Thursday, May 3, 2018

Ethiopian students: Journalism must counter hate speech

(GONDAR, ETHIOPIA)--There is an ongoing political crisis in Ethiopia, punctuated by violent protests and internet shutdowns by the government in 2017 and general strikes and a state of emergency this year.

As part of an assignment in my broadcast and multimedia writing course, I asked my University of Gondar students to write a blog post reflecting on the utility of peace journalism as a potential tool to help mitigate the conflict. 

Below are some excerpts from their blogs:

“How can peace journalism calm the Ethiopian crisis? PJ can examine the causes of the conflict and lead discussions about solutions. It offers counternarratives and rejects official propaganda and instead seeks facts from all sides.” (Tilahun Weyessa and Niguse Kekebo)

“Peace journalism can take a great role to create peace in the country. I believe that every media ask themselves how to cover events and how to tell the story to create peace…In my opinion, journalism cannot help to distribute information but also (must) counter hate speech and create an environment of balanced information…” (Mesafint Mamo and Melese Gobena)

“Peace journalism can help the Ethiopian crisis by exploring the background and context of the conflict and by giving information from all sides in the conflict, not just two sides as the mainstream media usually portrays. PJ offers creative ideas for conflict resolution, development, peacemaking and peacekeeping, exposing lies and cover-ups of culprits on all sides…The greatest problem is the practices that lead to misrepresentation of the reality and accurate framing of the facts. PJ is thus born out of a need for good quality of reporting.” (Kemechew Gudisha)

“In Ethiopia peace journalism enhances people’s mutual understanding through asking (about) the problems that lead into conflict, making ongoing discussions and adjusting conflict resolution methods to minimize ethnic conflict and maximize tolerance…”  (Abraham Mugoro and Mekonnen Hagos)

The students’ comments reflect what I’ve been hearing from journalists throughout Ethiopia—that peace journalism can indeed be a useful tool here.

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