Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

This Center of Innovation focuses on harnessing the power of the media for peacebuilding, and on developing new strategies for countering the abuse of media during conflict.

This Center of Innovation focuses on harnessing the power of the media for peacebuilding, and on developing new strategies for countering the abuse of media during conflict.
Media have been both targets and weapons in violent conflict. Seizing the airwaves, broadcasting divisive messages, blocking Internet access and intimidating journalists are just some of the well-known tactics used to ensure control over information and promote violence. Less well developed is the capacity of the media for building peace.

Although there have been many efforts to use different media as peacebuilding tools, there remain huge gaps in our understanding of what works and how to integrate media into conflict management strategies. This Center seeks to bridge those gaps through systematic analysis and innovative programming. The Center conducts research, develops programming across all forms of media, and promotes cooperation and information sharing among policymakers, experts, media actors, and peacebuilding practitioners.

Work in Zones of Conflict

Afghanistan– The Center traveled to Afghanistan in to conduct a media evaluation using USIP's upcoming Toolkit: "Media in Fragile Environments: The USIP Intended-Outcomes Assessment Methodology."  Read the latest report: Afghanistan Media Assessment: Opportunities and Challenges for Peacebuilding Media

 

Iraq–  Iraqi media are considered diverse and influential, and can therefore be effective mechanisms to either fuel or mitigate conflict in Iraq. The Center is exploring ways to use media as a peacebuilding tool in Iraq by working with local partners to prevent media incitement to violence and by enabling Iraqi youth – through a multi-media program - to become active participants in the peacebuilding process.  The Center is continuing work on the following projects:

  • Peace Media for Iraqi Youth
    The Center is helping to highlight and address the many challenges faced by Iraqi youth by producing a multi-media peacebuilding program called Salam Shabab (Peace Youth), aimed at 14 - 18 year olds. In 2009, thirty Iraqi youth from across the country were filmed while competing in a series of challenges ranging from sport, film to performance competitions. Backed by a peacebuilding curriculum, the resulting 30-minute pilot documentary was broadcast on a network of Iraqi channels in early 2010, complemented by a social networking website (http://salamshabab.com) that enables the Iraqi youth to stay connected and to share their peacebuiSalam Shabablding experiences.   In August 2010, filming was completed for the first season of "Salam Shabab", a nine-episode reality TV series set to air on the Iraqi state television channel Al-Iraqiya on Saturdays at 4:30pm (AST) starting on October 1, 2011. During each 30-minute episode, youth from six different Iraqi governorates compete in a series of challenges to become the nation’s "Ambassadors of Peace."  Season 2 of the series just completed filming in Iraq with a diverse new group of next generation peacebuilders from across the country. | Read the Peacebrief: "Salam Shabab: Views and Voices of Iraqi Youth" and Watch the Season 1 Promo

    Learn more about Media, Conflict, and Peacebuilding Programs in Iraq

  • Preventing Media Incitement:
    As part of a major initiative to formulate a two-track (regulatory and non-regulatory) strategy to mitigate media incitement to violence in Iraq, the Center continues to work directly with Iraqi media regulatory officials, civil society media monitoring organizations, and news directors and reporters from across the broadcast sector in Iraq.  At a workshop in October 2010, leaders from these three groups were trained in content analysis methodology in order to better understand, track and reduce inflammatory reporting by Iraqi news outlets.  Due to a content analysis baseline study conducted by the Center and the Annenberg School for Communication, participants were able to see exactly the extent and content of media incitement in the run-up to Iraqi elections in 2010.  Media stakeholders also discussed how to integrate resources such as the User Guidelines for Preventing Media Incitement to Violence in Iraq into their work while collaborating on the development of a draft Style Guide for Reporting on Conflict (Arabic/English), a "living document" customizable to meet the needs of individual media organizations.  A follow-up workshop and content analysis study will be conducted prior to the next election cycle in 2012 as a step toward affecting and charting progress in mitigating the inflammatory coverage of conflict-related issues.

    Learn more about Media, Conflict, and Peacebuilding Programs in Iraq

 

Current Projects

Media As Global Diplomat: Public Diplomacy and Peacebuilding in the New Mediascape - In partnership with Independent Television Service, USIP produced a series of summits to highlight the expanding power of today’s media to transform public diplomacy and promote more peaceful international relations. Ted Koppel hosted the first in the series, and Queen Noor the second. On May 12, 2010, we held the third of the series at the Newseum in Washington, DC, to consider specific recommendations on ways to harness this new power of media to promote peace.  

Blogs & Bullets: Understanding Online Discourse as a Cause of Conflict and Means of Dialogue - A joint project with the Center for Science, Conflict, & Peacebuilding, the Center explores ways to utilize quantitative and analytical tools to understand the power of online discourse to both promote and prevent conflict.

Media and Conflict: A Strategic Framework -  The Center is completing a two-year project to develop a strategic framework for media interventions throughout the conflict cycle, creating a shared vocabulary and comprehensive taxonomy for the field. It will analyze best practices in peacebuilding media across the last 20 years and offer recommendations on maximizing impact.  

Assessing the Media Landscape in Conflict - The Center is continuing development of a template for the assessment of the media landscape in conflict situations. A longtime concern of practitioners and donors alike, this template will offer a clear and concise process for evaluating the range of opportunities and challenges in producing peacebuilding programming in fragile states, thereby providing a critical connection between integrating strategic media programming with peacebuilding planning and impact evaluation. The Template has been field-tested in Afghanistan and is being adapted into a software program.

Impact Assessment - The Center is working in partnership with the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, the Board of Broadcast Governors, Internews and Fondation Hirondelle to devise guidelines for evaluating the impact of media programs in conflict areas. A multi-day meeting of funders, methodologists and implementers was held in December 2010

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