Dov Shinar &
Wilhelm Kempf (eds.) (2007). Peace Journalism: The State of the Art. Berlin:
The present book deals
with the concept of peace journalism from various perspectives. The first
part gives an overview of the theoretical approaches that underlie peace
journalism. In the second part, concrete examples of existing news discourses
are analyzed and peace journalistic vs. war journalistic representations
are compared. The third part deals with the practical implementation of
peace journalism and presents modules for peace journalistic training.
In the fourth part, Dov Shinar summarizes these contributions and draws
In the first part of the book, Annabel McGoldrick examines the connection
between the usual conventions of journalistic objectivity and their predisposition
to a "war journalistic" representation. Systematic distortions
arise from the framework conditions of journalistic work, e.g., dependency
on official sources. The requirement of brevity in news reports constrains
the opportunity to give background information. Dualistic reportage favors
the interpretation of conflict as a zero-sum game. McGoldrick provides
arguments for why we need peace journalism in order to uphold the claim
of freedom of the press and what constraints and influences hinder truly
Samuel Peleg elucidates the concept of peace journalism from the viewpoint
of conflict theory. On the basis of news examples from the conflict fields
of the Basque region, Northern Ireland and Israel-Palestine, he illustrates
Galtung's conflict triangle and Schattschneider's contagion model and
demonstrates how reportage has effects on the interpretation of the opponent's
actions. He contrasts to the analysis of conventional reportage three
articles that are characterized by balanced, solution-oriented reportage.
He concludes from his studies that there is no one-dimensional connection
between peace journalism and conflict theory, but rather that these two
areas can mutually enrich each other.
Susan Dente Ross relativizes the negative picture of the current news
discourse and clarifies the conditions that influence the work of journalists.
She provides an extensive overview of the existing media landscape in
which conflict reportage occurs. Thereby she distinguishes between war
media and peace journalism. In war media conflicts are seldom represented
neutrally, but rather often distorted due to direct pressure from governments
in accord with the dominant political perspective. Often win-lose or us-them
representations can be found that ignore or underrate the chances for
peace. Peace journalism to the contrary has various facets: Peace journalists
try to bring neglected perspectives into conflict reportage and to provide
more extensive information. Characteristic is a neutral and critical distance
from all the participating parties that extends to the solution-oriented
examination of a conflict. Insofar as media steer public attention to
negotiations and improve the information exchange between conflict parties,
peace journalism can have a peace-supporting effect.
Robert A. Hackett takes up criticism of peace journalism and explains
how it can fulfill its normative claims. He compares the Hermann &
Chomsky propaganda model with the Shoemaker & Reese "hierarchy
of influences" model in regard to their respective limitations and
advantages and supplements the analysis of the two models with a critical
evaluation of the social-theoretical viewpoint of Bourdieu & Foucault,
whose model is less linear and more discursively designed. In conclusion
he offers considerations of how a media system would have to be constituted
in order to make it easier to implement peace journalism and how one can
achieve these structural preconditions.
In the second part of the book, Lea Mandelzis examines the conflict reportage
of two Israeli newspapers after the signing of the Oslo Accords and supplements
this analysis with interviews of political decision-makers Shimon Peres,
Yossi Beilin and Ron Pundak. On the basis of the representation of the
conflict, the conflict parties and the possible solutions, she thereby
distinguishes four types of reportage: war, peace, reconciliation and
harmony reportage. She finds these types at respectively different points
in time over the course of events. The interview data reveal the importance
of the context for the acceptance of peace journalistic reportage.
Rune Ottosen focuses on the importance of visual aspects of reportage.
He clarifies their effect not only with the example of the Mohammed caricatures
that appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten, but also with a
comparison of the representation in the media of coffins during the repatriation
of US soldiers from the Iraq war in the winter of 2004 with that during
the 2005 tsunami catastrophe. He argues that the power of visual elements
in reportage is not to be underestimated, because people remember visual
impressions better than verbal ones and tend to recognize what they visually
perceive as a representation of reality as true. Beyond this, pictures
represent a shortcut to our emotions and are especially preferred as an
information source by young people. At the end of his article he offers
practical suggestions for the implementation and visual support of peace
Wilhelm Kempf describes two experiments that investigate the acceptance
of peace journalism by the readers of supra-regional and regional presses.
In both cases the research material consists of newspaper texts about
events during the Yugoslavian conflict. The first experiment additionally
measured how the type of reportage is mirrored in the cognitive models
that readers form of the reported events. It was found that peace journalistic
texts are accepted to the same extent as conventional journalism and that
they also lead to a less polarized conflict perception on the side of
In the third part of the book, Jake Lynch gives instructions, organizational
tips and assignment examples for peace journalistic training. On the basis
of a case study of reportage on the 2005 conflicts in the Philippines
he juxtaposes the actual war reportage with peace journalism and supplements
these practical examples with information on the theoretical fundamentals
that peace journalistic instruction should include. To this belong, among
other things, knowledge of structural violence, conflict dynamics, objectivity,
journalistic ethics and propaganda.
Beverly Keever focuses on the linguistic elements of conflict reportage.
She tries to make journalists aware of the thoughtless, inappropriate
employment of violence-imbued formulations and trivializing euphemisms
like "collateral damage." Keever thereby draws on a 2005 presentation
by political scientist Glenn Paige at the University of Hawaii and describes
how students work with Paige's principles of "non-killing" journalism,
in that they, e.g., search for euphemisms in the Internet and develop
original alternatives to a vocabulary of violence.
Summarizing the preceding book chapters, Dov Shinar gives a balance of
book's theme by naming some of the difficulties that face the realization
of peace journalism and presents an agenda for how to contribute to the
improvement of the situation.
Peace Journalism: The State of the Art is a successful compilation of
various approaches to and topic complexes of the subject of peace journalism.
The volume stands out in particular because abstract theoretical concepts
are illustrated with concrete examples.
Not only are the theories elucidated, criticized and evaluated, they are
also analyzed in regard to their relevance for the practical implementation
of peace journalism. The empirical works show that peace journalistic
approaches already exist and meet with a quite positive response from
the public. The analysis of the case examples gives tangible reference
points for factors that could be beneficial in the implementation of a
peace discourse, and the examples of concrete pedagogical application
excellently supplement the theoretical section.
With this multi-perspective collection the volume offers a thoroughly
interesting reading that is refreshing due to the individual signatures
of the different authors. The contributions are not only informative and
stimulating for peace scholars of every subject orientation, but also
for journalists and especially for instructors in journalistic training.
Anyone who is looking for a comprehensive book on the topic of peace journalism
with high theoretical standards, exciting empirical facts and clear instructions
for action in practical engagement, not only in conflict reportage, but
also in journalistic training, will find that this book is more than worth