Jake Lynch

Critical realism, peace journalism and democracy

Journalism has long been seen to play a vital role as a civic tool in democracy, but this is now increasingly in question. The Leveson Inquiry highlighted some of these critiques - largely in relation to the corporate tabloid press - but totally ignored the contribution played by peace journalism in reviving the democratic role of the media. The dominant ideology of objective reporting is threatened by upheavals to the structure, conduct and content of journalism, as democratic regimes face a crisis of credibility over their responses to conflicts and crises. The underpinning concepts of journalism need to be renewed, this paper argues, not rejected. There is still a social need to distinguish between facts and claims. Journalism is increasingly based on participation and collaboration. At its heart there needs to be an epistemological stance based on critical realism, which will permit good journalism to be distinguished from bad. That will also help to attract the funding it requires to continue.

Keywords: journalism; critical realism; peace journalism


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Note on the contributor

Associate Professor Jake Lynch is Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies of the University of Sydney and a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Communication of the University of Johannesburg. He previously enjoyed a 17-year career in professional journalism, including spells as a Political Correspondent at Westminster for Sky News and a Foreign Correspondent for the Independent, and culminating in a role as an on-air presenter for BBC World TV News. Contact: jake.lynch@sydney.edu.au.