Mr. Justin Bayor, National Network Coordinator of the West Africa Network for Peace-Building (WANEP-Ghana), said it is incumbent on journalists and editors of media houses, to often try hard to investigate the background of conflicts when they breakout.
Speaking on the topic “Conflict Transformation and Peace Reporting” at a day’s workshop on peace journalism in Tamale, he said researching into the background of conflicts at the early or full blown stages would give media practitioners a broad understanding of the issues surrounding the conflict in order to report objectively without hurting the feelings of parties involved or worsening the situation.
The workshop organized by Rural Media Network (RUMNET), a media-based non-governmental organization, was aimed at exploring the usage of early warning and conflict transformation in peace reporting.
Peace journalism according to historical accounts is a new study, which started in the 1970s. It is a practical discipline which takes a stand to the traditional discipline of “war journalism”, which has been reporting on war from around the world, focusing on the outbreak of direct violence without taking into account the root causes.
Peace journalism strives on reflecting on the world more accurately; focusing on root causes of issues and problems, contextualisng conflicts and reporting professionally. This includes differentiating between conflict and violence, identifying all the actors in a conflict, understanding their interests and needs and investigating into the underlying root causes of a conflict.
Earlier in his welcome address, Executive Director of RUMNET, Mr. Abdallah Kassim, said the media plays an important role in the process of peace-building and is a critical partner in promoting a culture of peace and non-violence.
The media has the capacity to promote peace and to trigger escalation of conflict and violence, he observed, adding “whatever a journalist does in his/her work has an effect on a society and influences the behaviour of individuals and groups”.
According to Mr. Kassim, peace reporting demands an increased critical self-awareness from reporters and editors.
In a time where almost every company or organization operates a media-relations office, specialists are hired to write speeches, and events are organized just to obtain some media publicity he said, warning that editors and reporters must be more aware than ever where they receive their information from and search for useful alternatives sources of information.
Mr. Abdallah Kassim who is also managing editor of the Advocate newspaper maintained that, it is required of journalists and editors to be conflict-sensitive and to take responsibility for their reportage.