I think it’s fairly safe to say that the news frames the way we see the world. By choosing what to report and how to report it, news media holds tremendous power over what is debated within public spheres, which in itself becomes problematic as the global news becomes increasingly dominated by the social, political, and economical interests of the global West (Joye 2010). Due to geopolitical and commercial interests it makes sense for news broadcasters to reinforce the views of their audience, rather than challenge them, which in turn lends itself to stereotyping cultural “others” and cultivating increasingly isolated public spheres (el-Nawawy and Powers 2010). Shinar (2006 cited in el-Nawawy and Powers 2010) argues that contemporary news, which thrives on sensation, drama and emotion, favours the production of news stories based on war and conflict simply by design. But is it possible for news coverage to move away from this fueling of conflict and difference, and instead promote cross-cultural dialogue and foster conditions for conflict resolution? This is where academics have argued for a new type of “peace journalism”.
Lynch and McGoldrick (2005 cited in el-Nawawy and Powers 2010) talk about “peace journalism” in terms of creating opportunities for audiences to consider and value non-violent resolutions to conflict. This is achieved through the selection of news stories as well as the way in which the news stories are constructed. Additionally, “peace journalism” can be constructed in a way that frames conflict in terms of political, social, and economic contexts rather than as an inevitable and natural response to uncontrollable events as the modern mass media typically do (el-Nawawy and Powers 2010).
With the aim of giving a “voice to the voiceless”, Al-Jazeera English (AJE) represents an opportunity to further globally represent the stories and views of the global South (el-Nawawy and Powers 2010). AJE is unique as the first English language satellite news that broadcasts globally from the Middle East, sourcing many stories and journalists locally (el-Nawawy and Powers 2010). Figenschou (2010) recognises that AJE represents a potential contra-flow to mainstream news media, however then acknowledges that there are still some issues of representation amongst the journalists, the most prolific and authoritative of which are male, independent elites. But in terms of peace journalism and moving towards the facilitation of conflict resolution, I think Al-Jazeera English represents a good start to the process and also serves as a good model for other media outlets. A study by el-Nawawy and Powers (2010) shows promising results that help support this claim, stating “the longer viewers had been tuning into AJE, the less dogmatic they were in their cognitive thought”.
Figenschou, T.U. 2010, “A voice for the voiceless?: A quantitative content analysis of Al-Jazeera English’s flagship news”, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 85-107. Viewed 2 October 2014 http://uow.summon.serialssolutions.com/2.0.0/link/0/eLvHCXMwVV1JCgJBDGzEFwiKx_nAQPd0m86cxcEH6AOyHuf_R9PgQSEPyKEoqkKoSmliJIoFPceExG81YzOkriasAP53zP9h8-2UDraf03t7vO7P-VsGMMvotZmbB98uS_DEiksRdiSQNuLUnOtKFEgqhNUyiKwwfhsDWqH_ySBMe8dySccw1HZNU3E1QA3pIbkpdq6abyMT0zULs3wA5G4wWg
Joye, S. 2010, “Reflections on Inter Press Service: Evaluating the importance of an alternative news voice”, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 121-125. Viewed 2 October 2014 http://uow.summon.serialssolutions.com/2.0.0/link/0/eLvHCXMwVZ0xDsIwDEUjxAmQQIy9QKXEdZx0RlQcoBeIE_-R-4-4EgNIPoAX-_3_lx_CpLU1XxDRxyU-L7Gy1VaGdR0i-Avzf775dgkne1_Dvj33x2v-lgHMXVaapTmraVFuBiiP4bomFoLTFanBKkRYkKM50ij3WkpWFdbjgBJ6uoWz-2m7hwnOYEIGEnXurSvrqkcVF4MWE_oAyAYwEg
el-Nawawy, M. & Powers, S. 2010, “Al-Jazeera English: A conciliatory medium in a conflict-driven environment?”, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 61-84. Viewed 2 October 2014 http://uow.summon.serialssolutions.com/2.0.0/link/0/eLvHCXMwVV07DgJBCJ0YT2CisdwLTDJ_ZmrjxgPoAYCBcu9fyhoLDRSUVI_3KXBuoY5oC2qwNopfcuhFOsIUptma_pn5P2i-ntxBtrN7rffn7eG_zwA8x5aGN6Eyi4LYyeNEyjAawqAGc8S9cBgeV0KFTzbGRY3YK5YgCJS4xos7mqCWq1tq3yOBiDM34yuJqEsIzJltqDryG79RL54