Building Peace through Media

Moderator: Gilda Parrella – Associate Professor, Conflict Management, School of Communication (Loyola)
How can media contribute to the search for peace and social justice?  These panelists shared their experiences in community-building through film-making, bearing witness in the search for justice, bridge-building between newspapers and under-represented groups, and engaging in mediated conversations on controversial issues.  Consensus-building Journalism is a new model for online participation in the search for common ground.  More information on C-bJ can be found at www.niemanreports.org
Panelists:
Jeffrey Harder – Associate Professor, Film Production, School of Communication (Loyola)
The Jajce Youth Media Project was established in 2007 in collaboration with the Youth Center Jajce in Bosnia – Herzegovina. The youth center is a microcosm of the city, representing the ethnic diversity of the surrounding post-conflict community. Jajce, a town located in central Bosnia-Herzegovina, became a “divided city” during the Bosnian War spanning 1992 – 1995. Geographically positioned in the midst of the Serb majority to the north, concentrations of the Croatian majority in the southwest, and Bosnian Muslim majority areas in the south east, the region experienced considerable conflict and the mass displacement of the population.

The Jajce Youth Media Project was designed to provide six week media production workshops for high school age youth from the city of Jajce and the surrounding region. The participants learned conflict resolution skills through facilitated group conversations and the production of media projects. The environment allowed youth to openly discuss topics of inter-ethnic conflict, while developing their own methodologies for engaging the community and constructing texts which might address sensitive topics. The materials produced were uploaded to a web based media site which coordinated and centralized discussions regarding the productions.
Julia Lieblich – Assistant Professor, Specialized Journalism, School of Communication (Loyola)
Journalists bring about peacemaking by choosing to write about people who defend human rights. I do not have to look further than the streets of Chicago to find men and women who are making history, whether it is a Salvadoran torture survivor in Pilsen who took the fiercest Salvadoran generals to court or the Bosnian concentration camp survivor who became a psychiatrist so he could help other survivors of terror heal. The journalist’s job is to tell such stories without promoting, romanticizing or embellishing and to get the grittiest of details right.
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Don Wycliff – Former Public Editor and Ombudsman, Chicago Tribune; Distinguished Journalist in Residence, School of Communication (Loyola)
The Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics warns journalists to “[r]ecognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.” The job of a public editor/ombudsman is to help journalists’ keep their arrogance in check and help the public understand the need for—indeed, the inevitability of—some harm or discomfort if journalists do their jobs correctly.

During my time as the Chicago Tribune’s public editor, we performed these two jobs in a variety of ways. The most obvious was through my column, which attempted to explain newsroom decision-making to the public and, when it could not be explained, to apologize for bad decisions. But probably the most successful way was to invite aggrieved subjects of news coverage–or people who felt they had been unjustifiably left out of coverage—into the newsroom to meet the journalists and engage in conversation about what they felt was wrong or right in the coverage and what the journalists could do better. This approach was especially effective in building bridges between the newspaper and Chicago’s Islamic community. It also helped create a sense of openness to a number of other, underrepresented communities, including African-Americans, Hispanics and professional women