War or Peace Framing? an Analysis of the Pakistani Press Coverage on War on Terror

By Sharif, Kasim | Journal of Development Communication, June 2011 | Go to article overview

War or Peace Framing? an Analysis of the Pakistani Press Coverage on War on Terror


Sharif, Kasim, Journal of Development Communication


Johan Galtung coined the term peace journalism in 1970s and developed two opposing modes of reporting wars i.e., "peace or conflict journalism" and "war or violence journalism." He did not follow the conventional pattern of reporting in the war situation rather he provided an alternative route of peace journalism that focuses on conflict transformation. He classified peace and war journalism on the basis of four broad orientations. He explained that today's reporting is war reporting and oriented toward war/violence, propaganda, wining and defeating of the warring groups. He provided an alternative that is based on four principles of peace/conflict, truth, people, and solutions. He not only considered content but also assessed language and words used in reporting for the media. According to him, peace-oriented journalists must first accept that the conflict exists, and explore conflict formations by identifying the parties, goals and issues.

Galtung wants to see "objective journalists" who are going to cover all aspects of the conflict. They must understand the conflict's historical and cultural roots, and create empathy and understanding by giving voice to all parties (not only two opposing sides). Peace journalism brings before the audience all the black and the white sides of the conflict. In this way, it de-escalates the tension and minimises the rift between opposing parties. It does not repeat those facts that demonise one side or the other and sets the ground for further conflict (Lynch & Mcgoldrick, 2001). The number of conflicts in the modern world is increasing day by day. As the population of different societies is growing and mobility increasing, the multi-ethnic societies are appearing on the surface. This phenomenon has made the world more complex. Resultantly, peace journalism is the need of the post modern era and is now taking the form of discipline like other disciplines in universities. It is now an ideal subject for Faculties of Communication Sciences all over the world and there is a need for more research in this field especially in war torn developing countries like Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

By applying peace journalism practices in reports of the conflict, the peace journalist creates a setting in which the causes of and possible solutions to the conflict become transparent and obvious. Other peace journalism approaches prescribed by Galtung include writing editorials and columns to urge reconciliation and focusing on common ground rather than on vengeance, retaliation, and differences. He suggests that these writings must emphasise the invisible effects of violence such as emotional trauma, and damage to social structure and culture. In contrast, the traditional war journalism approach plays up with conflict. It places participants into two opposing sides and its focus is on the visible effects of war such as casualties, injuries, and damage to property. It is practiced in a closed space and times such as battlefield and bounded by ground and time constraints.

Several communication scientists worked on this paradigm and expanded it in their writings. Several other aspects that were blur and left unexplained at the beginning, were properly explained and highlighted by Lych, Mcgoldrick, Hanitzsch and Maslog.

Literature Review

Lynch expansion of peace theory

Mcgoldrick and Lynch (2000) expanded Galtung's (1986) classification of peace journalism and war journalism and proposed 17 peace journalism-based practices for news coverage of war. War reporting is often based on sensationalism because it is done to increase circulations and to gain ratings. This approach uses military triumph list language. Its focus is on action so it is action orientated and its narrative is superficial with little context, background or historical perspective. Peace journalism focus is on the cultural and structural causes of violence, and does not follow simple dichotomy. …

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War or Peace Framing? an Analysis of the Pakistani Press Coverage on War on Terror
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