Communication Peace Journalism
by
Nancy L. Roberts
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0155

Introduction

Peace journalism can be described as journalism that offers a more balanced perspective of war and conflict than that provided by the dominant mainstream media. For instance, peace journalism aims to construct realities from all sides, and to reveal less visible causes and effects of war and violence, such as their cost in terms of the dead and disabled, and of the destruction of social order and institutions, while refraining from dehumanizing the enemy. Rather than emphasizing what divides opposed parties, as is common in mainstream media war coverage, peace journalism seeks to uncover any possible areas of agreement between them. It offers analysis of what caused the conflict and tries to suggest how it may be resolved or transformed in cases where resolution is impossible or too difficult. As such, it may include peace advocacy journalism, which shares many of its characteristics but with an explicitly articulated point of view that aims above all to persuade. While scholars have long studied how media report war, attention given to peace journalism in the academy is relatively recent, dating from the 1970s and flourishing in the 1990s and beyond.

General Overviews

These works have been produced primarily by scholars and journalists from the field of peace studies, conflict resolution, and communication and media studies. Many are quite recent, reflecting the field’s growth since the early 1990s. Lynch 2008; Lynch and Galtung 2010; Keeble, et al. 2010; and Shaw, et al. 2011 may be seen as representing the original model of peace journalism. Hanitzsch 2004 and Loyn 2007 offer a sharply delineated critique of this model, while Hanitzsch, et al. 2004 and Shinar and Kempf 2007 offer critical perspectives from all sides.

  • Hanitzsch, Thomas. 2004. The peace journalism problem: Failure of news people—or failure on analysis? In Agents of peace: Public communication and conflict resolution in an Asian setting. Edited by Thomas Hanitzsch, Martin Loffelhölz, and Ronny Mustamu, 185–209. Jakarta, Indonesia: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

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    This is a pithy and representative example of the primary contemporary critique of “classic” peace journalism (as developed by Johan Galtung). Hanitzsch, a leading spokesperson for this perspective, analyzes several examples of what he terms peace journalism’s “myths and fallacies.” These include its rejection of journalists’ usual stance as neutral observers of the events they cover and its overestimation of the impact of journalism on society (while neglecting to consider the role of interpersonal communication).

  • Hanitzsch, Thomas, Martin Loffelhölz, and Ronny Mustamu, eds. 2004. Agents of peace: Public communication and conflict resolution in an Asian setting. Jakarta, Indonesia: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

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    Seven different essays, produced by authors with contrasting conceptualizations of peace journalism, shed light on public communication and conflict resolution in modern Asia.

  • Keeble, Richard Lance, John Tulloch, and Florian Zollmann, eds. 2010. Peace journalism, war and conflict resolution. New York: Peter Lang.

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    This comprehensive overview, with essays by more than twenty prominent theorists, scholars, and journalists, is a first stop for serious students. Especially valuable for its international perspective.

  • Loyn, David. 2007. Good journalism or peace journalism? Conflict and Communication Online 6.2.

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    Loyn, a BBC correspondent, sharply criticizes peace journalism as defined by Lynch and McGoldrick. He argues that peace journalism’s opposite is “good” journalism, which traditionally relies on objectivity to uncover a version of the truth that is less relativistic than that produced by the “journalism of attachment.” Also available in German as “Qualitätsjournalismus oder Friedensjournalismus?.”

  • Lynch, Jake. 2008. Debates in peace journalism. Sydney, Australia: Sydney Univ. Press.

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    This work is an excellent starting point for undergraduate students. It covers key issues, such as the media coverage of terrorism, with well-internationalized case studies.

  • Lynch, Jake, and Johan Galtung. 2010. Reporting conflict: New directions in peace journalism. Queensland, Australia: Univ. of Queensland Press.

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    This work is the fruition of some forty years of theory, first developed by Galtung (with Mari Holmboe Ruge). It critiques the media’s reporting of 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as essentially one-sided.

  • Shaw, Ibrahim Seaga, Jake Lynch, and Robert A. Hackett, eds. 2011. Expanding peace journalism: Comparative and critical approaches. Sydney, Australia: Sydney Univ. Press.

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    Seventeen international authors discuss how peace journalism connects to fields such as social movement activism and alternative media, with attention to media in such countries as Australia, Canada, Guatemala, India, Nigeria, Norway, Sweden, and the United States. Includes preface by Johan Galtung, a key founder of peace studies as a discipline and activist field.

  • Shinar, Dov, and Wilhelm Kempf, eds. 2007. Peace journalism: The State of the Art. Berlin: Regener.

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    Theory-rich contributions from the field’s leading scholars, including Susan Dente Ross, who details the history of peace journalism research, and Rune Ottosen, who considers the significant role of reportage’s visual aspects. Dov Shinar’s epilogue offers a detailed consideration of some problematic aspects of contemporary conceptualizations of peace journalism.

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