conflict & communication online, Vol. 3, No. 1 & 2, 2004
ISSN 1618-0747




Dov Shinar
Media Peace Discourse: Constraints, Concepts and Building Blocks

Normative, professional, and academic premises steer the discussion of the importance and the absence of a peace discourse in the media, and of the need and possibility to invent one. Among the possible points of departure are that the media should be involved in the promotion of peace; that peace coverage is hindered by the absence of a peace discourse in the professional media repertoire; and that the creation, development, and marketing of a media peace discourse should be included in the current research agenda.
The development of a peace-oriented media discourse can be assisted by three conceptual elements, namely, the existing strategies employed by the media to cover peace; the competition in the media among dominant and alternative frames, in which news-value is the measure of success; and the concept of “constitutive rhetoric” – the creation, change and legitimization of realities through texts, rhetorical constructs and the manipulation of symbols – as a discourse-building device.
Research on the three major strategies used by the media in the coverage of peace – Framing Peace Coverage in War Discourse; Trivialization; and Ritualization – suggests that the latter fits this conceptual framework better than the others, and thus is more suitable for the development of a media peace discourse.
Some findings and models of media research can be used for conceptual leverage by providing paradigmatic frameworks and variables. Good examples include the media events and the textual analysis genres, as they are particularly related to professional effects; narrative techniques; and performance styles; and concepts such as “master-frames” and “super-texts” – major motifs, composed of many smaller frames or sub-texts – to suggest the potential contents of a media peace discourse.
Finally, it is proposed that research and development efforts of media peace coverage along these lines should include work on adapting the current powerful status of the media in international relations to overcome negative peace-related attitudes; on increasing the news-value of peace coverage rather than undertaking missionary efforts to change media structures and professional codes of conduct; on devising professional policies that might reduce media self-manipulation and similar pressures; and on creating and “marketing” a media peace discourse with satisfactory news value based on innovative projects, and on the appropriate application of existing findings.


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On the author: Dov Shinar, Dean, The School of Media Studies, College of Management, Tel Aviv; Professor, Department of Communication Studies and Head, The Burda Center for Innovative Communications, Ben Gurion University, Israel; Professor Emeritus, Concordia University, Montreal. His fields of interest include the socio-cultural dimensions of communication technologies; international communications; media in war and peace; media and development, emphasizing collective identities, institutional change, media education, and minority/community media..

Address: Department of Communication Studies, Ben Gurion University of the Negev (, P.O. Box 653, Beer Sheva 84105. eMail: