Peace journalism says that we need to hear a different story told in a different way -- one that acknowledges the whole and horrific cost of waging war. In a world that is getting more dangerous, rather than less, they argue, war is a bad idea that has just gotten a whole lot worse. An ill-conceived attack on Iran, for example, could spark a wider conflagration, or devastating mass-casualty act of terror. We can no longer afford to play Russian roulette with our human future.
Australian reporter Jake Lynch writes: "Peace journalism is when editors and reporters make choices - about what to report, and how to report it - that create opportunities for society at large to consider and to value non-violent responses to conflict."
Reporters don't make wars. But neither are they merely neutral observers. By sticking to the largely unexamined conventions of war reporting, journalists fan the flames of violence, mouthing government propaganda, demonizing the enemy and presenting simplistic stories about the nature of the conflict and its solution.
In the words of another self-styled peace journalist, nationally syndicated columnist Bob Koehler, "Violent response belittles the conflict, shatters the complexity, perpetuates the problem, endangers the innocent and often blows up in our faces. But violence is an industry, shrouded in mythology and consensus. We're stuck with it, apparently. To my mind, working to undo the mythology of violence is the most responsible act a writer can commit."
If more reporters were conscientious like Koehler and Lynch, resolving to give peace a chance rather than continuing to beat the drums of war with careless and criminally unimaginative reporting, who knows, the human race might yet make it through the 21st century intact.
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