Importance of Peace Journalism

Peace journalism, as the name suggests, is a form of journalism committed to exploring root causes of conflict to create opportunities for society at large to consider and value non-violent responses to conflict. The concept of Peace Journalism was developed by Norwegian sociologist Johan Vincent Galtung, so far he has been called the principal founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies. Dr. Johan Galtung divided the peace into two types Positive Peace and Negative Peace. Positive Peace is a true, lasting, and sustainable peace built on justice for all peoples, and Negative Peace is defined as peace without justice. It is a false sense of peace that often comes at the cost of justice.

Other scholars like Dr. Jake Lynch and Annabel McGoldrick, in their groundbreaking book Peace Journalism, define it as, when editors and reporters make choices of what to report, and how to report it that create opportunities for society at large to consider and value non-violent responses to conflict.

Their definition goes on to say that Peace Journalism uses the insights of conflict analysis and transformation to update the concepts of balance, fairness, and accuracy in reporting. It also provides a new road map tracing the connections between journalists, their sources, the stories they cover, and the consequences of their journalism, and builds an awareness of nonviolence and creativity into the practical job of everyday editing and reporting.

Dr. John Galtung constitutes some important principles that could serve as important guidelines for peace journalism.

  • Discover Conflict Formation: Who are the parties involved? What are their goals? What is the socio-political and cultural context of the conflict?
  • What is the hidden cause of violence?
  • Avoid depriving the parties involved of their individuality and expose their interests.
  • Report grassroots non-violence measures and follow up on reconciliation steps.

Peace Journalism gives voice to the views of all rival parties from all levels and explores the backgrounds and contexts of the conflict formation from all the sides involved in the conflict, not just two sides as the mainstream media usually portrays

Secondly, it offers creative ideas for conflict resolution, development, peacemaking, and peacekeeping, exposing lies, covering-up attempts and culprits on all sides, and revealing excesses committed by, and suffering inflicted on peoples of all parties.

Thirdly, it affects quite positively on the minds of the audiences. It has some specific effects on individuals and whole societies, demonstrating the widespread impact of journalistic methods and ethics like it increases conflict sensitivity, Lower likelihood to view conflicts in polarized good vs. bad, black/ white, terms, increases levels of hope and empathy, decreases levels of anger and fear.

Mass Media have a powerful influence on people. In reporting, journalists often write and report from a third-person perspective and it seems like they just report ” the facts ” whereas Journalism is not just about reporting facts, It is about what to report and how to report (Vanessa Bassil). If we come upon the mainstream media of Pakistan, the race of rating between the news channel is at its peak. Most of the content consists of hard news (Masala News) or conflict-related news in which often focus on biased perspectives that only creates hatred, violence, and extremism among the public on a social, religious, or political basis but peace journalism aims to focus on the realities and cover all the angles of the conflict without and fear of any authority. It comes with positive ideas that tend to avoid violent activities and resolve the conflict peacefully.

Peace Journalism is based on the framework of the reporting. A reporter’s story on a conflict can be the sole information available to his audience. How the reporter frames the conflict can bias the audience in favor of one party, or one solution over another; it can intensify the conflict, or cool it down.

If journalists compete not to distort any report to publish the facts as they are, while maintaining awareness of the reporting impact, then it may fall in step with the ideals of peace journalism.

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