A course in Peace Journalism
This article sets
out a reasoned and annotated plan for a short course in Peace Journalism,
suitable for teaching to students of Journalism, Communications, Media
and Peace and Conflict Studies. It is based on courses the author has
taught, over many years, and the aim of the article is to help teachers
to devise their own courses.
The best way to help students to begin thinking about issues in the representation
of conflicts, the article argues, is to give them a flavour of it, by
showing them different ways in which the same story can be told. The article
gives story-boards and scripts for two television news treatments of the
same event, a bombing in the Philippines. The first is an example of War
Journalism, it is argued; the second, Peace Journalism.
The article suggests ways to develop a course from this illustrative starting
point, to ask why the distinctions between these two approaches should
be considered important - both in their own terms, and in terms of their
potential influence on the course of events in conflict. Different approaches
to conceptualising and measuring this possible influence are discussed,
with suggestions for further exploration.
The article recounts some of the author's experiences in introducing and
discussing what is, inevitably sometimes, difficult and sensitive material,
with groups including participants from conflict-affected countries -
Palestine, Israel and the Philippines.
Not all students will be aspiring journalists. The article offers brief
notes on practical Peace Journalism, as well as showing how learning outcomes
can be formulated to allow the same issues to be tackled in the form of
a civil society campaign, or as a peace-building intervention in conflict.
The article also explains how students can be equipped to question elements
of journalistic practice which they may take for granted, and which pass
unexamined in many current journalism courses. That, in turn, entails
examining the emergence and ascendancy of conventions known, together,
as 'objective journalism', and their historical construction - arguably
as a hegemonic project - by economic, political, social and cultural process.