Monday, October 16, 2017

In Pakistan, students teach professor about peace, media
(Sukkur, Pakistan)--Last week, I had the opportunity to discuss peace with those who know best—two classes of university students, about 50 total, most of whom come from conflict-ravaged areas of Pakistan.

These students are part of a program sponsored by Sukkur IBA University (SIBAU) called “Talent Search” wherein 300 disadvantaged students are brought to SIBAU every year and educated for free. Since many of these students come from substandard secondary schools, SIBAU even provides them with a “zero semester” to get them up to speed in English, math, and basic computer skills. It is an admirable program indeed.

During my visit with these students, I asked them directly, “what is peace?” Among their responses:

Live without violence

Freedom of Speech
Friendly relations between people
Love, not hatred
Freedom of Action
Self independence
When people can live independently, without interference
When law and order are maintained

Conference: Peace Through Education and Journalism.
I used these definitions to kick off my keynote speech last Thursday at SIBAU’s conference titled, “Peace Through Education and Journalism.” The conference participants, a mix of journalists, educators, and students, mostly agreed with the principles of peace articulated by the Talent Search students. I added my own definition of positive peace—where each individuall has an opportunity to self-actualize without discrimination or inequality of opportunity—as a way of framing our discussion about peace journalism.

We followed our analysis of peace with a presentation on the basics of peace journalism. This began with a discussion about Pakistani media: Do they inflame conflict? Once again, I began with input from SIBAU’s Talent Search students:

Media encourage conflict because they support only one party
Media report false information to get ratings
Pakistani media divide people (with the help of politicians)
Media highlight Pakistan as a terrorist country
Media make a bad situation worse by showing bad images again and again
On Social Media, no, media do not inflame conflicts

Conference: Peace Through Education and Journalism.
The conference audience again generally agreed with the students, adding the important ingredients of economic and competitive pressure as a way of explaining why media here sensationalize and sometimes inflame conflict.

We finished by discussing whether peace journalism is possible in Pakistan. One journalist pointed out that many PJ style stories are already being reported here, so perhaps the question is not “if” but rather “to what extent.” As with other places I’ve lectured, I recommended an incremental approach, a few steps at a time, combined with an effort to teach PJ at universities.

My visit to SIBAU was educational and fulfilling. I look forward to returning to Pakistan to continue this vibrant discussion.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Experts discuss media, gender, peace in Pakistan
(Sukkur, Pakistan)--Can media be a force for peace in Pakistan?

That question, among others, was on the table today at a conference titled “Peace Through Education and Journalism” today at Sukkur IBA University in Sukkur, Pakistan.

I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the event. But before my speech, four Pakistani journalists gave their own takes on the subject.

Naz Sehto (bureau chief, KTN-Pakistan) started the day by noting that “something is wrong” with education and journalism in Pakistan. He cited examples of how hate speech still proliferates in Pakistani textbooks. For example, he quoted several texts that said, “Islam is superior to all other religions;” and “Many other religions claim equality but do not act on it.”

Sehto noted that current media reporting “creates hate,” and that the lack of openness and freedom in media fuels conflict and “makes people easy to manipulate.”

Mahim Maher
Picking up this theme, Mahim Maher (news editor, Friday Times) presented data that demonstrated the marginalization of and hostility towards women in Pakistani media. A 2013 study analyzed 21,949 TV and newspaper stories, and found that women were used as sources only 74 times—hence the title of Maher’s presentation, “Silence of the Lambs.”

She also discussed language and framing of stories. Maher said women are portrayed only in limited narratives—as poor, sick, or victims. She analyzed terms like “allegedly” and ”domestic dispute,” noting that they are used by Pakistani media to sanitize or misrepresent violence against women.

Hira Siddiqui (Center for Excellence in Journalism, IBA Karachi) discussed language and diversity in media. She noted that newsrooms have failed when it comes to diversity, and indeed, that Pakistanis generally think about diversity in only “a limited way.” Siddiqui also led an interesting discussion about language, including the use of the term “enemy” to denote Indians.

These excellent speakers set the stage, and a high bar, for my keynote address. I’ll discuss that presentation in my next blog on Monday.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Seminars launch tomorrow in Pakistan
Tomorrow--the first of two Peace Journalism seminars in Sukkur, Pakistan. Tomorrow's event will draw journalists from throughout Pakistan, as well as faculty and students from Sukkur IBA University. Based on discussions in two classes today, tomorrow should be lively.

Stay tuned for details!

Monday, October 2, 2017

The October Peace Journalism magazine has arrived!
The October edition features stories from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Fiji, Pakistan, and elsewhere.

You can get a .pdf copy using this link. Or, if you prefer a flip through format, see the magazine posted on Issuu.

The next edition of The Peace Journalist will be published in April, 2018. Submissions are welcome from all. We seek submissions from 300 to 1500 words, as well as photos. The copy deadline will be March 3, 2018. Please see page 3 of the magazine for more details.

Thank you,
 Steven L. Youngblood
Editor, The Peace Journalist
Author, Peace Journalism Principles and Practices (Routledge/Taylor and Francis)
Director, Center for Global Peace Journalism

Park University

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

PJ: A valuable tool to battle fake news
Today in Peace Journalism class at Park University, we're discussing fake news and the role of peace journalism in counteracting it. Below are the elements of peace journalism, and a discussion afterwards of how these apply to fake news.
Peace Journalism Elements and Fake News
1. PJ is proactive, examining the causes of conflict, and leading discussions about solutions. FAKE NEWS SEEKS BIASED SOLUTIONS TO FAKE/DISTORTED PROBLEMS

2. PJ looks to unite parties, rather than divide them, and eschews oversimplified “us vs. them” and “good guy vs. bad guy” reporting. –FAKE NEWS PITS US VS THEM; SO PJ EXPOSES THIS AND PROVIDES CONTEXT
3. Peace reporters reject official propaganda, and instead seek facts from all sources. FAKE NEWS IS PROPAGANDA
4. PJ is balanced, covering issues/suffering/peace proposals from all sides of a conflict. . FAKE NEWS IS ALWAYS ONE SIDED/BIASED
5. PJ gives voice to the voiceless, instead of just reporting for and about elites –FAKE NEWS DOESN'T EMPOWER THE VOICELESS, IT MANIPULATES THEM


7. Peace journalists consider the consequences of their reporting—FAKE NEWS IGNORES CONSEQUENCES, AND EVEN SEEKS NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES

8. Peace journalists carefully choose and analyze the words they use—FAKE NEWS SEEKS INFLAMMATORY AND PROVOCATIVE LANGUAGE

9. Peace journalists thoughtfully select the images they use—FAKE NEWS USES DOCTORED, SENSATIONAL IMAGES; OR IMAGES THAT DISTORT REALITY

10. Peace Journalists offer counter-narratives that debunk media created or perpetuated stereotypes, myths, and misperceptions. FAKE NEWS BUILDS UPON THESE MYTHS AND STEREOTYPES TO MANIPUATE THE PUBLIC