Thursday, June 02, 2011

Peace journalism

Peace journalism? What is that? Why do we need it?

Some of the problems created by mainstream journalism that peace journalism can seek to remedy:
  • inadequate appreciation for alternatives to violence
  • poor contextualizing of both violence and nonviolence
  • exceptionalism allowing for our violence and condemning theirs
  • binary assumption that we all must choose between violence and apathy
  • poor grasp of structural violence
  • no appreciation for structural nonviolence
  • sacralizing violent warriors
  • ignoring nonviolent warriors
  • valorizing violence
  • ignoring nonviolence or treating nonviolence as misguided, naive, quaint, or publicity seeking stunts
  • bypassing nonviolent experts and immediately sourcing military or adversarial politicians (now a mere redundancy)
So our remedies are to do what fixes all that, including but not limited to:
  • understanding violence in order to facilitate reconciliation
  • highlighting nonviolent initiatives
  • recruiting nonviolent citizen involvement
  • featuring nonviolent case studies that show nonviolent success
  • comparing costs and benefits of violence and nonviolence
  • gatekeeping in favor of experts in nonviolence, conflict resolution, restorative justice, mediation, conflict costs, conflict transformation, ethical advantages of nonviolence, and more
  • positive regard for nonviolent leadership and organizers
  • framing nonviolent initiatives as cost-reduction measures
  • marking nonviolent success anniversaries and engaging in background educational pieces
  • crediting quiet transformational workers (e.g. intercultural reconciliation staff and activists) with conflict mitigation achievements
  • featuring a broad set of options to conflict rather than the simplistic 'do you want to bomb someone or just do nothing?'

These are the short lists, of course. There are excellent, helpful, and more detailed examinations of this strand of journalism. One of the mistaken canards about journalism that features the qualities that promote peace is that it is all kumbaya and insipid, when the reverse is the case. It looks harder at conflict and honestly appraises the weaknesses in our human responses while looking earnestly for components of what might actually work to help us evolve as a species, culture by culture, community by community, away from the destructive conflict management methods that eviscerate our economy, devastate our ecology and dim our hopes for a better future for our children and grandchildren. Peace journalism is the hard look that avoids easy credulity and breezy cynicism alike. Peace journalism takes journalism seriously.


Steven Youngblood said...

Nice piece. Thank you.

I've been teaching peace journalism in Uganda and elsewhere. For more, see:

Peace, Steven Youngblood

Tom H. Hastings said...

Your work is really important, Steven. Thank you.