Reporting Justice

III/3: Meaning of Objectivity

III/3: Meaning of Objectivity

Journalism Module 3: The Meaning of Objectivity

The first module discussed a case in which the media intentionally fanned violence.  But concerns also have arisen that some of the news media’s well-accepted practices in covering conflict may unintentionally promote factional hostility and impede the peace process. This has led to a vigorous discussion of ways journalists might improve on the old model of reporting on conflict and justice. This module will explore the emerging “peace journalism” movement, the debate over the meaning of the term, and practical guidelines for improving coverage without compromising values.

Key questions:

What are the stages of conflict?

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the traditional approach to conflict reporting?

What is the “peace journalism” movement?

Define the terms “framing,” “spin” and “objectivity.”

Required Readings (and Watching):

Ethnic conflict is the topic of both of these essays, but they depict very different aspects. The first provides the more traditional approach to the subject.  The second provides an alternative view that some say is missing from standard conflict reporting.

Alex Majoli, “Georgian Spring,” Magnum in Motion  (photo essay)

Alex Majoli, “Peace TV,” Magnum in Motion (photo essay)

The following series of four short readings and lecture follow the evolution of, and debate over, “peace journalism,” and Jake Lynch presents an overview in his video lecture:

Martin Bell, “TV News: How Far Should We Go?” , British Journalism Review 8: 7  (1997)

Vladimir Bratic, “Peace Journalism: The Other Side of Objectivity,” Puls Demokratije (Sept. 9, 2006)

Wilhelm Kempf,“Peace journalism: A tightrope walk between advocacy journalism and constructive conflict coverage,”  Conflict & Communication Online. Vol 6. 2, (2007)

Johan Galtung, “Peace Journalism as an Ethical Challenge,” Global Media Journal (Fall 2008)

Jake Lynch,“Peace and Conflict,”  director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, lecture at Point of Peace Summit in Stavanger, Norway, September 12, 2008.

The following is a statement released by Ugandan media organizations in response to proposed government restrictions on the press.  The document is a good tool for discussing the conflicting interests among government, media and community.

“Article 29 Coalition Statement on the Press and Journalist (Amendment) Bill, 2010,” Mar. 6, 2010.

Selected Online Resources:

Conflict Sensitive Journalism: State of the Art, Ross Howard, International Media Support and Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society, (April 2004). This is a teacher’s manual with class readings, case studies and exercises to explore more deeply some of the concepts introduced in modules 1 and 2, with special attention to the practice of “conflict-sensitive” reporting.