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Journalism for Peace?

Is it possible for journalism to promote peace? Or does the conception of a “journalism for peace”, under the existing working-conditions of war and crisis correspondents, have to remain a utopian one? How are these challenges, which are posed to journalists by this attitude to work, to be coped with? These and further topics were treated during a panel discussion by Dr. Friedrich Orter, crisis correspondent for the ORF, and Mag.a Nadine Bilke, editor for the ZDF and peace-journalism researcher in the PIA-Livingroom in july, 8th 2006.

Mass media and war are closely intertwined. Censorship and repressions towards critical journalists as well as the connection between wars, quota and circulation are sufficiently well known. However, in her research Nadine Bilke deals with the conditions under which journalism can promote peace. According to Bilke, a peace-political orientation requires a focusing on conflict analysis, a striving for veracity, empathy and willingness to compromise. Traditional basic principles of journalist work as up-to-dateness, objectivity and negativity have to be reassessed. 

For many years, Friedrich Orter has been around this “crazy world” as a reporter in regions ravaged by war and crises. How does he see the chances for a “new” Journalism, a journalism dedicated to a peaceful solution? Is it even possible to apply principles of peace-journalism in view of the continuous acceleration of mass communication followed by real-time wars set in time for the TV evening-program? And what happens if a certain war or  conflict does not represent a topic for the media? 

Naturally, objectivity, balance and neutrality of news coverage belong to the norms of quality journalism. However, since long ago large public-relations-agencies and militaries control the coverage of wars and crises – in most cases media consumers are not conscious of this fact. Is it possible for the conception of peace-journalism to take the necessary steps?

A PIA-Livingroom organized by Alice Uhl

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