Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reporting conflict: a war or peace approach?

War journalism and peace journalism are two different ways of reporting the same set of events. Where does this leave objectivity, balance, truth and ethics? Johan Galtung and Jake Lynch offer some observations.

The point is, war journalism and peace journalism are two different ways of reporting the same set of events. They are two angles, two discourses, with underlying cognitive and normative assumptions.

Both are based on reporting facts. It is simply not the case that one is realistic and descriptive and the other is moralistic, idealistic and normative. They are both descriptive of reality. The difference is that peace journalism tries to take in more of reality. They both report.

War journalism does not dispense military advice, and peace journalism should also refrain from giving advice. Their task is to clarify, unveil, reveal reality to enable others to draw normative conclusions.

Both war and peace journalism may accuse each other of being idealistic, not realistic. There are two meanings to ‘idealistic’: someone who promotes a world of ‘ought’, detached from the world of ‘is’, and someone who has such a narrow idea of reality that it becomes a caricature.

Peace journalists should not promote; leave that to peace activists. But war journalists who restrict their vision of reality to the battlefield are simply bad journalists. Leave that to sports journalists, cricket fields, soccer games...moremore