Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Peace Journalism approach needed in protest coverage
As the resistance to the Trump administration continues, with major protests seemingly every few days, some media outlets, faced with how to cover the resistance, seem to be lapsing into familiar patterns of coverage.

A recent mini content analysis of news about the anti-Trump protests shows most notably a gap among different media in the way the cover the grievances that underlie the protests.

A Lexis-Nexis search of newspaper articles about the anti-Trump protests from Jan. 20 to Feb. 20 showed that many stories discussed the root causes of the protests. Of the first 1000 articles that came up in a search, 389 discussed racism, 63 sexism, 44 Islamophobia, and 373 xenophobia. Thus, there were 869 total mentions of these grievances. Fox News coverage was different. During the same time period, for the first 1000 hits generated by the search, 157 stories mentioned racism, 16 sexism, 6 Islamophobia, and 125 xenophobia.   The total Fox mentions of these grievances fueling the protests were 304—much less than half the 869 mentions in the same number of newspaper stories.

This result, while not surprising, provides yet another justification for peace journalism, the first tenet of which implores journalists to examine the causes of conflict, and to lead discussions about solutions.

Also, media of all stripes seem intent on labeling the protests and protesters. The newspaper search showed mentions of protesters as angry (125), violent  (137), and bitter (14).  Fox also reinforced the stereotype of protesters as angry (158), violent  (165), and bitter (27).

Peace journalism encourages journalists to reject such superficial labels that reinforce stereotypes, myths, and misperceptions. Are the protesters more than just bitter losers, angry that their candidate lost the election last fall? Are isolated incidences of violence being overplayed and exaggerated, creating negative misperceptions about 99.9% of the protesters?

Indeed, peace journalists must provide depth and context, rather than just superficial and sensational “play by play” of events like protests, which after all are merely the visible surface manifestations of a roiling sea of underlying discontent.

In my book Peace Journalism Principles and Practices, I encourage journalists to report counter-narratives that provide different perspectives on the protesters. One such example can be found in the Kansas City Star.

The Star’s article (Feb. 16) on the “Day without Immigrants” protest, for example, centered on Marisol Cervantes, who crossed a desert to enter the U.S. but now “lives in fear” of the Trump administration. 

In another example,, which features articles from three Alabama newspapers, profiles undocumented immigrant Cesar Mata and his impressions about Trump’s plan to build a border wall. 

If journalists are really interested in rebuilding their wobbly credibility, a good place to start would be with articles like these that offer stereotype-busting, contextual counternarratives that go beyond superficial labels and breathless “play by play” descriptions of protests and protesters.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Baldwin or Trump? Dominican newspaper can't tell difference
Call for proposals-Regional Peace Journalism Workshop

Center for Media, Democracy, Peace and Security, Rongo University in collaboration with the Social Science Research Council’s African Peacebuilding Network program

The Center for Media, Democracy, Peace and Security (CMDPS), Rongo University in partnership with The African Peacebuilding Network (APN) of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is organizing a two day Regional Peace Journalism Workshop for Eastern Africa to be held at the Center for Media, Democracy, Peace and Security (Rongo University, Kenya). The workshop will provide training for between 12-15 media practitioners, journalists, and editors from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Burundi (radio, TV, print, and digital) in the key concepts and issues in peace journalism, including reflections on the role of the media in conflict mediation and peacebuilding in East African countries.

The workshop will include topics such as essentials of hybrid journalism, conflict, justice, and reconciliation. Part of the training will promote better understanding of three African philosophies of Umoja or unity, Harambee or togetherness, and Utu or humanity. It will also sensitize them to best practices in the adoption of a peace journalism approach as well as the ethics of reporting about sensitive issues, including acts of terrorism. Proposals of about 500 words should be sent to the project coordinator Dr. Fredrick Ogenga: before 25 February 2017. The local organizer will meet all the costs related to the workshop for successful applicants, which will include return air tickets, accommodation, and meals for the entire duration of the workshop.

Participants are expected to come to the workshop with samples of their work/reports, which will be discussed in a practical training session.

Dates: 16 -17 March 2017

Expected Output(s)

PThe final output from the workshop will be an edited e-book titled “African Peace Journalism - A Guide for Scholars and Practitioners” consisting of six chapters. Contributions will be expected from each of the instructors which include one practitioner.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Call for Papers—The Peace Journalist magazine;
Call for audio clips—Peace Journalism Perspectives Podcast

The Peace Journalist magazine is seeking submissions for our April, 2017 edition. The Peace Journalist is a semi-annual publication (print and .pdf) of the Center for Global Peace Journalism at Park University in Parkville, Missouri. The Peace Journalist is dedicated to disseminating news and information for and about teachers, students, and practitioners of peace and conflict sensitive journalism.

Submissions are welcome from all. For the next edition of The Peace Journalist, we are seeking short submissions (300-550 words) detailing peace journalism projects, classes, proposals, academic works in the field, etc. We also welcome longer submissions (800-1200 words) about peace or conflict sensitive journalism projects or program.

Please submit your article via email to Also send a 2-3 sentence biography of the author, as well as a small head and shoulders photo of the author. In addition, please submit photos and graphics that could accompany your article.s, as well as academic works from the field. The Peace Journalist will not run general articles about peace initiatives or projects, but rather seeks only articles with a strong peace media/peace journalism/conflict sensitive journalism angle.
The magazine submission deadline is March 7. However, given the limited space available in this issue, it’s advisable to submit your article early.

To see a .pdf of the October, 2016 edition, go to:

Similarly, the Peace Journalism Perspectives Podcast ( is seeking audio clips related to PJ—short PJ-style radio stories; short interviews with PJ practitioners/teachers; audio clips from PJ events, etc. Please keep your clips to under 3 minutes, and submit to me (mp3) by email. The podcast deadline is February 20.

Thank you in advance for your interest in the Peace Journalist and the PJ podcast.

Steven L. Youngblood, Editor, The Peace Journalist
Director, Center for Global Peace Journalism
Author, “Peace Journalism Principles and Practices”

Park University, Parkville, MO USA

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Public needs truth about "threatening" refugees
Donald Trump’s “extreme vetting” is underway, revealed yesterday in a draft executive order that calls for a 30-day halt to entry of travelers from certain countries, like Syria and Iraq, whose citizens “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” (New York Times, Jan. 25)

As discouraging as the ignorance and xenophobia reflected in this order may be, we can still be comforted by much of the reporting about these restrictions.

A number of news outlets, like the Guardian, Slate, and the Washington Post, have run pieces that reflect the truth about refugees—that they are not a threat. The Migration Policy Institute in 2015 noted that the U.S. “has resettled 784,000 refugees since September 11, 2001. In those 14 years, exactly three resettled refugees have been arrested for planning terrorist activities—and it is worth noting two were not planning an attack in the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible.”

Expanding on this, the Washington Post ran an insightful video yesterday titled “Syrian Refugees to Trump: We are not terrorists.” It follows the heart-wrenching story of how a family escaped the war back home and now wants nothing more than to live their lives peacefully.

A similar story was told in a Jan. 26 Kansas City Star article titled, "KC refugee's message to Trump: We are good people." The article quotes one refugee resettlement official who said, "This is devastating to refugees both here and overseas who will be deprived the opportunity to have a safe life and future for their children."

A Jan. 6 "This American Life" public radio story tells a related tale, but this time about Iraqis who are seeking refuge in the U.S. The catch—these would-be immigrants all helped U.S. military forces during their occupation of Iraq. As a result, these Iraqis are being targeted and killed by extremists. Do we owe them something? One interviewee said, “They risked our lives to keep me and our Marines safe.” Should these Iraqis be “extremely vetted?”

In Slate, Joshua Keating reports about the deplorable conditions that the would-be refugees are fleeing. He writes, “This (executive order) will do far less to deter violence, extremism, and terrorism than punish victims of those forces. In fact, many of those needing asylum are fleeing some of the very same groups the U.S. is fighting.” The article goes on to cite statistics from the seven banned countries. This includes: “more than 2.5 million people in Libya are in need of protection or assistance; how in Somalia, there are alarming rates of malnutrition and food insecurity, exacerbated by a crippling ongoing drought; and how hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced in Sudan by armed conflicts.”

In fact, these examples all reflect the principles of peace journalism, the idea that reporters and editors should make choices that create an atmosphere more conducive to peace, and, in this instance, produce more balanced and sensitive refugee reporting.

In my book “Peace Journalism Principles and Practices,” I’ve included a chapter about covering refugees and other displaced persons. I list these guidelines for covering refugees:

--Avoid spreading propaganda, regardless of the source.
--Don’t use language or images that rely on or reinforce stereotypes, racism, sexism, or xenophobia.
--Humanize individuals and their stories. Look for examples that illustrate larger statistics or trends.
--Proactively investigate and report refugee stories that offer counter-narratives that debunk stereotypes and challenge exclusively negative narratives.

The American public, regardless of their political leanings, needs objective, comprehensive, truthful information about refugees. We have seen the consequences when the public instead is fed a diet of misinformation, lies, and hysteria.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Alternative facts?