Journalism In Post Conflict Society


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Journalism in Post Conflict Society, a presentation by Ms. Weade Kobbah-Wureh, Assistant Professor in Mass Communication, University of Liberia

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Journalism In Post Conflict Society

  2. 2. PRESENTION OUTLINE<br />This presentation is divided into four main parts.<br />Part one: Conflict and the nature of conflict <br />Part two: Framing conflict<br />Part three: Challenges faced by media<br /> practitioners in reporting conflict<br />Part four: Responsibilities and ethics <br /> reporting post conflict societies<br />
  3. 3. INTRODUCTION<br />The issue about reporting conflicts and the role of journalists is critical to conflict maintenance, resolution and peace building.<br /> Journalistic responsibilities and ethics are critical issues.<br />The journalist’s role in reporting conflicts and his sense of patriotism are always questioned. <br />
  4. 4. WHAT IS CONFLICT?<br />Conflict is a situation where two or more individuals or groups disagree about rights, privileges and access to opportunities which they believe they cannot share.<br />Conflict is normal when there is disagreement about how things should be changed. If there is agreement of how these changes should occur it can be a peaceful process. When this disagreement / conflict is not managed properly, it has the potential to become violent. <br />In violent conflict, people’s safety and survival are threatened. They resolve to violence to protect themselves and their interests. Conflict, here, means violent conflict affecting societies.<br />
  5. 5. CAUSES OF CONFLICTS<br />Most conflicts involved several factors which make them complex <br /> These are:<br />Inequitable access to scarce resources like food, housing, jobs, land. <br />Poor communication between dissatisfied interests leading to mistrust.<br />
  6. 6. Some Causes of Conflict in African states I<br />Conflicts over <br />resources and property caused by historical claims, customary laws and statures<br />ambiguous land tenure systems<br />poverty and food insecurity<br />mismanagement, misuse and illegal exploitation of natural resources <br />
  7. 7. Causes of Conflict in African States II<br />Conflicts over <br />high unemployment <br />lack of basic infrastructure and social services <br />high illiteracy <br />poor leadership and misuse and abuse of power<br />greed, corruption and weak justice systems<br />socio-economic inequality and ethnicity <br />
  8. 8. Constructing Conflict<br />The mass media have a powerful influence on how people see and understand the world. Newspapers, radio, television and internet are often the only ways people get to know of events. <br /> A reporter&apos;s story on a conflict can be the only information people have access to. How a journalist reports about a conflict determines how the people respond to it. <br />It can inflame the conflict or reduce it .<br />
  9. 9. Constructing Conflict<br />Journalists need to understand the political, social, historical and economic situations in a conflict to report accurately and clearly.<br />In a conflict, It is important to report all aspects of problem. This provides greater understanding and can encourage possible dialogue between conflicting parties.<br />Good journalism can help structure conflicts for the sides involved.<br />
  10. 10. Post conflict societies<br />Post conflict societies are characterized by:<br />Dislocation and displacement of populations.<br /> Widespread destruction of the social and physical infrastructure.<br />Apparent irreconcilable social and economic divisions. <br />Collapse of the State’s institutions (parliament/legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary, leading to inability to govern and need for international intervention).<br />
  11. 11. Conflicts players<br />Many violent conflicts involve ethnic/interest groups or nations. <br />Sometimes conflicts involve external actors who influence these conflicts through state interests or humanitarian service delivery.<br />People get their information about what is going on from the media.<br />The media plays a critical role in how these conflicts develop and change by how they report. <br />
  12. 12. HOW THE MEDIA REPORTS CONFLICTS<br />The media often reports conflict as a competition between warring factions, politicians or rebels. <br />When the media take this kind of approach, they themselves can become part of the conflict. <br />Most times journalists go for the sensational, the violent , the bizarre, the unusual. <br /> When a society is involved in a violent conflict, journalists face greater challenges.<br /> Opposing sides attempt to control the media.<br /> Information can be unreliable, censored or tailor- made for the press.<br />
  13. 13. Partisan Journalism<br /> Journalists report conflicts sometimes from biased perspectives based on:<br />Tribal/cultural/religious affiliation and tradition<br />Gender discrimination<br />Most local journalists are themselves affected by the conflict<br />Social structures <br />Lack of access to information<br />Personal safety<br />Journalists from outside work under deadline pressures and seldom have time to report on what is not obvious.<br />
  14. 14. Access to information<br />Official Information may not be readily accessible or there might be a conscious effort to suppress/delay information.<br /> Officials may be afraid and protective of their own positions. <br />Reporters might have to deal with difficult bureaucracy which prevents quick media responses.<br />Security interests could be paramount or cited as reasons to conceal information(dilemma: to report or not to report)<br />JOURNALISTS SHOULD FIND WAYS TO OBTAIN THE NEEDED INFORMATION FROM RELIABLE ALTERNATIVE SOURCES AND BALANCE THEIR FACTS.<br />
  15. 15. Non reporting roles of journalists in post conflict societies<br />The news media finds itself in a very difficult situation in post conflict societies.<br />Journalists are expected to perform a number of functions unrelated to their professional roles.<br />These include:<br />1. Feeding Information:<br />The news media is often the most important way parties in a conflict know what is happening in opposing camps. conflict.<br />2. Education:<br /> Conflicting parties are interested in plans and programs of the other side which they learn of from news stories. (cont.)<br />
  16. 16. Non reporting roles of journalists in post conflict societies<br />3. Confidence-building/ Correcting misperceptions:<br /> There is normally a lack of trust among conflicting parties. News reports which reduce tension help to build confidence.<br />4. Reporting information on programs for disarmament , reconstruction, resettlement and re-integration encourages return to normalcy.<br />5. Report what each side wants and the reasons for their demands.<br />This helps people to understand expectations of parties to the conflict, the mediators and civil society.<br />6. Report information on their culture, history etc. to help development partners and local partners develop democratic vision, strategy for their country specific situation to democracy.<br /> (Who pays the drummer calls the tune)<br />
  17. 17. What society expects of the media in post conflict societies<br /> The media is seen as a tool for:<br />changing attitudes, behavior and beliefs about issues in a conflict.<br />promoting reconciliation and reducing tension in war-torn countries. <br />promoting propaganda for one side or the other in a conflict.<br />Avoid reports which stereotype parties to a conflict , label them and promote hatred among the population (i.e. “warlords”, “ex-combatants”, “victims” etc.).<br />
  18. 18. Power of the media in post conflict societies<br />Media can help restore confidence and build peace.<br />Media can fuel conflicts.<br />Media can be victims of conflicts (arson, etc.).<br />Media can be in conflict with itself over ethical responsibilities, patriotism and nationalism.<br />Direct interventions of international community to the actual needs of the affected population.<br />
  19. 19. External interventions<br />Most post conflict societies experience a breakdown in political and social structures.<br />This gives rise to interventions of the international communities in the form of peace keepers, humanitarian assistance ,etc. which are news worthy.<br />They help in restoring law and order, resettlement , reconstruction of structures and democratic institutions.<br />In addition to rendering assistance, other unwholesome social activities are introduced(SEA, SGBV, teenage pregnancies, corruption, etc).<br />
  20. 20. ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITY OF JOURNALISTS IN POST CONFLICT SOCIETIES<br />Journalist in post conflict societies should remain conscious of their responsibilities to report with<br /> A. Accuracy<br /> B. Objectivity<br /> C. Balance<br /> D. Reliability <br /> E. Fairness<br />Journalist should report on the interest of the larger population in post conflict societies and keep personal opinions out of news stories. <br />
  21. 21. New concepts in reporting in post conflict societies<br />Peace Journalism<br />Human rights reporting<br />Gender<br />Transitional justice<br />Millennium development goals<br />Poverty reduction strategy<br /> JOURNALISTS IN POST CONFLICT SOCIETIES FIND THEMSELVES ENTANGLED IN THIS WEB!<br />
  22. 22. “Professional journalists do not set out to<br /> reduce conflict. They seek to present accurate and impartial news.<br /> But it is often through good reporting that conflict is reduced”.<br /> Ross Howard<br /> Conflict sensitive Journalism<br />
  23. 23. “Encouraging the media to produce, disseminate and voice news and information enables and strengthens civil society and is greatly needed in the healing process. <br />It must be done responsibly, accurately, and with a clear understanding of the role that journalists play not only in conflict, but in conflict resolution and peace building”<br />Michelle Betz, consultant International media support<br />
  24. 24. THANK YOU!<br />