Friday, September 16, 2011

Afghan peace journalist inspires

In an inspiring piece in the LA Times, Afghani journalism Emal Haidary writes about his experiences as a journalism fellow in the US, which he calls a “strange paradise”. Haidary's column works on many levels, but it was the conclusion that I found most compelling.

“No one knows what will happen as the U.S. pulls out of Afghanistan. Will the Taliban run the country again?

But I still want to pursue what I call "peace journalism" in Afghanistan. Rather than running from bombing to bombing, writing almost entirely about sadness and destruction, peace journalism tells about the struggles and triumphs of a place. It tells of history, hope and happiness.

I can see peace journalism in my mind's eye. I must make it happen.”

It is because of Haidary and his journalistic brethren in the developing world that I continue to spread the word about the benefits of peace journalism. These journalists have all the ability in the world, and all they are lacking are the tools to transform their reporting into something constructive rather than destructive.

I have seen first-hand how peace journalism principles brought together former adversaries in the Republic of Georgia and prevented media induced violence in Uganda. Imagine the positive impact that a dozen or a hundred Afghani journalists like Haidary "touting triumphs and hope" could have on their society?

Earlier this year, I was flirting with seeking a media training grant to go to Afghanistan, but decided against it for security reasons. After reading Haidary’s piece, if another offer came my way to go to Afghanistan to teach peace journalism, I’d have a hard time saying no.

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