Jake Lynch

Is peace journalism feasible? Pointers for research and media development

Peace journalism (PJ) is a globally distributed reform movement as well as an emerging field in scholarly research. The impetus behind many civil society initiatives has been an assumption that individual reporters and editors could change the content of the news they produce about conflict, if only they were sensitised to peace perspectives, and assisted in developing critical self-awareness, through exposure to advocacy and training. This assumption begs to be examined in light of scholarly debates over structure and agency, in which the influence of individual journalists is compared with other sources, or levels of influence: from the economic circumstances of news production, through professional norms and routines, to the overarching ideological and political contexts in which journalism is written, disseminated and consumed. There are, however, fragmentary indications at least, from individual examples, that journalists who take part in PJ training can then succeed in finding or creating scope to implement it, by making use of the expanded opportunities afforded by digital media. These indications invite further exploration to ascertain the extent of scope for implementation, and thereby inform assessments of the potential for effective peace-building interventions through peace journalism as a factor in media development aid.

Keywords: peace journalism (PJ), structure and agency, media development


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Note on the contributor

Associate Professor Jake Lynch is Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney and a Senior Research Fellow of the School of Communication at the University of Johannesburg. He served two years as Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association (2010-2012). His latest publications include: A global standard for reporting conflict (New York: Routledge 2013); Responses to peace journalism, Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism (co-authored with Annabel McGoldrick) (Online First at http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1464884912464175). Contact details: Room 121, Mackie Building (K01), University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. Email: jake.lynch@sydney.edu.au.