Wednesday, December 5, 2018

In Santa Fe, talking immigrants, media coverage, and PJ
(Santa Fe, New Mexico)—Given the right topic, even I can hold an audience’s attention.

This was proven today at the “Journalism Under Fire” conference, where a lively group of about 40 gathered with me to discuss media coverage of migrants, and how peace journalism can be a tool to improve that coverage.

After a quick examination of superficiality, negativity, and stereotyping coverage of Syrian refugees in  European and Turkish media, we talked about how many of those same traits can be seen in recent coverage of the caravan “crisis.” I showed findings of recent studies that showed the threat was exaggerated, and that negative language was used far more than positive language about the caravan migrants. Finally, we discussed the way that the president used the media to spread his anti-immigrant hysteria.

Peace journalism, conversely, would portray immigrants more three-dimensionally, and with a humanitarian angle. PJ would also reject the harsh, judgmental language we’ve seen so much in the media. I played several examples of peace journalism style stories, including a terrific piece by NPR’s Scott Simon about a family separated at the border (

The audience pitched me some difficult questions to close out the discussion. Will audiences pay attention to PJ stories? (Actually, research shows audiences prefer PJ and solutions themed stories). How can we get media consumers out of their bubbles? (Not easy. Start with media literacy).
We could have discussed all of this for two more hours. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the discussion doesn’t continue at coffee breaks and lunch over  the next couple of days.

I’ll have more about this excellent conference in the coming days. For now, learn more at: .

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