Authors: Huifen Liu, Manzie Vincent Doh
Abstract：The news media are primary sources from where the public acquire an understanding of the world. What people know about the world – a country, region or continent is largely based on what the media decide to tell. The result is that the priorities of the media strongly influence the priorities of the public, as elements that are given more prominence on the media agenda become prominent issues in the mind of the public. Reuters and the Agence France Presse (AFP) are leading international media organizations in the world which provided a significant coverage on the 2008 Anti-government riots in Cameroon. This paper applies Content Analysis as the research method to investigate the frames which were accorded the event in Cameroon, while generally setting out to examine the direction of coverage by the two media organizations on the crisis, there by exploring the concepts of selective reporting, and determining whether or not there were any specific frames accorded the coverage – by looking at which elements in the coverage were given prominence, and which elements were under-reported and or, omitted. The paper found that Reuters and AFP coverage was dominated by the killings, looting and destruction, arrests and detention frames, while the direction of the overall coverage was most unfavorable to the government of Cameroon and largely favorable to the protests and protesters. The news sources and primary sources in the stories were mostly protesters and other pro-riot individuals. Actions and measures taken by the Government of Cameroon to restore peace and stability were either given negative frames or grossly under-reported.
The paper also shows that neutrality and/or objectivity are journalism principles that do not necessarily depend on whether the home country where the media organization is based is directly or indirectly involved in a conflict (riot) in a foreign land. Neutrality or objectivity can equally be affected by similar factors that influence news selection. The coverage boils down to journalism as a profession, with what should be considered newsworthy still at the center of the debate; though not also neglecting other factors that may have an influence over the type of coverage a media organization carries out.
Keywords: Selective reporting, News framing, International media Coverage, 2008 anti-government riots in Cameroon