Friday, July 24, 2015

Peace, and journalism, in Kashmir
As our peace journalism project gets underway in Kashmir next week, it’s worthwhile to look at the state of both peace and journalism in the region.

The dispute over the Kashmir region is ongoing. When there’s not actual shooting, the conflict manifests itself in a number of other ways. Just this month, protesters displayed a Pakistani flag and an Islamic flag (some say it’s an ISIS flag).  One report said, “Stone-pelting youths took to the streets in the Safa Kadal area of old city Srinagar as police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel used batons and tear smoke canisters to disperse the protesters. “ ( ). The government then imposed a curfew in an attempt to quell the unrest.

According to a groundbreaking study by Seow Ting Lee and Crispin C. Maslog, journalists on both sides of the India-Pakistan border have been using a traditional, sensational “war reporting” framework when covering the conflict.

This study is based on a content analysis of 1,338 newspaper stories from 10 English- language daily newspapers from the five Asian countries (India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka) involved in the four regional conflicts. The stories were content analyzed by six graduate students in mass communication between March and May 2003. 

The study found that the coverage was predominantly traditional journalism, which they called war journalism. "Out of the 1,338 stories in Asian newspaper, 749 stories (56%) were framed as war journalism, compared to 478 stories (35.7%) framed as peace journalism, and 111 stories (8.3%) that were neutral.

Of all the conflict coverage analyzed in the study, Kashmir coverage was most likely to be framed as war journalism by Indian and Pakistani newspapers. The two countries differed in their framing of war/peace/neutral stories, with a significantly higher proportion of war journalism frames observed for Pakistan (74.2%) than for India (63.7%),  Based on the war journalism index, the Pakistani papers showed a stronger war journalism frame than the Indian papers. The strongest war journalism framing is by the Pakistan News Service; nearly 80% of its stories were framed as war journalism, followed by the Statesmen (67%), Hindustan Times (66.4%), Pakistan Dawn (65.6%), and Times of India (59%).

The Pakistan News Service, as a national news agency, demonstrated the highest number of war journalism frames among the 10 news organizations. Overall, stories produced by national news agencies were observed to have a significantly higher proportion of war journalism frames (78.7%) than stories produced by independent news organizations. (

A second study by Seow Ting Lee in 2010 essentially replicated the results above from the 2003 study.

As we launch the Kashmir project, the first question I’ll be asking my university and journalistic colleagues is whether war journalism is still predominant in the region 12 years after the Lee/Maslog study. (From what I'm reading, the answer will be yes). If yes, I hope we can explore the reasons why, and whether (or if) peace journalism can provide an antidote to poisonous, destructive reporting. If peace journalism has a place in India and Kashmir, what obstacles will have to be overcome before it can be more widely practiced?

We'll begin updating the project next week on this site.

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