Peace and Democratic Society - 6. The Role of the Media and Communication - Open Book Publishers
THE MEDIA AND CREATING CRITICAL MASS FOR PEACE CONCLUSION 26 peacebuilding should deal and interact with the media. As civil society . these values, they are likely to be in direct relation to the values of the public at. However, this simple relationship must not be taken for granted and . In Africa, several efforts have been made to use the mass media to. Different types of media are utilised globally to distribute knowledge and idealistically, free mass media is a tool of and signpost for democracy.
It stands for freedom of speech, the right to information and the representation of different opinions in a heterogeneous society. In any culture of prevention, effective and democratic media are an essential part and indispensable for societies trying to make a transition towards peace and democracy. Not giving people the possibility of political participation and not allowing them to express themselves freely is a significant cause of conflict.
On the one hand free, independent and pluralistic media provide a platform for debate and different opinions. On the other hand, media can be misused for propaganda purposes, to incite hatred and spread rumours and therefore artificially create tensions .
The transmission of ideas is also not limited to conventional media such as newspapers, TV or radio. Arguably, the traditional media takes primacy in this, however, new technologies, the internet and digital content should also be considered in this context .
- 6. The Role of the Media and Communication
Lack of information can, at any stage of a conflict, make people desperate, restless and easy to manipulate. The ability to make informed decisions strengthens societies and fosters economic growth, democratic structures and the positive outlook on the future. Journalism does not need justification for its existence. Its service to society is justification in itself. Journalism can not only help to distribute information but also counter hate-speech and create an environment of balanced opinions, an information equilibrium .
For the media it can be problematic to find a balance between preventing harm caused by speech and protecting individual expression. Being able to find this balance, however is important especially in conflict situations. Responsible journalism does not just re-publish press releases but is truly concerned with a truthful, balanced and fair account of events.
In order to achieve this journalists have to stay clear of judgemental representations and describe reality without embellishment . If democracy is to work properly, society needs access to news and information; analysis of the status quo, debate, practical information and exchange as well as entertainment are needed and provided by the media.
The definition of conflict and defining conflict areas is not easy and no two places are alike. Journalists need to know what they can expect on sight in order to define the objectives of their project. The mass media is a pervasive part of daily life especially in industrialised countries and thus able to shine a light on conflicts anywhere in the world.
For this very reason the intervention of unbiased and free global media is important not only for the world public but also for the people directly affected. The number of conflicts, however, that gets international attention is small; therefore local media is vital in this context .
Broadcasting news by using community radios can help reach people in different areas, even with different languages more easily. This way people can be addressed directly and their own personal experiences and lives can be incorporated much better, than with foreign media. The danger of manipulation and inflammation of ethnic tensions, however, cannot be ignored.
Another advantage of local media, especially radio is that in border areas it is possible to convey peace messages to passing fighters and refugees alike .
Democratic media structures need more than this; it is vital that the use of information within a society is not solemnly passive but that the population gets actively involved in creating content and broadcasting it .
Internal conflicts do not occur spontaneously but tend to have a history. In this light, Robert Karl Manoff argues that independent media have an almost inherent capability to contribute to conflict resolution and peacebuilding. He points out that the basic functions of media are the same as those involved in conflict-resolution processes: Nonetheless, the use of media as a peacebuilding tool is still controversial.
The first is that politicians, the military and aid organisations often perceive the media as a threat Adam and Holguin, There is a fear that any incautious remark, military strategy, or confidential document will be published by the media, without consideration of the consequences to the conflict.
The Role of the Media in Peace Building, Conflict Management, and Prevention
The second reason is that journalists themselves are uncomfortable with their role as peacebuilders. This function is perceived to be incompatible with the basic journalistic principle of objectivity, which dictates that the media should merely report, and not play any part in a conflict.
A strong stance can, however, be made against these objections, as the media have inevitably been involved in recent conflicts. The media can also be used in a more pro-active manner to promote the aforementioned cognitive, attitudinal and behavioural changes in society. The case-study of Afghanistan will demonstrate how an intended outcome program can contribute successfully to peacebuilding.
Many people are bilingual, and the mixing of languages is common, with few people speaking a pure form of one of the languages Skuse, b: The past thirty years of its history have thus been characterised by instability and conflict. The incessant violence can be described as three subsequent civil war phases Giustozzi, ; Giustozzi, ; Maley, Intra-party power struggles and rural armed revolt of the conservative Islamic mujahideen, provoked the Soviet invasion in This occupation was continually challenged and finally defeated in The second phase arose after the Soviet retreat, when the victorious mujahideen started fighting each other for power.
The third phase of the war is marked by the invasion of Western coalition forces to overthrow the Taliban regime. The current government under president Karzai faces resurgent Taliban attacks. Incivilian deaths reached an all-time high since the invasion Afghanistan Rights Monitor, February The Afghan media-scape The ongoing conflict has inevitably affected the Afghan media environment.
Under communist rule, there was a widespread distribution of cheap transistor radios, as well as wide availability of Chinese-made batteries. Radio thus was and still is the most accessible medium for the majority of the population Rene et al. As a result of this propagandist broadcasting, Radio Afghanistan became highly unpopular. A former employee of the station recalls: Following the Soviet retreat, Radio Afghanistan was destroyed by the mujahideen.
Although denouncing communism, the propagandist nature of the broadcasts did not change substantially. The Taliban furthermore banned television, film, printed imagery, music and the broadcasting of female voices Skuse, a: Against this background, it was unsurprising that the Afghan people started looking for alternative sources of information and entertainment, in the form of international radio broadcasts.
The Afghan state did not have the technical capability to exclude these foreign signals. The rationale was to help the Afghan people with socially useful information to survive in the war-torn country. For the past seventeen years, the soap opera New Home, New Life  has been broadcasted three times a week at prime time for fifteen minutes. It relies on the audience to draw its own conclusions from the dilemmas with which they are presented. The research that preceded the production of New Home, New Life was extensive.
Afghan writers, broadcasters and actors were recruited among refugee populations in Pakistan. The soap opera is broadcasted in both Dari and Pashto, in simple, colloquial language. Indeed, as one listener remarked: The actors and actresses, being from different parts of the country, disguise their accents in order to fit into the fictional community.
The alignment of the two is crucial to encourage certain behaviour at an appropriate moment, for instance in harvesting season or during festivals Skuse, b: New Home, New Life was instantly popular among both men and women  and has remained so up to this day. Numerous times, the soap opera caused popular outcry: Even the Taliban were loyal listeners, despite the pro-women agenda of the drama. There are, however, multiple problems with the evaluation of this success.
The first is that surveying the audience is complicated by a lack of infrastructure.
The Role Communication in Peace Building | recordsandarchives
Moreover, it is difficult to measure intangible aims such as attitudinal changes Curtis, Additionally, in a conflict-affected region, numerous aid and peacebuilding organisations are active. This complicates attributing measured changes to one particular project. Finally, even when behavioural change is measured, it remains problematic to distinguish reported from actual change; what people say they do may differ from what they actually do Adam, Many media peacebuilding projects are not sufficiently analysed due to a combination of these predicaments.
This is problematic, for an unclear understanding of the impact of these projects impedes the ubiquitous acceptance and implementation of media interventions in peacebuilding. One such storyline was concerned with the awareness of unexploded landmines. The BBC Afghan Education Projects AEP systematic ally evaluated whether the lessons about landmines, embedded in the storyline, were understood and remembered by the audience.
The results showed a large increase in attained knowledge among listeners Adam, This evaluation indicated that the BBC had a significantly positive impact on the casualties caused by landmines: This contrasted starkly with the lack of impact of the other mine awareness programmes evaluated in the report, all of which were face-to-face Andersson et al. Anecdotal evidence also indicates the success of the BBC in generating behavioural change.
The first factor is its format. The pro-active intended outcome design of the soap opera is suitable to convey messages without being perceived as propaganda.
Finally, the running storylines allow the repetitive highlighting of important issues without boring the audience. This reiteration is crucial to achieve normative change Adam, The second factor that accounts for the success of New Home, New Life is its local specificity and cultural appropriateness, ensured by the extensive research in the pre-production phase.
Mary Anderson points out that it is important for peacebuilders to identify the connectors of a society, such as common systems, attitudes, experiences, values and symbols Anderson, By emphasising these connectors, New Home, New Life promotes the reconciliation of groups.
Moreover, by researching the local norms, the soap opera avoids being seen as too modernising. A final and important aspect is the concern that a rural, isolated and under-educated audience may find it challenging to engage in comprehensive societal discussion Olorunnisola, Partnerships of trust are the third bedrock of the success of the soap opera, most notably between the BBC and local Afghan broadcasters, writers and actors.
The education of the local team was all-important in the long-term viability of the project. An example of cooperation are the National Immunisation Days, when New Home, New Life advocates the importance of the vaccination campaigns. For a message to achieve its desired effect, the source must be deemed credible by the audience. The fourth basis of success is thus the trust in and credibility of the BBC as a media outlet. Through audience surveys and focus groups, feedback is presented to the scriptwriters and producers.
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In this way, the soap opera has firmly established itself over the past seventeen years as an instrument for peacebuilding within a challenging war-torn environment. One recurrent critique of the production is its overtly positive portrayal of new economic possibilities, which omit the realities of extreme poverty. In order to inspire the audience to embark on new income-generating activities, these must appear to pay off, even though, in reality, many obstacles may cause their failure.
New Media No discussion of the use of media in peacebuilding is complete without mention of the opportunities that the advance of new media, particularly mobile phone technology and the internet, offer. When the Taliban government was overthrown inthe telephone network in Afghanistan was virtually non-existent.
At the moment, there are twelve million mobile phones Central Intelligence Agency,with aroundbeing sold monthly Adam, Some 85 percent of the country is covered by mobile network Adam, The user fees are dropping rapidly and evidence from neighbouring Pakistan shows that text messages are being sent by all classes of society, indicating that low education levels do not form a barrier to texting Adam, April Internet use is also proliferating, with some 1 million internet users nationally Central Intelligence Agency, and around internet cafes in Kabul Adam, In Afghanistan, a new project called Mahaal allows people to receive the news on their mobile phone.
As mobile phone coverage is now more ubiquitous than radio coverage, this is a particularly useful way to disperse information in remote areas Adam, The greatest potential of new media is their ability to make media peacebuilding interventions more participatory. Dialogue is the first step in creating the sense that disputes should be settled through negotiation rather than violence.