Sample Information System Paper on Communicative peacebuilding of the Media

Introduction

According to Adam and Schoemaker, having access to information inspires lasting
peace(Adam and Schoemaker, 2010: 35). In the current society, it is well noted that then media
has not been considered as an instrument of peacebuilding (Himelfarb, 2009). Indeed the media
has not been able to entirely solve conflicts but it plays a significant role when it comes to
spurring debates, encouraging a change in behavior and reconciling communities. The media
intervention is a long term process rather than being a quick fix (Adam and Schoemaker, 2010:
39). This assignment is therefore focused on an analysis of the untapped media potential in
working towards peace building. Afghanistan’s case study will be used as an example of how
media plays a role in peacebuilding. Special attention will be paid to a civil norm related to
assent to civil peace.
Information is power and a lack of it especially in the aftermath of conflicts can bring
restlessness, desperation and lack of needed change. The information received from reports of
the media aids in strengthening better decisions which foster growth of economies and societies
in general. It is for this reason that the media needs to be used for peacebuilding rather than
getting omitted from this initiative.
Civil peace needs people to make an active choice of committing to peacebuilding. This
is something that is demonstrated through way of conduct and a certain disposition. Disposition
presents itself through realization of the benefits of civil peace. Assent to civil peace has various
categories. It needs one to learn to live with the past and have openness to future civil peace. The
former category needs a toleration of history whether people work towards forgiveness or

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whether they just choose to forget it. The latter category requires active participation in peace
processes.

Peaceful cooperation

Assent to civil peace shapes a community to the point that it forms a relationship of its
past and its future. This then forms a social contract that seeks to bring commitment to the
promotion of peace, the understanding of acceptance of reasonable losses coupled with the
necessity of peace and the acceptance of obligations that work towards peacebuilding. this social
contract can involve some editorial guidelines that are in two parts. The first part allows
journalists to have an engagement with the past. Through this journalists can make open
investigations to pasts among other activities. The second part is related to allowing open
discussions with respect to demands which are connected to a peaceful life.
In 2010, a media center belonging to PACT Radio in Jalalabad (PACT Radio, 2010).
Later on in the same year, there was a hostage situation that involved three foreign journalists
(Committee to Protect Journalists, 2011). This as is indicative that press was becoming a target
in Afghanistan. Indeed media can spur community hatred as well as promote violent acts. Media
can be said to be a double0-edged sword as it can also reconcile communities in the aftermath of
conflicts through peacebuilding initiatives (Howard et al., 2003). Today, there are organizations
that work in conflict zones and have used the media to intervene in their cause. This shows that
mass media is much more than just a platform for receiving news or current affairs. Through
airing of talk shows, programs, soap operas, blogs and songs, the media is able to work towards
peacebuilding (Paris, 2004).

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Media and Peacebuilding

There are quite a number of activities that peacebuilding involves which reduce the
probability of conflicts. These activities focus on changing the political, social and security
environment of a nation(Weiss-Fagen, 1995). Looking at this on the individual level, it is easy to
understand the need for cognitive, attitudinal as well as behavioral changes which would project
a move from polarization to meaningful relationships and also bring a shift from violence to
peace (European Centre for Conflict Prevention, 2007).
Robert Karl Manoff brings the idea of independent media having an inherent ability in
conflict resolution as well as peacebuilding. In his argument, he points to the fact that the
functions of the media are similar to those that re involved in peacebuilding processes. The
media is used to channel communication so as to counter any misconception. It also works to
defuse mistrust and also bring forth emotional outlets (Manoff, 1998).
However, the use of media for peacebuilding is somewhat controversial. There is a vast
majority of literature contributions omit the role of media(Call and Wyeth, 2008; Roeder and
Rothchild, 2005; Paris, 2004; Otunnu and Doyle, 1998; Miall et al., 2005). This is mostly noted
in the process of policy making. This is brought on by the fact that politicians view the media as
more of a threat than a peacebuilding initiative(Adam and Holguin, 2003: 1). The fact that these
parties consider that the content published by media has consequences that may not factor them
brings forth the ‘blindness’. As well, the fact that media is trained to be objective separates the
media from becoming peace builders as this would mean that they take an active role in
conflicts. If this happened the principle of objectivity would fail and therefore credibility lost

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within their markets (Bourdieu, 1996).The following section presents a case study of how media
can work towards peacebuilding through the creation of soap operas.

The Afghan conflict

The republic of Afghanistan is socially fragmented. There are ethnic groups which are
divided according to those considered major and minor (Central Intelligence Agency, 2011).
There are two official languages spoken in this region- Dari and Pashto. There are people who
are bilingual, therefore mixing these languages is quite common (Skuse, 2002b: 423). This is a
state that is known to have a weak kind of authority (BBC News, 2011). In the past, its history
has been related to conflicts and instability. The violence that is seen here occurred in phases
(Giustozzi, 2000; Giustozzi, 2007; Maley, 2002). The first phase began in 1978. During this
time, there was a coup involving People’s Democratic Party. There were intra-party power
conflicts coupled with a rural armed revolt which led to the Soviet invasion. This invasion was
challenged and finally defeated. The second phase involved a struggle between the mujahedeen.
This is a struggle that gave birth to the Taliban who worked fast to seize Kabul in a span of two
years. From this came the radical shari’ah law. Finally, the third phase involved an invasion of
coalition forces from the west in 2001. This was force that had the intention of overthrowing the
Taliban regime. Today, here are various Talban attacks with civilian deaths increasing by 2010
(Afghanistan Rights Monitor, February 2011).

The Afghan media-scape

Looking at media in Afghanistan, one can note the effect of conflicts on the environment.
During the communist reign, the distribution of cheap radios and the availability of batteries
made it possible for information to reach the masses. Radio remained one of the most efficient

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medium for the population in Afghanistan (Rene et al., 2010). Radio Afghanistan was the active
national radio station which was mainly dominated by the communist authority (Bradsher, 1999).
The manner of control was quite open to the point that any caught mujahedeen would be forced
to make a confession of their doings on air (Skuse, 2002a: 270). Due to this propaganda, this
station became unpopular with time.
After the soviet retreat, the mujahedeen made it their mission to destroy Radio
Afghanistan. This station was then re-established as Voice of Shari’at Radiow which denounced
communism. This station’s content mainly involved the explanation of Islamic morals (Skuse,
2002a: 273). The Taliban group banned television, music, film and any printed imagery that was
related to female voices (Skuse, 2002a: 273). Due to these issues, most of the population sought
another source of information bas well as entertainment. Most of these people tuned in to BBC
World Service.
BBC world service secured a wide audience from the afghan population therefore took
advantage of this and extended their programing to programs that brought peace. The main
objective of this was to assist the people in getting socially useful information which would work
for their survival in this conflict region. There is a soap opera called New Home, New Life which
came on three times a week at convenient times for 15 minute. This is a soap opera that
addressed the issues of health, politics, humanitarian issues, conflict resolution, the oppression of
women, hygiene, dangers of landmines and so forth. This format was edu-tainment which used
dramatic storylines to inform, educate, communicate and entertain the population (Skuse, 2011:
2). The population was allowed to come up with their own conclusions from all the presented
dilemmas with the soap opera. This is something that encouraged a change in their attitudes and
behavior (Adam, 2005). The parties involved in the making of this soap opera ensured that the

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content was both technically correct and aligned to the Afghan culture. the language used was in
both Dari and Pashto for most to understand. The actors disguised their accents in a manner that
allowed it to fit into this community. This soap opera instantly became popular in this region but
there were times it caused outcries when something happened. During this time even the Taliban
group became loyal listeners in spite of the fact that this soap opera was pro-women (Skuse,
2002b: 418).
The success of this program is achieved when people use it to change their attitudes and
behavior. This can be dine through an understanding of themes. However, an evaluation of the
success had some problems. For one, due to lack of infrastructure, it was hard to survey the
audience. Additionally it is hard to measure intangible objectives like attitude changes (Curtis,
2000: 153-54). Moreover, due to the availability of multiple peacebuilding projects in this
region, it would be hard knowing what part of the population changes as a result of the soap
opera.
New Home, New Life  is a program that worked towards peacebuilding. This was based
on the fact that the media house used proper format. The design of the soap opera was suitable in
transferring information without creating a feeling of propaganda. The entertainment value of
this soap opera bridges the isolation gap of the population. This format gives the listeners a
platform for questioning the traditionally established practices. These are crucial things in the
achievement of normative change (Adam, 2005).
The BBC world soap opera was culturally appropriate for this community. The media
ensured that they did proper research prior to their production. This is something that formed a
connection between the media as peace builders and its audience (Anderson, 1999).due to this, a

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promotion of reconciliations was met. As well, through bringing the broadcast in languages that
are mostly understood, the content then becomes understood well. The use of a rural setting
brings forth relevance of the storyline which prompts audiences t0o think about the topic of
peacebuilding.

Discursive civility

Due to the sensitivity of a population especially after a conflict, it is imperative that
respectfulness be maintained within peacebuilding communication. Looking at the case study of
Afghanistan, it is clear that their traditions and beliefs limited their thinking and attitudes. For
instance, the Taliban could not allow women participating in media activities to the point of
banning films or music involving women. This is something that was addressed through media
productions in a manner that would make this community change its attitudes. This was done in
a manner that made the audience feel safe and form a trust relationship.
One of the most important things that the media used in ensuring respect in communication was
the use of culturally appropriate content. This would not only provide a connection to the viewer
but pass along some important peacebuilding message. Additionally, the media production did
not include any propaganda in the soap opera but rather encouraged people to improve their lives
in the aftermath of conflicts.

Critique

The information generated from the media can work to affect the public discourse. It can
either bring positive changes or negative ones. Today different media platforms are used in the
distribution of information. The media does not only distribute information but also counter
conflicts. In the case of responsible reporting or productions, truthfulness and fairness of events

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is encouraged. Therefore there should not be any room for judgments from the media’s part. For
a nation to operate well, there needs to be access to information through the media. This is
especially true in a case whereby the region is isolated liken Afghanistan. The media needs to
provide a platform for healthy debates, entertainment, information exchange and so forth.
In the aftermath of conflicts, International media can bring attention to issues that need to be
changed and effectively addressed. The media is therefore able to highlight solutions to conflicts
all round the world. The media intervention in case of conflicts need to be free and unbiased. The
broadcast present in community radios work to reach a broader audience in different languages
in an easy and effective manner. This is a way of encouraging the viewer to attach meaning from
the broadcast to their personal lives.
Through peacebuilding initiatives by the media like peace journalism assist a community
in uncovering the causes of conflicts while ensuring that the victim’s dignity is preserved. In this
way peacebuilding does not encourage the exploitation of the situation but ensuring that the
reports or productions are balanced . the main aim of this strategy would be to create a different
community which seeks to use peaceful measures while speaking out against conflicts or
violence. Therefore, possible solutions to challenges coupled with trying to avoid further conflict
are at the heart of peacebuilding by the media.
Conclusion

It is important to consider the fact that media has long been omitted when it comes to
peacebuilding initiatives. The media can work well in conflict management and rebuilding a
nation that suffers from the aftermath of conflicts. However, the power accorded to media is
limited as they cannot completely eradicate armed conflicts. What they can only do is seek ways

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of bringing reconciliation and informing on ways that a community can work to live with the
situation positively. The role of the media in peacebuilding works through reports and reflection
of the existing issues while questioning some of the established concepts or notions. As well, the
media can be used in propaganda. Here instead of revealing that which is true, things would e
covered up to the point of creating negative con sequences. Herein is a contribution of how the
media works in Perce building through communication. An Afghanistan case study is used to
bring forth a clearer understanding of how the media can produce content that can aid in finding
solutions to conflicts and some backward practices. More would be done by the media if it was
not limited in power. At the end of the day, it is well understood that communication by the
media assists in conflict management. However, more research into the topic would heighten
better understanding of the media’s role in peacebuilding.

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