Brechner FOI Project Hosts Cameroonian Fulbright Scholar Developing Legislation for Press Rights and Access to Information
A leading journalism scholar from Cameroon, Africa, will spend the next nine months at the University of Florida developing laws to foster democracy in his home country.
Kingsley Ngange, a former broadcast journalist and current deputy vice-chancellor of research at the University of Buea, began studying this month at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications’ Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Project.
“I consider information the stock and trade of journalists, and they need to have a good quantity and good quality of information,” Ngange said. “A better-informed population will perform better democratic functions.”
Ngange will examine how the United States and other countries protect press rights, as well as the ability for the public to acquire government information. He will also study journalistic codes of ethics in the U.S.
Government officials in Cameroon often use irresponsible journalism as an excuse to deny journalists basic rights of information gathering, Ngange said. He said his goal is to offer common-sense legislation that would strengthen press rights while promoting ethical journalism.
Cameroon, on the west coast of Central Africa, will have an opportunity for change in the upcoming 2025 presidential election. Nearly 140 nations have freedom of information acts guaranteeing the public’s right to acquire public records. Cameroon is one of the 55 countries that doesn’t. Ngange wants to help in the process by advocating for greater press freedom.
While at UF, Ngange will work with David Cuillier, director of the Brechner FOI Project, and share his knowledge and experiences with students and the community. “This is the place to be,” Ngange said. “The Brechner Center deals with exactly what I am interested in. There is no better place than the UF College of Journalism and Communications.”
When Ngange finishes in August 2024 crafting model laws for his country, he will return to Cameroon to meet with journalists, public officials and nonprofit organizations to explain and promote the laws. “Cameroon has some laws to start with – a good start,” he said. “But it can be better. There is always room for improvement.”