Friday, March 9, 2018

Is peace journalism more than just good journalism?

(Bahir Dar, Ethiopia)-My third and final day here, I met with about 50 journalists from the Amhara Mass Media Association and about the same number of students at Bahir Dar University about the basics of PJ and its role in reconciliation.
At Amhara Mass Media Assoc.

The BDU session featured a mixed group consisting of undergraduates and master’s and doctoral students. One especially astute graduate student asked: If journalists write objectively and in a balanced fashion, are they automatically peace journalists? I responded that being objective and balanced isn’t enough, and that peace journalists make the extra effort to give peacemakers a voice, to avoid inflammatory language, and to give voice to the voiceless.

Along these same lines, we also discussed if peace journalism is nothing more than just good journalism. As I look back, I’m dissatisfied with my response. I should have said this, or at least made it clearer: Yes, peace journalism is good journalism—balanced, objective, fact-based. However, I believe PJ transcends traditional good journalism because of its emphasis on solutions, reporting proactively, rejecting reporting only for and about elites, and so on.

I loved my stay in Bahir Dar, and will try to squeeze in another visit (either official or recreational) before my stint in Ethiopia is complete in May.


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