Corruption in Africa and how to fight it: that’s the subject of this week’s special series on Africa News Tonight. This evening we look at efforts by journalists to expose corruption, and we begin with some questions. Why are some members of the African news media sometimes called unpatriotic? Could African journalists form professional associations to help them resist government pressure and political crackdowns against them? And what do we mean by the term “envelope journalism”?
Asonglefac Nkemleke is a career journalist and professor with more than twenty years experience in Cameroon and the United States. He answers these questions and talks about journalism and the fight against corruption in an interview with English to Africa reporter Angel Tabe. He said, “There was a television program, similar to ‘60 Minutes,’ which exposed corrupt practices, and this of course brought the wrath of the system on the team and the program eventually died.”
Nkemleke says when the program’s cameras caught a policeman being bribed with cash, an internal unit was created to monitor corrupt practices within the police force. “They created ‘La Police de la Police,’ that is, ‘the police to police the police’, that was perhaps most rewarding [for the media in their fight against corruption]; the public became more aware of some of the happenings that were going on around the country.”
Nkemleke condemns what he calls "envelope journalism," the practice by which journalists get pay-offs to cover stories. But he says he fears it may not go away soon because journalists are poorly paid. He says it would be ideal if journalists could form professional associations to help them resist government pressure and political crackdowns against them. With the support of such associations, he adds, journalists could stand their ground, report the truth and remain credible to the public.