Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Kashmir project generates good face-to-face questions, anger online
 My visit to Kashmir has generated some spirited (to put it charitably) comments, both in person and online.

At a lecture at Kashmir University (KU)  today, an intelligent and lively audience quizzed me about the advisability and applicability of peace journalism in the region. The questions were pointed, but good. I conceded that implementing peace journalism here (or really anywhere) is an uphill battle, given corporate and political influences on media. But, I said, it is a battle worth fighting. 

One particularly skeptical questioner wondered how peace journalism can be possible in a conflict area like Kashmir. Good question. My response was that peace efforts , including peace journalism, are underway in lots of conflict areas. I cited Prof. Jake Lynch’s recent peace journalism seminars in Afghanistan as one example. Had I been thinking quicker, I would have also noted vibrant peace journalism activities in Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, and elsewhere.

My KU appearance was preceded by the second day of a four day lecture series at the Islamic University of Science and Technology. Today, the students analyzed Kashmiri media for peace journalism, and came to the conclusion that some peace journalism is indeed practiced here—certainly more than the national Indian media practice, according to the students.

Online, my posts have generated some anger from several anonymous commenters. The gist of their complaints is that I don't know what I'm talking about (an oldie but goodie). Two writers have made comments designed to get me to take sides on the Kashmir conflict, which I have no intention of doing. I won’t comment on India’s treatment of Pakistan, or vice-versa, nor on either country's treatment of Kashmiris. My concern is the media. As I have said repeatedly during my stay here, peace journalism would say that media consumers throughout the region are best served with factual, dispassionate treatment of news that is free from bias (as much as possible) and hyperbole.

To anonymous writers: I'd be happy to post your comment and discuss your concerns, if  you sign your name.

Although I’m growing weary of the anonymous online vitriol, I do look forward to continuing the discussion with my students and professional journalists here in Kashmir this week.

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