources for the publication, lack of advertisement and small market influence the shutdown of sports magazines.
Juliana Koranteng, (1998) reveals that football clubs have begun pumping their share and money into the new media. Koranteng suggests that the increasing global allure of local clubs such as Manchester United, Barcelona, Arsenal, and Juventus has encouraged such clubs to consider launching their own TV channels and radio stations. They also run websites informing their publics about team news, player transfer etc e.g. Arsenal TV and www.chelsea.com According to Koranteng, football tops the coverage chart in most sports channels.
Margaret Carlisle Duncan and Michael Alan Messner(2010) have been researching on gender stereotyping in televised sports. Both believe that women are also given “short shrift” in the media. While studying and observing sports coverage on three network affiliates in Los Angeles, they report that only 9% of airtime was devoted to the coverage to the coverage of feminine sports in contrast to the 88% devoted to male athletes. Margaret Duncan notes that about 97% of commentators use different language when they talk about female athletes.
“When men are described as big, strong, brilliant, gutsy and aggressive, women are more often referred to as weary, fatigued, frustrated, panicked, vulnerable and choking.”
To the scholars, this tendency reduces female athletes to the role of children, while giving adult status to male athletes.
Corroborating Duncan and Messner, the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women, Sports and Physical Activity noted in its 2007 report that female athletes receive just three percent sports coverage in major Canadian dailies.
In an article by Africa Media Online,(2010) World Cup stories that go beyond sports reporting They note that journalists reporting about the worldcup should be able to dig deeper to provide stories that go beyond mere sports. To these communication scholars, 126 African sport journalists who were in South Africa were tasked with telling Africa’s stories more fully and with unique perspective. Sport reporters tight with African media outlets were expected to present South Africa in a favourable light while capitalising on the economic impact of the world cup.
Geoff Pearson et al (2007), the media coverage of football hooliganism. He argues that the tabloid’s style of reporting, such as the publishing of league tables of hooligan notoriety (Daily Mirror 1974) serve to encourage hooligans by placing them in the limelight. Pearson notes that within Britain the tabloid press in particular have found hooliganism to be an easy target for the kind of sensationalist reporting that boosts their circulation. This sensationalist style of reporting often relies on powerful headlines grounded in violent imagery and war metaphors
Many Communication researchers share the view that the design of a study leads to the actual solution of the problem. Churchill (1977) notes that research design is the frame work or plan for a study that is used in collecting and analyzing a set of data.
This study on sports reporting in Cameroon, its challenges and prospects will use the descriptive research designs. More of the study will make use of the descriptive design (cross sectional design) which is more specifically the field survey. The survey method is the most appropriate one for this study because of its effectiveness in obtaining quantitative data and measuring different opinion trends and its relatively cheap nature. The study measures different aspects of Cameroonians’ perception of sports reporting in their country.
Sampling Plan and Procedure
In assessing the audience perception of sports journalism in Cameroon, this study will make use of the probability random sampling method with every member within the sampling unit having an equal chance to be included in the sample.
The sampling unit or frame is the Buea, Limbe and Mutengene communities, with an estimated population of at least seven hundred thousand people. Of this number, the opinions of 100 sports fans were analysed. Out of this population, 100 were chosen to be studied purely for academic reasons.
In terms of the male and female ratio, with 59.2% of the respondents were male and 40.8 % female.
Finally, respondents were expected to be at least 15 years old since this age group is extensively exposed to sports on the media and can be able to justify their choices and preferences.
The main instrument used in this study is the questionnaire to collect data. Apart from the interrogation method employed in the use of questionnaires, other relevant material and data will be acquired through abstraction (getting materials from other documents), observation ( anecdotes from ace sports reporters).
The interview schedule or questionnaire was divided into two sections, media use for sports, and, Demographics. A total of 15 questions were drafted, featuring both closed ended questions to limit unnecessary answers and open ended questions, to allow multiple views. Double barrelled and contingent questions were greatly avoided. The questions revolved around three of the four scales of measurement such as the nominal, ordinal and interval, which are relevant to the study.
The pre-test that had a pilot sample size of 10 respondents was done on May 16, 2010 in Buea. The aim of pre-testing the questionnaire is to maximise the validity and reliability of the data collecting instrument by:
Correcting Errors in the questionnaire e.g. poor framing of questions.
Pre-testing also helps to determine whether the study approach is okay.
During the exercise, areas of misunderstanding or confusion were easily corrected. Nebulous questions were made clear and the views of the respondents were considered with some questions deleted and one added.
I began doing observation on my study on Tuesday, April 14, 2010 interviewing some pioneer sports reporters in the country like Njomo K. Kevin and Zachary Nkwo.
Meanwhile, I began the process of administering questionnaires on May 28, 2010 and this was to last for two weeks. The 100 questionnaires were administered accordingly: Buea(67), Limbe (17), and Mutengene (16).
The response rate stood at 98%. This high response rate is as a result of the fact that the time to administer 100 opinionnaires was ample and long. Also, the subject under study sports and sports reporting interest many people, male and female; young and old.
Data entry was done with the assistance of computer software, the Statistical Package for Social Sciences, SPSS.
Agenda Setting: The power and audacity of the media to influence what people think and talk about. The media does what is referred to as issue crystallisation and greatly influences and raises issues that are given priority in public discussions. This theory was first suggested in 1972 by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw.
Escapism: The tendency by the audience of avoiding and rejecting local media content for foreign media content.
Home News Abroad: News about local personalities abroad and also involves tit bits about local footballers and athletes in Europe and elsewhere out of the country.
FIFA: The International Association of Football Federations
NFL: The National Football League in America, the most popular sport league in the United States.
UEFA: Union of European Football Leagues
Interview Schedule: Questionnaires containing questions that are administered by the communication researcher who meets the respondents on a one to one basis.
Media Imperialism: The domination of one country’s media by another country’s media.
Media Use for Sports: The level of exposure to sports related media for sports update.
Sports reporting: The same like sports casting, sports reportage, sports journalism and simply means the process of gathering, filing and making public news about sports events that are of interest.
Sampling Unit: The sampling unit involves the people to be surveyed and their place of origin.
Sampling Size: The sampling size involves the number of people who are to be surveyed.
Sampling procedure: This answers the questions of how will they be selected and how will the survey be done.
All-sports Media outlet: It is either a newspaper, magazine, radio or television that specialises in the coverage of sports.
Football hooliganism: According to Ingham, R. et al., (1978), the term football hooliganism was created by the media, the tabloid press in particular, in the mid-1960s and since then they have been extremely flexible and indeterminate in ascribing the “hooligan” label to different incidents. Football hooliganism is seen by most to mean violence and/or disorder involving football fans.
Limitations of the Study
- Ø There are hurdles and shortcomings almost everywhere in life. This study has its own inherent limitations:
- Ø It is difficult to generalise the findings of the study to the whole of Cameroon because of the relative small sample size. Financial constraints could not permit a bigger study to be carried out in all the regions of the country.
- Ø Bearing in mind that the sample size and unit were not large to reflect Cameroon, the results are there not very reliable.
- Ø Communication research is still new in our country and there is very little documented evidence on the evolution of sports reporting in Cameroon. Moreover, very few people have written about the situation of the business of sports reporting in Cameroon. This made it extremely difficult to compile literature on sports reportage.
- Ø It was also impossible to assess the peripheral areas of most importantly Buea and Limbe because of transportation problems, the high illiteracy rate in most of these villages and the absence of cable that provides access to a long list of foreign sports related channels.
- Ø Some respondents were hostile and made things very difficult for me. Some respondents were scared to disclose some vital information especially on demographics. They went as far asking references in case anything happens to them.
Discussion and Inferences
In this descriptive study, we are going to use both the univariate and bivariate methods of data analysis. Respondents were required to have be sports fans so that they can make valid judgements on the media coverage of sports in Cameroon.
As of our empirical findings, the majority of Cameroonians rely on Television for Sports(57.1 %), radio comes second with 21.4%, the new media, that is the internet is gradually making its mark among Cameroonian sport fans providing sports news to some 14.3 % of Cameroonians and newspapers are last as only 7.1 % rely on it for sports. There are very few All-sports newspapers in Cameroon and most information on the sports page of newspapers is almost always copied directly from the internet. For example, some of the sports on The Post, Monday, July 27, 2009 edition came from the BBC sports website e.g. Nigeria League, Third Best In Africa-FIFA. Sometimes these local papers ignore sports like The Post edition of Friday, October 23, 2009 that was void of sports.
Only 3.1% of the respondents claimed that they knew at least one existing All-sports newspaper, while 96.9% have never read or seen an exclusive sports newspaper in Cameroon. There is a readership problem in Cameroon. Very few people buy newspapers and very few can read, especially in the suburbs. To complicate things, most of the existing All sports papers are in French like Ndamba, published by Emmanuel Gustave Samnick
TV tells the sports story most of the time, but as can be observed, Cameroonians prefer foreign TV far more than local TV for sports. While 13.3% go for local TV, the majority, 86.7 prefers foreign TV at all times.
Some of the reasons why Cameroonians prefer foreign TV more than Local TV includes, foreign TV`s god images, live matches of Champions league and major European championships, qualified sports analyst and also to get home news abroad. ( News about Cameroonian players in European leagues).
The king sports, football features prominently in the output of media outlets. Events such as the World Cup, European Nations Cup, African Cup of Nations, Confederations Cup and Uefa Champions league receive widespread media attention. Some 74.5% of Cameroonians see, read or hear more often of football in the media. Lawn tennis, wrestling and athletics have 8.2%, 7.2 and 7.1 coverage respectively.
From this study, we found out that the foreign media does not give a wide coverage of sport activities in Cameroon They practically ignore the Elite championship and even the popular Mount Cameroon race of hope to talk about corruption in the government of Cameroon, President Biya`s luxurious trips abroad and just like Nicholls K. Boas (2003) opines, the West will never say anything good about Africa, Cameroon included. They will always say aberrational things and highlight on conflicts, dictatorship etc even though Africa has some good news
A bulk of Cameroonians still prefer local radio to foreign radio for sports. They get most of the home news on local radio and also listen to the radio to get the most current gossips, transfers and match reviews and previews of both local and international leagues.
While foreign media ignores sports made in our country, the coverage of foreign sports in the local media is very high. Local radio stations dedicate much time to talk about the premier league, the Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, Bundesliga, French Orange Ligue I and other sports related stories coming from abroad. The reason for this conundrum is the lack of sufficient sports events in our country. Apart from football, the other sporting disciplines in the country are still to prove their worth and do things, while providing the local media with information that will enable it scale its full potential.
In our country, the media gives the pride of place to male sports and very little is said about the national feminine championship, even news about the Indomitable Lionesses in the local media is rare. This is some how in line with government policy that does not facilitate the development of Feminine sport disciplines.
More male prefer foreign TV, 54.9%, while 31.1% of the female flock are for foreign TV. In terms of local TV, 8% female rely on it as to 4% male.
For the programme genre in the illustration above, more males prefer sports, news and politics, while a high number of women like music and others that includes movies, soap operas, talk shows etc.
A high majority of young people between the age of 15 and 25(63%) get their sports from foreign TV, some 12 % of those between 37 and 47 rely on foreign TV as well for sports, 8% of those between 26 and 36 get sports from channels abroad while among those from 48, only 3% prefer foreign media for sports.
For local TV, 3% of those between 37 and 47 years rely on the local media for sports, 30% of those above 48years also prefer and use local media for sports.
Those between 15 and 25 form the greatest majority of sport fans and they are highly exposed to the media for gratification as they get not only sports, but also music, news, movies, soap operas, politics etc.
Conclusion and Generalisations
In this section, we are going to interpret the data obtained from the field and search for a broader meaning of our findings.
From our findings, we observe that most sport fans, 57.1 % heavily rely on TV as compared to the 21.4 %, 14.3 % and &7.1 % for radio, internet and newspaper. From this finding, we can infer that TV tells the greatest story about sports in Cameroon because of its visual attractions. And just like George Gerbner(1956) puts it, television has become part of the family, it is the one that tells most of the story most of the time.
The study confirms the findings of a series of communication scholars like Juliana Koranteng(1998) that of the all sport disciplines such as football, lawn tennis, athletics, boxing, basketball, handball, volleyball, wrestling, rugby, cricket etc., it is football that is seen, read or heard more often in most media outlets, while coverage of the other sporting disciplines is neglected. But since the head of state, President Paul Biya has repeatedly reiterated that there are no minor or major sporting disciplines, the state media has improved on its coverage of the annual Mount Cameroon race of hope and the Cameroon International Cycling Tour.
This pilot study on sports reporting also found out that there is afghanistanism (Tanjong 2006) in the practice of sports reporting. Local reporters sometimes deliberately or unconsciously ignore local sport realities and highlights on sports from distant areas. While 25.5% of our respondents think that the local media coverage of foreign sports is very high, 37.8 % of respondents of thesame question feel it is even very high.
There exists a conundrum when we discover that the reverse is true. Foreign media like Supersports, Eurosports, Infosports and even BBC practically ignore Cameroonian sports. For the BBC and other news media that feature sports somewhere in their programming, they highly focus on negativities from Cameroon. They delight in talking about corruption, violence like the February 2008 strike action. The foreign channels like 43.9 % of sports diehards believe, does very little and superficial coverage of Cameroonian sports.
Also, most Cameroonians practice escapism and go for foreign TV rather than local. To them, foreign TV is always at the heart of major events, producing live pictures of matches, better analysis and to get news about Cameroonian players in European topflight leagues.
While local TV seems to be disfavoured by Cameroonian sport pundits, Local radio is still held in high esteem as 59.2 % of Cameroonians prefer it, while 40.2 prefer to get sports on foreign radio like RFI, Africa No. 1, BBC Afrique and World etc.
The foreign TV’s strong presence in our media landscape has led to a kind of domination. As Tanjong (opera citate) and others have hypothesize, media imperialism is the domination of one society’s media by another country’s media. This is the truth when it comes to sports reporting on TV. CRTV may not be able to compete with specialised sport channels like Supersports, Eurosports etc. Cameroonians need an All-Sports TV channel to balance the pendulum.
One very important revelation of this study is the fact that female sports and athletes are under covered compared to male sports. In the local media in Cameroon, much is said about the Male MTN Elite one Championship, while the National Feminine League is always treated as supplementary information. Sports fans(92.9%) think that the media is biased in the reporting of female sports, while 7.1% have maintained that the media gives a fair coverage to all sexes. Scholars like Lou Schwartz, Pirkko Markula, a professor of socio-cultural studies of sport and leisure in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, Margaret Carlisle Duncan and Michael Alan Messner have been researching about the coverage of female in sports do not receive adequate media coverage. Others have opined that very few female journalists a giving opportunities to report sports.
Sports is used by most media outlets now to catch listeners attention. Comparing it with politics, news, movies, music, others, it is the genre of sports that is most loved(31.6%). 21.4 % prefer news, 16.3 go for music, 11.2% love politics and 19.4 % are for others.
All in all, those who go to the media hope to get satisfaction as Jay Blumler and Elihu Katz(1974) have explained. The audience actively seeks the media in Cameroon for sports, news, music, politics, movies others for their uses and gratification.
The coverage of major sports has been improved upon by the advancements in communication technologies. It is now very easy to broadcast live matches and the quality of sports reporting has improved as journalists are not just expected to be born sport reporters, but also to go to school to acquire skills for reporting sports.
Cameroon still has a long way to go especially with the absence of an All sports media, and women journalists are fighting for their rights to be involved in sports reporting.
In the end, what appears to be true is the fact that female sports is still under covered by the local media, meanwhile other sports disciplines receive superficial coverage in the local media and most Cameroonians seem to prefer foreign TV channels for sports because of the satisfaction they get from watching inspiring commentators and above all, sport fans admire the fidelity of these foreign sport channels in providing all necessary sports news.
Above all this study suggests that it is the foreign TV that sets the agenda in our country. Sports fans in our country rely on foreign TV(most sport fans prefer TV highly for sports). The agenda set by this foreign media is not on the MTN elite I championship, it is rather on the various major European championships like the Spanish, English, French leagues etc
Challenges of Sports Journalism
In Cameroon, sports journalism and writing is now seen as a key element of the wider branding of most newspapers as they reposition their appeal in an effort to attract new readers. But there are still a lot of challenges well known by sport reporters themselves.
According to CRTV Buea sports journalist, Samuel Moto Bokuba, there is only one regular and exclusive sports newspaper in Cameroon at the moment, Ndamba, which is a weekly in French published by Emmanuel Gustave Samnick. Another All-sports newspaper is, This Is Sports, This Is Football, not very regular, and it is edited by Franklin Sone Mbayen.
Mr. Bokuba, who is also the Deputy Station Manager, CRTV Buea notes that others like Global Foot of Emile Ndonkeng, Stades that was a break away of Global Foot, Post Sports published in Yaoundé by Julius Wame, George Fontamo`s Association Sports Magazine that saw the release of only two issues and Cameroon Football Elite ( published in the 80`s by Jean Pierre Betfiang) emerged and after a few publications disappeared.
Local sports reporter, Innocent Mbunwe of The Post newspaper thinks that lack of financial resources has been the biggest problem of Cameroonian sports journalist. To him, the absence of money prevents the reporters from even given an ample coverage of the regional football championship it seems increasingly difficult to send reporters to far away areas like Ekondo Titi, Mundemba, Mamfe etc.
CRTV`s Matute Menyoli noted that the greatest threat to sports reporting is the scandalous collection of brown envelopes by some sport reporters who go ahead to sing the song of team presidents and sometimes football administrators. Many, according to Matute Menyoli practice “hilton journalism“going to fill their stomachs in the name of covering events.
Veteran journalist, Njomo Kevin, one time sports reporter with the Cameroon Radio Television and Radio Calabar also believes strongly that sports reporting in Cameroon is experiencing falling standard. To Mr. Njomo, the present day sport reporters in Cameroon are different from those in the past as they are so much interested in money, they collect “gombo“ and ignore the fact that they can make it truly only if they put love for their profession, before money.
Njomo Kevin notes that sports journalists in the past in this country had the responsibility of bringing spectators to the playgrounds and he pontificates that it was because of the intimate information that the “excellent sports reporters” in the past provided that matches that pitted Canon against Tonerre Yaounde and local derbies between Prisons of Buea and PWD Kumba in the 1960s and 1970s produced fireworks.
In spite of the problems, Njomo believes that Cameroon has witnessed some high points in sports journalism and to him, Zachary Nkwo and Peter Essoka are the two mentors who have left an indelible mark in the discipline.
Sports reporter, Simon Lyonga believes that sports journalism is experiencing dwindling fortunes because it is not treated as a course on its own in most Journalism institutions in Cameroon e.g Department of Journalism and Mass Communication in the University of Buea.
Also, Simon Lyonga of the National radio lampoons at some sports reporters who drink alot. He believes that beer tasting makes reporters irresponsible as they appear negatively in the eyes of the public.
With the major findings of this study as a back up and point of reference, the following recommendations should be applied to get sports reporting back on the rails.
The government that runs the national radio and TV and other regional stations should readily provide finance of the purchase of light weight portable and outside broadcast equipment that will enable CRTV give an elaborate coverage of events. CRTV has a lot of money (receiving handouts from the government, licence fee, advertisement), and they should invest greatly in machines and manpower that will facilitate its coverage of sports.
Private individuals and companies or the government should consider creating specialised sports media outlets. To Samuel Bokuba, this will greatly be helpful, though attempts at creating a specialised radio, TV or newspaper are mostly stifled by lack of resources, absence of advertisers, low readership and the limited number of sport competitions in the country.
For sports reporting to thrive, Njomo Kevin believes strongly that the cub sports reporters have to be passionate about reporting sports itself. He feels that love of the profession can make one highly efficient. To him, most of those who get into sports reporting now, do it because they want money from club presidents and this is what is destroying the fine corners of the discipline.
For sports reporting to flourish, those practising it in our country should try to avoid doing the wrong things like drinking excessively. They should rather spend time in gainful research about teams and players since they cannot afford to have limited knowledge.
In a bid to limit professional inadequacy, journalists who want to report sports should go to school. Professional courses in sports journalism are beginning to enter the curriculum of some journalism schools like ASMAC. The training should extend even after school with constant participation in workshops for sports reporters etc. If possible, sports reporters should specify in specific disciplines to have mastery so that their style and skill of reporting will be highly appreciated.
It is not enough for female journalists to sit and be complaining that they have little or no place in sports reportage. What they need to do, above all is to prove their worth. Magdalene Soppi Kotto is doing quite well at CRTV and other media houses should involve female spot reporters on their payroll.
Also, though football is the king sports, other sporting disciplines should be covered as well. Media coverage of boxing bouts, handball matches, athletics etc can help to popularise these hitherto relegated sport disciplines.
Moreover, media houses should avoid sexist presentation of athletes. Female athletes who excel should be treated as conquerors. The media for example presents the Indomitable Lions as superior beings and the Lionesses are not given the same treatment and attention.
Advertisers most know that during important sport competitions like the World Cup and African Nations Cup, they can patronise and sponsor sports programmes because most of them have high listenership and viewership during such periods.
Just like Njomo Kevin puts it, sports reporters have a great role, to make our sports grow and they have the propensity to bring supporters to sport venues.
Acharya (1998), Sports Press in Nepal: A Survey of Sports Pages of the Daily Newspapers, post-graduation thesis
Ingham, R. et al., (1978) Football Hooliganism: The Wider Context, London: Inter-Action Inprint
Stott, C and Pearson, G. (2007) ‘Football Hooliganism: Policing and the War on the English Disease,’ London: Pennant Books
Andrew Baker,(2004), Where am I and Who’s Winning, Yellow Jersey Press, ISBN-13: 978-0224072731, 256 pages
Boyle, Raymond and Haynes, Richard (2004) Football in the New Media Age, Routledge; first edition, ISBN-10: 0415317908
Inabinett, Mark: Grantland Rice and His Heroes: The Sportswriter as Mythmaker in the 1920s. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1994
Pirkko Markula, (July 2009), Olympic Women and the Media,International Perspectives, Palgrave, Macmillan, , ISBN10: 0-230-22284-6, 272 pages
Tanjong,E. (2006), Africa in International Communication, Limbe, Design House
Andrew Boyd (2001, 25) ,Broadcast Journalism, Techniques of Radio and Television News, 5th edition
David Gallagher (Spring 1991), Public and Private Press in Cameroon, Changing Roles in the New Pluralism
Assala , Boyomo, (1998), Sports Journalism, Specialised Journalism (translated from French) paper presented during a seminar with sport reporters in Yaoundé, unpublished document
Jerry Azar, 1999, The Business of Sports Reporting
Beverley Sinclair, 2010, An open letter to Michael Bascombe, Poor state of Sports reporting in Grenada
Juliana Koranteng 1998 European sports TV channels: Opportunities in the Digital Age
George Gerbner(1956) Gerbner, G., & Gross, L. (1976). Living with television: The violence profile. Journal of Communication
About the Author
Solomon Lyonga Ikundi is a sports reporter currently with CBS Radio, Buea, Cameroon. He is a graduate from the Department of Journalismand Mass Communication, University of Buea
When will college football use a playoff system to determine the champion like every other major sport does?
Every year, deserving teams get screwed over by a machine and they miss the chance to play for the title. Why not adopt a playoff system and make it more exciting and challenging? That way, ALL teams would get more than fair treatment? I just think it’s weird that the fate of a college football team is left up to something that is non human.
When someone finally comes up with the money to make the NCAA act.
Right now, the Division IA championship (also known as the Division I Football Bowl Schools) is NOT determined by the NCAA. It is determined by the Bowl Championship Committee, which is composed of the conferences, which, in turn, is composed of the schools, or the Associated Press poll, which is not part of the BCS process (so we can have a split national championship). And, until someone, such as Nike, or Microsoft, ESPN or some other international corporation will cough up the MILLIONS required for a playoff system, the schools aren’t going to let the NCAA kill the cash cow known as bowls….
Motorcycle Gear Review: Cortech Sport Tri-Bag Touring System
SportRack SR1002 Complete Roof Rack System, Black
SportRack Roof Rack Systems are the all-in-one ready to go bar system that is easy to installs It includes bars hooks feet locks that are pre-assembled Holds up to 130 lbs or 59 kg No drilling required…
Seattle Sports Lashmates Supersuk Attachment System
The Lashmates SuperSuk attachment system is designed for smooth finished paddle boards or kayaks. Lashmates SuperSuk offer temporary lashing points for SUPs and boats that can hold a suction cup. These convenient suction cups can be moved as needed by simply lifting the lever to break the suction, then re–mounted with a quick flip of the lever. Lashmates are convenient, innovative lash points you…
DC Sports SRI4401 Polished Short Ram Intake System with Filter and Installation Hardware
DC Sports Air Intake Systems provide the best of both worlds in heat protection and improved breathability. Every kit includes an air filter that requires no oil, therefore no chance in contaminating the mass air flow sensor which can result in loss of power and higher fuel consumption….
Go Berkey Kit -Includes Stainless Steel Portable Water Filter System with Sport Berkey Water Bottle (Filter included) and a Vinyl Black Carrying Case
When you shop online for a lightweight, portable water filtration system, trust Berkey Filters’ most portable water purifier yet: the Go Berkey! This product can be used for biking, hiking or can simply follow you to the office or school. Small enough to fit in a limited space, like a backpack and powerful enough to clean water pulled from nearby streams, the Go Berkey kit is optimal for emergen…
Park & Sun Sports Spiker Sport: Portable Outdoor Volleyball Net System
Athletic Cup Groin Protector & Four-Strap No Shift Jock Strap System for Sports
The Diamond MMA Quad Strap Jock & Cup System is a groin protector designed for high impact sport athletes. Made from the best materials available, the Quad Strap Jock & Cup System is a unique system specially designed to hold the jock cup firmly in place. The Diamond MMA Cup incorporates a co-molded elastomer design coupled with a polycarbonate core to provide uncompromising comfort and protection…
Halo Sport – Unlock Your Potential
Halo Sport is a wearable neurostimulation headset that accelerates improvement from movement-based training. Founded in 2013 by two neuroscience doctors, Halo Neuroscience has over 30 issued and filed patents and is used by teams, athletes, musicians, surgeons, and others around the world. …
Swimbuds SPORT Waterproof Headphones – See below under Special Offers and Product Promotions for discounts on this Headphone
Serious Fit for the Serious Aquatic Athlete Take fit and comfort to the next level. Swimbuds Sport waterproof headphones preserve the benefits of Swimbuds headphones and add: New earbud stylesImproved audio fidelityRugged construction1 yr warranty Swimbuds Sport waterproof earbuds are for the aquatic athlete who wants to invest in a more versatile, more rugged, better sounding headphone. Swimb…