Thursday, March 30, 2017

The new Peace Journalist magazine has arrived
The April 2017 edition features reports from Afghanistan, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Pakistan, and the U.S. The Peace Journalist is a semi-annual publication of the Center for Global Peace Journalism at Park University in Parkville, Missouri. 

To view the magazine on Issuu, click here.

The next edition of The Peace Journalist is October, 2017. Submissions are welcome from all. We’re looking for submissions of varying lengths (300-1500 words) detailing peace journalism projects, seminars, courses, and proposals, as well as outstanding examples of peace reporting and academic work in the field. We encourage you to send photos as well. The copy deadline will be September 3, 2017

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Workshop: African PJ must offer counternarratives
(Kisumu, Kenya)—The importance of African approaches to peace journalism dominated the agenda of day two of a regional peace journalism workshop in Kisumu.

Dr. Fredrick Ogenga
This African-centered approach is called hybrid peace journalism by Dr. Fredrick Ogenga, founding director of the Center for Media, Democracy, Peace, and Security (CMDPS) at Rongo University in Kenya. This approach takes elements of Western journalism and views them through an African lens. Dr. Ogenga’s hybrid PJ approach features an emphasis on development and on offering counternarratives to traditional Western-style reporting that portrays Africa only in a negative light.

At Rongo University, hybrid PJ is manifested through a master’s program in Media, Democracy, Peace, and Security. The university also has a hybrid PJ club, made up of peacebuilding students. Also, Rongo U. will launch soon a campus/community radio station dedicated to peacebuilding. “We’re giving students an opportunity to tell their own narratives,” Ogenga said.

Other presenters on day two included Dr. Jacinta Mwende 
of the University of Nairobi, who discussed media, human rights, and social justice. She articulated several suggestions for reporting human rights, including: 1. No ‘us vs. them’; 2. No worthy or unworthy victims; 3. Report humanely during conflicts; 4. Explore all sides.
Dr. Jacinta Mwende

Professor John Oluoch of Rongo University then discussed how local (vernacular) language radio stations can enhance peace in Kenya. He suggests that media operate objectively, and embrace a model that stresses social responsibility.

The workshop, sponsored by Rongo University CMPDS, The Social Science Research Council, The African Peacebuilding Network, and the Center for Global Peace Journalism at Park University,  concluded with a presentation by Victor Bwire of the Media Council of Kenya. He led a spirited discussion about media ethics and responsibilities. He said ethics, objectivity, and sound journalistic practice are needed if Kenyan journalists are to rebuild trust with the public. I closed the proceedings with a discussion of next steps, including uniting to form a PJ press club in East Africa.

For me, this workshop was a much-needed reminder that local contexts are vital if peace journalism is to take root. I hope this is the first of many such local-context regional workshops in East Africa and elsewhere.

--For more on the first day of the workshop, see the blog post below.--SY

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Workshop puts East African perspective on peace journalism
(Kisumu, Kenya)--“Do you want to make conflict worse or make it better?”

With that question, Dr. Fredrick Ogenga from Rongo University opened today’s  Peace Journalism Training Workshop. Attendees are from five East African countries—Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

I had the privilege of giving the first presentation about the fundamentals of peace journalism, including how peace journalists frame stories as well as the importance of avoiding inflammatory language. Then, the 15 participants and I discussed PJ’s utility in reporting elections (like the upcoming presidential election in Kenya in August) and in leading societal discourse about reconciliation.

Gloria Laker, founding director of the Peace Journalism Foundation of East Africa, followed my presentation with an insightful discussion of PJ and the LRA war (1988-2006) in Northern Uganda. She gave background about the war, and discussed the genesis of peace media in Northern Uganda. It began, ironically, with a military-founded outlet called “Radio Freedom.” Eventually, Radio Freedom morphed into a much larger, and much stronger signaled, station called Mega FM, which is widely lauded with sowing the seeds of peace in Northern Uganda. Laker said media-led peace efforts during and after the LRA war included feature reporting, teaming with NGO’s to offer peace journalism training, offering programs that discussed peace, and fostering cooperation among local, national, and international media.

Dr. Duncan Omanga
The last presenter of the day, Dr. Duncan Omanga from Moi University in Kenya, gave an excellent speech about PJ and terrorism. He analyzed terrorists’ goals vis-à-vis the media, and in the process introduced the audience to the term “violence as a form of communication.” A brisk discussion followed about what constituted terrorism, and about if journalists should use terms like “separatist” or “gunman” instead. Emphasizing the importance of this choice, Dr. Omanga said, “Labels have consequences.”

He concluded with four suggestions for journalists in covering terrorism:

1. Understand the logic of terror
2. Create media policies for covering terrorism
3. Understand the context of terrorism
4. Be sensitive to labels

The workshop is sponsored by Rongo University, The Social Science Research Council, The African Peacebuilder’s Network, and the Center for Global Peace Journalism at Park University. Day two of the event is tomorrow. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

PJ pioneer Dr. Johan Galtung on short list for Nobel Peace Prize
According to Nobel Peace Prize Watch, peace journalism and peace studies pioneer, professor, and founder of Transcend Media Service Dr. Johan Galtung has made the short list of 32 individuals and organizations being considered for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

His nomination, from Prof. Richard Falk of Princeton University and the Univ. of California-Santa Barbara, states, “Johan Galtung has been the sort of dedicated warrior for peace that it seems to me the Nobel Prize was created to honor. By so doing, (this will) raise public consciousness of what must happen if we are to overcome the war system and enjoy the material, political, and spiritual benefits of living in a world of peace premised on the nonviolent resolution of disputes among sovereign states and respect for the authority of international law.

"For decades Johan Galtung has been an inspirational presence in the field of peace studies broadly conceived. His exceptional vitality and mobility has brought this message of understanding and insight into peace with justice to the four corners of the planet in a remarkable fashion that is truly unique in its educational and activist impact. It is no exaggeration to write that he invented and established the field of peace studies as a respected subject of study in institutions of higher learning throughout the world. As a consequence of his charismatic speaking ability and seminal writing Johan Galtung has reached the hearts and minds of thousands of people throughout the world, conveying the belief above all that peace is possible through the dedicated efforts of ordinary people..”

I have had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Galtung for my peace journalism book in 2015. We spent an afternoon eating pizza, sipping tea, and talking about peace, peace journalism, and the state of media. It's among the most fascinating three hours I've ever spent in my life. Dr. Galtung was polite, gracious, and humble. Even well into his 80's, Dr. Galtung is an intellectual giant. In fact, there were times during our visit that I noticed Dr. Galtung slowing down to explain things to me, not in a condescending way, but as a colleague and friend. His observations were insightful and profound, and integral to the success of my book. 

Whether he gets the peace prize or not, Dr. Galtung's work will continue to provide a much-need beacon to light our way through these dark times.

Upon posting this blog, I got a nice tweet from Dr. Galtung. Thank you, kind sir.