conflict & communication online, Vol. 6, No. 2, 2007
ISSN 1618-0747




Wilhelm Kempf
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.


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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 (, D-78457 Konstanz, Germany.
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