Journalists play crucial roles in conflict management and building peace. The practice essentially has to do with ethics as a journalist covers conflict issues, areas and people impacting and affecting communities.
PUBLISHED ONMay 2018
Fiona Lloyd emphasizes “Journalists reporting from regions of conflict face unique challenges in providing accurate and impartial news. One careless word or one inaccurate detail can ignite a conflict. Equally, one clear balanced report can help diffuse tension and neutralize fears."
Media can play different functions in managing conflict and peace building. One traditional function is information, drawing attention to brewing conflicts and building awareness of the principles of human rights. It can reframe issues exploring possible solutions.
The other function is education. A journalist can educate and unravel the points of view of parties in terms of interests, needs and core values creating greater trust and transparency.
“There is a fundamental contradiction between the nature of a peace process and news values, the media often get into a destructive role in attempts of making peace,” says Gadi Wolfsfed. He mentions that the focus of media is often immediacy, drama, simplicity and ethnocentrism. Immediacy refers to specific actions and events. Drama is often highlighted by violence, crisis or conflict, extremist behaviors and outrageous acts. Simplicity has to do with clear cut opinions and images, major personalities and two sided conflicts while ethnocentrism focus on one party's beliefs, myths, suffering and the other's brutality.
The non-media orientation on the other hand features long term processes and policies of ongoing peace negotiation, dialogue or mediation. It de-emphasizes drama showing instead calm, controlled, moderate people participating in dialogue. It opens and seeks to understand complex opinions or explanations, institutions, root causes and multi-sided conflicts. It focuses also on other parties' beliefs, myths, symbols and suffering
Media can help promote change through conflict prevention and peace building. It is able to shift paradigms of people from violence to peace. Violence is an outcome of polarization between groups resulting in disabilities, disparities, pain and deaths that results from direct actions, systems, institutions and policies. Peace on the other hand is achieved through the positive relationships between groups resulting in joint decision making, sharing of resources, tolerance of differences and human security moving from polarization to positive relationships.