- Part 1 – History of communication ethics and peace
- Part 2 – Media in war and peace
- Part 3 – Non-violent communciation (this page)
- Part 4 – Peace Journalism
A new appreciation for ethical responsibilities of the news media is developing in what is called the “peace journalism” movement. Wikipedia notes:
Peace journalism aims … to frame conflicts as consisting of many parties, pursuing many goals, rather than a simple dichotomy. An explicit aim of peace journalism is to promote peace initiatives from whatever quarter, and to allow the reader to distinguish between stated positions and real goals.
Although sometimes criticized as lacking in “objectivity” and promoting advocacy from groups that are usually ignored, the fundamental idea is simply to provide an additional focus on the structural and cultural causes of violence. At its best, an in-depth approach can be far more objective than simplistic reports of actual conflict for which no context is provided. Media critics have long noted a dramatic decline in international news coverage. Better coverage of the causes of violence and opportunities for resolving conflicts is hardly advocacy per se.
In the 2005 book Peace Journalism by Jake Lynch and Annabel McGoldrick, routine conflict-oriented journalism is described as presenting violence as its own cause, part of a ‘tit-for-tat’ series of exchanges. The idea behind peace journalism according to Lynch and McGoldrick is to present facts but also look for underlying causes of violence and a variety of perspectives from many sides of the conflict.
Journalists can avoid harm, the authors argue, if they:
- Avoid portraying conflicts as being made up of only two parties, but instead look for the many smaller groups involved;
- Avoid treating a conflict as if it is only going on in the place and time, and to try to trace the links and consequences for people in other places and in the future;
- Ask questions that may reveal common ground;
- Avoid blame; rather, look at how shared problems and issues are leading to consequences that all parties say they never intended.
- Don’t focus on the suffering of only one group;
- Avoid victimizing language. Don’t use words like pathetic, devastated, defenseless, or tragedy. Instead, report on what has been done by the people. Ask how they are coping. Ask whether they can suggest solutions.
Global media and new capabilities
New media provide some reason for hope.