Peace journalism: A tightrope walk between advocacy journalism
and constructive conflict coverage
Starting from an understanding
of peace journalism that regards it not as an antipode, but as a necessary
prerequisite of good journalism, the present paper undertakes a synthesis
of the theses and antitheses presented by David Loyn, Thomas Hanitzsch,
Jake Lynch and Samuel Peleg in conflict & communication online, Vol.
6, No. 2.
The author locates the tasks of the peace journalistic program in the
study of the conditions and possibilities under which journalists can
actually do their work better in war and crisis situations, as well as
in the provision and practical realization of the competencies that are
necessary for this.
Although peace journalism will occupy a minority position in the foreseeable
future in conflict and crisis communication, even from this position it
can contribute to making media discourse on conflicts more transparent
and balanced and protecting conflict coverage from the fateful propaganda
traps into which traditional war reporting is continually falling.
As a precondition for this many myths must be critically examined that
journalism shares with media sciences, and a clear line must be drawn
between journalism and public relations. In particular, journalists must
be warned not to prematurely cast the traditional tools of good journalism
overboard. Of course it is urgently necessary that the usual understanding
of objectivity in journalism must be revised and constructively enhanced;
to radically turn away from the demand for objectivity not only endangers
the acceptance of the peace journalistic project in the journalist community,
however, it also can cause peace journalism to squander the trust bonus
that its recipients have granted it.
On the author:
Wilhelm Kempf, since 1977 Professor for Psychological Methodology and Head
of the Peace Research Group at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Since
2002 editor of conflict & communication online. Special areas
of interest: nonviolent conflict solutions, the construction of social reality
by the mass media. Recent books: Konflikt und Gewalt (Münster: agenda,
2000); Los Medios y la Cultura de Paz (with Sonia Gutiérrez Villalobos,
Berlin: regener, 2001); Journalism and the New World Order. Vol. II. Studying
War and the Media (with Heikki Luostarinen, Göteborg: Nordicom, 2002);
Constructive Conflict Coverage (edited by the Austrian Study Center for
Peace and Conflict Resolution: Berlin: regener, 2003).
Address: Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz (www.uni-konstanz.de),
D-78457 Konstanz, Germany.