The Role Of Media In Peace Building Politics Essay
History has shown that the media can incite people toward violence. Hitler used the media to create an entire worldview of hatred for Jews, homosexuals, and other minority groups. Rwanda’s radio RTLM urged listeners to pick up machetes and take to the streets to kill what they called ‘the cockroaches.’ Broadcasters in the Balkans polarized local communities to the point where violence became an acceptable tool for addressing grievances. The media’s impact on the escalation of conflict is more widely recognized than the media’s impact on peace-building. Yet it is not uncommon to hear experts pronounce that the media’s impact on peace-building must be significant given its powerful impact on conflict. However, this simple relationship must not be taken for granted and should be critically examined in order to most effectively use the media for conflict prevention and peace-building (Wolfsfeld, 2004, p.15)
In the last six decades, the influence of the media in the global arena has increasingly been recognized, especially its power to either exacerbate or contain potential conflicts. Indeed it is worth noting that among the defendants during the Nuremburg trials which were constituted by the allied forces following the defeat of the Germany and her allies immediately after the second world war was one Julius Streicher who although never held any official position within the Nazi party hierarchy, was considered to be among the top individuals who bore the greatest responsibility for the holocaust that killed more than six million Jews (Nuremburg trial papers). For close to twenty five years, Streicher had “educated’ the Germany people in hatred and incited them to the persecution and the extermination of the Jewish race. The propaganda which Streicher carried for close to twenty five years was chiefly done through the medium of his newspaper as the editor of the “Der Stuemer” and later several other provincial journals (May 24 1934 issue).
As early as the 17th century, Edmund Burke had coined the term the fourth estate, to demonstrate the growing power of the media in periods when power and influence was concentrated in hands of only three classes of society (Calyle, p 392).). Although it is still debatable as who was the first to use the word, Burke is said to have remarked that “there were estates in Parliament, but in the reporters gallery yonder, there sat the fourth estate more important than four than they all”. He was making reference to the traditional three estates of Parliament: The Lords spiritual, the Lords temporal and the Commons (Schultz, p.4).
In the last 50 years the media influence has grown exponentially with the advance of technology, first there was the telegraph, then the radio, the newspaper, magazines, television and now the internet. Many people are today fully dependent on the information and communication to keep moving in the right direction and their daily activities like work, entertainment, healthcare, education, personal relationships, traveling are greatly controlled by what they read, hear and see. New communications technologies such as mobile/video phones and laptop computers are allowing journalists to gather and disseminate information with ease from many parts of the world. The digitization of the news industry, which has led to a compression of time and space, means we see news images of demonstrations, riots or coups within minutes of these occurring in the streets.
These images not only inform global audiences, but may instigate further campaigns of violence at home. Commercial realities of news gathering have also affected the reporting of conflicts. The higher cost of news gathering in remote regions, coupled with the geopolitical and economic priorities of the West, mean that conflicts occurring at close proximity to the metropolitan centers receive coverage at the expense of those occurring further away in less developed regions of the world. A study of conflict reporting in the world's major news outlets in 2000 shows that the Israel Palestine conflict was by far the most covered - five times greater than the next most covered conflict (Hawkins, 2002) . Virgil Hawkins, the researcher who conducted the study, notes:
“By contrast, conflict in Africa, which has been, in the post-Cold-War world, is responsible for up to 90 percent of the world's total war dead suffered an almost complete media blackout. Coverage of the massive war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which caused in excess of one million deaths in the year 2000, was almost insignificant (p. 231).
With the international news agenda controlled by the world's major media giants, it has become crucial to develop and strengthen media at the local level to maintain diversity of opinion. As media in many developing nations, such as Kenya, move away from state control towards private enterprise, it is essential for local media to find their own voice and professional codes. A well developed media system with professionally trained journalists usually benefits both global and local audiences and provides a vital link to the outside world during conflict situations. The media is a double-edged sword. It can be a frightful weapon of violence when it propagates messages of intolerance or disinformation that manipulate public sentiment; but there is another aspect to the media, “…it can be an instrument of conflict resolution, when the information it presents is reliable, respects human rights, and represents diverse views. It is the kind of media that enables a society to make well-informed choices, which is the precursor of democratic governance. It is a media that reduces conflict and fosters human security” (BBC policy briefing). Today, in every part of the world reliable, accurate and objective media, whether be it mainstream, alternative or traditional/non-conventional, can both help to prevent and resolve conflict through the automatic functions of responsibly disseminating information, furthering awareness and knowledge, promoting participatory and transparent governance, and addressing perceived grievances. In the same vein, inadvertently or overtly propagandistic media may equally fuel tensions and exacerbate conflicts, which in extreme cases like in Rwanda may directly result in genocide (Thomson, 1998).
1.1 Background of the Study
To argue that media does make a difference means rejecting the view that media are no more than mirrors of something else –consumer choices; elite interests, or reality itself (as in the positivist assertions by some journalists that they simply report ‘the way it is’). It is a commonplace to suggest that media provide their audiences with a ‘map’ of the social and political world beyond their own immediate experience. From this observation about contemporary complex society, flow other notions of media power: agenda setting (media capacity to focus public attention on some events and issues, and away from others); the spiral of silence (the withering of issues and perspectives ignored by media); priming (media ability to influence citizens’ criteria of political evaluation); cultivation (the gradual adoption of beliefs about the social world that correspond to television’s selective picture of the world), framing, and the ‘ideological effect’ (the production of meaning in the service of domination) (Hackett & Carroll, 2006, p.30-31).
A less frequently considered but equally pertinent dimension of media influence is their relationship with anti-war movements. Within reasonably democratic states, and in the absence of elite discord, such movements may be the most important buffer within civil society against war. The movement/media relationship is asymmetrical: movements need media (to mobilize support, validate their political existence, and attract new supporters) far more than vice versa (Gamson & Wolfsfeld 1993). Media play contradictory but important roles at every stage of their trajectory; their emergence, organizational self-maintenance, and success; when political and foreign policy elites are united around a war policy, dominant media are likely to trivialize or demonize anti-war dissent (Gitlin 1980; Hackett 1991). In the context specifically of war, some scholars see an intensification of media agenda-setting with the advent of real-time, 24-hour, globally distributed television news –most iconically Bernard Shaw’s and Peter Arnett’s reporting for Cable News Network (CNN) from Baghdad during the 1991 Gulf War. The so-called “CNN effect” allegedly highlights political uncertainty and incompetence, accelerates the pace at which politicians must respond to crises, and creates expectations and emotions that may force governments, against their initial inclinations, to intervene (or disengage) in conflict situations. The American “humanitarian” intervention in Somalia is often cited as an example (Spencer, 2005, p.24-38).
According to Arnold (2005), the mass media contributed immensely to the propagation of US foreign policy agenda, couching imperial military actions in terms of humanitarian interventions’ undertaken to promote global freedom and democracy. This gave the US foreign policy the media attention cycle as there was competition among worldwide television and radio networks such as BBC, CNN, FOX TV and Channel 4 as who gets the right information first. This therefore, created huge demand for Western media even in non-western countries.
In Africa, several efforts have been made to use the mass media to promote peace. For example, Radio for Peace-Building Africa (RFPA) is a program founded in 2003 by the international non-profit organization Search for Common Ground. The following are the countries in which RFPA is operated: Burundi, Central African Republic, Kenya, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda. Working on the assumption that radio is the most accessible form of mass communication in Africa, RFPA trains journalists in peace-building, conflict resolution, and acting on commonalities. As stated in their achievements, 2010, RFPA has more than 3,000 members representing 100 countries, across Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. They have carried out over 90 workshops and trained local radio station personnel (Radio for Peace-Building Africa, 2011).
If the media have played an important role in breeding violence, it seems reasonable to examine the prospects of the reverse perspective-positive media contributions to ending violence and peace building in Kenya as a whole. Furthermore, if the media are usually found to support forces that lead to violent conflict, it can also be said that the media have the power to influence the activities that promote peace in the society. While media have been prominent contributors to every post-Cold War conflict (Prince and Thompson, 2002, Allen and Seaton, 1999), their role in post conflict peace-building and social development has not been apparent. Elsewhere however, recently there have been enough proves to accept the idea regarding the use of role that the media have played in peace-building. For instance, in Bosnia, Burundi, Cambodia, Croatia, Israel/Palestine, Macedonia, and Rwanda there are documented positive accomplishment of initiated projects of post-conflict recovery through the role of the media (McGoldrick, 2006).
Also, over the past seven years, RFPA promoted peace in its areas of operation through levels of collaboration that it established between the government, media (TV stations and news papers) and civil society, increased the ability of radio stations to identify the underlying causes of war and conflict, increased the public's access to policy information, and used media to foster communication between policy makers and the civil society within that state, among other achievement (Radio for Peace-Building Africa: Achievements, 2012).
1.2 Problem Statement
Literature on conflict and peace-building reveals a dismal focus on the role of the media in peace processes. Existing theory only tends to portray the media as essential in reporting and generating discourses on conflicts (Wolfsfeld, 2004; Watson, 2006; Bratic, 2006). Scholars of the post-election phenomenon in Kenya quickly conclude that, the crisis was a deeply rooted political and ethnic problem. Yet, the role of the media in the conflict, as well as its ability to mediate peace is not adequately tackled. In the East African region, Kenyan media like that in Rwanda has been scrutinized at the level of international law as a perpetrator of political violence. The post-2007 crisis serves as a good case to exemplify the process from conflict to peace-building.
First, it illustrates the double role of the media as a constructive and destructive agent, and provides a link between media freedom and human rights. Secondly, this research explores challenges of media freedom within fragile democracies, where politics, poverty and ethnic differences can influence the media agenda. While the use of “hate speech” in the media is not discounted, this project will not focus on the subject as a whole, but draw examples to examine arguments. This project does not discuss ethnicity as a theory, but rather uses the term ethnic violence, a theme applied to describe political and ethnic tensions in Kenya (Hagg & Kagwanja, 2007). The concept of ethnic violence has also been characterised as an element of civil or “degenerate wars” by several authors in recent years (Hanssen, 2000; Shaw, 2003; Kaldor, 2006).
In recent times the effect of the mass media in shaping and forming the view of people especially the radio due to its accessibility, affordability and availability as compared to TV and computers (social networks e.g. Face book, Twitter, and YouTube) has contributed immensely to the development of a country. In the area of sport the mass media is promoting all kinds of sports especially football through constant publicity. As an emerging buoyant economic industry, the various media houses have established front desk for sports. Besides, they also have sports journalist who monitor, research and analyze sports related issues in the world, Africa and Kenya in particular. This has brought sports to the limelight of the media and given it a place in the media cycle.
Inferring to the above and many achievements and contributions of the mass media in Kenya, it can be concluded that the mass media actually do assist in social improvements and building the ideals of the society. By systematically monitoring the performance of state institutions and reporting progress activities of the government, by guiding and dispensing of socialization, and by entertaining its audiences through interesting programmes. Against this background, many media houses have capacity building programmes to enhance public participation through phoning-in sessions. These programmes are also inspired by the need to improve and deepen governance and democracy. Notwithstanding, none or little concern has been given to programmes that are geared towards peace-building. It is for this reason that this study seeks to find out the role of the mass media in peace-building in Kenya.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this research will be to explore the role the media has played in peace building among selected media houses in Kenya.
The specific objectives of the research will be:
To examine the activities of the media in peace-building.
To establish the measures that government, stakeholders and media houses have put in place towards peace-building.
To find out whether the media has been successfully used to promote peace in Kenya.
To assess the effects of the media on peace-building.
To make recommendations towards the use of the media in promoting and enhancing peace-building in Kenya.
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions will serve as research questions to guide this research.
What are the activities of the media in peace-building?
What measures has the government, stakeholders and media houses put in place towards peace-building?
How has the media been successfully used to promote peace in Kenya?.
What are the effects of the media on peace-building?
1.5 Rationale for the Study
The media is a double-edged sword. It can be a frightful weapon of violence when it propagates messages of intolerance or disinformation that manipulate public sentiment. But there is another aspect to the media. It can be an instrument of conflict resolution, when the information it presents is reliable, respects human rights, and represents diverse views. It is the kind of media that enables a society to make well-informed choices, which is the precursor of democratic governance. It is a media that reduces conflict and fosters human security. Today, in every part of the world, reliable, accurate and objective media, whether mainstream, alternative or non-conventional, can both help to prevent and resolve conflict through the automatic functions of responsibly disseminating information, furthering awareness and knowledge, promoting participatory and transparent governance, and addressing perceived grievances. In the same vein, inadvertently or overtly propagandistic media may equally fuel tensions and exacerbate conflicts. This study aims at establishing the role of media in peace-building in Kenya.
1.6 Assumptions of the Study
This study will be guided by the following assumptions:
The media houses in Kenya have adopted acceptable practices in relation to peace-building reporting in their operations.
The target audience from the population that will be selected will give a fair representation of the whole population under study.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
Unexpected negative response from respondents due to the fact that they will be unwilling to give out sensitive organizational information. This will be delimited through counter-checking on secondary literature as well as desk-reviews.
1.8 Definition of Key Terms
Capacity development is the process whereby individuals, groups, and organisations enhance their abilities to mobilize and use resources in order to achieve their objectives on a sustainable basis. Efforts to strengthen abilities of individuals, groups, and organisations can comprise a combination of (i) human skills development; (ii) changes in organisations and networks; and (iii) changes in governance/institutional context (ADB, 2004). Capacity building is a complex notion – it involves individual and organisational learning which builds social capital and trust, develops knowledge, skills and attitudes and when successful creates an organisational culture which enables organisations to set objectives, achieve results, solve problems and create adaptive procedures which enable it to survive in the long term
In this study the term ethnic violence will be defined as a theme applied to describe political and ethnic tensions in Kenya (Hagg & Kagwanja, 2007).
“The media” refers to “several mediums or channels used in an organized fashion to communicate information to groups of people, as a service to the public” (Howard, 2002). In regard to this project, media is mainstream or independent (print, radio, television) in general.
According to Lynch and McGoldrick (2005) peace journalism is when editors and reporters make choices of what stories to report, and how to report them which create opportunities for society at large to consider and to value non-violent responses to conflict. Peace Journalism entails:
Uses the insights of conflict analysis and transformation to update the concepts of balance, fairness and accuracy in reporting
Provides a new route map tracing the connections between journalists, their sources, the stories they cover and the consequences of their journalism – the ethics of journalistic intervention
Builds an awareness of non-violence and creativity into the practical job of everyday editing and reporting” (Lynch and McGoldrick 2005 p. 5).
The Carnegie Endowment’s Commission on the Prevention of Deadly Conflict (1997) defined peace-building as “structural prevention” which consists of the strategies to address the root causes of deadly conflict. Likewise, the Joint Utstein study of peace-building concludes that “peace-building attempts to encourage the development of the structural conditions, attitudes, and modes of political behavior that may permit peaceful, stable and ultimately prosperous social and economic development.” It states that there are four main headings related to peace-building: to provide security, to establish the socioeconomic foundations of long-term peace, to establish the political framework of long-term peace, and to generate reconciliation, a healing of the wounds of war and justice (Smith, 2003).
These terms will be adopted in this study based but not limited to the above definitions.
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 The Kenyan Media: An Overview
Kenya has a plural, sophisticated and robust mass media and communication sector that serve the various competing political, social, economic, cultural and technological needs of diverse interest groups. The sector has grown rapidly in the past 15 years because of a combination of factors including political and economic liberalization; and Kenya’s strategic location as a regional and international economic and communication hub. Before 1992, the media scene was small, urban based and less independent owing to repressive media laws and regulation. Today, the media especially radio and television, reaches all urban centers and almost all rural communities. The broadcasting sub-sector is diverse, dynamic and competitive with substantial reach. There are about 14 TV and 113 radio stations in Kenya (Steadman Group, 2008). Radio is the number one source of information reaching almost 90 percent of the entire population followed by television reaching about 40 percent and newspapers (30 percent). There are about 7.5 million radio sets (1.9 million in urban and 5.6 in rural areas) and 3.2 million TV sets in Kenya (1.4 million in urban and 1.8 in rural areas) in the country. There are about 16.7 radio listeners across the country with 12.4 million in rural and 4.4 million in towns (Steadman Group, 2008).
Interesting developments in the broadcasting sector include the proliferation of FM stations broadcasting in over 21 ethnic languages out of 42 (CCK, 2008). The FM stations broadcasting in ethnic languages command about 30 percent of the market share today. Unfortunately, low professionalism characterizes most of these FM stations because they employ untrained and less experienced journalists. Satellite broadcasting is also thriving particularly among the upper and middle class in urban areas (Howard, 2008). Although the print media has a history of relative independence, it remains an urban phenomenon in Kenya. Kenya has 5 daily newspapers and over 10 weekly newspapers. The dominant newspapers are the Standard with a daily circulation of 80,000 -110,000; and Nation newspapers with a circulation of 100,000 – 120,000 (Mbeke & Mshindi, 2008). The new media is also catching up in Kenya which boasts of 17.6 million mobile phone owners and 3.2 million internet users. There are over 1000 active blogs in Kenya. Safaricom, Kenya’s number one mobile operator commands 70 percent of the market share and has over 16 million subscribers.
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), the oldest and only public broadcaster, has the largest network of TV and radio stations across the country. KBC radio service, broadcasting in over 21 ethnic languages, is the only network in Kenya with the capacity to reach all audiences across the country. It also operates KBC TV. Royal Media Services, owned by media magnate S.K. Macharia, is the second largest media house in Kenya. It operates Citizen TV which has a national reach and several radio stations broadcasting in ethnic languages including Kikuyu (Inooro), Luo (Ramogi), Kamba (Musyi), Luhya (Mulembe) among others The Nation Media Group (NMG) is the largest media network in Kenya with interests in newspapers, magazines, TV and radio. It operates the Daily Nation, Sunday Nation, the Business Daily, the East African newspapers as well as the Tourist Guide, the Business Directory among other magazines (BBC Media Monitoring, 2007). NMG runs the NTV and QTV as well as Easy FM and QFM radio stations both with a national reach. NMG is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) with the Aga Khan as the key shareholder.
The Standard Group (SG) owns the KTN Network, Kenya’s first private TV station (1989) and the East African Standard Newspapers, the oldest newspapers having started in 1902. The SG is listed on the NSE with Baraza Limited, a company closely associated with the former President Daniel arap Moi and his close aide Joshua Kulei as the key shareholders. The people media group owns the People Daily several ethnic radio stations. It is associated with the Kenyatta family having bought it from Kenneth Matiba and the radio component from Rose Kimotho. Patrick Quarcco owns Kiss FM and several other FM station together Kiss TV and the Nairobi Star, a daily newspaper. Industrialist Chris Kirubi owns Capital Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that runs CBC TV and Capital FM. Other media include STV formerly owned by professional journalist Hilary Ngweno. Kenya also has a strong faith-based broadcasting media including Hope FM, Radio Waumini owned by the Catholic Church; and Family TV and radio FM owned by Leo Slingerland.
A number of international news agencies and organizations operate from Nairobi, Kenya. These include the BBC, VOA, Duetsche Welle, Radio France, Radio China, Al Jazeera and CNN. While the press covers mainly politics and economic issues, the broadcasting stations in Kenya are characterized by heavy music and light entertainment programming lazed with interactive talk shows on politics and current affairs. Kenyans have continuously voted the media as the most trusted and influential institution even as they continue to express their reservations over other government institutions like the legislature and the executive. According to BBC, the Kenyan media is one of the most respected, thriving, sophisticated and innovative in Africa. Compared to other African countries, Kenya has in the recent past enjoyed a robust economic growth which in turn has supported one of the most dynamic advertising markets on the continent and a population which consumes news and information voraciously.
In turn, this market has supported an explosion in media over recent years. This is a relatively recent phenomenon. While an independent media tradition in Kenya is a long one, it was only in 1992 that the media bloomed to become the thriving industry it is today. Until then, the suppression of media freedom by the then KANU government, a stagnant economy and the continued monopolization of the airwaves by the government’s Voice of Kenya (now Kenya Broadcasting Corporation), meant that independent media outlets were few and confined mostly to elites. Over a period of 15 years, this increasingly assertive and self-confident media has played a substantial role in mediating relationships between citizens and state, in shaping the democratic dispensation in the country, and has transformed utterly how some of the most marginalized in society access information on issues that shape their lives. Kenyan citizens have become increasingly reliant on the media for such information, investing in it with greater credibility than almost any other source of information. For most of this period, the media has been seen nationally and internationally as a principal indicator of the democratic vitality of Kenya. Media has been at the forefront of moves to transform Kenya from one party state to multiparty democracy; it has gained a reputation for exposing corruption and acting as a vigorous forum for public debate; it is seen as a guardian of the public interest against an overbearing state power.
2.2 The Activities of the Media in Peace-Building
While large scale or world war has been avoided, continual civil conflicts have not been avoided i.e., the conflicts in Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Somalia. At the same time, peaceful resolution of conflicts that have major potential for civil conflicts: the transitions in South Africa, in Central and Eastern Africa have been witnessed. Therefore, peaceful resolution of national-civil conflicts is in a great part a communication process. That is; a concept of communication that channels civil conflict away from open war in to what is called cultural negotiation (White, 1990, p.22-23). The media can provide information directly to citizens regarding major events of importance for decision -making so that citizens can take action and influence the structure of decision-making. What is expected is a narrative reconstruction of events which reveals the source of the problem, the persons who are responsible and why, and what emerge finally as the solution. The media are the forum for the expression of public opinion and enable the public and public officials to chart the general public opinion regarding the state of public affairs. The mirroring of public opinion enables the public to know what people are expecting and whether representative governments are serving the public or not. A totalitarian state is one in which civil society is totally absorbed by the state, a state without a public opinion.
Boutros Boutros-Gali (1992) gave clarity and coherence to the concept of peace building when he defined it as
“ Action to identify and support structures which will tend to strengthen and solidify peace in order to avoid relapse into conflict and, rebuilding institutions and infrastructures of nations torn by civil war and strife (and tackling the deepest causes of) economic despair, social injustice and oppression”.
Inscribed in Willsher’s comment about his role as a journalist is an assumption about media influence which has also come to be known as ‘the CNN effect’ –so called after the first Gulf War when the UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said: “We say we have 16 members in the Security Council: the 15 members plus CNN” (Boutros Ghali, 1995). The proposition is that today’s global media have grown so mighty as to be able to raise issues to the political agenda by their own efforts; issues which would otherwise hold little or no interest for the powers-that-be.
In summary, the influence of the media on society has attracted international agencies closely involved in peace-building since the early 1990’s (Ross, 2002). The media can contribute to peace, by engaging in credible reporting, representing balanced opinions in its editorial content, and opening up communication channels among parties in a conflict. It can also identify and articulate without bias the underlying interests of warring factions. By doing so, the media is capable of disseminating information that builds on the confidence of stakeholders in a conflict.
2.2.1 The CNN Effect
The Harvard University Joan Shorenstein Center for Press, Politics and Public Policy has been instrumental in examining media effects. Steven Livingston, a leading CNN Effect researcher and associate professor of communication and international affairs at The George Washington University, along with his colleagues at Harvard, identified three conceptual variations surrounding the CNN Effect: the notion that media serves as an agenda-setting agency, that the media serves as an impediment in some cases and that the media facilitates a more accelerated public policy process (1997). The CNN Effect by definition is the theory that acknowledges the effects ‘real time’ reporting has (Harmon 1999). Many policy leaders agree that “these temporary emotional responses (present after media coverage on humanitarian affairs and the like) may conflict with the more considered judgment of foreign policy officials, forcing them to take action that will soon have to be reversed or modified” (Strobel, 1996, p.357).
Bernard Shaw’s and Peter Arnett’s reporting for CNN from Baghdad during the 1991 Gulf War. The so-called “CNN effect” allegedly highlights political uncertainty and incompetence, accelerates the pace at which politicians must respond to crises, and creates expectations and emotions that may force governments, against their initial inclinations, to intervene (or disengage) in conflict situations. The American “humanitarian” intervention in Somalia is often cited as an example (Spencer, 2005, p.24-38).
The CNN effect has been refuted as exaggerating media ability to divert state agendas (Spencer, 2005). Lynch and McGoldrick (2005a, p.218) offer the more plausible notion of a “feedback loop” between journalism and political realities, as sources (such as governments) create “facts” (stated policies, statistics, initiatives) with the intention of having them “reported in such a way as to pass on a preferred or dominant reading”. In that process, sources rely on their own previous experience as observers/audiences of media, to anticipate the nature of media coverage, coverage that will “incentivize” some courses of action over alternative options. The implication is that journalism is unavoidably a participant in the conflict cycle, not a detached unobtrusive observer. Patterns of news reporting will influence the course of future events, as political actors fold their understanding of the news into their calculations and strategies.
2.3 The Media Success on Promoting Peace and its Effects on Peace-Building
Al Qaeda attacks around the world are carried out by small numbers of people, yet they have had a large impact on world events. Similarly, the last fifty years of conflict in various parts of the world e.g. Bosnia, Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, DRC, Rwanda, Northern Uganda, Sudan and Kenya have largely been carried out by a few thousand people on both sides. Consequently, while violence can be caused by a few people, the presence of peace requires the cooperation of many; a critical mass of people, groups, institutions, and the media. In other words, it is far easier for a few people to burn down a house, while on the other hand; it takes many people to build a house, just as it takes many to build peace. Building a culture of peace requires mass changes in the way people think, their attitudes, and their behaviors.
According to Anderson, Chigas, Olson, and Woodrow (2004) in their book Reflecting on Peace Project they compared four different approaches for bringing about social change.
The ‘more-people’ approach aims to engage large numbers of people to address an issue. Broad involvement of ‘the people’ is seen as necessary to change.
The ‘key-people’ approach involves certain important leaders or groups of people who are seen as opinion leaders and able to effect change in a situation.
The ‘individual-level’ approach seeks to change the attitudes, values, perceptions, or circumstances of individuals as an important first step to bringing about real and lasting social change.
The ‘structural-level’ approach more directly aims to change socio-political or institutional structures.
These researchers found that projects focusing on change at the individual level, such as dialogue programs, without translating into action at the structural level, such as policy advocacy, have little discernible effect on addressing the broader political or social issues they seek to change. In addition, the study found that approaches concentrating on including more people, but not necessarily key leaders or groups, did not constructively address social issues. Conversely, the research found that strategies focusing only on key people without including others were equally ineffective. If programs focus on one strategy only, they are unlikely to create social change. Programs that intentionally link individual with structural efforts, or include key people as well as more people are most likely to bring about change (Anderson et al., 2004).
Mediation and Negotiation processes involve 2-20 people
Dialogue and Training involve 20-50 people
Arts-based processes reach 100s-1000s of people
Mass media approaches reach 1000s of people
Figure 2.1 The media and creating critical mass for peace
Source: (Bratic & Schirch, 2007).
Given the complex ways these four types of approaches interact to bring about real change, it is easy to see that the media has an important role in reaching many people with a message of structural change. Including the media as one component along with a combination of different forms of peace-building strategies seems the most likely path to change societies.
2.3.1 Peace Journalism: Its Impact and Effect to Peace-building
In various countries, and at the international level, advocacy groups and networks have arisen with the aim of democratizing the media, as a distinct institutional field (McChesney 2004; Hackett and Caroll 2006). Within the ranks of media professionals themselves, a reform movement known as Peace Journalism (PJ) has arisen. Its premises include a normative imperative; i.e. an “ethic of responsibility” to take into account the foreseeable consequences of one’s behaviour, and adjust it accordingly. If reporting-as-usual constitutes war journalism, PJ calls on journalists to incorporate into their professional ethos a conscious choice in favour of peace, as an affirmation of their human responsibilities (Lynch and McGoldrick 2005a, p.218; Spencer, 2005, p.171).
In the words of two of its leading practitioners, PJ is multifaceted;
It is simultaneously a mode of analysis that identifies cumulative patterns of omission and distortion in the reporting of conflicts; A springboard for assessing the consequences of these patterns, in terms of the understanding they convey to publics, as well as their influence over the course of events in conflicts; A source of practical alternative methods and approaches to the reporting of particular conflicts; and a rallying point for a challenge to increasingly homogenized global news discourse, and a campaign for change by journalists and activists. (Lynch & McGoldrick, 2005b, p.270)
In its prescriptions for better journalism, PJ draws on the insights of the emergent disciplines of Conflict Analysis and Peace Studies, pioneered by Johan Galtung (2004). It calls on journalism to look beyond the overt violence of war, and to attend to the “ABC” context of conflict, of Attitudes, Behaviour and Contradictions, including underlying patterns of structural and cultural violence. Journalists, in this view, should identify a range of stakeholders broader than the “two sides” engaged in confrontation, and re-frame conflict as a “cat’s cradle” of relationships between the various stakeholders, rather than present conflict as a tug-of-war between two parties in which one side’s gain is the other’s loss. PJ also calls on journalists to distinguish stated demands from underlying needs and objectives, to access voices working for creative and non-violent solutions, and to keep eyes open for ways of transforming and transcending the hardened lines of conflict. In that process, journalists would need to broaden the range of sources beyond the political and official elites who typically comprise the primary definers of media agendas, and avoid victimizing, demonizing or emotive language, or dichotomous framing. The hope, the expectation, is that through such practices, journalists can both offer more complete and accurate accounts of conflicts, as well as help create an environment more conducive to resolving or transforming conflicts away from war.
For media scholars, PJ offers an opportunity and a challenge. It suggests several directions for future research. First, researchers could monitor and evaluate the performance of news media in conflict situations, using criteria suggested by PJ. Although such criteria may prove difficult to operationalize as measurable variables, content analysis and other forms of textual analysis provide ready tools for such monitoring. While there is a substantial literature on war and media, studies informed explicitly by a PJ perspective are only recently emerging for example (Fawcett 2002; Lynch 2006; Maslog, Lee and Kim 2006).
In conclusion PJ implicitly raises another question: under what conditions could journalists, even assuming they wished to do so, put into practice the principles of PJ in the first place? There is a need to invert the question of the power of the media, discussed above, to consider power through the media: the way that other institutional spheres impinge upon the media field. What are the opportunities and blockages to the transformation of journalism practices? Can creative and skilled peace journalists find spaces in the interstices of the existing media field (Lynch and McGoldrick, 2005a)
2.4 The Use of Media in Promoting and Enhancing Peace-Building in Kenya
Since the outbreak of the post election violence in 2007, an unprecedented public debate has been raging in Kenya over the role of the media and if the media is doing more to ensure that the tragedy is not repeated in subsequent general elections. Of major concern has been the manner in which the media reported and portrayed the violence that erupted between various ethnic groups around the country in January 2008. Religious organisations, civil society, government departments and foreign missions are some of the interest groups that have spoken out about the role of the media especially during critical periods like elections. They have accused the media of incitement, promoting stereotypes, misreporting events and general misrepresentations.
On many occasions, media in Kenya has been defensive, but their case has not been helped by the fact that of the defendants at the Hague is a member of the forth estate. At another level, the scale of the debate as well as its spread is unprecedented –never in the history of Kenya have ordinary citizens debated the media in the manner in which they have since 2008. The government took these concerns seriously enough to propose the formation of an investigative task force on the media which unfortunately never saw the light of the day.
Globally peace has remained a human rights concern since the inception of the United Nations (UN) in 1945. The UN Charter Article 2, preambles (1, 3, 7) support principles of non-interference and respect to state sovereignty. The article requires states to stabilize internal conflicts and commit to peace and development for citizens. Galtung had earlier argued that the domination of the UN as holder of coercive power is in itself an element of negative peace (Galtung, 1964, p.5). It therefore applies that, if such powers are used to integrate various stakeholders in conflicts, positive peace can be achieved. Even though, the UN primacy to maintain global peace and security can hardly be questioned, Danso and Aning (2010, p.42) argue that African countries have since the Rwandan genocide come to realize the imprudence of depending entirely on the UN for the continent’s peace and security needs. In so far, the media has pushed peace and security issues on the global agenda. It has also been part and parcel of reproducing information on war and conflict for some time now.
In recent history, several authors have also explored the role of the media in inciting violence (Des forges, 1999; Thompson, 2007). Wolfsfeld (2004) argues that media researchers tend to concentrate on analyses of conflicts, rather than peace processes which remain hidden or even subtle. In his accounts on Peace Journalism, Galtung (1998) exemplifies difficulties in reporting peace processes and argues that peace and news make strange bedfellows news covers events, not processes. Researchers Mbeke (2008); Somerville (2010); Ismail & Deane (2008) endeavoured to explain reasons behind the crisis after the 2007 elections in Kenya Their work highlights ethnic tensions and shortcomings in media management, as reasons to why the media in Kenya is losing its credibility. Their analysis does not explicitly establish the link between media as an instigator of violence or an arbiter for peace, neither is it focused on human rights discourses. This is supported by Bratic (2006, p.6) who states that “if the media is often found to support forces that lead to violent conflicts, it should also have power to support forces to peace”.
Nyongo (2007) points out that after the attempted coup in 1982, Moi’s regime developed a culture of consolidating legitimacy through a reward system, orchestrated around ethnic elites. In other words, he advanced the interests of the Kalenjin and other smaller ethnic groups who benefited marginally under Kenyatta’s system of patronage. Corruption and inefficiency went from bad to worse as Moi tightened his hold on power, extending the control of the state over society (Nyongo, 2007, p.18). In 2002, Kenyans voted overwhelmingly for Mwai Kibaki to end two decades of Moi’s authoritarian tendencies. As a result of excessive media coverage, there was a euphoric sway of the public to vote. These voters saw the election of Kibaki as an opportunity for change. But, the media soon became critical of Kibaki’s regime when he appointed leaders from his tribe to ministerial positions. Among Kibaki’s 2002 election pledges was to enact the constitution within 100 days in office, fight corruption and promote human rights. Corruption scandals became common place, repressive tendencies towards the media emerged after a short period of freedom (Radoli, 2011). A national referendum for the new constitution was held in 2005, after consecutive failures by a constitutional committee and parliament to assent the document. The media dramatized the referendum as an antagonism between Raila’s (ODM) and Kibaki’s (PNU) parties. During the 2007 election campaign the media platform was adversely used in hyping the federalism debate or “Majimboism”, which refined the 2007 elections (Radoli 2011).
Oriarie (2009, p.10) explains that for the media supportive of ODM, federalism meant devolution of power and resources to grassroots, while to those supportive to PNU, federalism meant eviction of Kikuyus from the Rift Valley and other parts of the country and a challenge to land rights and economic interests. He additionally states that the media laid the foundation for high stakes in the political duel that stimulated ethnic passion and emotions. The media adopted periodical polls published by competing pollsters predicting the election trend (Larfague, 2009). The polls forecasted a small margin between President Kibaki and Raila Odinga. The media curved the 2007 elections as a life and death contest. This shaped the idea that the vote would determine the fate of each candidate’s ethnic community. The media had thus set a stage for a bruising election that led to the post election crisis (Radoli, 2011).
According to Radoli (2011, p.4) the media concerned with peace-building initiatives can argue for human rights by respecting such freedoms as of essence to democracy. Regardless of having ratified several human rights instruments that guarantee media freedom, Kenya’s history of political related conflicts inhibits the full realization of human rights. It can therefore be argued that information as an aspect of media freedom is a right as vital as the right to life or medical care. People have the right to know, it is their quest for human equality and justice. Abuse of media freedom hence endangers essential human rights and goes against the spirit of a free society, under which independent media are established. It imperils the very rights the media is expected to protect (Dahal, 2011).
2.5 Role of the Media in Peace-Building: A Theoretical Approach
Theoretically, conflict and peace share the same platform in media discourses, since reporting conflict also means finding alternative constructive solutions. In addition to research in this field, peace has remained a human rights concern since the inception of the United Nations in 1945. The UN Charter Article 2, preambles (1, 3, 7) support principles of non-interference and respect to state sovereignty. The article requires states to stabilize internal conflicts and commit to peace and development for citizens. Danso and Aning (2010, p.42) argue that African countries have since the Rwandan genocide come to realize the imprudence of depending entirely on the UN for the continent’s peace and security needs. In so far, the media has pushed peace and security issues on the global agenda.
Four schools of thought can be distinguished within peace research. These schools use different terminologies, and have different conceptual understandings, approaches and actors. The history of these schools of thought is closely linked to the history and evolution of the field of peace-building. The different schools have had different influences on peace-building and practice has adopted elements from different schools. The conceptual frameworks and terminologies often create confusion, while the origins are at times unclear. The four main schools include; conflict management, conflict resolution, complementary school, and conflict transformation. All schools present different approaches to mediation between conflicting parties, whether between or within states. For many decades mediation has been the main and dominant approach to peace-building, but from the mid-1990s it became clear that peace-building required additional approaches. It is also important to note that these theoretical schools are not linked to the conceptual debate on the nexus between peace/conflict and development.
2.5.1 The Conflict Management School
The approach of the Conflict Management school is to end wars through different diplomatic initiatives. This is the oldest school of thought, closely linked to the institutionalization of peace-building in international law. The peace-builders within the logic of this school are external diplomats from bilateral or multilateral organizations (Paffenholz, 1998; 2001). Its theoretical approach is referred to as outcome-oriented approach, which aims to identify and bring to the negotiating table leaders of the conflict parties. Its main focus is on the short-term management of the armed conflict. Recent examples include the Camp David agreement and the Sudan peace accord. The Conflict Management school has been criticized because mediators tend to concentrate solely on the top leadership of the conflicting parties are not always neutral in internal conflicts and the approach overlooks deep causes of conflicts and thus cannot guarantee long-term stability of the peace agreement (Hoffman, 1995). Conflict Management approaches have recently moved beyond an exclusive concern with securing a peace agreement and now also focus on the conditions for successful implementation of post-conflict peace-building.
2.5.2 The Conflict Resolution School
The approach of the Conflict Resolution School is to solve the underlying causes of conflict and rebuild destroyed relationships between the parties. Under this logic, relations need to be rebuilt not only between the top representatives of the conflict parties, but also within society at large. This school was established in academic research in the 1970s, adopting strategies from socio-psychological conflict resolution at the inter-personal level. In the early Conflict Resolution School, peace-builders were mainly Western academic institutions carrying out conflict resolution workshops (Fisher, 1997). The principle of these workshops was to bring individuals from the conflict parties together with the representatives of the conflict parties and work with them to solve the causes of the conflict. As the approach evolved, additional participants entered the field, such as international or local NGOs, as well as individuals and communities. The common features are that all actors work to address the root causes of conflict with relationship-building and long-term resolution-oriented approaches, and they do not represent a government or an international organization. Approaches and tools used include: dialogue projects between groups or communities, and conflict resolution training to enhance peace-building capacity of actors perceived as agents of change (Mitchell, 2005).
2.5.3 The Complementary School
This school focuses on the complementarities of the conflict management and resolution schools, with three different approaches. The first is Fisher and Keashly’s (1991) ‘Contingency model for third party intervention in armed conflicts’, which aims to identify the appropriate third party method and the timing of interventions. Based on Glasl’s (1990) conflict escalation model, the approach is to de-escalate the conflict from phase to phase. The escalation phase is the appropriate time for resolution-oriented approaches, while power mediation should be used when the conflict escalates. After a peace accord has been reached, it is time to revert to resolution-oriented approaches. Critics of this approach point out that in practice different types of interventions can take place at the same time (Bloomfield 1995; Paffenholz, 1998). The Complementary School has not been subject to a broad critique nor has it resulted in major debates within mainstream research. This is likely due to the evolution of the Conflict Transformation school that absorbed the results of the Complementary school and was taken over by mainstream research and most of all by practitioners.
2.5.4 The Conflict Transformation School
This approach focuses on the transformation of deep-rooted armed conflicts into peaceful ones, based on a different understanding of peace-building. It recognizes the existence of irresolvable conflicts, and therefore suggests replacing the term conflict resolution with the term conflict transformation (Rupesinghe, 1995). Lederach (1997) developed the first comprehensive transformation-oriented approach. Building on the Complementary school, Lederach also sees the need to solve the dilemma between short-term conflict management, and long-term relationship building and resolution of underlying causes of conflict. His proposal is to build ‘long-term infrastructure’ for peace-building by supporting the reconciliation potential of society. In line with the Conflict Resolution school, he sees the need to rebuild destroyed relationships, focusing on reconciliation within society and the strengthening of society’s peace-building potential.
Third party intervention should concentrate on supporting internal actors and coordinating external peace efforts. Sensitivity to the local culture and a long-term time frame are necessary. A key element of this approach is to focus on peace constituencies by identifying mid-level individuals or groups and empowering them to build peace and support reconciliation. Empowerment of the middle level is assumed to influence peace-building at the macro and grassroots levels. Lederach (1997) divides society into three levels, which can be approached with different peace-building strategies: Top leadership can be accessed by mediation at the level of states and the outcome-oriented approach. Mid-level leadership can be reached through more resolution-oriented approaches, such as problem-solving workshops or peace-commissions with the help of partial insiders (i.e., prominent individuals in society). The grassroots level however, represents the majority of the population and can be reached by a wide range of peace-building approaches, such as the media, local peace commissions, community dialogue projects or trauma healing. The Conflict Transformation school has not been subject to fundamental critique. On the contrary, it has become the leading school of thought in the field.
2.6 Peace Media: Code of Belief and Initiative
Galtung (2007) emphasizes that common people, rather than governments, should strive for conflict transformation and move beyond seeing the world dualistically. This is the backbone of grassroots peace-building and evokes elements of Lederach (1997)’s celebrated pyramid of peace-building (transformation-oriented approach), in which people and networks may be primary advocates for change (Wanis-St. & Kew, 2008). Prendergast and Plumb (2002) agree that bottom-up processes are critical in moving toward peace and healing societal divisions. Boulding (2000) evokes the MacBride Report’s mandate for participatory information flows in seeking to empower each society to tell its story, thus bridging communication gaps between divided groups and creating social spaces in which peace may be possible.
Peleg (2006, p.15) identifies conflict theory as the “ultimate candidate to ‘anchor’ PJ to solid ground.” At its core, peace media seems poised to advance three functions related to conflict resolution theory: First, to humanize the other so it is no longer a massive entity; Second, to undermine out group stereotypes, and third, to promote positive images of the other. Peace media is a loaded term and may assume conflicting definitions. Defined crudely in opposition to hate media, peace media is an effort to promote peace by highlighting stories on successes, rather than failures, in various peace processes. Some argue that peace media may veer into advocacy journalism or even propaganda. Perhaps in response to this accusation, and to give people more ownership over the communication process, Search for Common Ground (SFCG) has coined the related term “common ground media,” which seeks to facilitate conflict transformation, highlight common challenges, and provide balanced information to illuminate a sense of common identity.” SFCG has built on founder John Marks’ belief that “All forms of print and electronic media are potential tools for peace-building” (Marks, p.16).
Although the tenets explored in this project perhaps more resemble common ground media than peace media, the term “peace media” will be used to encompass broad efforts to foster peace with communication technologies. As Gardner (2000, p.306) argues, media can promote peaceful conditions and counter hate media by offering more context and supplying alternative information. Particularly in the context of reconciliation and rebuilding, Gardner (2000) continues to state that, media can “serve to empower groups that had previously been voiceless” (p.307).
Vladimir Bratic, drawing on the seminal Johan Galtung, claims that media can counter cultural violence by presenting alternative symbols embedded in peace-oriented media. By transcending a huge presentation of “the other,” the cumulative effect of exposure to differences and shift may reduce stereotypes and change attitudes and perceptions of the other group (Bratic, 2008, p.492). Galtung (2000, p.162-164) emphasizes that peace journalism -representing the “high road”- aims to transform conflict and change attitudes about the other side. This works against the “low road,” in which media seek to apply the “DMA” formula, meaning “dichotomy, Manichaeism, and Armageddon.”
Peleg (2006) cites communication as an indispensable determinant in creating awareness of “the other” in conflict and post-conflict situations. He continues to assert that peace journalism is seen as poised to encourage constructive communication between conflict parties by empowering new voices, engendering empathy, increasing transparency, opening new space in which to consider the situation, focusing on the invisible effects of violence, and humanizing all sides.
2.7 Conceptual framework
The field of conflict prevention and peace-building has done little to lay out our specific products within different frameworks. Usually, discussions of using the media aim for some general goal to ‘promote peace.’ Peace itself is not really a product. It is an idea, but does not necessarily suggest automatically some new specific behavior that the public should adopt. The first step in assessing the wisdom of using the media for conflict prevention and peace-building in a region is to determine the specific goals of local conflict prevention and peace-building experts that can be ‘packaged’ as tangible and realistic products to sell. Violence polarizes people (pitting some groups against other groups of people). Peace-building seeks to build a bridge between groups of people -de-polarizing people’s attitudes and behaviors toward each other. Conflict prevention and peace-building should be part of this change process. The goal of conflict prevention and peace-building, in general, is to move from polarization to positive relationships. The media can best be utilized in this relationship if they are clear about their goal (their product) and also know specifically who they want to communicate. The media can thus help achieve goals in conflict prevention and peace-building when paired with approaches or strategies. This is illustrated in Figure 2.1 below.
Polarization between groups resulting in disparities, disabilities and even death that result from direct actions, systems or policies
Positive relationships between groups/societies resulting in:
Tolerance of differences
Sharing of resources
Media as a Change-Agent
Dependent variable Independent variable Outcome
Figure 2.2 Conceptual framework
Source: (Author, 2012)
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