conflict & communication online, Vol. 5, No. 2, 2006
ISSN 1618-0747




Robert A. Hackett
Is Peace Journalism Possible?
Three Frameworks for Assessing Structure and Agency in News Media

As a contribution to an assessment of the prospects for realizing the principles of peace journalism in practice, this article considers three conceptual frameworks for analyzing the relationship between journalism and other relations and institutions of power. Herman and Chomsky's propaganda model usefully highlights some ways that state and capital influence journalism, but it risks being reductionist and functionalist. Shoemaker and Reese's "hierarchy of influences" model helps us to assess pressures for and against peace journalism at each of five levels of factors. But both models risk obscuring the specificity and coherence of journalism as a cultural practice and form of knowledge-production. Pierre Bourdieu's notion of journalism as a field, a relatively autonomous institutional sphere, has the advantage of allowing conceptual space for both the structural influences of and on news media, as well as the potential agency and creativity of journalists. Taken together, the three models help to identify the tasks, challenges and potential strategies for the peace journalism movement.


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On the author:
Robert Hackett has taught and researched in Communication at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, since 1984. He has written extensively on journalism studies, mass media and social movements; his publications include Remaking Media: The Struggle to Democratize Public Communication (with William Carroll, 2006); Democratizing Global Media: One World, Many Struggles (co-edited with Yuezhi Zhao, and co-published by the Toda Institute, 2005); and Sustaining Democracy? Journalism and the Politics of Objectivity (with Yuezhi Zhao, 1998). Hackett has co-directed NewsWatch Canada since 1993, and has been involved in community-oriented media reform and education initiatives since 1983.

Address: School of Communication, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby BC Canada