Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Is Peace Journalism Possible in the US?


It has been said media freedom characterizes a democratic country. In fact, history shows that even in the most democratic country, elite opinion drives the public opinion which is facilitated by media. Therefore, although simultaneously media freedom exists, how media operates substantially is a different concern. Media propaganda model is only not the monopoly of non-democratic countries. The dependence of media towards money and power make it difficult to be objective, independent, non-bias, and able to contribute to its own ideal. 

Herman and Chomsky, in Manufacturing Consent: the Political Economy of the Mass Media, consider the dominant American media as comprising a single propaganda system in which "money and power are able to filter out the news fit to print, marginalize dissent, and allow the government and dominant private interests to get their messages across to the public." In their extensive studies of American media treatment of human rights and US foreign policy during the period of the Cold War, the authors found examples of politically-charged double standards in reporting. Although Chomsky and Herman do not use the term, the findings correspond to the characteristics of War Journalism where double standards in line with elite perspectives that frame “our” side as moral and righteous, and “them” as evil and aggressive.  Chomsky found this media trend unfortunately continued in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the “war on terror”.  With that said, not only does elite opinion drive the public opinion, but media is also responsible for whatever concerns within public opinion. 
Is media, which is one of the characteristics of democracy, while doing its work in reporting ever be possible to contribute to peace?
Peace Journalism, might not as bombastic as War Journalism, but it provides an alternative. Contrary to the War Journalism, Peace Journalism engage broader views instead of only two opposing views, humanize all sides, with the intention to pave the way for peace (solve the conflict instead of achieve victory). The concept of Peace Journalism that was developed by Johan Galtung, might be able to promote the better role of media for peace although there will be many challenges. One of the challenges to Peace Journalism is to construct peace as sexy news which is the contradiction of common standard “if it bleeds, it leads”. Furthermore, the absence of structural pluralism in the media ownership and control also become other impediment for improving Peace Journalism.  
In his paper “Is Peace Journalism Possible?” Robert A.Hackett argued that Peace Journalism would be a good thing and a possibility with certain preconditions. Journalism does matter to the prospects for war and peace, even if not in a unilinear or deterministic way.  Without addressing the debate about media ethics and effects that Peace Journalism has provoked, Hackett suggests that to succeed, Peace Journalism must translate its normative concerns, rooted in the discipline of peace research, into a strategy based on a theoretically-informed analysis of the governing logics of news production.  The emergence of citizens movement and flourishing of civil society could support the Peace Journalism. Peace Journalism advocates also need to conduct a purposeful review of what media scholarship tells about the determinants of news production.  Such a review could help journalists to identify blockages and opportunities for the practice of Peace Journalism (and conversely, War Journalism).

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