Media: a Tool for Peace. Our duty is to spread a critical view to make the change possible for a world without violence

The training that we had in Ukraine was about the paper that media can play in the path to reach the peace in conflicts around the world. The goal was to be able to identify the war discourse in the media, which manipulates the information on purpose to benefit some interests. Our duty is to differentiate violent journalism from peace journalism and use the social media and whatever tool we can have to spread a critical view to make the change possible for a world without violence.

First of all we started with exercises to create a really united group, removing the barriers of shyness and breaking stereotypes that sometimes make more difficult the relation among individuals, playing games together and sharing information from us. With this exercises nobody could be separated from the others and the people became a family with close ties to each other. With information understanding becomes easier and appears the tolerance, which impedes the conflict. Then we analysed as well what is an intelligent group, a group who take advantage from the particularities of everyone and the union is more powerful than the parts separated.

Then, to create the peace we have to understand conflict correctly and we did a session to explain what is conflict. The people were from different parts of Europe (Spain, Italy, Lithuania, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey), with different understandings of what conflict is according to their situation. We went to a micro social level to set that conflict is a state of opposition between two or more parts with different interests and also a dynamic process in which attitudes and behaviours are changing. According to this positive vision of conflict from Galtung, this can be a constructive dynamic. Also exist a negative view of conflict with the narrow meanings and antagonisms and use oppositional viewpoints, which makes violent conflict more likely.

We also did an exercise about conflict dynamics to feel what is a conflict of interest, and learning in a practical manner. This was from the Game Theory and everybody was really involve in it and understood correctly the selfish goals that are guiding us in our daily life and how the personal interests can create a conflict.

After this we were discussing the importance of the individual behaviour to change the situation from our values in life and spreading the message of change in our social environment and networks, and realize that we have a paper in it, in my opinion through an example is to understand that we are not in a “traffic jam”, we are the “traffic jam”, which has a close relation with the exercise of conflict dynamics and the paper of the individual. So the thing is that the world is socially constructed but also socially maintained and reproduced, this means that we can have a role in the construction of the another world, and we have to be active and to be aware about what kind of world we are reproducing with our deeds.

From manipulation to peace media

Thus the paper of the journalism and the media is clear creating opinion and at the end behaviours. We analysed the manipulation of media to generate some kind of behaviour going directly to the cognitive capacity of the individual to apprehend from the reality to change his attitude before the life, and finally also change the behaviour that the human beings have in society, having a direct impact in what we have said before, the social construction of the reality. And the media are not only interests, there is a logics of media which has a direct influence in what goes to the public and this logic has a three main features: competition, competitiveness and credibility. So according to this logic, peace journalism can overcome the filters that the media has, working in a well-organized manner.

But the goal of the training was to identify violence journalism to change it for peace journalism. We had a glance over the main points which differentiates one from the other and makes easier to identify them. All of them are interesting but some basic things are:

  • to give context to the situation that is treated by the media;
  • not to break the parts involved with winners and losers or “us and them”;
  • not to focus only in conflict but also in the complexity of the social situation on both sides;
  • above all not dehumanise one side and focus on the sufferings of both sides.

With this clear ideas everybody was able to identify clearly the violence journalism, moreover we watched a documentary from the Israel-Palestinian conflict about the Israel public relations strategy to influence the American public to receive the total support to the Israel side from the American voter.

Video analysis of social discourse

To finish the training we did a short documentary about the conflicts and the things that they have in common where you can identify some discourses, which are socially maintained within the society but are most of the times spread by media and also reinforce by its influence in the society.

We created an intelligent group dividing functions from the beginning to be more effective because we had only a short time. We had a brain storming for an hour to discuss what we wanted to do and then we started to work. We caught then different conflicts from different parts of Europe from the interviews that we were able to do, in the street and among the participants of the training, and then we created a video to show how they have a lot in common and behind of it always appears the will to have peace and well being.

Coordination: NOVACT – International Institute for Nonviolent Action (Spain) and OPORA (Ukraine)

Duration: from 7th to 15th of October 2013

Place: Carpathian Mountains near Chernivtsi, Ukraine

Carles Revenga i Bagés, NOVACT

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission (Youth in Action Programme). This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.