PEACE DYNAMICS AT WORK
by Tita Datu Puangco
Recently, the World Media Congress Philippines 2016 was held in Tagaytay City with 1,500 participants. The theme was " Synergy in Media: Empowering People in Facing Global Challenges". I was asked to talk on, “How to Manage Issues and Conflicts in Media".
Studying and researching on my topic was quite an adventure. It made me realize the crucial roles and responsibilities of journalists in conflict management and building peace. It brought back memories of my college days as I pursued journalism at UST and where I got very engrossed with the subject of journalism ethics. It also dawned me on how my profession today as an organization development practitioner can be useful to a journalist assigned to cover conflict issues, areas and people impacting and affecting communities.
Fiona Lloyd emphasizes “Journalists reporting from regions of conflict face unique challenges in providing accurate and impartial news. One careless word or one inaccurate detail can ignite a conflict. But equally one clear and balanced report can help diffuse tension and neutralize fears."
Media can play different functions in managing conflict and peace building. One traditional function is information, drawing attention to brewing conflicts, building awareness of the principles of human rights. It can reframe issues exploring possible solutions.
The other function is education. It can educate and unravel the points of view of parties in terms of interests, needs and core values creating greater trust and transparency. It can also lead readers to similar cases and successful processes of conflict resolution. It can also shed light on stereotypes that undermine people at the same time build the credibility of leaders through confidence building activities.
“There is a fundamental contradiction between the nature of peace process and news values, the media often role a destructive role in attempts of making peace", says Gadi Wolfsfed. He mentions that the focus of media is often immediacy, drama, simplicity and ethnocentrism.
Immediacy refers to specific actions and events. Drama is often highlighted by violence, crisis or conflict, extremist behaviours and outrageous acts. Simplicity has to do with clear cut opinions and images, major personalities and two sided conflicts while ethnocentrism focus on one party's beliefs, myths, suffering and the other's brutality.
Non Media Orientation
The non-media orientation on the other hand features long term processes and policies of on-going peace processes, dialogue or mediation. It deemphasizes drama showing instead of calm, controlled, moderate people participating in dialogue. It opens and seeks to understand complex opinions or explanations, institutions, root causes and multisided conflicts. It focuses also on other parties' beliefs, myths, symbols and suffering
Transformative Goals of Media
Media can help promote change through conflict prevention and peace building. It enables to shift paradigms of people from violence to peace. Violence is an outcome of polarization between groups resulting in disabilities, disparities, pain and deaths that result from direct actions, systems, institutions and policies.
Peace on the other hand is achieved through the positive relationships between groups resulting in joint decision making, sharing of resources, tolerance of differences and human security. The process of CHANGE is a process including programs aimed at moving from violence to peace, from polarization to positive relationships.
" Peace journalism takes place whenever editor and reporters make choices of what stories to report and how to report them--which creates opportunities for the audience to consider the value of non-violent response to conflict", according to Jake Lynch, Author of Peace Journalism.
Peace journalists avoid imprecise use of emotive words that justify responses escalating violence. They avoid labels that take sides, instead they call people by the name, and they give themselves more precise descriptions. They avoid victimizing descriptions.
Best of all, peace journalists see multiple perspectives. They open up to their audience a wide range of options. When conflict is viewed in various ways, more alternative ways arrived in to resolve the conflict. With many different options, violence becomes less attractive. Finally, they report on peace initiatives, wherever they originate, share this with leaders and help to think peacefully to resolve conflicts. Let all journalists hunger for peace and every person become a peace journalist in social media!
(Tita Datu Puangco is the President and Chairman of the Board of Ancilla Enterprise Development Consulting, a major training and organization development company in the Philippines with an Asian reach. It specializes in enterprise transformation, executive coaching, corporate leadership and functional training, human resource systems, learning events and management of business training centers. Visit Tita’s Blog at http://titatalkstraining.blogspot.com. For additional information please email author at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com)