Adoption of Peace Journalism framework to covering Covid-19

New article “Covering the Covid-19 Pandemic Using Peace Journalism Approach” by Metin Ersoy and Tamar Haruna Dambo from Eastern Mediterranean University in Famagusta, North Cyprus studies Peace Journalism in the context of Covid-19 coverage in online news outlets. 

The study proposes two research questions: 1) which news stories about Covid-19 reflect PJ principles in selected English online news outlets? And 2) Which PJ principles can be adapted to the Covid-19 news coverage during the pandemic?

Peace Journalism is contrasted with War/Violence Journalism and is defined by Galtung by four principles, presented here with cursory detail. First, it is peace or conflict oriented, explores the motivations of the conflicting parties and has a tendency to find win-win solutions. Second, it is truth oriented and uncovers untruths from all sides. Third, it is people-oriented as opposed to elite-oriented, and focuses on suffering of all affected parties like women and children. Fourth, it is solution-oriented as opposed to victory-oriented.

The study in question selected seven online outlets to cover, covering many countries: The Local from Italy, El Pais from Spain, Daily Sabah from Turkey, DW from Germany, The Guardian from the UK, Washington Post, and France24. Five Covid-19 articles were chosen from each.

For the first principles, peace orientation, El Pais  and The Local had stories that balanced the need to combat Covid with concerns over human rights, considering both Italy and Spain were strong in their response. France24 showed awareness of both visible and invisible factors, DW was sensitive in language, and The Guardian avoided blame games in adherence to PJ.

Truth-orientation was also evident in some stories. Washington Post presented both two government stances and an independent view, thus increasing accuracy.

An example of people-orientation is from Daily Sabah, where the plight of homeless people during the pandemic was reported on. The Local had a story where the shared humanity of the helpers was focused on.

Finally, solution-orientation was visible in some stories, but likewise, the opposite, panic-creating stories were also present where the pandemic was presented in somewhat hopeless terms.

The authors caution that the results were not generalizable, but nevertheless argue that there is now a framework of applying Peace Journalism approach in reporting a health crisis. The language should refrain from placing blame and furthering an us vs. them mentality, and care should be taken to avoid furthering discrimination on basis of race, for example.

The article “Covering the Covid-19 Pandemic Using Peace Journalism Approach” by Metin Ersoy and Tamar Haruna Dambo is in Journalism Practice. (free abstract). 

Picture: New Visualization of the Covid-19 virus by Fusion Medical Animation.

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