Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

News media and peacebuilding: Uncovering opportunities that can facilitate cooperation
by Afaghani, Rawhi, Ph.D., George Mason University, 2011, 236; 3452431
Abstract (Summary)

Researchers and practitioners in the field of conflict analysis and resolution have realized the significant role that the news media can play in avoiding, containing or resolving conflicts. Yet there are scant guidelines on how to take full advantage of the news media s role in conflict-affected societies. Empirical research on the topic of media and peacebuilding has focused on ways of altering journalistic practices to advance fairer and more accurate journalism in reporting war and peace. However, the literature stops short of providing an account of limitations that journalists face in their endeavor to advance peacebuilding. Additionally, the existing research does not fully elaborate on how journalists understand their positions in a conflict-torn society. To address this gap the research asks: What are the opportunities in which media can contribute to peacebuilding in conflict-affected societies? And, furthermore, how can journalists reconsider their positions in conflict situations in order to advance peacebuilding?

This research studies the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and addresses the above research questions by analyzing journalists understandings of their positions (identified as a cluster of rights and duties) vis-à-vis their role in conflict situations. In addition, it explores the obstacles that limit their abilities to support peacebuilding. Through this approach the study defines a practical framework termed as peacebuilding journalism, which is informed by the journalists' limitations and understandings of their positions in conflict-affected societies.

The study identifies two clusters of external and internal factors that limit the journalists capacity to advance peacebuilding and which lead the journalists to an act of self-positioning to appear loyal to the national cause and to gain their groups trust. Additionally, the research finds that journalists are more prone to cooperate in the efforts of peacebuilding by emphasizing their rights and duties (positions) as members of the society. The significant contribution of this study is the defined, practical concept of peacebuilding journalism, which combines conflict resolution and journalism practices to help advance a positive news media role during active conflict. The framework first synthesizes three components to address the journalists' limitations. These are: (i) coverage of the other side, (ii) alternative media coverage, and (iii) creative reporting. The concepts also puts forward three instruments of peacebuilding journalism to guide the journalists in identifying stories and content that support peace between conflict parties. These are: (i) conflict mapping for journalists, (ii) an early warning system, and (iii) cross-border cooperation to facilitate exchange of news and information.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rubenstein, Richard
School: George Mason University
School Location: United States -- Virginia
Source: DAI-A 72/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Journalism, Peace Studies, Alternative Dispute Resolution
Keywords: Israeli-Palestinian conflict, News media, Peacebuilding
Publication Number: 3452431
ISBN: 978-1-124-58989-3
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