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Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research

MEDIA, WAR AND PEACE

Virtually all of us must rely on media to build our view of the world. The mass media convey images from around the world, and when put together they become world images in our minds.

The question is: How reliable are the media? What are we told and what not? How? Are all parties to a conflict given fair attention? What are the words and the accompanying images conveying ex- and im-plicitly? Why is the conflict perspective so often on individual leaders and not on processes, history, structures and cultures - leading to the mistaken assumption that if only they can be deposed, or killed, everything will be much better?





And why is there such a conspicuous fascination throughout our media with violence and war? It's not that 'negative' news should not be there; it's part of reality of course. But what's missing to quite a large extent is any serious coverage of facts, events and trends that make us feel more hopeful or encourage us to take positive action. After all, this 'positive' news is also a manifested aspect of reality.

TFF's new pro-peace approach compels us to look for alternative ways of reporting about what happens in our common world.

Mass media ought to tell us more about possible peaceful ways to handle conflicts, rather than letting military expertise propound, more or less without counter arguments, in favour of military solutions.

The alternative approach is sometimes called peace journalism. Peace journalism is not the greatest label - unless you're familiar with the correct definition of the term - because it's not implying that media shall advocate only for peace and never for war. Journalism should contribute to neither, one may argue.

Peace journalism is professional journalism that seeks to cover not only violence (like war reporting does) but also the existing forces for peace. It does this by digging deeper into underlying, less conspicuous aspects: Who are the far majority of people who work for normal human relations in any war zone? Who are the peace 'ladies' and not just the war 'lords'?

Moreover, in peace journalism the focus is not only on the immediate "theatre" of war but also on the much larger framework and the oftentimes less visible external factors such as parties with vested interest that are indirectly involved in the conflict.

In this way, peace journalism puts the conflict, not the violence, in focus by providing a larger perspective rather than simply looking at who is right and wrong and who should be punished.

Peace journalism reports on the types of solutions the various parties see as desirable and how these could be achieved with less violence, including which civilian, international mechanisms could be employed in conflict-management before any resort to violence (bombings and other violence-based interventions).







In short, peace journalism is about finding new angles on a conflict and highlighting issues that mainstream media does not. It's about being constructively different; cherishing diversity and avoiding the homogeneity that characterizes mainstream newspapers' foreign policy page: they all look the same, don't they?

TFF is aligned with the principles of peace journalism. We would argue that media ought to focus much more on conflicts, cultures and structures established throughout history and much less on individuals or, as is oftentimes the case, on demonizing one individual or party to a conflict. It would vastly increase general conflict understanding, or diagnosis - and, thus, prognosis and resolution - if the emphasis was put on the fears and interests and not merely on the parties' stated, noble (but often self-serving) motives.


We at TFF are fascinated by the development of social media in a broad sense. Thanks to the internet and millions of individuals active in social media, we can now know things and get perspectives on news and global trends that mainstream media wouldn't dream of bringing us. Surely, the social media have already helped bring about huge socio-political changes; they enable us to be both knowledgeable and politically incorrect!

That's where we like to be - critical of the old and pro-peace about the new.

TFF Associates' writings 2012 -