Reportism and the Roles of Media in Conflict

Writer    :    Dr. Chigozie Enwere, Head of Political Science , NTNU   A Scholarly Perspective Of Reportism In Confl PAPER TITLE: Reportism and the Roles of Media in Conflict Resolution in Developing Countries: A Gulen Conceptual Approach. Paper by Dr. Chigozie Enwere, Head of Political Science , NTNU  Media Panel: Reportism in Conflict by Ufuk Dialogue Foundation and Nigerian Turkish Nile University held on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at Nigerian Turkish Nile Univeristy; Abuja   Abstract. Conflict is a phenomenon that is known to human societies all over the world and is often accompanied by extreme acts of violence and terror. Hence, there are no universally acceptable styles or procedures of dealing or reporting conflict situations by the media. Therefore, the strategy and style of reporting conflict is strategic in the study and promotion of peace in every political system, because it influences and shapes the attitudes, perceptions, actions and reactions of actors in conflict situations. Therefore, this study seeks to investigate and analyze the nature, trends and effects of mass media conflict reporting styles and strategies on the vagaries of conflict escalation and resolution in developing countries. Also this paper gives an in-depth analysis of the conceptual relationships as well as the application of the theoretical values of political realism in the methods and procedures of reporting violent conflict and acts of terrorism; its preferences and consequences on the political system. For this reason, this paper attempts to examine the strategic effects of media portrayals of violence or destructive acts of terror on the attitudes, perceptions and the behaviourial thresholds of conflict entrepreneurs, actors and the other non state actors in the political system, to determine the role of the media in conflict resolution. Similarly, in the course of our analysis, this study will explore the principles of Fethullah Gulen’s methods of using the media as a veritable tool for creating positive values during conflict situations and as a mechanism for resolving incompatible interests and differences. Therefore, the greatest challenges facing the media is to determine the dividing line between the attitudinal patterns of mass media objectivity and the environmental elements of subjectivity that overtly or covertly influence the strategic options and methods of reporting conflict issues. Also, another problem facing the media in reporting political conflicts is the use and application of the strategies and concepts of political realism in the procedures of reporting conflict situations. This strategy increases the struggle to control the minds and actions of the parties in conflict as well as the vagaries between the media and the conflictive parties to impose their will on the system. Ever since Machiavelli produced his Prince (1513), Hobbes his Leviathan (1651) and Morgenthau his Politics of Nations (1966) power politics has continued to influence and dominate the methods, strategies, options and patterns of reporting conflict. Therefore, individual, ethnic, religious, political, economic and national interests have become decisive factors that twist, control and shape the styles and postures of reporting   violent conflicts at all levels of both domestic and international political systems. Thus, in this era of globalization and its current struggle for power and hegemony, the mass media has adopted the use of Machiavellian principles of ‘double morality’ in reporting domestic and international conflicts. This method has created more discord than collaboration in conflict situations. Another great challenge facing the media is the ascendency and the use of stereotype and prejudice not only by the conflict actors but also by the media to narrow down the perceptions of the parties, so as to determine the outcome of a given conflict and influence the process of its resolution. This has created psychological wars, fears, anxieties, frustration and hatred that increase the intensity of aggressive behavours and attitudes, which prolongs the life span of conflicts. In the course of the analysis, this study identifies that the media is an important agent of socialization that play strategic roles in conflict resolution. This is done by providing information on wide range of conflict issues and the best possible alternatives of resolving the perceived conflicts. But this role is most often jeopardized by the consistent portrayals and television of images of violence and destructive acts of terror by the media during periods of intense violent conflicts. The display of the destructive power capabilities of the actors as well as pictures of bloodshed, killings and damaged properties and infrastructures not only creates fear and anxiety in the political system but also tacitly influences the actors to carry out more acts of violence to balance terror and maintain hegemonic influence in the crisis situation. Thus, reprisal physical attacks increases and also becomes instruments of vengeance in the hands of conflict actors. Also, this study reveals that because of the struggle for power and the competitive nature of international politics, the media in this contemporary era of globalization is used by the Great powers as instruments of psychological coercion and propaganda to twist news and information necessary for promoting values of hegemonic unipolarism in world politics as well as to control the minds and actions of middle and small powers. Similarly, based on the qualitative analysis of ‘reportism in conflict’, this study discovers that there exists a web of interdependence between media and the operations of violent conflict actors. The conflict entrepreneurs and actors depend on the media to give widespread coverage of their terrorist attacks and actions, which are tacitly directed at the political system so as to put pressures on the policy makers or targeted groups to meet the demands of the conflict actors. On the other hand, the media hanker after violent acts because such terrorist actions fit into their strategic marketing plan of attracting wide audience and readership which invariably leads to maximization of profits. Therefore, we conclude that for the media to play objective roles in conflict resolution there is need for the restructuring of its patterns of reporting conflict situations in order to make the media more proactive in promoting peace and harmonious relationships in the political system. To achieve this new posture in media reporting of conflict situation, we suggest that the Gulen principles of dialogue, tolerance, coexistence and mutual understanding should be applied in the training of media reporters as well as in the strategic procedures of reporting conflict issues. This will promote the values of humanitarianism and culture of peaceful coexistence needed in every political system to nip conflict in its bud and increase the virtues of peace.  





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