PJ may assist reconciliation in Colombia
Where can peace journalism do the most good? Certainly, countries currently torn by war (South Sudan) can benefit, as can nations where journalistic credibility and fake news are a problem (U.S.) and countries where refugees and immigrants are negatively portrayed by the media (Turkey and Germany, among others).
However, I believe that the places where peace journalism can have the most positive impact are those countries where violent conflicts have ended and reconciliation is underway. I have seen first-hand the positive influence of peace journalism on reconciliation processes in Uganda. I believe this positive role may also be possible in my destination later this week, Colombia, where the healing from a 50-year guerilla war is just getting underway.
At the kind invitation of the Colombia Fulbright Association and the Colombian Presidential Human Rights Council, I will be in Arauca, in the north, discussing peace and reconciliation journalism. In my keynote address, I’ll talk about media’s role in reconciliation. Taking a chapter (literally) from my textbook Peace Journalism Principles and Practices, I’ll outline the ways media can make a positive impact in post-conflict settings. In post conflict settings, the media can:
- Dissipate rumors and propaganda;
- Create spaces for expressing diverse (and sometimes conflicting) viewpoints;
- Report to ensure transparency and accountability;
- Educate the public about reconciliation processes;
- Produce counter-narrative reporting that makes “the other side human”, thus rejecting “us vs. them” stories;
- Produce counter-narrative reporting that offers positive examples of tolerance, cooperation, and collaboration across boundaries;
- Produce counter-narrative reporting that presents stories about commonalities across boundaries;
- Report stories that give a voice to the voiceless (victims and those seeking solutions).
Then, in a workshop with academics, Fulbrighters, students, and journalists, we’ll list the obstacles to implementing peace journalism in Colombia, as well as brainstorm ideas for specifically how PJ principles might be applied to reconciliation in Colombia.
I’m looking forward to meeting my Colombian colleagues and learning more about their unique opportunities and challenges. Also, I can’t wait to try some authentic arepas con aguacates (avocados).