Large-Scale Communication

 


The media can play both positive and negative roles in conflict as is illustrated in these comments. Many are from Jannie Botes, a South African journalist, now at the University of Baltimore.

Why the Media is Important in Conflict

Jannie Botes says all significant conflicts get played out, in part, in the media.
Botes observes another reason why journalism is so important in conflict is that the media is the only way we get information about conflicts in which we are not personally involved.
Ron Fisher talks about the problem of scaling up table-oriented processes to the level of whole societies. The media plays must play a large role in this process.
Jannie Botes explains that journalists frequently escalate conflicts. This can be positive or negative, depending on the situation.

How the Media Can Negatively Impact a Conflict

Jannie Botes explains that due to space constraints, journalists tend to oversimplify conflicts. This can give their audience a very inaccurate view of the situation, especially in complex intractable conflicts.

Positive Influences of the Media in Conflict

Botes explains how parties use the media as a tool for empowerment for their own group and cause.

Suggestions for Better Conflict Journalism

Botes says ninety percent of news is conflict; yet, journalists are not trained to recognize that or to know what to do about it.
Jannie Botes says that journalists need to cover conflicts and conflict resolution efforts in all their stages, not just when high-profile "events" happen.
Sarah Peterson and Angela Khaminwa say that coexistence must be developed slowly over time.
Botes says journalists do not perceive mediation to be part of their role, but they do see their role as being conflict analysts. That is how to engage them in conflict theory.
Botes reflects on whether journalists can or should be "neutral" when reporting on humanitarian crises or atrocities.

Specific Examples

Botes observes that the media failed us after 9/11 because they were too caught up in it.
Angela Khaminwa explains that they looked to the environmental movement for inspiration for their coexistence work.
Jannie Botes, a South African now at the University of Baltimore, talks about the frustration of working as a journalist in South Africa during the apartheid era.
Botes, of the University of Baltimore, says that the Nightline show in South Africa had a major positive impact on the conflict. The same was not true with a Nightline show on Israel, however.
William Ury describes the role of the media in the Venezuela conflict. Initially they were driving the escalation of the conflict, but eventually, they began to work in more positive ways to help moderate the situation.