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Table of contents :
Table of Contents
List of contributors
Introduction: Reporting on processes of peace and conflict
1. Peace and conflict reporting in a world-in-crisis
2. Obstacles for critical journalism in the security policy sector: Revisiting peace journalism
3. Peace and conflict journalism: An African perspective
4. Resolution, resistance, resilience: Covering the conflict in South Sudan
5. The Rohingya refugee in the Bangladeshi press
6. How our rage is represented: Acts of resistance among women photographers of the Global South
7. Citizen journalism: Is Bellingcat revolutionising conflict journalism?
8. The new frontline: Women journalists at the intersection of converging digital age threats
9. Creating capacity for peace: The power of news and civil norm building
10. Covering conflict: Safety, sanity and responsibility
INSIGHTS ON PEACE AND CONFLICT REPORTING
As the second book in the Routledge Journalism Insights series, this edited collection explores the possibilities and challenges involved in contemporary reporting of peace and conﬂict. Featuring 16 expert contributing authors, the collection maps the ﬁeld of peace and conﬂict reporting in a digital world, in a context where the ﬁnancial prospects of the news industry are challenged and professional authority, credibility and autonomy are decaying. The contributors, ranging from prominent scholars to the Head of Newsgathering at the BBC, discuss a diverse range of key case studies, including the role of Bellingcat in conﬂict journalism; war and peace journalism in Bangladesh; visual storytelling in conﬂict zones; and rampant cyber-misogyny confronting women journalists in Finland, India, the Philippines and South Africa. Bringing together theory and practice, the collection oﬀers an in-depth examination of the changes taking place in the working practices of journalists as ongoing, strategic assaults against them increase. Insights on Peace and Conﬂict Reporting is a powerful resource for students and academics in the ﬁelds of global journalism, foreign news reporting, conﬂict reporting, globalisation, media and international communication. Kristin Skare Orgeret is a professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at OsloMet University, Norway, where she co-heads the research group MEKK (Media, War, Conﬂict). She has published extensively within the ﬁelds of global digital journalism, democratisation and conﬂict resolution, and gender and the media.
The Journalism Insights series provides edited collections of theoretically grounded case study analyses on an eclectic range of journalistic areas, from peace and conﬂict reporting to fashion and sports reporting. The series has a bias towards the contemporary, but each volume includes an important historical, contextualising section. Volumes oﬀer international coverage and focus on both mainstream and ‘alternative’ media, always considering the impact of social media in the various ﬁelds. The volumes are aimed at both undergraduate and postgraduate students of journalism as well as media and communication programmes who will ﬁnd the texts original, interesting and inspirational. For information on submitting a proposal for the series, please contact the Series Editor Richard Lance Keeble, of the University of Lincoln and Liverpool Hope University, at [email protected] Insights on Reporting Sports in the Digital Age Ethical and Practical Considerations in a Changing Media Landscape Edited by Roger Domeneghetti Insights on Peace and Conﬂict Reporting Edited by Kristin Skare Orgeret
For more information visit: https://www.routledge.com/Journalism-Insights/book-series/JI
INSIGHTS ON PEACE AND CONFLICT REPORTING
Edited by Kristin Skare Orgeret
First published 2022 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2022 selection and editorial matter, Kristin Skare Orgeret; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Kristin Skare Orgeret to be identiﬁed as the author of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identiﬁcation and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Orgeret, Kristin Skare, editor. Title: Insights on peace and conﬂict reporting / edited by Kristin Skare Orgeret. Description: London ; New York : Routledge, 2021. | Series: Journalism insights | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identiﬁers: LCCN 2021002988 | ISBN 9780367858995 (hardback) | ISBN 9780367859008 (paperback) | ISBN 9781003015628 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: War--Press coverage. | Peace--Press coverage. | Social conﬂict--Press coverage. | Journalism. | Journalism--Technological innovations. Classiﬁcation: LCC PN4784.W37 I57 2021 | DDC 070.4/333--dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2021002988 ISBN: 978-0-367-85899-5 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-367-85900-8 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-003-01562-8 (ebk) DOI: 10.4324/9781003015628 Typeset in Bembo by Taylor & Francis Books
List of contributors Acknowledgements Introduction: Reporting on processes of peace and conﬂict Kristin Skare Orgeret 1 Peace and conﬂict reporting in a world-in-crisis Simon Cottle 2 Obstacles for critical journalism in the security policy sector: Revisiting peace journalism Stig A. Nohrstedt and Rune Ottosen 3 Peace and conﬂict journalism: An African perspective Winston Mano 4 Resolution, resistance, resilience: Covering the conﬂict in South Sudan Charlotte Ntulume 5 The Rohingya refugee in the Bangladeshi press Kajalie Shehreen Islam and Mubashar Hasan 6 How our rage is represented: Acts of resistance among women photographers of the Global South Saumava Mitra, Sara Creta and Stephanie McDonald
vii xi 1 10
7 Citizen journalism: Is Bellingcat revolutionising conﬂict journalism? Glenda Cooper and Bruce Mutsvairo
8 The new frontline: Women journalists at the intersection of converging digital age threats Julie Posetti
9 Creating capacity for peace: The power of news and civil norm building Jackie Harrison and Stef Pukallus
10 Covering conﬂict: Safety, sanity and responsibility Jonathan Munro
Glenda Cooper PhD is a senior lecturer in journalism at City, University of London. She has published extensively on the relationship between journalists and NGOs and is the author of Reporting Humanitarian Disasters in a Social Media Age (Routledge, 2018) and co-editor of Humanitarianism, Communications and Change (Peter Lang, 2015). She was a Guardian Research Fellow at Nuﬃeld College, Oxford. She has worked as a staﬀ reporter and editor on many leading media organisations including The Independent, Sunday Times, Washington Post, Daily Telegraph and BBC Radio 4. Simon Cottle is Professor of Media and Communications in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC), at Cardiﬀ University, UK. He is the author of many books on media and the communication of conﬂicts, crises and catastrophes. These include Mediatized Conﬂicts (2006), Global Crisis Reporting (2009), Transnational Protests and the Media (ed. with L. Lester) (2011), Humanitarianism, Communications and Change (ed. with G. Cooper) (2015) and Reporting Dangerously: Journalist Killings, Intimidation and Security (with R. Sambrook and N. Mosdell). He is Series Editor for the Global Crises and Media Series for the publisher Peter Lang. Sara Creta is an award-winning journalist and documentary ﬁlmmaker, with extensive experience investigating human rights abuses in Sudan, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, DRC, Libya, Chad, Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia, the Gaza Strip and while on board a rescue ship in the Mediterranean. Currently she is pursuing her doctorate at the School of Communications of Dublin City University under the Future of Journalism Institute. Much of her research focuses on how dissident actors use Internet technologies in aﬀecting political action in the Horn of Africa region. She is recipient of a scholarship from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant.
viii List of contributors
Jackie Harrison is Professor of Public Communication and UNESCO Chair on Media Freedom, Journalism Safety and the Issue of Impunity at the University of Sheﬃeld. She is Chair of the Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM). Her latest book, The Civil Power of the News (Palgrave, 2019) examines the civil role of the factual mass media and how they express and interpret our invariant civil concerns, public controversies and conﬂict. Her work focuses on how they can be a focal point of civil reconciliation and resistance as well as how assaults on the factual mass media lead to their civil diminishment. Mubashar Hasan is an adjunct research fellow at the Humanitarian and Development Research Initiative, University of Western Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Islam and Politics in Bangladesh: The Followers of Ummah (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) and the lead editor of Radicalization in South Asia: Context, Trajectories and Implications (Sage, 2019). He has also published in Australian Journal of Politics and History, Asian Journal of Political Science and Harvard Asia Quarterly. Kajalie Shehreen Islam, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her research interests include political communication, and gender and media. Her work has been published in national and international journals and books. Islam was also a journalist with Bangladesh’s leading English-language newspaper, The Daily Star, covering human rights, gender, politics, development and more. Winston Mano is Reader at the University of Westminster, UK, and member of the Communication Research Institute’s Global Media Research Network. Mano is also the Principal Editor of the Journal of African Media Studies and a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Stephanie McDonald currently works for an Irish Traveller and Roma civil society organisation in Dublin, Ireland. Previously she worked as a policy analyst, and in communication roles, with CSOs and inter-governmental bodies in Canada and East Africa. She began her career working as a news reporter in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, in the Canadian North. Saumava Mitra is Assistant Professor at the School of Communications of Dublin City University, Ireland. His research focuses on identifying the gendered and geopolitical inequities inherent in photographs of – and acts surrounding photographing – violent and social conﬂicts. He is interested in both the questions of how these inequities are inscribed into the photographic images of conﬂicts as well as the eﬀects of these inequities on the lives and livelihoods of those who produce these images. Prior to joining DCU, Mitra worked in journalism, communications and academia in South Asia, East Africa, North and Central America and Western Europe.
List of contributors ix
Jonathan Munro is Head of Newsgathering at BBC News. In that role, he manages the BBC’s coverage and deployment within the UK and globally for all its English language output. He sits on the senior leadership team at the BBC, and regularly deputises for the Director of News. Jonathan has previously worked at ITN, the UK’s leading commercial news broadcaster, where he started as an Editorial Trainee, later becoming a foreign Correspondent, News Editor and ultimately Deputy Editor. Bruce Mutsvairo (PhD Leiden University, 2013) is a Professor of Journalism at Auburn University in the United States. His research sits at the intersection of journalism, social media and democratisation in the Global South. He is the founding editor of the book series Palgrave Studies in Journalism and the Global South. Stig A. Nohrstedt is Professor Emeritus in Media and Communication Science at Örebro University and holds a PhD in Political Science from Uppsala University, Sweden. He has published a number of books and articles on war journalism, journalism ethics and crisis communication. Charlotte Ntulume is Lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Communication, Makerere University, Uganda. Her research interests include: media and conﬂict, peace journalism, and crisis communication. Ntulume’s doctoral research at the University of Oslo, Norway, was on coverage and framing of the 2013 South Sudan conﬂict in East African newspapers. She has previously served in editorial roles in some of the leading newspapers in Uganda, and has worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and United Nations Oﬃce for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aﬀairs (OCHA) in Uganda as a communication specialist in the areas of strategic communication, humanitarian coordination and crisis prevention and recovery. Kristin Skare Orgeret is Professor at the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at OsloMet University, Norway. She co-heads the research group MEKK (Media, War, Conﬂict), which organises annual international conferences on the safety of journalists. She has published extensively within the ﬁelds of global journalism, freedom of expression and gender and the media. Orgeret led the NORHED-funded project “Bridging Gaps, Building Futures” (2014–2020), which aimed at strengthening media and journalism in (post-)conﬂict conditions through research and higher education in Nepal, Uganda and South Sudan. Rune Ottosen is a political scientist and journalist, professor emeritus in journalism at OsloMet University, Norway. He has written extensively on press history and media coverage of war and conﬂicts. He is co-author with Stig Arne Nohrstedt of several books on war and peace journalism. In 2010, he was one of the editors and co-author of the four-volume Norwegian Press History, Norsk Presses historie (1767–2010). His
x List of contributors
latest academic book is Gendering War and Peace Journalism. Some Insights – Some Missing Links (edited with Berit von der Lippe, 2016). Julie Posetti (PhD) is Global Director of Research at the International Center For Journalists (ICFJ), where she leads action–research projects at the intersection of digital journalism, disinformation, gender and media freedom. She is an internationally published journalist and researcher who is academically aﬃliated with the Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM) at the University of Sheﬃeld, and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. Dr Posetti is author of Protecting Journalism Sources in the Digital Age (UNESCO: 2017) and co-editor of two UN-commissioned books on journalism, freedom of expression and disinformation. Stefanie Pukallus is Senior Lecturer in public communication and civil development at the Department of Journalism Studies at the University of Sheﬃeld. Her research currently focuses on the signiﬁcance of public communication (broadly conceived to include the arts) and safe spaces in post-civil war settings. She chairs the Hub for the Study of Hybrid Communication in Peacebuilding.
Front cover/Chapter 1 image: “Edge of the World” – oil on canvas, by Anna Berezovskaya (2015) from the exhibition Edge of the World held at REDSEA Gallery, Singapore, in 2015. Painting from the private collection of Mr & Mrs K. Burke. Thank you so much to the artist, the owners and to Chris Churcher, founder and owner of REDSEA Gallery, for generously allowing us to use the image of the painting – an image for our times – both as a cover illustration and in the ﬁrst chapter of the book by Simon Cottle. Chapter 5, image by Tofayel Ahmad for The Daily Kaler Kantho. Thank you so much for allowing us to use the image in Chapter 5 by Kajalie Shehreen Islam and Mubashar Hasan. I would also like to express my gratitude to series editor for Routledge Journalism Insights, Richard Lance Keeble, for the initiative and smooth cooperation, and to the most helpful and positive colleagues at Routledge, in particular editor Margaret Farrelly and editorial assistant Priscille Biehlmann. Thank you also Emil Skare Orgeret for your dedicated work on the references. And last, but not least, a heartfelt thank you to all authors – Simon Cottle, Rune Ottosen, Stig Arne Nohrstedt, Winston Mano, Charlotte Ntulume, Kajalie Shehreen Islam, Mubashar Hasan, Saumava Mitra, Sara Creta, Stephanie McDonald, Bruce Mutsvairo, Glenda Cooper, Julie Posetti, Jackie Harrison, Stefanie Pukallus and Jonathan Munro – for contributing despite the strangest times. Your ﬁndings and reﬂections will most certainly inspire and contribute to further discussions and developments within the ﬁeld of peace and conﬂict reporting. Oslo, January 2021 Kristin Skare Orgeret
INTRODUCTION Reporting on processes of peace and conﬂict Kristin Skare Orgeret
This anthology Reporting Peace and Conﬂict aims to explore cultural, political and technological transformations in journalistic practice and media’s role in raising awareness of wars and conﬂicts. As shown elsewhere (Orgeret and Tayeebwa, 2016) the phases between conﬂict, post-conﬂict and peace are often blurred, and the development from war to peace is not necessarily unidirectional. Also, the question whether the world is becoming a more violent or a more peaceful place is a complex one. According to the Uppsala Conﬂict Data Program, the number of fatalities in organised violence is decreasing worldwide (UCPD, 2020). However, the general decline in fatalities from organised violence does not correspond with the trend in the number of active conﬂicts. In fact, the world has seen a new peak in the number of armed conﬂicts after 2014 (Pettersson and Öberg, 2019). And when it comes to the speciﬁc profession of journalists and media workers there has been a signiﬁcant increase in deadly attacks over the last few years. Journalism is, indeed, becoming a more dangerous profession (Cottle et al., 2016). On average, every ﬁve days a journalist is killed (Unesco, 2020), and there is a growing tendency for journalists themselves to become the target of violent attacks. The threats range from harassment to arbitrary detention, kidnapping, physical attacks and, in the most extreme cases, killing. This happens against a backdrop of a rising anti-media rhetoric and the discrediting of newsworthy and accurate journalistic reportage as “fake news” (Ireton and Posetti, 2018), what often is referred to as an “infodemic”, including disinformation and propaganda, which arguably emerges as among the most powerful threats of the modern age (IWPR, 2020). In addition to the increased number of conﬂicts between countries there is also an escalation of transnational risk and humanitarian disasters (Shaw and Selvarajah, 2019). Shaw argues that the broader conceptualisation of risk and conﬂict should include those associated with indirect or invisible forms of violence such as poverty, famine, exclusion of minorities, youth marginalisation, human traﬃcking, forced DOI: 10.4324/9781003015628-1
2 Kristin Skare Orgeret
labour, forced migration and the like (Shaw, 2012; Shaw and Selvarajah, 2019: 4). Simultaneously, to add to the complex picture, it is necessary to remember that total avoidance of conﬂict may not always be an aim in itself, and that conﬂict at times may be necessary to promote human rights, justice, or important social changes (see also Hussein and Al-Mamary, 2019). That peace is also a complex concept, which is poorly understood if deﬁned solely through the absence of violence, has been frequently repeated by scholars in the more than four and a half decades since Johan Galtung proposed to distinguish between negative and positive peace (1975). The former is deﬁned as the “absence of direct and organized violence between human groups or nations”, whereas positive peace also involves the removal of the root causes of the conﬂict (1975: 29). More recently, as Julia Hoﬀmann and Virgil Hawkins (2015) show, yet more nuanced analytical concepts have been introduced, that take into account diﬀerent forms of power at play in eﬀorts to “build” peace. In the same way as with democracy, peace should perhaps not be seen as the end station of a trajectory at all, but rather be understood as a continuous process. The centrality of media and journalism to our understandings of the multifaceted complexities of peace and conﬂict is of core interest to this book. And, of course, media are not homogeneous, nor do they exist outside the political and social world they describe but must be perceived as part of the context of the rapid changes of the ﬁeld itself. Digital technologies led to more complex hybrid media systems and created opportunities for a more diverse group to tell stories, as well as introducing new threats to journalists’ safety. Digital privacy and security threats have led to changes in the working practices of journalists, as ongoing, strategic assaults against them – varying from online harassment to physical attacks – have reduced the number of media correspondents either willing, or able, to operate in war zones, leaving others – such as activists, ﬁghters and governments – to ﬁll the information void. As a desire for people in conﬂict zones to set their own news agenda grows, arguments around safety in relation to gender and war reporting are also of particular interest to discussions of whose perspectives we actually get to hear or see through the reporting of peace and conﬂict. New technologies mean increased surveillance but also new possibilities. A new open-source culture has emerged that allows journalists and non-professionals including technologists to unite in contributing towards greater transparency and credibility of news by collaborating in fact-checking and publishing of online news. We know from earlier research that coverage of conﬂict is shaped by the distinctiveness of the conﬂict itself and the region of the world where it happens (Hanitzsch and Hoxha, 2014). Thomas Hanitzsch and Abit Hoxha identify seven subdomains of inﬂuence on news production – that is, the areas the inﬂuences originate from: socio-cultural identity, political inﬂuences, economic imperatives, reference groups, professional ideology, professional practice and professional routines. They importantly add that the character of the conﬂict will also have a decisive inﬂuence on conﬂict coverage: such as the nature of conﬂict (for instance, the parties involved, issues of dispute and the intensity of the conﬂict), salience of conﬂict (social and
individual involvement, geographical proximity), and circumstances that aﬀect the access to the conﬂict (safety of journalists, activities of strategic communication actors). We also know that journalists around the world perceive very diﬀerently the inﬂuences on their work and that political and economic factors are clearly the most important denominators of cross-national diﬀerences in the journalists’ perceptions of inﬂuences. Furthermore, perceived political inﬂuences are clearly related to objective indicators of political freedom and ownership structures across the investigated countries (Hanitzsch and Melado, 2011). Therefore, until recently, the lack of a view on reporting conﬂict from the developing world has been striking. Conﬂict reporting has historically been studied from a rather Eurocentric perspective and, in the little literature there is, the Global South is often described as a monolithic entity. Luciana Ballestrin, however, reminds us: For both analytical and political purposes, it is important to not simplify or romanticize the idea of the Global South. The existence of “south in the north” and “north in the south” complexiﬁes the (re)production of (neo) colonial and (neo)imperial power, especially in the current context of increasing global inequalities. Thus, the rejection of everything regarding the “Global North” itself can be a dangerous position and its complexity needs to be taken into consideration in the same way as the “Global South”. (2020: 1) The lack of a complex world view is what many analyses on reporting conﬂict suﬀer from. Shaw and Selvarajah’s (2019) book is laudable as one of few oﬀering more global perspectives and voices when discussing human rights, conﬂict and peace reporting. Additionally, gender is an interesting parameter to be further included in these discussions. In the last few years several scholars have investigated whether female political empowerment is conducive to civil peace. Sirianne Dahlum and Tore Wig (2018) draw on data from a 200-year period and ﬁnd a strong link between female political empowerment and civil peace. The relationship, they argue, is driven both by women’s political participation and the culture that conduces it. Their research is the strongest evidence to date that there is a robust link between female political empowerment and civil peace, stemming both from institutional and cultural mechanisms. A more fruitful approach than arguing along essentialist lines that women have a natural aﬃnity for peace and are inherently more kind, gentle and peaceful (Bacchi, 1986; Gilligan, 1982) is to investigate what such societies where women have the possibility to become a leader have in common. It is regularly held that societies that empower women are less prone to civil violence. Steven Pinker (2011) argues that a cultural change wherein women’s rights and perspectives are increasingly valued on a par with those of men is one of the structural forces propelling societies towards peace. An interesting question here is whether it is the participation of women or the culture that make for more peaceful societies. Could it be that the norms and culture that are prevalent in gender-equal societies lead to less conﬂict or
4 Kristin Skare Orgeret
better responses to crisis and conﬂicts? Similarly, during the ﬁrst phase of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 it was argued that countries with the best responses to the virus had one thing in common: women leaders (Wittenberg-Cox, 2020). Could it be that this said more about the societies in question than about the women leaders as such? An interesting ﬁnding from Dahlum and Wig’s investigation (2018) is that a higher percentage of female journalists had a signiﬁcant eﬀect on reducing conﬂict. Could it be that societies that enable women to carry out the profession of journalist also are more prone to peace? This is decisive also because gendered violence against women journalists is on the increase and earlier research has shown how sexual violence against women and conﬂict very often go hand in hand (Cohen and Nordås, 2014). Following from this we need more research including the gender dimension, as well as perspectives from a wider sector of the world. This book follows that track. The contributions embrace a variety of theoretical, empirical and methodological approaches. The chapters privilege no particular epistemological or theoretical vantage point and include authors who are situated in a variety of country- and region-speciﬁc contexts concerning peace and conﬂict reporting. Peace journalism has often been seen in contrast to war journalism, in which the end goal is winning or defeat, in a zero-sum game of two parties (Galtung, 2002). Whereas peace journalism encourages analysis of conﬂicts, root causes and non-violent responses to conﬂict or war, it is often found to directly challenge the normative ideals of witnessing, objectivity and detachment by journalists (Loyn, 2007; Lynch, 2007). Galtung’s peace journalism concept has inspired and provoked since it was launched (Ottosen, 2010). The international network Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) is clearly inﬂuenced by the Galtung way of thinking in their presentation of “six duties” for journalists covering conﬂict and peace: duty to understand the conﬂict; duty to report fairly; duty to report the background and the causes of the conﬂict; duty to present the human side; duty to report on peace eﬀorts and duty to recognise the inﬂuence of journalism (IWPR, 2008).
Introducing the book This anthology includes chapters that attempt to take the empirical and theoretical discussions about peace and conﬂict journalism further, after almost two decades of deliberations on the issues and obstacles of peace journalism in reporting conﬂict. Simon Cottle argues powerfully in Chapter 1 how it is time to recognise how processes of peace and the waging of conﬂicts are not only enmeshed in global relationships and power dynamics but also within the multiple global crises generated by our late-modern, globalised society. Global crises are often seen and reported as “isolated” or “one-oﬀ” events, but should rather, Cottle argues, be approached as endemic outcomes of a globalised world-in-crisis. Cottle shows how the global crisis of Covid-19 illustrates the need to approach today’s global crises as endemic to, enmeshed within and potentially encompassing of today’s world-in-crisis. Covid-19 is both expressive of but also exacerbating today’s compounding global
crises, Cottle argues and asks for a journalism that sees and communicates “the true extent of the combined existential threats that confront not only world society but the conditions for life itself on planet earth”. In Chapter 2, Stig Arne Nohrstedt and Rune Ottosen revisit Galtung’s (2002) peace journalism model and ask whether it can make any diﬀerence at all in the hybrid culture that has arisen through the combination of new wars and the war on terror. The authors, who have published extensively within the ﬁeld of peace and conﬂict reporting, present a historical analysis focusing on security policy changes in Norway and Sweden from Cold War geopolitics to new wars, to point out how the conditions for journalism to conduct peace journalism vary over time and with changing security policies. They argue that history shows the great shortfall in journalism in its capacity to provide a critical and investigative reporting that can inform the general public about the risks and contingent insecurities of participation in old and new wars. They discuss how and why Galtung’s original proposal and later versions of peace journalism need to be further elaborated in the historical context of the global war on terror and new wars. Part of the Galtung model is still relevant and important, Nohrstedt and Ottosen contend. The main point of Galtung’s model may, however, be less relevant, they argue, if controlling the narrative and letting the war continue has become a goal in itself and defeats “the win” position in Galtung’s analysis. The chapter focuses on the historical and societal context in which peace journalism is intended to work, and whether it provides room for what they deﬁne as “sustainable conﬂict journalism”. In Chapter 3, Winston Mano takes conﬂicts in Africa as his point of departure and describes how they are both multiple and complex, yet their reporting by journalists often lacks both nuance and detail. In African conﬂicts coloniality remains a key factor, Mano argues. The ability or inability to be involved in deﬁning a conﬂict has an impact on the way realities are imagined as well as their prioritisation by peacemaking agencies. The problem is that international parties often bring “complete” positions which are misinformed and have made it extremely diﬃcult for both interveners and conﬂicting parties to work towards peace. Recognition of obvious inadequacies in the positions taken by parties to a conﬂict mitigates against undue dominance by others and could unlock avenues to more sustainable dialogue, including peace journalism. Using the Darfur crises as a case study, the chapter argues that peace building and peace journalism only work if there is convivial dialogue in dealing with conﬂicts. Also, as Charlotte Ntulume shows in Chapter 4, the recent experiences from South Sudan demonstrate some limitations of the peace journalism and conﬂict-sensitive reporting models. Ntulume presents empirical ﬁndings from in-depth interviews with South Sudanese journalists and editors who covered the conﬂict. Her chapter illustrates how a conﬂict situation is typically characterised by suspicion and mistrust among the various parties involved and how representatives of either side often viewed journalists covering the peace talks with distrust. Ntulume problematises how peace journalism traditionally places emphasis on journalists as the ones who determine whether the media contribute to resolving or intensifying conﬂicts, but assign no role to government actors who, as the South Sudan case shows, have a part to play in
6 Kristin Skare Orgeret
enabling or hindering the media in their duty to cover conﬂicts professionally. Peace journalism should not be solely the responsibility of journalists, but include all parties of a conﬂict, Ntulume contends. In Chapter 5, Kajalie Shehreen Islam and Mubashar Hasan point at how the visual aspects of journalism are often ignored in discussions of peace journalism, although they do constitute an important element of how a conﬂict is framed in the news. Islam and Hasan illustrate this through an analysis of images of the Rohingya refugees in the Bangladeshi press. They explain how violence between the Muslim Rohingyas and Rakhine Buddhists has been referred to as a “chronic crisis” in Myanmar, and how this prompted the “exodus” of refugees across the border to Bangladesh. Whereas much research has been carried out on media and migration in a Western context, there has so far been little scholarly interest in the media coverage of migrants in the Global South, and hardly any interest in visual representations of them, they argue. The chapter points towards ﬁlling this gap by examining the coverage of the Rohingya refugee crisis, primarily through photographic images in the Bangladeshi press. In Chapter 6, Saumava Mitra, Sara Creta and Stephanie McDonald take the visual perspective further and discuss how the power to create photographic images of crises and conﬂicts has long been concentrated amongst a few media organisations and predominantly male photographers from the Global North. However, these established hierarchies are now being challenged as digital technology create opportunities for a more diverse group of image producers to tell visual stories. There is also a growing recognition that the global community of visual storytellers needs to be more inclusive of professional photographers from traditionally marginalised communities, and that promoting gender equity and “the female gaze” in this context is imperative. Mitra, Creta and McDonald go on to present the very ﬁrst focused academic study of perceptions and practices of female photographers from the Global South. They present and discuss ﬁndings regarding the inequities 22 female photographers, predominantly from the Global South, see as inherent in photographic representations and practices in relation to marginalised communities as well as how they respond to them. The chapter’s title bears testimony of its results: “How Our Rage Is Represented: Acts of Resistance among Women Photographers of the Global South”. The subtitle of Chapter 7 asks a concrete question: “Is Bellingcat Revolutionising Conﬂict Journalism?” Through a case study analysis which historicises and conceptualises the citizen-oriented investigative journalism website Bellingcat, the authors, Glenda Cooper and Bruce Mutsvairo, through what is believed to be the ﬁrst academic exploration into Bellingcat’s operations, seek to facilitate a discussion into the organisation’s practices and methods. The aim of the chapter is to envision and critique the award-winning open-source site and its role in journalism, while also discussing the contextual disputes between “mainstream” and “new/alternative” media narratives, the concept of citizen journalism as well discussing the changing terrain of citizen journalism and the role of technology in conﬂict reporting. In Chapter 8, Julie Posetti identiﬁes the new threats posed by digital developments and how they aﬀect women journalists in particular. There are three main converging
safety threats confronting women journalists in the digital age, she argues. And she labels them as follows: Online harassment and abuse against women journalists; Orchestrated disinformation campaigns targeting women journalists; and Digital privacy and security threats exploiting women journalists’ vulnerabilities. Posetti reveals how online violence targeting women journalists manifests in a variety of ways but, nevertheless, shares a number of common characteristics. The chapter exposes how a trend has emerged involving the speciﬁc targeting of women journalists by state and corporate actors engaged in “disinformation wars”. To illustrate the “new frontline” and bear witness of a rampant cyber-misogyny now confronting women journalists, Posetti presents four new international case studies from the Philippines, South Africa, India and Finland, and shows how all four female journalists used the techniques of research and investigative journalism against their attackers. Based on the research and policy analysis, the chapter ends with a series of recommendations, which could be used as part of a “combat plan” for key actors seeking to counter online violence against women journalists. In Chapter 9, Jackie Harrison and Stefanie Pukallus call for a version of news journalism that engages in civil norm-building. The authors argue that whereas civil conﬂicts have many roots and many consequences they all have in common the breakdown of fair and objective information. More speciﬁcally, in post-civil conﬂict settings professional news journalism has often been compromised and its civil institution diminished or destroyed. In its place anti-civil ways of reporting through partisan media, which incite violent conﬂict, keep up enemy images and stereotypes and reinforce rather than overcome the friend–enemy distinction often at the root of the conﬂict and maintaining it. Harrison and Pukallus argue that, in order to tame the anti-civil power of the news, it is necessary for journalists to adopt a civil norms approach to reporting, which works across three categories: (1) assent, (2) rules of conduct and behaviour in public life and (3) the building of civil capacity and civil competencies. Adopting such a civil norms approach can prevent conﬂict, facilitate peace and enable local journalists to become active participants in local peace processes and civil society-building initiatives. It represents a collective learning experience of both news journalism and citizens which, if successful, can lead to self-sustainable peace. In the last chapter of the book, “Covering Conﬂict – Safety, Sanity and Responsibility” (Chapter 10), Jonathan Munro reﬂects upon reporting conﬂict based on his own experiences from several decades in the ﬁeld. Munro explores the assessments he makes around risk and safety as Head of Newsgathering at the BBC, decisions which have echoes in the themes of this book. He describes covering a conﬂict as “dirty, dangerous and nerve-wracking” and how, both in covering conﬂict and in journalism as a whole, grey areas are more common than absolutes. He reﬂects upon the opportunities and challenges posed by technology in war zones, the particular tension in covering a conﬂict in your own home patch and the innate desire – despite all of these concerns – that some journalists have to go to war. The essential aim of this book, then, is to combine scholarly and practice-based contributions, mixing theoretical approaches with more empirical/reﬂective ones.
8 Kristin Skare Orgeret
Thus, they speak to the theme of reporting peace and conﬂict through a range of topics drawing on real-life experiences and analyses of reporting from a number of contexts across various spheres and power relations. As the editor of this volume, I am enormously grateful to the authors of the following chapters, who have resolutely contributed to reaching that aim. I also hope that the contributions will open new discussions within the important ﬁeld of peace and conﬂict reporting.
References Bacchi, C. (1986). Women and peace through the polls. Politics 21(2): pp. 62–67. Ballestrin, L. (2020). The Global South as a political project. Retrieved 11 July 2020 from https://www.e-ir.info/2020/07/03/the-global-south-as-a-political-project/ Cohen, D.K. and Nordås, R. (2014). Sexual violence in armed conﬂict. Journal of Peace Research 51(3): pp. 418–428. Cottle, S., Sambrook, R. and Mosdell, N. (2016). Reporting Dangerously. Journalist Killings, Intimidation and Security. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Dahlum, S. and Wig, T. (2018). Peace above the glass ceiling: The historical relationship between female political empowerment and civil conﬂict. Working Paper, Series 2018, 77. The Varieties of Democracy Institute. University of Gothenburg. Galtung, J. (1975). Essays in Peace Research. Leiden: Brill. Galtung, J. (2002). “Peace Journalism – A Challenge” in: W. Kempf and H. Luostarinen (eds) Journalism and the New World Order, vol 2. Studying War and the Media. Gothenburg: Nordicom. Gilligan C. (1982). In a Diﬀerent Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Hanitzsch, T. and Hoxha, A. (2014). News production: theory and conceptual framework. Generic and conﬂict inﬂuences on the news production process. Retrieved from https://www.info core.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Theoretical-Framing_WP1_News-Productions.pdf Hanitzsch, T. and Melado, C. (2011). What shapes the news around the world? How journalists in 18 countries perceive inﬂuences on their work. The International Journal of Press/Politics 16(3): pp. 404–426. doi:10.1177/1940161211407334 Hoﬀmann, J. and Hawkins, V. (eds) (2015). Communication and Peace: Mapping an Emerging Field. London: Routledge. Hussein, A.F.F. and Al-Mamary, Y.H.S. (2019). Conﬂicts: Their types, and their negative and positive eﬀects. International Journal of Scientiﬁc and Technology Research 8(8). Ireton, C. and Posetti, J. (2018). Journalism, “fake news” and disinformation. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2MuELY5 IWPR, International Institute for War and Peace Reporting (2008). Guidelines for peace reporting. Retrieved 20 August 2020 from https://ijnet.org/en/story/guidelines-peace-rep orting IWPR, International Institute for War and Peace Reporting (2020). The infodemic. Retrieved 20 August 2020 from https://iwpr.net/focus/infodemic Loyn, D. (2007). Good journalism or peace Journalism? Conﬂict and Communication Online 6(2): pp. 1–10. http://www.cco.regener-online.de/2007_2/pdf/loyn.pdf Lynch, J. (2007). Peace journalism and its discontents. Conﬂict and Communication Online 6(2): pp. 1–9. http://www.cco.regener-online.de/2007_2/pdf/lynch.pdf Orgeret, K.S. and Tayeebwa, W. (2016). Journalism in Conﬂict and Post-Conﬂict Conditions. Worldwide Perspectives. Gothenburg: Nordicom.
Ottosen, R. (2010). The war in Afghanistan and peace journalism in practice. Media, War and Conﬂict 3(3): pp. 261–278. doi:10.1177/1750635210378944 Pettersson, T. and Öberg, M. (2020). Organized violence, 1989–2019. Journal of Peace Research 57(4): pp. 597–613. doi:10.1177%2F0022343320934986 Pinker, S. (2011). The Better Angels of our Nature. Why Violence has Declined. New York, NY: Viking. Shaw, I.S. (2012). The “War on Terror” frame and Washington Post’s linking of the Sierra Leone civil war to 9/11 and Al Qaeda. Journal of African Media Studies. Intellect 4(1). Shaw, I.S. and Selvarajah, S. (2019). “Introduction: Reporting Human Rights, Conﬂicts, and Peacebuilding – Critical and Global Perspectives” in I.S. Shaw and S. Selvarajah (eds) Reporting Human Rights, Conﬂicts and Peace Building. London: Palgrave Macmillan. UCPD (2020). Uppsala conﬂict data program. Retrieved from https://ucdp.uu.se/ Unesco (2020). Safety of journalists. Retrieved from https://en.unesco.org/themes/sa fety-journalists Wittenberg-Cox, A. (2020). What do countries with the best corona responses have in common? Forbes, 13 April 2020.
1 PEACE AND CONFLICT REPORTING IN A WORLD-IN-CRISIS Simon Cottle
“Edge of the World”, Anna Berezovskaya (2015).
Reporting in a world-in-crisis 11
This opening chapter was written in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic and a world-in-crisis. A time in human history that growing numbers of people, myself included, see as presaging world civilisational collapse. It is in this context that we must now begin to rethink, along with so much else, our critical stance to peace and conﬂict reporting. An image for our times helps. “Edge of the World”, by the Russian artist Anna Berezovskaya, is a wonderful painting rendered in the artist’s unique style of poetic realism. I ﬁrst came across it when thinking about what I wanted to say in this chapter. “Edge of the World”, to my mind, depicts the multiple strata and dispositions of humanity now standing on the encrusted fossils of millennia and peering over the edge into the abyss of its own destruction. Amongst the fascinated voyeurs pushing forward to see over the edge, we see a cameraman – a ﬁgure symbolising perhaps today’s news media and its worryingly dislocated and detached reporting stance to a world-in-crisis. This painting helps, then, to symbolise the perilous response of humanity to a world now in compound and probable terminal civilisational collapse. It is time to recognise how processes of peace and the waging of conﬂicts are not only often enmeshed in global relationships and power dynamics but also within the multiple global crises spawned by late-modern, globalised world society. Global crises such as Covid-19 (as well as earlier zoonotic pandemics such as MERS, Ebola and Avian Flu), climate change, ecological despoliation, mass extinction, biodiversity loss, ﬁnancial crashes, forced migration, food and water insecurity, humanitarian disasters and numerous conﬂicts and new wars are not adequately conceived for the most part as “isolated” or “one-oﬀ” events, even if the truncations of the news media would have us believe that they are. They are, in fact, the endemic outcomes and, collectively, presage the likely endgame of a globalised world-in-crisis. How global crises are deﬁned, dramatised and deliberated on the media stage, how they are signalled, symbolised and sensationalised, and how they are denied and dissimulated or simply ignored and rendered invisible, proves critical. The stakes could not be higher given the catastrophic consequences of combined global crises now impacting on the world’s ecology and all life forms on planet earth, including human society. Media and communications, as we shall explore, are intimately involved in the conﬂicts and divisions produced or exacerbated by global crises as well as the enactments and demands for peace, including those for social and environmental justice. Today’s news media, for example, can signal to the world the known signs of inter-communal and imminent atrocity (whether increased human rights abuses and killings or the rise of political and media hate speech) (Cottle, 2019b), and they variously represent conﬂicts, legitimise wars and demonise enemies (Allan and Zelizer, 2004; Cottle, 2006; Tumber and Webster, 2006; Hawkins, 2008; Robinson et al., 2017). And they do so through the established prisms of mainstream “war journalism” or, sometimes at least, inﬂected by the growing advocacy for “peace journalism” (McGoldrick and Lynch, 2005). So too can media and journalism perform and enact peace when helping to publicise peace initiatives, perhaps modulating between media silence when conﬂict protagonists confer behind closed
12 Simon Cottle
doors and then media scrutiny when peace proposals and plans are announced and debated in the media sphere (Spencer, 2004; Wolfsfeld, 2004). The diﬀerent genres of media and forms of journalism also potentially provide a cultural and political forum for post-conﬂict reconciliation in traumatised societies and the necessary deliberation of societal priorities and policies for civil-society reconstruction and peace building. How news media serve to recognise identities and issues and build and maintain peaceful relations within and between complex, culturally diverse, and always conﬂicted societies also proves critical in increasingly mediated societies (Hoﬀmann and Hawkins, 2015; Hamelink, 2020). These and the myriad other ways in which media and communications enter into the world’s conﬂicts and desires and demands for peace, now need I suggest, to be situated in the global contexts of today’s world-in-crisis and global media ecology. This is the subject of this chapter. When writing for a new book, it is a usual expectation that the author desists from making too many remarks that would conﬁne the book’s interest to the time of writing and publication. Such is the fear of dating books too early and thereby compromising future sales – a practice well understood it seems by both publishers and academics. As I write this in the midst of the 2020 Covid-19 global pandemic however, it is necessary I feel to challenge this convention by situating what I have to say ﬁrmly in the present – albeit a present that is now peculiarly pregnant with the future of how things will be. A future, moreover, that threatens to generate and exacerbate conﬂicts around the world, and which will demand enhanced communications for peace. As I submit this chapter, the global pandemic has given rise to over 123 million cases and oﬃcially caused over 2,716,275 registered deaths around the world (Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, 2021). Given the diﬀerent counting systems in diﬀerent countries, inaccuracies and distortions of data collection and the invisibility of so many deaths, including those in remote places, these ﬁgures are destined to remain a gross under-estimate of the true number of deaths and cases. As well as deaths and illness, however, Covid-19 has brought economic devastation and ﬁnancial hardship to millions of people and impacted markets and jobs worldwide (as well as creating new economic opportunities for a few). It has changed everyday lives and life-chances, including restricted access to medical provision for serious non-Covid medical conditions and aﬀecting people’s sense of wellbeing. For many it has fundamentally altered how they work, travel and socially interact. And for those in precarious forms of employment such as the arts, music and creative industries more broadly, it threatens their long-term viability as public forms of cultural expression. Sporting events and recreational pursuits have also been impacted. And so too has Covid-19 led to changes in governance, spawned political crises and become the vector for various longstanding struggles and conﬂicts surrounding issues of inequality, racism and social exclusion. Covid-19, with all its multiple impacts and ramiﬁcations for human society in the twenty-ﬁrst century, cannot, however, only be interrogated in its own parameters. As the spread and trajectory of Covid-19 unfolds globally so it also becomes entangled in other pressing global crises, and indeed there is evidence to suggest, as we shall hear
Reporting in a world-in-crisis 13
later, that its origins and subsequent trajectory are both expressive of and now exacerbating our world-in-crisis. Covid-19 is emblematic of a global order in serious disarray and it is a wakeup call to recognise the now interacting and devastating impacts of human civilisation on the planet, its eco-systems and conditions of human life. This fundamental recognition of the compound nature of global crises that renders today’s world a world-in-crisis challenges us to renew our thinking about the nature of many contemporary conﬂicts and peace processes in the twenty-ﬁrst century, as well as how news media and communications enter into and condition their unfolding over time and space. In order to better understand the roles and responsibilities, the discourses and deﬁciencies of today’s news media, and what is problematic as well as productive in respect of peace and conﬂict reporting, we will need to situate such processes in a global context, a context characterised by accelerating, mutually compounding global crises and a world economic system that rapaciously pursues environmentally unsustainable economic growth. Of course, global crises play out diﬀerently in diﬀerent countries and in and through diﬀerent political and media systems, including those countries now experiencing democratically retrogressive and repugnant assertions of national authoritarianism and populism. But there should be no mistaking the fundamentally globalised nature of the risks and catastrophes engendered by contemporary human society, and which are now consequentially bound up in processes of peace and conﬂict. We live on a globalised planet, a planet where human society for the most part appears to be economically embarked on an unsustainable path of downward ecological despoliation and destruction and which is destined to generate accelerating, deepening and mutually enfolding global crises – a fertile ground for the exacerbation of social inequality, political division and violent conﬂicts. As students and scholars of conﬂict and peace reporting we need to broaden our ﬁeld of vision and recalibrate our research foci if we are to keep pace with the changing world realities that condition both life-chances and indeed the chance of collective life itself on our negatively inﬂected, globalised planet. In the rest of this chapter, I elaborate on these claims and seek to explicate what this means for the study of conﬂict and peace reporting more speciﬁcally. First, we consider the nature of today’s global crises, their conceptualisation and theorisation, and how compounded they constitute a world-in-crisis. This needs to inform our understanding of conﬂicts and peace processes in the contemporary world as well as how they become reported in the world news ecology. Second, we turn to this global media ecology and examine how it variously constitutes and enacts global crises on the media stage and, with the help of previous studies, we reﬂect on some of the contingencies and complexities of global crisis reporting, including its representational deﬁcits and communicative possibilities. An argument is made for thinking through both the ontology and epistemology of global crises and how these dimensions of what is, and how we know what is by news media, can become mutually entwined and conditioning when enacted on the news stage, including the prosecution of wars and conﬂicts and the pursuit of peace. Finally, we conclude by returning to the global crisis of Covid-19 and reﬂect on how and why this is
14 Simon Cottle
paradigmatic of our world-in-crisis. Here we consider research agendas that can help to critically illuminate both reporting deﬁcits as well as journalism’s communicative and democratising promise in a world of human-induced and compounded global crises. The world of journalism I suggest, is positioned to perform a crucial, possibly pivotal role in wider processes of public recognition and political mobilisation in respect of the accelerating and intensifying global crises that now confront humanity and threaten the world’s ecosystems. It is, therefore, imperative that communication and media researchers better understand how journalism not only represents our world-in-crisis but also enacts it and could yet constitute it as an object for political engagement and urgent world-wide response.
From global crises to a world-in-crisis We can only begin to properly understand some of the most devastating conﬂicts and catastrophes spawned by the contemporary world when these are seen as manifestations of the endemic problems generated by world society. It is incumbent on us, as researchers and students of media and communications, therefore, to try to better understand both the ontology of global crises today and their epistemological rendition in the news media, as well as how both mutually condition each other over time and across space (Cottle, 2009a, 2011a, 2019a). This approach has informed my studies of diﬀerent conﬂicts and disasters over recent years including, amongst others, (un)natural disasters (Cottle, 2009b, 2014), humanitarian emergencies (Cottle and Cooper, 2015), new wars (Cottle, 2009b), atrocity (Cottle and Hughes, 2015; Cottle, 2019b), ecology (Cottle, 2013a), climate change (Cottle, 2009b; Lester and Cottle, 2009) and transnational protests (Cottle and Lester, 2011) and the Arab Spring (Cottle, 2011b), and it also speaks to the global impacts of ﬁnancial meltdowns, wars and terrorism and pandemics. Global crises can be deﬁned as follows: Global crises are crises whose origins and outcomes cannot for the most part be conﬁned inside the borders of particular nation states; rather, they are endemic to, enmeshed within, and potentially encompassing of today’s late-modern, capitalistic, world – a de-territorializing world that has become increasingly interconnected, interdependent and in ﬂux, that is to say, globalized. Their impacts and tumultuous eﬀects register through and beyond the porous borders of nation states and for the most part require cooperative responses from civil societies and systems of governance that are no less transnational in scope. (Cottle, 2011a: 2) Key attributes of global crises including their devastating impacts and potentially extensive reach can be theorised from a broad range of social theoretical vantage points, but all for the most part correlate their destructive consequences for world ecology and human society with the historical rise of complex societies and the rapacious globalising trajectory of capitalism. For Anthony Giddens, global crises can be situated in respect of the generative systems of “late-modern” societies
Reporting in a world-in-crisis 15
(1990), producing a “runaway world” of risks and global-local interdependencies that ensnare the world’s nation states (Giddens, 2002). Ulrich Beck’s overarching concept of “world risk society” (Beck, 2000) is informed by a pronounced ecological awareness of the unprecedented risks and manufactured insecurities spawned by contemporary world society and which now constitute a fundamental “interdependency crisis”, alongside those of global economy and transnational terrorism (Beck, 2006). As issues of climate change, the sixth extinction, biodiversity loss and ecological degradation all heave increasingly into view and are seen as the unprecedented impact of human society on the planet’s climate and ecosystems, the mantle term for this new geological epoch has recently become the “Anthropocene” (Lewis and Maslin, 2018). Others argue for a sharpened historical sense of human society’s ecological impacts and imminent collapse which is not simply related to human society writ large but, rather, speciﬁcally to the period of capitalism’s accelerating expansion around the world from the fourteenth century onwards, often violently and with rapacious impacts on environments and ecology (as well as traditional indigenous populations) (Patel and Moore, 2018). Here, a theoretical synthesis of critical political economy and ideas of the Anthropocene are persuasively reworked under an historically sharpened conceptualisation of the “Capitalocene” (Patel and Moore, 2018). With the belated but now growing recognition of climate change as an existential threat to everyone on the planet, alongside the broader ecological crisis, increasing numbers of eco-activists as well as ordinary concerned citizens are more likely perhaps to recognise the contemporary era in terms of the failing “hegemonic civilisation of globalized capitalism”, sometimes called “Empire” (Read and Alexander, 2019: 4; see also: Berners-Lee, 2019; Wallace-Wells, 2019; Figueres and Rivett-Carnac, 2020). Amidst the growing publications on imminent world ecological collapse, Rupert Read and Samuel Alexander lay out three possible endgames when discussing the seemingly inescapable planetary emergency that now confronts us all. World civilisation as we know it: 1.
will soon utterly and terminally collapse with climatic instability seen as the probable mechanism of demise leading to catastrophic food shortages – though nuclear war, pandemic or ﬁnancial collapse are also seen as further possible mechanisms of mass civil society breakdown and societal collapse; manages to seed a future successor society that is ecologically and politically sustainable, but necessarily requiring a radical and fundamental departure from the incessant “growthism” of capitalism coupled with ecologically unsustainable consumerism, and media and cultural complacency and/or complicity with both; and will manage to reform itself in time to avert terminal collapse, a path invariably premised on the beneﬁcence of science, high levels of techno-optimism and a faith in the capacity of political systems to enact meaningful, transformational reform – notwithstanding the known economic and corporate resistances and political/democratic obstacles and deﬁcits that will have to be overcome (Read and Alexander, 2019: 4).
16 Simon Cottle
Considering the mounting evidence of planetary ecological collapse, the authors cautiously align themselves to (2) as the most hopeful outcome now possible for human society. They acknowledge, however, that this is itself fraught with uncertainties and will have to be forged from the catastrophism of world civilisation that is now wreaking havoc and already mass deaths around the planet. What these and other social theoretical perspectives on the trajectory and impacts of contemporary world society share, is the recognition of the historically unprecedented ways in which the rapacious productivism of human society is now impacting disastrously on the planet’s climate and eco-systems, including oceans and seas, forests and farming lands, habitats and biodiversity and threatening the very conditions of/for sustaining life. The evidence underpinning such a bleak assessment is now found in the accumulating scientiﬁc studies and United Nations’ reports. In 2019, the UN reported that 1 million out of 8 million animal and plant species on the planet are now facing extinction, in a world where the human population has doubled since 1970, the global economy has quadrupled, and international trade has increased ten-fold (United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, 2020). Since 1992, urban areas have doubled and the world has lost 100 million hectares of tropical forest, mostly for cattle ranching and palm oil production, while indigenous forest-dwellers and environmental defenders have increasingly been attacked and murdered. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Living Planet Report 2020 calculates that the world’s population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles have plummeted by 68 per cent in the last 30 years (WWF, 2020). While these and many other indicators of global ecological collapse are often categorised as “global issues” (see for example the United Nations’ “Global Issues” overview, https://www.un.org/en/global-issues), and become reported in the news media in similarly disaggregated ways, such is the existential threat that they now pose to life on earth, they are better conceived as ontologically rooted and instantiated as global crises. Global crises, as deﬁned above, are the manifest dark-side of an increasingly interdependent and globalised planet, a planet in which nature and society can no longer be seen as independent but as mutually conditioned and now existentially threatened by the seemingly inexorable and degenerative trajectories of late-modern, world-risk society and the Capitalocene. Both contextually and causatively what may appear at ﬁrst to be separate and distinct global crises are in reality now intertwined and interacting with a scale and intensity of destruction that threatens to overwhelm the capacities of ameliorative or mitigating system responses. This pressing backdrop of a world-in-crisis now needs to inform how we conceive and critically attend to global crises and their communication within today’s media ecology. The above has painted a picture, then, of a world-in-crisis and it is this same world that generates both the conditions for collective violence and conﬂict as well as the demands and hopes for peace. In a globalised world, and notwithstanding the regressive attempts associated with the rise of nationalism and populism within some nation states to seal borders and pursue the chimera of national autarky, processes of peace and conﬂict are increasingly enmeshed in wider, global–local
Reporting in a world-in-crisis 17
power relations and structural inequalities. And so, too, are they likely to be complexly conditioned by and interacting with the now endemic multiple trajectories and crises spawned by world risk society and the Capitalocene. By way of illustration consider, for example, the complex global interplays in the following recognisable scenario, albeit a scenario that can unfold in diﬀerent permutations and with diﬀering degrees of extensity and intensity around the world. Financial crashes originating in international trading markets can lead to national economic recessions that bring in their wake increased social inequality and poverty. The latter are also worsened around the world by the unequal impacts of climate change and extreme weather events (ﬂoods, droughts, megaﬁres), as well as the toll of economic externalities leading to environmental degradation (including soil depletion, animal extinctions, plastic and pesticide polluted seas and industrially over-ﬁshed and dying oceans) (Raworth, 2017). Both economic recession and ecological crisis exacerbate inequality and poverty, and this aﬀects food production, food prices and market scarcity of other essential resources (Antonelli et al., 2020). These prove fertile conditions for civil unrest and exacerbate tendencies to collective violence in failed states and processes of political polarisation and intolerance in fragmenting polities under stress. Conditions of political turmoil are also conducive to the rise of political opportunists, authoritarian populism and the deliberate stoking of social divisions and fears and hatreds, whether those based on, inter alia, race and/or ethnicity, religion or citizenship. Increased incidents of human rights abuses and violence can entrench inter and intra-communal tensions and deepen conﬂicts, as well as serve to help legitimise inter-state conﬂicts or even war. In a globally interconnected world, belligerent factions in civil wars and new wars are now more likely to be funded and supported by neighbouring and/or other states locked in geo-political rivalries, by corporate and criminal interests pursuing material gains and power, as well as by diasporic communities with continuing homeland attachments and allegiances (Duﬃeld, 2007; Kaldor, 2006, 2007). Economic immiseration, communal strife and collective violence prompts, we know, population movements, whether those of internally displaced peoples (IDPs) or cross-border migration and asylum seeking. When confronting situations of jeopardy, immiserated populations are more inclined to take what they can from local environments to survive, cutting down trees for ﬁrewood and shelter, for example, and uprooting crops, unsustainably. These same environments can also be deliberately despoiled and polluted by the protagonists of war, whether through policies of ethnic cleansing or with the aim of denying the enemy local shelter and sustenance. Climate change further renders many places on the planet increasingly uninhabitable, whether low lying islands and coastal plains through rising sea levels and ﬂooding, or former pastoralist and farming areas through rising temperatures, drought and desertiﬁcation. These, too, can also lead to heightened communal tensions (between, say, pastoralist and nomadic communities) and contribute to population movement and urban overcrowding in the unsanitary conditions of shanty towns and sprawling mega-cities. When ﬂeeing war and violent conﬂict, physically weakened populations crowded into refugee camps, as well as those
18 Simon Cottle
overcrowded in urban squalor, are especially vulnerable to contagious diseases and globally circulating pandemics; as are poor, migrant farm workers, a situation that leads to further food insecurity. As this brief descriptive scenario suggests, diﬀerent global crises now enfold into each other, their detrimental and destructive impacts compounded as they move dynamically over time and across space. Humanitarian organisations used to refer to some humanitarian emergencies as “complex emergencies”, that is, emergencies which exhibit combined problems such as state fragility or collapse, alongside food, water and/or medical shortages, as well as the play of external political and/or military forces “spoiling” the chances of humanitarian success on the ground (Keen, 2008). In today’s negatively globalised planet, however, even the term “complex emergency” is increasingly out of step with the “permanent emergencies” and “unending wars” (Duﬃeld, 2007) spawned by a globalised world and where global crises interlock and their destructive impacts compound in a world-in-crisis.
Communicating a world-in-crisis So, what does all this mean for the study and understanding of media communication, and news reporting speciﬁcally, in processes of peace and ongoing conﬂicts? If the world today can be accurately described, as I think it most certainly can, as a “world-in-crisis”, this same world is also reported in and through an historically unprecedented and complex media ecology (McNair, 2006; Lull, 2007; Castells, 2009; Cottle, 2012; Chadwick, 2017). Today this is composed of communication ﬂows that circumscribe the globe and which potentially communicate in real time. In fact, such is the technological capacity of computer-generated prediction and visualisation systems, some events can even be visualised and discussed in the media before they happen! As in, for example, when mapping and anticipating the course and likely consequences of impending weather events, the ﬂows of refugees ﬂeeing from war or even the increased likelihood of ethnic cleansing when relaying satellite images of troop and militia build-up in sensitive locations. The lexical distinction between “old” and “new”, or “legacy” and “digital” media, as well as the dualisms that may have previously shaped our thinking about them, are increasingly out of synch with today’s media ecology where these formerly diﬀerent types of media now work across diﬀerent platforms and in a world of interpenetrating communication ﬂows, cultural forms and economic formations. And it is in and through this more complex hybrid media system, or media ecology, that corporate (and citizen) communication takes place, interactively, locally, nationally, regionally, transnationally. Hierarchical, top-down, as well as horizontal and bottom-up communication ﬂows, conveying a cornucopia or perhaps a cacophony of ideas and images, of deliberation and display, of analysis and aﬀect, now variously interact and interpenetrate across diﬀerent media platforms and in ways that sometimes render problematic overly rigid ideas of “mainstream” and “alternative” media as well as hermetically separate categories of media “producers” and “consumers” (Cottle, 2013a).
Reporting in a world-in-crisis 19
Global crises, I have argued, are ontologically real, they are “endemic to, enmeshed within and potentially encompassing in today’s globally interconnected (dis)order” (Cottle, 2014: 3), but they are also highly dependent on and conditioned in their unfolding by media and communications, whether in respect of processes of early signalling, social problem deﬁnition and recognition or within the mobilisation of strategic responses (Cottle, 2009a). This ontological–epistemological interweaving requires us to broaden our approach to media reporting of global crises and the conﬂicts and peace processes that are often inherent within them. When approached through the scholarly prisms of media and journalism studies, especially when these are heavily invested in interrogative approaches to the social constructions of language and culture (whether, for example, through “discourse”, “frames”, “semiotics” or “dramaturgy”), it is perhaps understandable that so much scholarly work focuses on crisis as an epistemological accomplishment or eﬀect of textual representation. This is then often analysed as produced in and, often, seen as exaggerated by, the discursive and symbolic representations circulated in the media. Here, however, there is a necessary distinction to be drawn between language and media determined, or generated, and language and media dependent, or shaped and conditioned, when it comes to understanding the ontology and epistemology of global crises; which is not to suggest that both cannot mutually condition each other, and sometimes in deeply consequential ways. Today’s complex media ecology aﬀords unprecedented opportunities for the communication of conﬂicts and processes of peace but also variously enters into their constitution and unfolding and can do so from the outside in, and inside out. What I have termed elsewhere the 6S’s of contemporary media systems and capabilities – scale, speed, saturation, social relations enfranchisement, surveillance and seeing – point to six distinguishing dimensions of today’s expansive media ecology. Each can variously enter into and shape the dynamics of/for conﬂict and of/for peace, as they have done in the communication of humanitarianism (Cottle and Cooper, 2015) and major disaster reporting (Cottle, 2014), discussed further below. As the 6S’s of today’s media ecology intimate, there is more going on in the reporting of peace and conﬂicts than matters of representation. Questions of global crisis staging and deﬁnition in the news, that is questions of epistemology variously become infused in the instantiation of global crises and in their unfolding and can thereby enter their ontology. There is more at play, and at stake, here than simply rehearsing, say, the problematic claims of the “CNN eﬀect” with its dubious causality of media images of human suﬀering leading to policy formulation and military intervention (Gilboa, 2005; Robinson, 2005). And so, too, should we be cautious of the simplistic extrapolation of moral panic theory to a world-wide scale where media are seen universally in concert, as exaggerating threats and sensationalising fears and thereby serving hegemonic global interests. Virilio’s reﬂections on the synchronisation of collective emotions and administration of fears through the “ﬁlmic acceleration” and “televisual crush” of disasters and cataclysms (Virilio, 2007: 26–27), for example, reads as too generalising and for the most part speculative. Claims such as these do not do empirical justice to the complexities and contingencies of how global crisis reporting variously enters into the world of diﬀerent crises. Three examples help to point to some
20 Simon Cottle
of the complexities and contingencies involved. Sheldon Ungar’s study of the global bird ﬂu pandemic discerned how media modulated their responses over time (Ungar, 2008). At ﬁrst news media sounded the alarm amidst fearful claims-making but later moved to a reporting phase that gave vent to authority reassurance amidst continuing threat reporting, before ﬁnally a phase where reporting sought to qualify some of the earlier “hot crisis” reporting (Ungar, 2008). Andrew Hoskins and Ben O’Loughlin also observed media modulation in regard to the media’s circulation of discourses on acts of terror (Hoskins and O’Loughlin, 2007). They theorise that a crisis in media, produces simultaneously contradicting messages and discourses that both amplify and seek to contain and reassure through their representations of threat. And an insightful study of the reporting of the global ﬁnancial crisis by Paula Chakravartty and John Downing also identiﬁes shifting media priorities alongside the temporality of the crisis (Chakravartty and Downing, 2010). Here, for example, the authors note how the global ﬁnancial meltdown was seen as preceded in the media by a generalised and de-politicised view of homo economicus. This however later gave way to a more politicised view of the ﬁnancial sector in the immediate crisis aftermath. Digital communication systems in the time of the crisis, they also argue, played a fundamental part in the informational telescoping of time in the global ﬁnance-scape. This both contributed to the crisis and undermined processes of social and political reﬂexivity in respect of the accelerated and amoral transactions that could be seen as at the heart of the crisis (Chakravartty and Downing, 2010). Studies such as these, then, point to the importance of attending to the temporal dynamics of unfolding global crises as well as the contingencies and complexities of media performance. The perennial preoccupation of media and communication scholars, with the vexed questions of state–media interactions and dependencies, also suggests complex variabilities that can play out diﬀerently in crises over time. Martin Shaw’s work on the changing reporting dispositions of the mainstream Western news media in the Iraq war, from government-cheerleader in the initial invasion phase to vocal critic when Saddam Hussein threated to kill ﬂeeing Kurds, alongside the identiﬁcation of the power of televisual images in support of humanitarian calls, points to the potentially less than politically uniform performance and responses of news media (Shaw, 1996). Classic studies of media–state interactions also point to signiﬁcant variations and the contingencies aﬀecting reporting stances. These include Lance Bennett’s indexing model (Bennett, 1990; Bennett et al., 2007), Daniel Hallin’s model of media spheres of consensus, legitimate controversy and deviance (1994), Gadi Wolfsfeld’s political contest model (1997) and Robert Entman’s cascading model of media state relations (2004), as well as Piers Robinson’s foreign-policy media-interaction model (Robinson, 2001). Studies such as these point to the complexity of media–state relations and how these interactions can change over time and circumstance and alter media performance (cf. Herman and Chomsky, 1988). Such models prove instructive, but we now need to see to what extent they have application and empirical purchase in respect of today’s expansive world news ecology and the communication of accelerating and compound global crises (see Bennett 2021). And we also need to know more
Reporting in a world-in-crisis 21
about how they condition, inter alia, national and international state responses as well as those of new social movements and others. Virilio’s (2007) disquisition on the contemporary world as an “integral accident”, that is, the catastrophic developments immanent to the technologies and teleology of advanced society, is seemingly close to ideas about today’s compounded global crises in a world-in-crisis. It short-circuits, however, the exploration of “the political” through a generalising view of the media’s catch-all rhetoric and imagery of fear. As such it under-estimates the political responses and mobilisations that can sometimes follow in the wake of major disasters and catastrophes, as we have heard, and also the more progressive part played by media and communications within these – whether through mediated scandals and the sustained scrutiny of political crisis or whether though the inscribed media appeals to compassion and the injunction to care for victims and survivors sometimes encoded into news presentation (Chouliaraki, 2006; Cottle, 2013b). If the media’s contribution to global crises can be found to be more complex and politically contingent than the thesis of a direct ampliﬁcation of fears in the service of hegemonic interests suggests, so too does the positioning of the news media’s contribution to global crises in terms of an increasing communications push toward a cosmopolitan outlook prove no less generalising and empirically insecure (Beck, 2009). The notable work of Lilie Chouliaraki, on the media’s spectacles of suﬀering for example, provides an acute analysis of how diﬀerent “regimes of pity” encoded in the modes of telling and visualising stories variously invites, or distances, an ethics of care and implied injunction to act (Chouliaraki, 2006). A study of the global visibility of suﬀering in transnational, satellite news further argues that the symbolic power of transnational broadcasting resides in its capacity to manage the visibility of suﬀering and that this largely reproduces the moral deﬁciencies of global inequality (Chouliaraki, 2008). Analyses such as these again point to the complexities of news mediation and how a global outlook on crises and human suﬀering can variously become encoded within news. Equally important here are those studies that have sought to empirically explore the complexities and social distinctions at play in how audiences receive and respond to news reports of suﬀering as well as reﬂect on important analytical distinctions often lost from view under the generalising term of “compassion” (Höijer, 2004; Kyriakidou, 2008; Cohen, 2006; Orgad, 2012). Global crises, I have argued above, should not be seen as exceptional or aberrant events, erupting without rhyme or reason or dislocated from the contemporary world (dis)order. Rather they are endemic to, enmeshed within, potentially encompassing and thereby variously expressive and exacerbating of today’s world-in-crisis. But importantly, they also become enacted within that same world in and through media and communications. Today, global crises are publicly deﬁned, legitimated, and mobilised as “global crises” within the world’s media, and news media particularly (Shaw, 1996; Berglez, 2008, 2013; Cottle, 2009a, 2011a; Beck, 2009). Peter Berglez’s seminal work on “global journalism” (Berglez, 2008, 2013), approached not as the methodologically and conceptually disaggregated journalisms practised in diﬀerent countries around the world, or even as the collective output of global news providers, but rather as the
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emergent “global outlook” that journalists sometimes enact when they seek to render visible the complex of global power dynamics and relationships that are shaping global news events, is vitally important here. Indeed, as the worsening consequences of the planetary emergency – megaﬁres, ﬂoods, extreme weather events, pandemic – accelerate and intensify and touch millions of lives around the world, this “global outlook” becomes all the more urgent and needed. It may yet prove to be a crucial harbinger of what Ulrich Beck referred to as “enforced enlightenment”, that is, the collective recognition and understanding that only cooperative international responses can hope to address the interdependency crises of world risk society and safeguard today’s “civilizational community of fate” (Beck, 2006, 2009). It is productive to think at this point about three analytically distinguishable modalities of global crisis reporting, though each may overlap or modulate in practice. Each, nonetheless, helps to elucidate how media and communications do not simply deﬁne and represent global crises but enact them on the media stage and thereby enter into their constitution and subsequent trajectory. I term these three modalities of global crisis reporting: global surveillance, global focusing events and global spectacle (Cottle, 2011a). The global surveillance capacity of modern media and communication systems and networks provides unprecedented opportunities for ordinary citizens, as well as political leaders and protagonists, to bear witness to scenes of human suﬀering and atrocity recorded and ﬁlmed from almost anywhere (albeit with considerable risks for those ﬁlming) and to then disseminate such images widely around the world shortly thereafter. This “transformation of visibility” (Thompson, 1995) has become an integral part of today’s globalising discourses of human rights and struggles for citizenship and democracy (Cottle, 2009a, 2019a). The global surveillance of inhumane acts and atrocity takes place in and through the global news ecology, often incorporating satellite, drone and social media imagery as well as technologies of crisis mapping (Kreps, 2010; Leaning, 2010). This can prove politically incendiary, fuelling debates and disagreements about culpability, international criminal prosecution and/or humanitarian intervention backed up by military force (“military humanism”), or even the eﬃcacy of the United Nation’s “responsibility to protect” doctrine (Evans, 2008; Cottle and Hughes, 2015). Global surveillance and its news mediation can also enter into the conduct of warfare. When political elites are rendered vulnerable at the ballot box following televised pictures of carnage from the battleﬁeld or images of military dead returning home in body bags, such risks can become transferred to enemy combatants and civilians (“collateral damage”) via a preferred military strategy of high-altitude bombing (Shaw, 2005; Tumber and Webster, 2006). The enhanced capacity for global surveillance also potentially incriminates the perpetrators of violence and atrocity who normally (though not always) prefer to carry out their atrocious acts outside of the purview of the media. This can also encourage through fear of future arrest and prosecution the deliberate targeting and killing of citizen and professional journalists who may have “witnessed” acts of killing and inhumanity or are positioned in the ﬁeld to do so (Cottle et al., 2016). And sometimes, as we know, media also become weaponised in
Reporting in a world-in-crisis 23
carefully choreographed and ﬁlmed acts of mediatised terror against journalists, humanitarians and others. Here ﬁlmed killings, planned in advance and designed for the cameras by groups such as ISIS are circulated globally to send a chill down the spine of the world (Ignatieﬀ, 2004; Cottle, 2009a). In such ways, media surveillance deeply enters into and conditions the acts of violence and atrocity. Global crises in the media can also be enacted as global focusing events when infused by incoming international and transnational communication ﬂows. By this I mean those reporting moments when the media give vent to the wider play and circulation of contending discourses and which now enter into the communications ﬁeld from afar. Some events, then, are not conﬁned as a national “focusing event” (Tierney et al., 2006) but can become “global focusing events”. In the case of Hurricane Katrina in the United States, for example, outside discourses around the world (and accessed via the news ecology inside and outside the United States) variously served to bring attention to: systemic US racism as well as governmental incompetence in its handling of the devastation caused; the failure of the Bush administration to sign up to the Kyoto accords; and the United States’ culpability as one of the world’s leading contributors to climate change and, probably, increasing incidents of (un)natural disasters – including Katrina. More recently, the year-on-year extensity and intensity of ﬁres in the United States’ west coast, in Australia, in Siberia and elsewhere, have also served to bring a critical focus on the morally vacuous pronouncements and denials of climate change by political leaders such as President Trump in the United States and Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Australia. We have further seen how the responses of governments to the coronavirus pandemic, whether those of President Trump in the United States, President Bolsonaro in Brazil, or Prime Minister Johnson in the UK, have all been subject to media scrutiny and intense political contention. Here, the failings of public health responses and/or negligent policies and incompetent implementation and administration have all variously been thrown into sharp media relief, especially when focused through international comparators and expert viewpoints that serve to document the wide disparities between Covid-19 cases and mass deaths in these countries. This can sometimes spill over into political scandal and political crises and even unleash serious civil disorder in increasingly polarised societies. Disaster “shocks”, to use Naomi Klein’s term (2007), it seems, do not only serve to traumatise populations and render them vulnerable to the further consolidation of corporate and hegemonic interests; they can also on occasion open up new political opportunities for change or even imagined societal transformation, and here the roles and performance of news media in constituting a civil sphere can prove key (Alexander and Jacobs, 1998; Alexander, 2006; Cottle, 2005, 2006). A third distinguishable modality of global crisis reporting is that of global spectacle. Here, global news networks are apt to circulate a surfeit of powerful iconic, symbolic and/or dramatic moving images of crises and conﬂicts, images that often carry deep cultural resonance. In the context of the global climate emergency, for example, such images can include the dystopian spectacle of industrially deﬁled and polluted nature or disturbing images of animals struggling to survive against the
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endless encroachment of human society. Or they can also indulge a more celebratory and aestheticised spectacle of nature, with scenes of seemingly pristine and humanly untouched landscapes, wilderness and animal behaviours. Such spectacular images carry a potent cultural charge in most late-modern societies and play their part in mobilising sentiments as well as arguments for environmental protection and climate emergency action (Cottle, 2006, 2009; Smith and Howe, 2015). The career of climate change in the media has followed a complex and politically buﬀeted path (Carvalho, 2007; Cottle, 2009a; Lester, 2010) but, following the release of the International Panel on Climate Change reports in 2007, for example, it was apparent that Western mainstream news media were, belatedly, beginning to wake up to the world’s scientists’ claims about the reality of global warming, and, notwithstanding the continuing chorus of a minority of climate-change deniers, set about visualising and dramatising its dangers and impacts on communities and environments around the world (Cottle, 2009a: 71–91; Lester and Cottle, 2009). This was part of a wider cultural shift that would later result in mass mobilisations protesting government inaction and inertia in the climate emergency. Is it possible that the truly apocalyptic scenes broadcast and printed by national and international media of the unprecedented megaﬁres that have raged through Australia, the west coast of the United States and Siberia in Russia in 2020, and at a scale and levels of destructive intensity not previously experienced, may also stir those previously slumbering to wake-up to the reality of our planetary emergency? Former President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, both on public record as climate change deniers and supporters of more, not less fossil fuel extraction, have found such images and associated public calls for action diﬃcult to ignore or deny on the media stage – though they sought to try given their vested political interests in the extractive industries. Meanwhile, President Bolsonaro in Brazil permits the mass burning of the Amazon causing unprecedented and alarming rates of deforestation for industrialised farming and destroying not only one of the world’s major carbon sinks but also irreplaceable ecology and biodiversity. Here, too, powerful satellite images of the scale of rainforest destruction as well as broadcast images of human rights injustices perpetrated on indigenous Indians and environmental defenders enter into the intensifying cultural politics of climate change. As the three modalities of crisis reporting – global surveillance, global focusing event and global spectacle – brieﬂy sketched above suggest, global crises can become constituted and enacted on the news media stage in diﬀerent modalities and these can variously shape and enter into their coarse and unfolding consequences. At a more granular level, we may also want to explore the potential of the diﬀerent genres and established forms of journalism and attend to its communicative architecture, and how this variously serves to enact or distance the reporting of conﬂict as well as the processes and desires for peace (Cottle and Rai, 2006). It is important to see peace not simply as the absence of conﬂict, given that conﬂicts are endemic to human society and may sometimes lead, for example, to improved human wellbeing and social or environmental justice (Cottle, 2006; Hoﬀmann and Hawkins, 2015; Roosvall and Tegelberg, 2018; Hamelink, 2020). Equally, peace need not be conﬁned to an end state or ﬁnal
Reporting in a world-in-crisis 25
accomplishment, but rather can be understood as an ongoing process, whether transacted interpersonally, locally, regionally, internationally and/or transnationally and whether by individuals or states or any of the myriad agencies and collective entities in between. Peace, then, encompasses necessary and sometimes diﬃcult interactions. It involves unﬁnished dialogue as well as the need for concentrated listening and on occasion the robust exchange of contending views and counterarguments. It involves respectful deliberation and quiet reﬂection. It can require the necessity to agree to disagree as well as, sometimes, the ethical or legal imperative to insist on processes of change or the cessation of traditional practices. And so too can peace involve the cultural aspiration to celebrate diﬀerences as well as ﬁnd common ground, and simply commune with others irrespective of their diﬀerent views, values and aspirations. Communicatively, then, there is more to “peace” than the absence of conﬂict, and this needs to be equally expressed and enacted in and through news reporting. Peace is potentiality immanent within conﬂicts, and how the communicative architecture of, say, television news broadcasts, current aﬀairs programmes as well as documentaries and ﬁlms communicatively opens up or closes down the possibilities for all of the above warrants close empirical exploration, as does their potential for communicative deepening when reporting on processes of peace and conﬂict in a world-in-crisis (Cottle and Rai, 2006; Cottle and Hughes, 2015). How do the communicative forms of journalism variously “tell their stories”, what range of views and voices do they permit on the news stage and how are they visualised? How are these voices positioned to display personalised and emotive experiences, or deliberate and engage analytically with collective positions of policy? How do personalised and collective histories and her-stories and group feelings of belonging or exclusion ﬁnd expression in and through the communicative architecture of today’s news ecology and how do they traverse across its diﬀerent news platforms and communication ﬂows? The diﬀerent cultural forms and communicative architecture of journalism play a powerful part in the public enactments of “peace”, as well as conﬂicts. This is not conﬁned to the agreement of a peace plan or even to the longer-term hope for ﬁnal reconciliation, but encompasses the necessary, daily ongoing and humane process of communications in any society composed of diﬀerent identities and interests and now rendered all the more complex and pressing in a globalised world-in-crisis. This same world will inevitably produce both intensifying local–global conﬂicts as well give rise to collective desires and demands for peaceful, sustainable solutions. This, too, warrants increased attention from scholars and students of war and peace.
Reporting Covid-19 in a world-in-crisis To conclude, it is productive to return to the global crisis of Covid-19 as a way of emphasising once more the imperative of approaching today’s global crises as endemic to, enmeshed within and potentially encompassing of today’s world-in-crisis.
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Covid-19 is both expressive of but also exacerbating today’s compounding global crises. This has import for how we choose to approach and analyse Covid-19 in respect of its communication in the world of journalism, for the sorts of questions that we ask of journalism and its handling of the global pandemic and for the sorts of expectations and critical benchmarks that we bring to bear as students and scholars of peace and conﬂict and as citizens of the world. Covid-19, as described at the outset, has exerted a profound impact on individuals and societies around the world and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, not least because of the way in which it has interacted with and invariably exacerbated other forms of global crisis; for example, in respect of how it has led to mass unemployment and economic recession, worsened global poverty and generated food shortages. Or how it has thrown a torchlight on racialised inequalities including diﬀerential life chances and indeed the very chance of life/ death itself for minority ethnic groups, based on i) their precarity within racialised job and housing markets, ii) the increased vulnerabilities associated with access to health care and personal protective equipment (PPE), and iii) morbidity patterns that derive from preceding structures and experiences of poverty. Covid-19 has also become a vector for elite sponsored “Othering” discourses, witnessed, for example, in the barely articulate outpourings from former US President Trump; words seemingly designed to sow seeds of division and dissimulate the incompetence and negligence of Covid-19 policy responses behind a wall of nationalist rhetoric and international scapegoating. Covid-19 has also variously impacted the climate emergency, temporarily, for example, reducing carbon emissions through reduced aviation, traﬃc and tourism and creating less pollution, improved air quality and more visible cities. More birds and animal species have also been widely observed venturing back into quieter cities, reminding many of what has been lost in our usually frenetic and fossil-fuelled existence. But the pandemic also temporarily stalled the growing protests and mobilisations against government inertia toward climate change that were building a head of steam prior to its emergence. In these and many other ways, Covid-19 has become entwined within our world-in-crisis and exacerbates the stresses and strains of synchronous, interlocking global crises. As Herbert Girardet, consultant to the United Nations’ Environment Programme, observes, “Covid-19 exposes the inherent fragility of our globally interconnected economic systems and the inequalities that they perpetuate” (2020a). It is a “global health crisis” that is “superimposed on a global environmental crisis – deﬁned by climate change, biodiversity loss, soil depletion and chemical pollution” (2020b). There is now growing evidence to suggest that Covid-19 cannot be assumed to be an unfortunate, albeit particularly deadly, virus mutation that will soon pass, but rather it signals the overshoot of human society’s demands placed on nature, and heralds similar deadly outbreaks in the future. How has the planet’s capacity overshot? As a result of intensifying human demands, with deforestation, biodiversity loss, extinction of species, and water crises occurring all over the world. COVID-19 is just the latest manifestation
Reporting in a world-in-crisis 27
of a broken relationship between humans and nature, and bears witness to the transgression of the planet’s safety boundaries coupled with high-risk human behaviours – e.g. wildlife trade markets, intensive livestock conditions – which create favourable conditions for the emergence of zoonotic epidemics, which have been increasing over the past two decades. (Antonelli et al., 2020) Along with other recent outbreaks, such as Ebola, Avian Flu, and MERS, then, Covid-19 is known to be a zoonotic disease, a disease that mutates and jumps species. Many scientists now think that the probable ﬁrst host was bats, though possibly this new strain of coronavirus was bridged to humans by pangolins – both wild animals caught, transported and then caged, killed and sold in the unhygienic and crowded wet markets of Wuhan city, China. As I write, the UN’s “Global Biodiversity Outlook 5” (United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, 2020) has just been published, conﬁrming that the international community has failed to meet any of its 20 biodiversity targets pledged in Aichi in Japan in 2010 to slow the loss of the natural world. The recent increase in deadly zoonotic diseases, then, far from arriving out of nowhere can be situated within the contemporary planetary emergency and the continuing devastating impacts on animal habitats and ecosystems. This, too, warrants research exploration in respect of where, when and how this has featured in the world of journalism and to what extent such global interconnections form the subject of ongoing news investigations and inform public understanding, political debate and international responses. Now is the time to better understand journalism’s silences and seeming reluctance both to recognise and situate Covid-19 in today’s world-in-crisis. To see it as a global crisis that has not only in all probability been spawned by the contemporary global dis(order) but is now exacerbating it. To what extent, why and how has news media reporting around the world, both nationally and transnationally, diminished, distanced or entirely dissimulated Covid-19 as an integral part of our world-in-crisis? To what extent have journalists sought to join up the dots between the global crises of environmental despoilation, climate change and international inequality or, if not, why not? To what extent are environmental externalities mentioned and deliberated in news reporting of environmental devastation and ecological collapse? To what degree, if at all, have indigenous thinking and traditional environmental practices been recognised in the mediated public discussion of and policy responses to crises of environment and ecology (Pascoe, 2006; Yunkaporta, 2020)? My concern is not only that it seems that most news media, with few/occasional exceptions only, are institutionally, professionally and culturally disposed to global myopia but that scholars and students of journalism may also be, preferring to view Covid-19 through national glasses and perceiving it as a communicated public health issue. But when we approach Covid-19, as we must, in a world-in-crisis, so we must also set out to examine journalism’s emergent “global outlook” and global reporting practices (Berglez, 2013; Cottle, 2019a). Journalism is pivotal to communicating and facilitating the “enforced enlightenment” (Beck, 2009) that is now compelled by
28 Simon Cottle
accelerating, intensifying and mutually compounding global crises – including Covid-19. And so too is it critical in not only alerting publics around the world to the economically induced collapse of planetary eco-systems that we all depend upon, but also in the mobilisation of civil society and governments through the public propagation and deliberation of possible solutions (Bennett 2021). “Edge of the World”, our opening painting, depicts humanity poised perilously looking into the abyss of human-induced destruction. It is time to expect but also demand that journalism wakes up and helps world society to see the true nature and true extent of the combined existential threats that confront not only world society but the conditions for life itself on planet earth. As scholars and students of conﬂict and of/for peace including social and environmental justice, we must surely now aim to do the same through our thinking, research and pedagogy?
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Hallin, D. (1994). We Keep America on Top of the World. London: Routledge. Hamelink, C. (2020). Communication and Peace. London: Palgrave. Hawkins, V. (2008). Stealth Conﬂicts: How the World’s Worst Violence Is Ignored. Ashgate: Avebury. Herman, E.S. and Chomsky, N. (1988). Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. New York: Pantheon. Hoﬀman, J. and Hawkins, V. (eds) (2015). Communication and Peace: Mapping an Emerging Field. London and New York: Routledge. Höijer, B. (2004). The Discourse of global compassion: The audience and media reporting of human suﬀering. Media, Culture and Society 26(4): pp. 513–531. Hoskins, A. and O’Loughlin, B. (2007). Television and Terror. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Ignatieﬀ, M. (2004). The terrorist as auteur. The New York Times, November 14. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2004/11/14/movies/the-terrorist-as-auteur.html Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center (2021). Global conﬁrmed cases and Global deaths (22 March 2021). Retrieved from https://coronavirus.jhu.edu Kaldor, M. (2006). New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era. Cambridge: Polity. Kaldor, M. (2007). Human Security. Cambridge: Polity. Keen, D. (2008). Complex Emergencies. Cambridge: Polity. Klein, N. (2007). The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. London: Allen Lane. Kreps, S. (2010). “Social Networks and Technology in the Prevention of Crimes against Humanity” (pp. 175–191) in R.I.Rotberg (ed.) Mass Atrocity Crimes: Preventing Future Outrages, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Leaning, J. (2010). “The Use of Patterns in Crisis Mapping to Combat Mass Atrocity Crimes” (pp. 192–219) in R.I.Rotberg (ed.) Mass Atrocity Crimes: Preventing Future Outrages, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Lester, L. (2010). Media and Environment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lester, L. and Cottle, S. (2009). Visualizing climate change: Television news and ecological citizenship. International Journal of Communication 3: pp. 920–936. Kyriakidou M. (2008). Rethinking media events in the context of a global public sphere: Exploring the audience of global disasters in Greece. Communications 33: pp. 273–291. Lewis. S. and Maslin, M. (2018). The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene. London: Penguin Books. Lull, J. (2007). Culture-On-Demand: Communication in a Crisis World. Oxford: Blackwell. McGoldrick, A. and Lynch, J. (2005). Peace Journalism: Conﬂict and Peacebuilding. Stroud: Hawthorn Press. McNair, B. (2006). Cultural Chaos: Journalism, News and Power in a Globalized World. London: Routledge. Orgad, S. (2012). Media Representation and the Global Imagination. Polity: Cambridge. Pascoe, B. (2016). Dark Emu. Broome: Magabala Books. Patel, R. and Moore, J. (2018). A History of the world in Seven Cheap Things. A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet. London: Verso. Raworth, K. (2017). Doughnut Economics. London: Penguin. Read, R. and Alexander, S. (2019). This Civilization Is Finished. Melbourne: Simplicity Institute. Robinson, P. (2001). Theorizing the inﬂuence of media on world politics: Models of inﬂuence on foreign policy. European Journal of Communication 16(4): pp. 523–544. Robinson, P. (2002). The CNN Eﬀect: The Myth of News, Foreign Policy and Intervention. London: Routledge. Robinson, P. (2005). The CNN eﬀect revisited. Critical Studies in Media Communication 22(4): pp. 344–349.
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Robinson, P., Seib, P., and Frohlich, R. (eds) (2017). Routledge Handbook of Media, Conﬂict and Security. London: Routledge. Roosvall, A. and Tegelberg, M. (2018). Media and Transnational Climate Justice: Indigenous Activism and Climate Politics. New York: Peter Lang. Shaw, M. (1996). Civil Society and Media in Global Crises. London: St Martin’s Press. Shaw, M. (2005). The New Western Way of War: Risk-Transfer War and its Crisis in Iraq. Cambridge: Polity. Seib, P. (2002). The Global Journalist: News and Conscience in a World of Conﬂict. London: Rowman and Littleﬁeld. Smith, P, and Howe, N. (2015). Climate Change as Social Drama. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Spencer, G. (2004). The impact of television news on the Northern Ireland peace negotiations. Media, Culture and Society, 26(5): pp. 603–623. Tierney, K., Bev, C. and Kuligowski, E. (2006). Metaphors matter: Disaster myths, media frames and their consequences in Hurricane Katrina. The Annals of the American Academy 604: pp. 57–81. Thompson, J. (1995). The Media and Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press. Tumber, H. and Webster, F. (2006). Journalists under Fire: Information War and Journalistic Practices. London: Sage. Ungar, S. (2008). Global bird ﬂu communication: Hot crisis and media reassurance. Science Communication 29(4): pp. 472–497. United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (2019). Global biodiversity outlook 5. Retrieved 20 September 2020 from https://www.cbd.int/gbo5 Virilio, P. (2007). The Original Accident. Cambridge: Polity. Wallace-Wells, D. (2019). The Uninhabitable Earth. London: Penguin Books. Wolfsfeld, G. (1997). Media and Political Conﬂict. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wolfsfeld, G. (2004). Media and the Path to Peace. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. WWF (2020). World Wide Fund for Nature Living Planet Report 2020. Retrieved from https://livingplanet.panda.org/en-gb/ Yunkaporta, T. (2020). Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World. New York: Harper Collins.
2 OBSTACLES FOR CRITICAL JOURNALISM IN THE SECURITY POLICY SECTOR Revisiting peace journalism Stig A. Nohrstedt and Rune Ottosen
Karl Rove: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” (Suskind, 2004)
Introduction The new wars1 represent a great threat. They are also a reason for revising security policies and peace making internationally. This includes revising the media’s role in international violent conﬂicts, one which may contribute to the threat to peace. Peace journalism was proposed by Johan Galtung almost two decades ago as a way towards a more constructive role for journalism in wars (Galtung, 2002). It also provides the media and journalists with a road that can be taken to avoid the traps of propaganda and to contribute to peace rather than war. It is now, however, in the historical context of the global war on terror and new wars, time to reconsider Galtung’s original proposal and later versions of peace journalism. This chapter will reconsider this in three steps. First, through a short historical analysis of the contextual setting of conﬂict journalism. Second, through a look at cases of security policy crises in Norway and Sweden to exemplify crucial obstacles to critical journalism in the security policy sector. Third, through the presentation of our arguments of how and why the peace journalism project outlined by Galtung needs to be further elaborated. However, let us begin with a brief summary of Galtung’s peace journalism and comments from his critics.
Obstacles for critical journalism 33
The main points in Galtung’s peace journalism project and criticism Johan Galtung argues that being critical in journalism is not enough, and oﬀers peace journalism as a constructive alternative. The “peace journalism” model has a moral and ethical point of departure and acknowledges that media plays a role in propaganda wars and presents a conscious choice alternative for journalists. Journalists can identify other options for readers/viewers by oﬀering a solution-oriented, people-oriented and truth-oriented approach. This implies a focus on possible suggestions for peace that the conﬂict parties might have an interest in concealing. Galtung’s model of peace journalism builds on the dichotomy between what he calls “war journalism” and “peace journalism” (Ottosen, 2010; Lynch and McGoldrick, 2005). The model (see Table 2.1) includes four main points which contrast the two approaches. War journalism is violence-oriented, propaganda-oriented, elite-oriented and victory-oriented, which is often linked to a dualistic approach, a zero-sum game in which winner takes all (as in sports journalism). A potential consequence of this is that war journalism contributes to the escalation of conﬂicts by reproducing propaganda, so promoting war (Galtung, 2002, in Edsforth and Ottosen, 2020). One of the many critics of peace journalism is Thomas Hanitzch, who argues that advocates of peace journalism underestimate the material conditions for modern news reporting, and overestimate the possibilities for journalists to contextualise their stories. He believes that a complex model such as Galtung’s is not ﬁtted to the highly standardised narrative schemes of modern news production (Hanitzch, 2007). Peace journalism is today taught in schools of journalism and in journalism courses at universities and colleges around the world, with at least 43 universities worldwide oﬀering Masters degrees in peace journalism (Edsforth and Ottosen, 2020).
Global security cultures in the new wars One of Mary Kaldor’s conclusions in Global Security Cultures (2018) is that all parties in new wars violate international law and taboos, with examples including extra-judicial killing, slavery, sexual violence and torture (Kaldor, 2018). The most brutal breaches of international laws, human rights and decency have been committed by terrorists belonging to Al Qaida and ISIS/Daesh. Parties pursuing a war on terrorists are, however, also guilty of crimes under international law. The role of journalism such as the Fourth Estate in such complex conﬂicts and as a provider of unbiased and correct information becomes extremely complicated, but also is perhaps a role that is more important than ever before. Another conclusion Kaldor draws, which she considers to be the most important, is that bio-politics has replaced geo-politics in the new wars. The goal for the parties in conﬂicts is not primarily to control territories, but populations. Diﬀerent methods are applied to control hearts and minds, including the suppression of journalists and information sources that facilitate opposition and ideological resistance. Propaganda has, of course, been a part of all wars, whether directed both at the population on one’s own side or the enemy side. A new aspect is, however, that the ideological control
34 Stig A. Nohrstedt and Rune Ottosen
TABLE 2.1 Peace/conﬂict journalism and war/violence journalism
I. Peace/conﬂict-orientated explore conﬂict formation, x parties, y goals, z issues general win–win orientation open space, open time; causes and outcomes – anywhere, also in history/culture making conﬂicts transparent giving voice to all parties; empathy, understanding see conﬂict/war as problem, focus on conﬂict creativity humanisation of all sides, more so the worse the weapons proactive: prevention before any violence/war occurs focus on invisible eﬀects of violence (trauma and glory, damage to structure/ culture) II. Truth-orientated expose untruths on all sides / uncover all cover-ups III. People-orientated focus on suﬀering all over; on women, aged, children; giving voice to voiceless give name to all evil-doers focus on people peace-makers IV. Solution-orientated peace = non-violence + creativity highlight peace initiatives. Also to prevent more war focus on structure, culture, the peaceful society aftermath: resolution, reconstruction reconciliation
I. War/violence-oriented focus on conﬂict arena, two parties, one goal (win), war general zero-sum orientation closed space, closed time; causes and exits in arena, who threw the ﬁrst stone making war opaque/secret “Us–them” journalism, propaganda, voice, for “us” see “them” as the problem, focus on who prevails in war dehumanisation of “them”; more so the worse the weapon reactive: waiting for violence before reporting focus only on visible eﬀect of violence (killed, wounded and material damage) II. Propaganda-orientated expose “their” untruths / help “our” cover-ups/lies III. Elite-orientated focus on “our” suﬀering; on able-bodied elite males, being their mouth-piece giving name of their evil-doers focus on elite peace-makers IV. Victory-orientated peace = victory + ceaseﬁre conceal on peace initiatives, before victory is at hand focus on treaty, institution, the controlled society leaving for another war, return if the old ﬂares up again
Source: Galtung, 2002: 261.
of the domestic population has become more crucial than in previous wars, due to globalisation and media development worldwide.
Norway and Sweden from the Cold War to the new wars To develop our argument, we apply an eagle-eyed approach to security crises in Scandinavian history from World War II to the new wars of today, and a comparative approach to the discussion of what this means for conﬂict reporting. Plans
Obstacles for critical journalism 35
for a Nordic defence cooperation were discussed in 1948–49 by Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. These plans were, however, dropped in 1949 when Denmark and Norway joined NATO, Finland and Sweden then declaring their non-aligned policy. All four countries have, however, participated in US-led wars despite their oﬃcially declared security policies, for example in Afghanistan in 2001. The Nordic countries have taken diﬀerent positions in other new wars. Finland and Sweden did not, for example, participate in the NATO interventions in the Kosovo conﬂict in 1999, and Finland did not take part in the NATO led intervention in Libya in 2011. The Nordic defence cooperation was again taken up in 2009 and organised within the framework of NORDEFCO. The diﬀerence between the original idea of a Nordic cooperation as an independent alternative to NATO and this is that NORDEFCO is in all practical terms a part of NATO’s new strategy of an increased presence in the Northern part of Scandinavia at the Russian border (Heier, 2019a). We will concentrate our analysis on two countries, Norway and Sweden, one a NATO member and one a non-NATO member. Sweden is, however, acknowledged as being a close partner of NATO. Our analytical focus is on challenges to democracy and journalism due to the secrecy surrounding security policies and military operations, particularly in situations where public opinion is considered to be, by national security agencies, an obstacle to the protection of national interests. This example will be used to discuss Galtung’s original proposal and later versions of peace journalism.
Airborne espionage of the Soviet Union in the 1950–60s The longstanding trend in Swedish security politics from the Cold War to today has been a gradual increase in transparency of Sweden’s collaboration with NATO. There are, however, still some detours and denials on the nature of the relationship. Sweden’s oﬃcial non-alignment policy during the Cold War was secretly combined with far-reaching military planning and joint preparations with NATO member countries, particularly Denmark, Norway, Great Britain and the United States. These plans and preparations were revealed step by step as the Soviet Union collapsed, ﬁrst primarily by a critical peace researcher and later by a journalist (see Agrell, 1991; 2000; Holmström, 2011). A number of incidents during the Cold War threatened to jeopardise the secret collaboration. The most critical publicly known event was the shooting down of a Swedish DC 3 aircraft in June 1952 while spying for the United States on a Soviet navy exercise close to the Soviet border. All eight of the crew died. Neither the general public nor the relatives were, however, informed at the time of the nature of their mission. One crucial area of Sweden’s secret collaboration with NATO countries was in the signals intelligence of the Soviet Union, which was carried out by Swedish aircraft. The information collected was made available to British and American counterparts, who in return supplied Swedish intelligence agencies with technical equipment for these operations and information from their intelligence agencies. There was no oﬃcial admission that the DC 3 had been on a secret intelligence mission until 1974. Journalist Massi Svensson at Dagens Nyheter,
36 Stig A. Nohrstedt and Rune Ottosen
the leading Swedish quality newspaper had, however, learned about the secret in 1952 from a crew member diary. The diary revealed that the Swedish aircraft was on a mission for the United States, and that the pilots took great risks in this provocation of the Russians. Svensson realised that he had a world scoop on his hands. He, however, decided to protect the secret and did not mention the story until 20 years later in his memoires (Svensson, 1972: 80–85). There he notes, “There is also news that should not or could not be published in a newspaper” (ibid.: 75; our transl.). Swedish editors and reporters were not, in the 1950–60s, prepared to go public with Sweden’s secret military collaboration with NATO, even when this information was served on “a silver platter” (cf. Agrell, 1991: 89). This is an example of mainstream media being unable to apply the principle of peace journalism to reveal untruths on “both sides”, due to patriotism and a propaganda-oriented and elite-oriented perspective. Norway’s joining NATO in 1949 and so moving away from its position of neutrality was not viewed without doubt in the nation. A majority of the governing Labour party supported the Nordic alternative. Pressure from the US-loyal party secretary Haakon Lie and the right wing of the party, however, moved the party in a NATO-loyal direction in the 1950s. The Prime Minister, Einar Gerhardsen, wanted to maintain good relations with the Soviet Union and made it clear that Article 5 of the NATO charter was crucial to a small country with borders with the Soviet Union. An attack on one member state should be regarded as an attack on all. The defensive nature of Norway’s defence strategy was also emphasized by restricting NATO’s military activity, by not accepting allied troops on Norwegian soil, and by forbidding ﬁghter aircraft to operate north of the 24th parallel north. This was implemented to reassure the country’s powerful neighbour to the north (Heier, 2019a: 25). The American 3rd Air Force Task Force North Group was established to ensure that nuclear weapons could be deployed quickly and eﬀectively in the event of an invasion of Norway. A major diplomatic crisis with the Soviet Union occurred in 1960. A U2 spy plane operated by the CIA from the northern Norwegian airport of Bodø under the cover of weather observations in the Northern Sea was discovered by the Soviets and shot down. Nikita Khrushchev stated that if Bodø was used again for ﬂights over Soviet territory, then the city would be wiped out by nuclear weapons. Norwegian technicians at Bodø air force base had received no information on the aircraft, US oﬃcers taking over control of the tower at Bodø Airport when the plane was about to take oﬀ. The history of the U2 mission provides indisputable evidence that US intelligence had control of activities on Norwegian soil. The Foreign Minister Halvard Lange claimed that Norway did not know that the United States used Bodø for military purposes, so further revealing that the Norwegian government did not have full control of its own territory (Alnes, 2020). The two cases share some similarities. Both were not in line with the countries’ proclaimed foreign and security policy, and most politicians and citizens had no information on the operations. The media in Norway could almost instantly report on the U2 spy plane and the threat from Moscow. The Swedish case was not, however, made public until 20 years later, the consequences in the Swedish case
Obstacles for critical journalism 37
being more severe as eight crew were killed. Secrecy around the event in Sweden was stricter. This shows not only that the peace journalism principle of transparency was neglected, but also that the journalism role as Fourth Estate was subordinated to the support of the security political orientation of the country (Nohrstedt and Ottosen, 2014).
Investigative critical journalism during the détente of the 1970s The Vietnam War and the US terror bombings of civilians in Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1960s and at the beginning of the 1970s gradually moved public opinion in Sweden away from the Cold War view of the United States and collaboration with NATO. The gradual shift of opinion towards the political left opened the public sphere to more critical journalism, including on secret surveillance by state authorities of activists on the political left-wing and peace activists. The magazine Folket i Bild/ Kulturfront revealed in 1973 that radical left wingers were being registered by a secret organisation, an event that some call the Swedish Watergate Aﬀair. This secret organisation operated directly under the Supreme Defence Staﬀ and cooperated with the security police, military intelligence and the CIA, and had close links with the Swedish Social-Democratic Party that was in power. The revelation became a public scandal that compromised the state’s security activities, the scandal intensifying when the journalists Jan Guillou and Peter Bratt, who revealed this story, were sentenced to one year in prison for espionage in a court proceeding carried out behind locked doors, and whose ruling placed the “Security of the Kingdom” above the constitutional Press Freedom Act.2 Carl Bernstein revealed in the magazine Rolling Stone in 1977 that the CIA had, throughout the Cold War, a huge network of informers that worked under-cover as journalists. Many became informers because of a feeling of “patriotic duty”. Others were on the pay roll of the CIA. Any critical reporting during the Cold War on sensitive military issues was also met with suspicion and counter measures in Norway (Dahl and Bastiansen, 1999). The CIA not only hired journalists as agents, but trained their own agents to become journalists and travel under-cover as foreign correspondents. Norwegian intelligence debriefed Norwegian journalists on a regular basis when returning from conﬂict zones (Nilsen and Sjue, 1998: 270–271). New evidence was revealed in the 1970s that exposed the close ties between the US and Norwegian intelligence, both bilateral cooperation and within the NATO framework. One of the more important revelations of these close ties was exposed by the Norwegian intelligence oﬃcer Anders Hellebust who, in his Master’s thesis in 1974, chose to become a whistleblower and reveal military secrets. He found evidence that the naval listening device Lorang C. along the Norwegian coastline was being made available to US nuclear submarines without the approval of the Norwegian parliament or most members of government. Hellebust’s conclusion was that “Politicians and civil servants seem to justify their right to lie when it comes to issues linked to national, security, war and peace” (Khrono, 2016).
38 Stig A. Nohrstedt and Rune Ottosen
Détente between the East and West in the 1970s seems to have led, in both Norway and Sweden, to a decrease in the control of the public sphere by security agencies, as shown by the cases above. Relations between the CIA and journalists are better documented in Norway than in Sweden, which may mirror a real diﬀerence. It may also be the result of continued stronger censorship and self-censorship in Sweden. Journalists being sentenced to jail in Sweden, but not in Norway, also points in this direction.
The “New Cold War” of the 1980s Tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States increased in the early 1980s, analysts stating in November 1983 that the world was very close to nuclear war because of provocation from both sides. An example of this included unexpected tests by the US Air Force and Navy of the security system on the Soviet border (Holmström, 2011: 63; Almgren, 2011: 48). A number of submarine intrusions into Swedish territorial waters were also reported in this period. A ﬁsherman in the autumn of 1981, for example, discovered the U 137 Soviet submarine stranded on a rocky islet deep into the passage to the naval base at Karlskrona in Sweden. The story reverberated in the media around the world as the “Whiskey on the Rock” incident, U 137 being a Whiskey class submarine. This was a ﬂagrant violation of Swedish territorial sovereignty. The U 137 was also carrying nuclear weapons. It is, however, unclear whether it was on a spying mission or grounded due to a navigation error (Tunander, 2019). There were, however and more importantly, frequent reports in the decade after this of foreign submarines and divers in Swedish waters. One oﬃcial commission mentioned 2,435 observations of objects in the period 1982–1992, 364 of these being classiﬁed as certain or almost certain, and 952 as possible submarines (ibid.: 60–61). The exceptionally large number of observations was unique to Sweden and far higher than in neighbouring countries. The most remarkable fact was, however, that many reports were of mini-submarines appearing on the sea surface in daylight, sometimes as close as 10 metres from private houses and boats, including from Navy vessels. This is a completely irrational and unexpected for submarines on secret intelligence missions from a potentially hostile country. The general conclusion nevertheless was, partly due to the U 137 incident, that these were Soviet units. Tunander (2019), however, concludes, based on signiﬁcant material, that a more plausible explanation is that this was a CIA-led operation to stress-test the Swedish defence system that was partly instigated because the United States had serious doubts after the U 137 incident of the eﬃciency of the Swedish defence, and partly because they wanted to disrupt the peace dialogue organised by the “Palme commission”. This commission brought together the Social-Democratic governments of Austria, Germany and Sweden and the Soviet Union to establish a nuclear weapons free corridor. The Thatcher and Reagan governments regarded these talks as a threat to the hegemony of the NATO security political
Obstacles for critical journalism 39
complex in Western Europe (Tunander, 2019: 240 f). The deceptive CIA operations were greatly successful if the intention was to push Swedish security policy into a pro-NATO direction. Talks about “common security” became impossible politically, and public opinion in Sweden changed dramatically to the view that the Soviet Union was a great threat (Tunander, 2019: 68). The media, after the U 137 incident, shared the general view held in Sweden that the Soviet Union was behind the hundreds or even thousands of observations of foreign submarines in the 1980s (Tunander, 2019: appendix 9, 333 f.; Bynander, 2003). The success of CIA operations in Swedish waters also was probably greatly helped by the media and journalists pointing the ﬁnger of blame at the Soviet Union for these intrusions. Both the media and public opinion, however, later became less obsessed with this, in particular after it was revealed in 1994 that some of the “most reliable” evidence of submarine intrusions were ﬁsh and mink soundings (Agrell, 2000: 226–249; Bynander, 2003: 189–200). Foreign submarine intrusions also became a big issue in the Norwegian media. There were, however, no scandals like these in Sweden. Roald Gjelsten concludes from a comprehensive study of all known incidents in Norwegian ﬁords that the majority of submarines that violated Norwegian sovereignty between 1960 and 1990 most likely were conventional Soviet submarines. The evidence in some cases, however, pointed to one of the Western sea powers. Gjelsten concludes that it cannot be excluded that allied navies occasionally operated submarines in the ﬁords without permission. It is also a fact that very few documents have been declassiﬁed and only a minimum of sources have been available to shed light on and increase the insight into the matters treated in this study. (Gjelsten, 2013) Neither the Swedish nor the Norwegian media seemed to address the crucial issue of why NATO submarines regularly operated in Swedish territory and why the Soviet Union was blamed for intrusions without evidence.
The New World Order, 1989–2001 Political and military tensions in northern Europe faded after the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, friendly relations developing between NATO and Russia. The hope that the “New World Order” would bring peace and an end to the history of rule of law in international politics turned out, however, to be far from realistic. The Gulf War of 1990–91 did show that the East and West could meet in the UN Security Council for joint decisions on stopping the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. The optimism for a new and better world, however, soon disappeared when a new war broke out in former Yugoslavia in 1991. Both Norway and Sweden supported the UN sanctioned intervention against the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. Norway also sent the warship Andenes to the Gulf. Incidents, however, suggest that operations went beyond the
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strict mandate of patrol and observe. These were critically reported by the journal Dagens Næringsliv, but ignored by other media (Ottosen, 2019a). The Kosovo conﬂict and the signing of the new NATO out-of-area strategy at a summit in Washington in April 1999 brought a dramatic change. Gunnar Garbo describes how little attention this reorientation was given in the Norwegian public sphere. The ﬁnal text signed by the Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, had not been discussed in Parliament and was hardly mentioned in the media. The urgency was due to NATO’s bombing of former Yugoslavia already being underway, the ﬁrst bombs falling on Belgrade on 24 March 1999. It was before this inconceivable that Norwegian politicians would accept participation in a war without a mandate in the UN Security Council. Garbo concludes that this change, which was the most dramatic in Norwegian security policy since World War II, was based on a falsiﬁcation. The bombing was a clear violation of international law. The NATO out-of-area doctrine, therefore, changed the Norwegian defence forces from a traditional national defence force to a tool in US operations outside Europe, without much public debate (Garbo, 2014) The decade of 1991–2001 was a period in Sweden in which a number of security policy secrets from the past were revealed to the general public through the national media (see Agrell, 1991; 2000). Sweden’s far-reaching military planning and joint preparations with NATO countries came to the surface. These plans and preparations were revealed step by step, not least by journalist Mikael Holmström and a series of articles in 1998 in the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. The international conﬂict reporting of the media, therefore, faced new challenges when reconstructing both the history and political geography after the Cold War. We know from previous research that mainstream media usually accepts and supports the view on international conﬂicts of their government. Our ﬁndings from a project on news coverage of the 1991 Gulf War were, therefore, surprising. Norway and Sweden oﬃcially took the same standpoint. The media of the two countries, however, showed signiﬁcant diﬀerences. The study’s conclusion was that the different foreign and security policy traditions of the two countries explained the diﬀerences in media portrayal. The media in Norway initially took a more pro-US stance than the Swedish media, these diﬀerences diminishing somewhat a few months into the war. The diﬀerences between the two countries’ news media were even more evident in the Kosovo conﬂict of 1999. It is true that sympathy both in Norway and Sweden was for the Kosovo-Albanians, and that they should be protected. The media in Sweden were, however, from the very start of the bombings, much more critical of the NATO bombing than the press in Norway. Swedish media began leaning, a couple of weeks later, towards making the civilian casualties on the Serb side “worthy victims”, and to a much greater extent than the Norwegian media. The popular press is, of course, often sensationalist. The diﬀerences between front pages in the two countries were, nevertheless, signiﬁcant. The Swedish Aftonbladet warned that NATO could start a third world war, whereas the Norwegian Dagbladet worried that Norwegian lives could be lost, referring to the small number of Norwegian ﬁghter pilots that took part in attacks.
Obstacles for critical journalism 41
The global war on terrorism, the Afghanistan war and the Libyan war The United States responded to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 2001 with a “global war on terror” and military intervention in Afghanistan. This presented the security state of both Norway and Sweden with a new reality and demanding challenges. Participation in the initial UN-sanctioned ISAF mission to protect the Kabul region and provide humanitarian aid to the Afghanistan people did not cause any major problems. Operations, however, gradually changed from 2006, with Norwegian and Swedish UN soldiers becoming involved in counter-insurgency operations, i.e. outright warfare, though this was not oﬃcially acknowledged. UN Security Council Resolution 1368 was, according to Norwegian politicians, the legal basis for the ISAF/NATO intervention. Professor Geir Ulfstein, however, warned against interpreting Resolution 1368 as legitimising a long-lasting military intervention in Afghanistan. The Resolution refers to a state’s right of self-defence. It does not, however, say that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 2001 gave the United States the right to pursue in Afghanistan the longest war in US history. It is worth noting that Norwegian politicians have used Resolution 1368 in exactly the way Ulfstein warns against in a number of contexts, and without critical follow-up questions being posed by journalists (Ulfstein, 2003). The Norwegian media coverage of the war in Afghanistan has been well researched (Ottosen, 2005; Eide and Ottosen, 2013). One of the ﬁndings is that civilian victims of warfare were under-reported throughout the period in which there was a Norwegian presence in Afghanistan and which we investigated (2001–2012). The situation of civilian Afghans was also, in general, underreported. We see a tendency in the coverage that victims of terrorism in the United States and of terrorist actions in Norway or in other European countries are portrayed as “worthy victims”, while the “unworthy victims” in Afghanistan remain anonymous (Eide and Ottosen, 2013). The oﬃcial Norwegian report of the Norwegian military action in 2001–2018 concludes with the sad fact that when most Norwegian soldiers withdrew in 2018, that the Taliban was stronger than ever and little had been achieved. The report concluded that this was primarily due to a too strong consensus among Norwegian politicians, resulting in the decision to send forces being based on wishful thinking rather than the Afghan reality. The main reason to send troops was to please the United States, which is far from the humanitarian rhetoric used by Norwegian politicians in 2001 to justify this (NOU, 2016: 8). A peace journalism approach could have critically reported on the “winorientated” rhetoric of Norwegian politicians, and critically examined the unrealistic humanitarian rhetoric used that ISAF warfare could help “liberate” Afghan women (Lippe and Ottosen, 2016). Sweden fully reformed its military system in 1999 from a defence designed to resist an invasion, to one designed for participation in unspeciﬁed international operations. The longstanding history of a secret close cooperation with NATO forces and security dependence on the United States was shown to be an existing reality by the war in Afghanistan. As in Norway, maintaining friendly relations
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with the United States and NATO seemed to be the main reason for military participation in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan for the Swedish security state as well (Agrell, 2013: 320). But Sweden, unlike Denmark and Norway, did not decide to go to war immediately after the US decision. The adoption of UN Resolution 1368, however, opened the door for Sweden to join the ISAF mission in 2002. The oﬃcially declared aims of the protection of peace, stability and humanitarian aid in practice gradually changed to counter-insurgency warfare (COIN) and then outright war from 2006 onwards. The lack of transparency made it diﬃcult for most cabinet members, members of parliament and journalists to grasp the true nature of Swedish participation in the ISAF mission, this leading to a legitimation crisis and a democratic deﬁcit (Agrell, 2013: 324–333). The Afghanistan war was nothing less than a professional ﬁasco for Swedish journalism. It is diﬃcult to ﬁnd a more fatal shortcoming of the Fourth Estate than the failure to report that your country is in a state of war. The Swedish coverage of the US-led alliance’s use of military force, however, changed radically after the Kosovo conﬂict, in which Swedish media developed a NATO-critical perspective (Nohrstedt et al., 2002). In the Afghanistan war, mainstream media showed more understanding for the military intervention, though the dire consequences for the civilian population remained an important theme (Nohrstedt, 2009). Sweden had, however, this time joined the UN supported ISAF mission, which was from 2003 under American military command. It was argued that the Swedish state was eager to secure good relations with the American NATO leadership at the price of an ignorant public (Agrell, 2013: 325). An oﬃcial report concluded in 2016 that all the declared objectives of the Swedish contribution failed, with the exception of the aim of improving the military force’s capacity as a partner in international security operations (SOU, 2017: 17). Neither the report nor any responsible politician has answered the question of why Sweden participated in the COIN-warfare in Afghanistan. Libya 2011 was another conﬂict in which Norway and Sweden joined forces. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle and UN Resolution 1973 made it easier for the centre-right alliance government of both countries to involve their military in the Libya war. A critical review of this warfare, however, established that it was based on false propaganda and was in violation of international law (Heier et al., 2019). Norway took a leading role in bombing, dropping 588 bombs. The engagement rules for the Swedish air force excluded the use of weapons except for self-defence, which made the operation similar to previous peace-enforcement missions under the UN ﬂag. The Swedish air force was, therefore, providing the photographs that guided the Norwegian air force when bombing military and civilian infrastructures in Tripoli and other places in Libya. According to Norwegian military expert Tormod Heier, the majority of the NATO air attack targets were no immediate threat to the Libyan population (Heier, 2019b: 76). The mainstream media of Norway and Sweden did not critically report NATO operations in Libya nor report that the objective became regime change, which is a
Obstacles for critical journalism 43
violation of international law. The media of both countries primarily expressed proud and patriotic views (Nohrstedt and Ottosen, 2014: 144–151). One diﬀerence was, however, revealed by a Norwegian commission that looked into this objective change in 2019 after a British commission expressed concern that NATO warfare had extended the UN mandate. The Norwegian commission contradicted the British commission by not ﬁnding any reason to criticise the previous government. A short information session in Parliament also did not receive much media attention (Heier et al., 2019: 15; Ottosen, 2019b: 145). No such discussion after the Libya War, however, took place in Sweden, neither in parliament nor in the media. The failure to realise the intentions of Security Council Resolution 1973 is not something that public opinion in Scandinavia is well informed on. The media seem to be unable to learn from past mistakes. Norwegian special soldiers breaking international law and crossing the border between Jordan and Syria in May 2017 to support jihadists in the battle to topple the Assad regime also drew little critical attention in the Norwegian media (Ottosen, 2019c). Edward Snowden revealed that secret cooperation exists between NSA and Norwegian intelligence to make Norwegian radars available to the controversial drone programme. The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation has revealed that Norwegian intelligence was involved in extra-judicial killings from 2008 without the knowledge of the Norwegian public (Wormdal, 2015; Skille, 2019). Norway appears to be constantly drawn into closer ties with the US global strategy. Some journalists were, however, aware of the secret cooperation between Norwegian and US intelligence that was revealed in 2019 (Skille, 2019). A recent Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation television series on the Cold War documented that large amounts of equipment and personnel in the Norwegian Air Force were funded by the United States and implemented in the US nuclear strategy. This was a clear violation of the declared Norwegian policy of the time (NRK, 2020). Mainstream media seems unable to understand that referring to oﬃcial statements uncritically and not going beyond the oﬃcial justiﬁcation for using military means, in practice, results in promoting violent and military solutions. Patriotism is routinely deﬁned as being the zealous defence of one’s country (Lynch and McGoldrick, 2005). Jake Lynch and Annabel McGoldrick argue that peace journalism in practice is deﬁned by the choices editors and reporters make about what to report and how to report it, choices that should “create opportunities for society at large to consider and value nonviolent responses to conﬂict” (Lynch and McGoldrick, 2005: 5). They also argue that journalism that is too superﬁcial and lacks the contextual analysis cannot contribute to peace: There is no more important task for journalists than reporting on war. It’s journalism’s litmus test because it forces reporters and editors to confront a host of ethical dilemmas and to question the nature of their occupation. How do they report fairly, accurately and compassionately? (Lynch and McGoldrick, 2005)
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The media’s shortcomings in the security policy sector A number of requisites need to be satisﬁed for journalism and the media to fulﬁl the Fourth Estate role in international violent conﬂicts. We, in 2017, suggested the following criteria for sustainable conﬂict journalism: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Promote free speech and access to public information within a context of changing legal and social norms Meet professional quality standards, the special conditions of new wars being taken into consideration Provide citizens with reliable, objective news from multiple sources Pursue editorial independence in well-managed enterprises Protect professional independence from other institutions (Nohrstedt and Ottosen, 2017)
The sad rhapsody of Norwegian and Swedish history shows the great shortfall in journalism in its capacity to provide a critical and investigative reporting that can inform the general public about the risks and contingent insecurities of participation in old and new wars. There are, of course, two sides to all security strategies. Mainstream media in both Norway and Sweden have, however, a one-sided view of the risks and consequences of a conﬂict strategy in which their own forces are involved. It should not be acceptable in democratic countries such as Norway and Sweden that soldiers are killed and are killing for purposes other than peace-making and for the humanitarian motives declared by the political echelons, without these being debated and critically assessed in the media. Our conclusion from the above historical exercise is that the interests and plans of the security state should not be taken for granted in the way they have been in, for example, the Afghanistan and Libyan wars. It is demanding to ask journalists and media to reveal hidden motives and secret intelligence before a military engagement. A minimum requirement should however, in democracies, be that experiences from obvious strategic catastrophes are publicly addressed and evaluated by the media.
Conclusions – is peace journalism the remedy? As Johan Galtung has shown in his peace journalism model, a potential consequence of war journalism is that it can contribute to the escalation of conﬂicts by reproducing propaganda and promoting war. Peace journalism, on the contrary, as pointed out in section IV of Galtung’s table (2002, see Table 2.1), should emphasise “conﬂict resolution, reconstruction [and] reconciliation”. We argue, based on our analysis of the Norwegian and Swedish media’s shortcomings in the security policy sector, that part of the Galtung model is still relevant and important. Section II, in particular, can be useful when analysing the historical dimension as in this chapter: the quest being for journalism “to expose untruths on all sides” and “uncover all cover-ups”. This is an alternative to war journalism, which tends to “expose ‘their’ untruths” and “help
Obstacles for critical journalism 45
‘our’ cover-ups” (Galtung, 2002: 261). The main point of Galtung’s model may, however, be less relevant if Kaldor’s analysis, as presented at the beginning of the chapter, is taken into consideration. Whereas Galtung claims that mainstream war coverage is violence- and victory-oriented and discursively constructed as a zero-sum game in which the winner takes it all, Kaldor argues that controlling the narrative and letting the war continue is a goal in itself. If she is right, it seems obvious that “the win” position in Galtung’s analysis is not that relevant in the new wars. We have outlined a historical development, focusing on security policy changes in Norway and Sweden from the Cold War geopolitics to the new wars, to point out how the conditions for journalism to fulﬁl the Fourth Estate role and to conduct peace journalism vary over time and with changing security policies. This includes how journalism in both countries failed to correctly describe the real nature of the co-called humanitarian interventions in the new wars, and the security risks they entailed for the troops of both countries, for the humanitarian eﬀort and for the vulnerable populations of Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Johan Galtung’s peace journalism project was initiated some 40 years ago and bears traces of the security cultures that Mary Kaldor calls geopolitics and liberal peace, which dominated during the Cold War. The potentiality and relevance of the project have, however, decreased. It can therefore be debated whether it can make any difference at all in the hybrid culture that Kaldor believes has arisen through the combination of new wars and the war on terror. The fundamental problem in new wars is that the warring parties, unlike the aﬀected populations, lack an interest in and motive for lasting peace, because this would disrupt their power – the bio-political power of the terrorists’ repression of the civilian population and the US/NATO security policy dominance. This would also damage their ﬁnancial interests, such as income from smuggling and traﬃcking and control over oil resources and arms exports. Central to Galtung’s model of peace journalism and later variants (e.g. Lynch and McGoldrick, 2005; Lynch et al., 2011) is the construction of a kind of normative prototype for how journalism should report conﬂicts, so that this reporting contributes to de-escalation and peace rather than escalation and war. The focus is on the content of reporting and the journalists’ mindset (Galtung, 2002). As stated above, peace journalism focuses on including all the diﬀerent parties in the conﬂict, exploring potential win–win solutions, revealing propaganda lies and attempts to conceal war crimes, emphasising the suﬀering of the victims on all sides and highlighting constructive peace initiatives. Galtung and later proponents of peace journalism are, of course, aware that journalism does not operate in a vacuum. We, however, agree with Hanitzsch for example that the contextual and organizational conditions are under-theorised in the model. Our main concern is not that the model lacks theorising in the economic-organisational form of journalism, i.e. that media usually are commercial companies governed by proﬁt demands from owners and demands for instant information and entertainment from consumers. Our emphasis is instead on the historical and societal context in which peace journalism is intended to work, and whether it provides room for sustainable conﬂict journalism as we deﬁne it (see above).
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We have previously suggested that the peace journalism project should be supplemented by a critical discourse analysis (CDA) approach, to achieve deeper insights into the historical and societal challenges of peace journalism as discourse (Nohrstedt and Ottosen, 2014: 111 f., 197 f.). We also urge peace journalism to actively work for a radical liberation from the national security state, to avoid the propaganda trap in international conﬂicts. Professional journalism programmes should develop much more of a global perspective through, for example, comparative analysis of media reporting in diﬀerent countries as well as systematic and transparent evaluations of previous cases of conﬂict reporting, preferably organised in collaboration with international bodies such as UNESCO, RSF, CPJ and IJF.3 Professional learning and training are, in terms of competence, also required to provide a much deeper knowledge of international law and how it is implemented in practice. This is, as we see it, absolutely necessary to prevent cynical exploitation of international law and the responsibility to protect (R2P) principle in future illegitimate and illegal military operations, such as in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria (Lippe, 2019). These proposals, like Galtung’s original project are, however, based on the assumption that the UN system and international law are still enforceable, an assumption that must be questioned if we take Kaldor’s analysis seriously. If the dictatorial language in the quote from Karl Rove at the beginning of this chapter has any validity, then there is unfortunately not much hope. Respect for international law and the opportunities for journalists and other free voices is in that case not strong enough to stop war crimes and to hinder totalitarian development nationally and internationally. The only remedy for that weakness would be adaptation of a global professional role and ethics for journalism which, for example, takes international laws and human rights seriously and as the main perspective in conﬂict reporting – for all parties involved in conﬂicts. This means a greater focus on and respect for international bodies such as the UN and the international criminal court, which is not often the case in the new wars. It seems that conﬂict journalism must assume that international laws and human rights in the present global security culture are in practice devaluated to an ideology exploited by political leaders and security state agencies for mobilising public support to achieve their bio-political aims. Similar to Galtung and his principled optimism on an ethically responsible conﬂict journalism, and to Kaldor hoping for peace built from the “decent islands” that after all exist in the hopeless wars in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, we put our hope in a global peace journalism that is qualiﬁed to support the constructive forces wanting to stop all new and old wars.
Notes 1 The concept “new wars” has been developed by Mary Kaldor (2018; cf. chapter 4). It includes a historical element that refers to violent conﬂicts after the Cold War. More important are, however, the conceptual elements that point to the features that make the new wars diﬀerent from most “old wars”: they are for example irregular and asymmetric – regular military forces on the one side ﬁghting loosely organised networks of
Obstacles for critical journalism 47
warlord rebels on the other side. The war aim is not territorial control and regime change, but control of populations by means of threat images of “the others”. Civilians are targeted and kidnapping, blackmailing, traﬃcking, murders, smuggling etc are part of the methods of ﬁnancing rebel warfare. 2 Ironically, the head of Swedish counterespionage at the time, Olof Frånstedt, argues 40 years later that the sentence was false and should be reversed, because the claimed security consequences had been highly exaggerated (Frånstedt, 2014: 117). 3 See for example the interesting initiatives Forum on Information & Democracy by RSF, and A Culture of Safety (ACOS) by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (rsf. org; cpj.org).
References Agrell, W. (1991). Den stora lögnen. Ett säkerhetspolitisk dubbelspel i alltför många akter [The big lie. A security policy double dealing in too many acts]. Stockholm: Ordfronts Förlag. Agrell, W. (2000). Fred och fruktan. Sveriges säkerhetspolitiska historia 1918–2000 [Peace and fear. Sweden’s security policy history 1918–2000]. Lund: Historiska Media. Agrell, W. (2013). Ett krig här och nu. Sveriges väg till väpnad konﬁkt i Afghanistan [A war here and now. Sweden’s path to armed conﬂict in Afghanistan]. Stockholm: Atlantis. Almgren, B. (2011). Inte bara spioner:Stasi-inﬁltration i Sverige under kalla kriget [Not just spies: Stasi inﬁltration in Sweden during the cold war]. Stockholm: Carlsson. Alnes, T. (2020). Mindre stolte kapitler i norsk forsvarshistorie [Less proud chapters in Norways’s defence history]. Spartakus.no. Retrieved 23 April 2020 from https://spartakus. no/2020/04/08/mindre-stolte-kapitler-i-norsk-forsvarshistorie/ Berggren, H. (2010). Underbara dagar framöver. En biograﬁ över Olof Palme [Wonderful days ahead. A biography of Olof Palme]. Stockholm: Norstedts. Bernstein, C. (1977). The CIA and the media. How America’s most powerful news media worked hand in glove with the central intelligence agency and why the church committee covered it up. Rolling Stone, 20 October. Bynander, F. (2003). The Rise and Fall of the Submarine Threat. Threat Politics and Submarine Intrusions in Sweden 1980–2002. Uppsala: Uppsala University. Dahl, H.F. and Bastiansen, H. (1999). Ytringsfriheten i Norge i det 20. århundre [Freedom of expression in the twentieth century]. Oslo: Særskilt vedlegg til Ytringsfrihetskommisjonen NOU, p.27. Edsforth, R. and Ottosen, R. (2020). “Representation of Peace in the Modern Area since 1920” in R. Edsforth (ed.) A Cultural History of Peace in the Modern Age, vol. 6. London: Bloomsbury. Eide, E. and Ottosen, R. (2013). Den lengste krigen [The longest war]. Oslo: Abstrakt forlag. Frånstedt, O. (2014). Spionjägaren. Säpo, IB och Palme [The spy hunter. Säpo, IB and Palme]. Stockholm: Icabokförlag. Galtung, J. (2002). “Peace Journalism – A Challenge” in: W. Kempf and H. Luostarinen (eds) Journalism and the New World Order. Gothenburg: Nordicom. Garbo, G. (2014). Også krig er terror (Tredje opplag) [War is also terror (third edition)]. Sparsnäs: Irene Publishing. Gjelsten, R. (2013). Fremmede ubåter i norske fjorder. Realitet eller myte? [Foreign submarines in Norwegian fjords. Reality or myth?] Oslo Files 1, March 2013, Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies. Hanitzsch, T. (2007). Situating peace journalism in journalism studies: A critical appraisal. Conﬂict & Communication online 6(1). Retrieved 8 April 2014 from http://www.cco. regener-online.de/
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Heier, T. (2019a). Et farligere Norge [A more dangerous Norway]. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget. Heier, T. (2019b). “Hadde norske myndigheter kontroll i Libya-krigen?” [Did the Norwegian authorities have control in the Libyan war?] in: T. Heieret al. (eds) Libya. Krigens uutholdige letthet [Libya. The unbearable lightness of war]. Oslo: Cappelen Damm. Heier, T., Ottosen, R. and Tvedt, T. (eds) (2019). Libya. Krigens uutholdelige letthet [Libya. The unbearable lightness of war]. Oslo: Cappelen Damm. Holmström, M. (1998). Den dolda alliansen [The hidden alliance]. Series of articles in Svenska Dagbladet. Holmström, M. (2011). Den dolda alliansen. Sveriges hemliga NATO-förbindelser [The hidden alliance. Sweden’s secret NATO relations]. Stockholm: Atlantis. Kaldor, M. (2018). Global Security Cultures. Cambridge: Polity Press. Khrono (2016). Hellebust with Ph.D on lies and politics. Khrono, 26 December. Retrieved from https://khrono.no/logn-og-fake-news-sikkerhet-hellebust/hellebust-blir-doktor-i-logn-ogpolitikk/147159 Lippe, von der, B. (2019). “Beskyttelse av hva for hvem – hvordan og når? Da en retorisk situasjon ble en R2P-situasjon” [Protection of what for whom – how and when? When a rhetorical situation became a R2P-situation] in: T. Heieret al. (eds) Libya. Krigens uutholdige letthet [Libya. The unbearable lightness of war]. Oslo: Cappelen Damm. Lippe, von der, B. and Ottosen, R. (2016). Gendering War and Peace Reporting. Some Insights – Some Missing Links. Gothenburg: Nordicom. Lynch, J. and McGoldrick, A. (2005). Peace Journalism. Stroud: Hawthorne Press. Lynch, J., Shaw, I.S. and Hackett, R.A. (eds) (2011). Expanding Peace Journalism. Comparative and Critical Approaches. Sydney: Sydney University Press. Nilsen, B. and Sjue, F. (1998). Skjult dagsorden [Hidden agenda]. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Nohrstedt, S.A. (2009) New war journalism: Trends and challenges. Nordicom Review 30(1): 95–112. Nohrstedt, S.A. and Ottosen, R. (2014). New Wars, New Media, New War Journalism. Gothenburg: Nordicom. Nohrstedt, S.A. and Ottosen, R. (2017). “Sustainable War Journalism and International Public Law” in: P. Berglez, U. Oalusson, and M. Ots (eds) What is Sustainable Journalism? New York: Peter Lang. Nohrstedt, S.A., Höijer, B. and Ottosen, R. (2002). Kosovokonﬂikten, medierna och medlidandet [The Kosovo conﬂict, the media and compassion]. Report 190. Stockholm: Styrelsen för psykologiskt försvar [The Board of Psychological Defence]. NOU (2016). En god alliert – Norge i Afghanistan 2001–2014. Godalutvalget [A good ally – Norway in Afghanistan 2001–2014]. The Godal Board. NOU 8. NRK (2020). [tv programme] Kald krig 1945–1989 [Cold War 1945–1989]. NRK TV. Ottosen, R. (1996). Fra fjærpenn til Internett. Journalister i organisasjon og samfunn [From feather pen to Internet. Journalists in organisations and society]. Oslo: Aschehoug forlag. Ottosen, R. (2005). The Norwegian media image of the war in Afghanistan. Peacekeeping or aggression? Nordicom Review 26(1). Ottosen, R. (2010). The war in Afghanistan and peace journalism in practice. Media, War & Conﬂict 3. Ottosen, R. (2019a). Fra kald krig til out of area. Mediene og dekningen av NATOs nye kriger 1999–2018 [From Cold War to out of area. The media and the coverage of NATO’s new wars 1999–2018]. Norsk mediehistorisk tidsskrift 2. Ottosen, R. (2019b). “Norge må lære av sine feil i Libya” [Norway must learn from its mistakes in Libya] in: T. Heieret al. (eds) Libya. Krigens uutholdelige letthet [Libya. The unbearable lightness of war]. Oslo: Cappelen Akademiske Forlag.
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Ottosen, R. (2019c). Norway’s new(s) wars – Syria in the Norwegian mass media. Nordlit 42 (November): pp. 303–326. doi:10.7557/13.5017 Skille, Ø.B. (2019). Norges hemmelige krig i Afghanistan [Norway’s secret war in Afghanistan]. NRK29 May 2019. SOU (2017). Sverige i Afghanistan 2002–2014 (Sweden in Afghanistan 2002–2014). Betänkande av Afghanistanutredningen [Report of the Afghanistan Inquiry]. No. 16. Suskind, R. (2004). Faith, certainty and the presidency of George W. Bush. The New York Times Magazine, 17 October 2004. Svensson, M. (1972). Brännbart! Ur en kriminalreporters vardag [Flammable! From a crime reporter’s everyday life]. Stockholm: Forum. Tunander, O. (2019). Det svenska ubåtskriget [The Swedish submarine war]. Stockholm: Nedströms Bokförlag. Ulfstein, G. (2003). Terror og folkerett [Terror and international law]. Lov og Rett 2. Wormdal, B. (2105). Spionbasen. Den ukjente historien om CIA og NSA i Norge [The spy base. The unknown story of CIA and NSA in Norway]. Oslo: Pax forlag.
3 PEACE AND CONFLICT JOURNALISM An African perspective Winston Mano
Introduction Conﬂicts result from confrontations between actors, communities, organisations or governments and can be aggressive and violent. Conﬂicts, whether material or symbolic, are often ideological and are shaped by historical and prevailing power relations. They are, however, inevitable in the world we live in. The level of attention given to them and the solutions provided are often determined by the way they are deﬁned or reimagined. Africa has witnessed some of the world’s deadliest conﬂicts. But there has been little or no prioritisation of peace-building activities on this continent. In the words of Virgil Hawkins: It is as if the actors in a position to respond have all arrived at the fatalistic conclusion that Africa’s problems are too massive and intractable for the continent as a whole to be “saved”, and that attention and energies are therefore best devoted elsewhere. (Hawkins, 2008: 3) This chapter argues that the parties involved in conﬂicts seek, in interventions, to have their perspectives recognised as the valid, “complete” and only way of dealing with the conﬂict. This is despite such a stance being fraught with inadequacies and controversies. Darfur is a case in point, approaches often resulting in self-appointed powerful brokers insisting on the undisputed and composite nature of their positions. This generates confusion in the deﬁning of conﬂicts, and makes them diﬃcult to handle or overcome. Conﬂicts in Africa inevitably attract a wide range of actors, due arguably to the continent possessing the majority of the natural resources that drive global production. Africa also plays a key role in changing global geopolitics. Most parties, DOI: 10.4324/9781003015628-4
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however, come to conﬂicts without undeclaring their interests in the continent’s political and economic situation. History has shown that some actors adopt positions of superiority over others’ positions, often in addition presenting little evidence of the validity of the solutions on oﬀer. Dialogue and peace building are, as will be discussed below, undermined by such preposterous positions in conﬂicts. A revised strategy is therefore needed that demands humility from the parties involved in conﬂicts, if we are to break the cycles of violence in Africa. Such an approach could incentivise those engaged in violence to see and accept alternative ways of “solving conﬂicts than any physical contestation” (Traber, 2008: 231–232). Preconceived attitudes to violence and conﬂict need to be challenged through using “communication to break the circle of violence” (ibid.). The demand that peace-building communication is based on a shared responsibility, not only in deﬁning the conﬂict but within all resolution processes, can be insisted upon. This would include drawing honest lessons from past responses to conﬂicts in Africa, and accepting that these have been selective and ineﬀective. Such an approach invites us to review not just the scale and severity of the engagement of the parties involved in a conﬂict, but also the entrenched and dominant positions embedded in conﬂict situations. Preconceived positions on conﬂicts should be viewed as being incomplete, “not because of absences but because of their possibilities”. The need for a more genuine acknowledgment by other parties of the realities of conﬂicts should also be accepted (Nyamnjoh, 2017: 3). The incorporation of humility and a recognition of the incompleteness of the positions of all conﬂict stakeholders can invoke a new moral order and a more ethical communication that is “more than ‘mere words’, communication for conﬂict resolution which includes apology and forgiveness” (Traber, 2008: 232). Conﬂicts, when viewed this way, can be “transformed into new opportunities and into fresh starts” (ibid.: 234). This chapter views the acknowledgement and recognition of the incompleteness of conﬂict positions as a crucial element in intervention, and as having the potential to provide an important opportunity for building of a lasting peace between conﬂicting parties. The following discussion will also unpack the reasons why interventions in African conﬂicts have so far been based on actors’ preconceived agendas, and have been selective and ineﬀective. Why, as was rightly observed by Hawkins (2008: 3), did the United States decide to intervene with troops in the conﬂict and famine in Somalia in the early 1990s, but did not intervene in a similar or worse situation in southern Sudan in 1991? It can also be questioned why the massacre of 200,000 in Burundi in 1993 received little attention, while the killing of 800,000 in Rwanda in 1994 generated global attention – at least after a while. What motivated the intervention? This chapter points out that the naming and the deﬁning of African conﬂicts act as “a reference” that reproduces the power of those involved (Peteet, 2005). Words and deﬁnitions deﬁne attention, the prioritisation given to conﬂicts, and are part of a framing language that can determine the goals and agendas of the actors involved. The review of conﬂicts in Africa indicates that peace building and peace journalism are only achievable where there is a shared
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nomenclature on conﬂicts. The “sharedness” of the power to deal with a conﬂict should, furthermore, be premised by a mutual and equal recognition of the interested and conﬂicting parties. Power within conﬂicts, which is deﬁned as “the ability to direct or prevent the current or future actions of other groups and individuals” (Naim, 2013: 23), has been adapted here. Such power is, however, also inﬂuenced by historical and prevailing geopolitical issues. This chapter recognises that postcolonial critiques, for example, question the colonial legacies and the contemporary material conditions, the parameters being “set by the map generated in the process of European colonialism that persist – albeit in transformed ways – in the current structure of global economic, political, cultural interactions and encounters” (Zein-Elabdin and Charusheela, 2004: 6). It also acknowledges that postcolonial critiques emphasise the “contingent possibility of change” and “resistance” to (Western) domination. It is furthermore argued that “the colonial factor ought to be a consideration in attempts to address African conﬂicts because the roots of many post-colonial conﬂicts in Africa remain buried in Africa’s past and, speciﬁcally, in the colonisation and de-colonisation processes” (Achankeng, 2013: 11). Post-independence conﬂicts in Africa are primarily considered, in many arguments, to be a direct consequence of colonialism. This should not, however, be used to imply that today’s Africans do not have a direct inﬂuence upon the conﬂicts on their continent. They often do. However, this inﬂuence is exercised within circumstances that are largely shaped by colonialism. Coloniality is to a large extent evident in prevailing conﬂicts in Africa, the continent’s artiﬁcial national borders being hotbeds of ferment. The postcolonial problem therefore lies in new identities and belongings having implications for the survival of previously independent communities. Insecurities have multiplied in the postcolonial context, and there have been frequent clashes of loyalties and interests. Africans have, however, always had multiple identities. These have been reconﬁgured in several ways, this rearrangement under colonialism triggering or exacerbating conﬂicts. As pointed out by Olaopa and Omodunbi, the current context is prone to conﬂicts: This is because Africa as a continent, unlike its colonial masters, is made up of heterogeneous communities with diﬀerent cultures, religions and languages. The multiplicity of these ethnic groups has continued to generate crisis especially as regards the collective development of the nation. Speciﬁcally, the process of allocation and sharing of socio-economic and political beneﬁts in any political system can be seen to fuel politics of identity as various ethnic groups struggle for the authoritative allocations of value to the interest of their own ethnic group. (2019: 45) The above insights direct our attention towards the fact that some conﬂicts are a ﬁght between local, national and regional actors and groups for increased access to resources. Tensions are stoked by failed bargaining and unequal access. In West
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Africa, countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau have experienced ﬁerce conﬂicts and civil strife, which have in turn resulted in humanitarian disasters and problems such as internal displacement and refugee crises (Annan, 2014). These conﬂicts are often hinged on several factors including poverty, human rights violations, bad governance and corruption, ethnic marginalization and small arms proliferation. Although many actors including the ECOWAS, civil society and international community have been making eﬀorts, conﬂicts continue to persist in the sub-region and their resolution is often protracted. (Annan, 2014: 1) Struggles over resources are at play in these contexts. So too is the abuse of identiﬁcation processes by those wanting to obtain greater control and power. The resultant ﬁghts have been vicious, in many cases involving local and international parties, the widespread poverty, entrenched hostility and mistrust among conﬂicting parties meaning that establishing peace and non-violence in places of conﬂict remains a major challenge. The manipulation of circumstances and identities by the powerful feeds into the violence, unleashing a vicious cycle. The argument put forward here is also underpinned by “decoloniality”. Not as an ignorant return to a pre-colonial African past, but as a necessary epistemological concept that centres knowledge from the so-called margins: It is a twofold process that, on the one hand, reveals and challenges existing hierarchies within the supposed universality of modernity, and on the other, proposes possible “options” that acknowledge the existence of other ways of understanding, living and knowing the world that is silenced by the epistemic violence of coloniality. (Mesa-Vélez, 2019: 94) It is suggested in this chapter that following Nyamnjoh (2018) and strengthening the decolonial perspective could enrich our understanding of Western modernity through rethinking of it “as underpinned by a quest for superiority and supremacy through the cannibalisation of the non-Western ‘Other’”. This can be linked to what Traber (2008: 235) regards as structural violence: It’s about the relationship between top-dog and under-dog, or the partnership between horse and rider. These processes of repression and exploitation will take place within social and political structures, which make them look normal in the social system. Structural violence is thus invisible. When it manifests itself in acts of direct violence, responsibility is allocated to violent individuals rather than violent structures and cultures. Violence is demonstration of power.
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The resultant pecking order in such violence can be perceived to be a cannibalisation of African hopes through conﬂict. The structural violence of today’s world therefore includes labour extractive capitalism, the repressive policing of the mobility of the non-Western “Other”, and the opportunistic traﬃcking (in whole or dismembered) of those reduced to the indignities of life as human waste and as wasted humanity by Western modernity and its chainsaws of Frankenstein industrialisation, commodiﬁcation, globalisation and trivialisation. (Nyamnjoh, 2018: 2) Social and political systems furthermore exist which “accommodate and tolerate acts of violence against those considered ‘beneath’ them” (Traber, 2008: 235). Some conﬂicts in Africa are a result of the legacy of colonialism and the poor political leadership imposed on Africans by colonial powers. As noted by Achankeng (2013), many crises and conﬂicts can be traced back to ﬂawed processes of de-colonisation which left vested interests in place. Cohen (1995: 11) similarly sees contradictions in the colonial state being deemed the main cause of conﬂict and incessant political problems in Zaire, Rwanda and Burundi. The rapid withdrawal of Portugal from Angola and Mozambique in 1974–75 also triggered local conﬂicts, and Sudanese conﬂicts, according to Cohen (1995: 12), can be traced to the manner in which the Anglo-Egyptian administration brought the North and the South together, but kept them apart under a separatist policy for most of the Condominium rule, and then left them in a centralized unitary state without constitutional guarantees for the disadvantaged South. These perspectives seem to validate the cannibalisation theory that Africa has been undermined and ﬂeeced by former colonial powers. There has, however, been a marginalisation of conﬂicts in Africa in terms of formal intervention. Attention on African conﬂicts has become absent or has only been given by actors where this promotes their own needs. Actors with the power to stop African conﬂicts give them little recognition and engagement. “Far from dominating individual and institutional consciousness, from the perspective of policy, media, public and academic agendas outside the continent, Africa seems to hardly exist” (Hawkins, 2008: 2). It will more importantly be shown below that the media, due to its capacity to inﬂuence tensions within conﬂicts, is not a neutral conduit in this process.
Conceptualising conﬂicts The factors that inﬂuence our perception and conceptualisation of conﬂicts are many. Identities can, for example “serve as lenses that help us ﬁlter and expose information on conﬂicts that is deemed important to us and requiring attention” (Hawkins, 2008: 38). Race and other identities also inﬂuence how people
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conceptualise others in conﬂicts. “A conﬂict that appears to involve blacks versus whites, or Arabs versus blacks, or Christians versus Muslims, for example, is immediately easier to simplify than conﬂicts perceived to be occurring between members of the same race or religion” (ibid.: 39). Simpliﬁcations have arguably inﬂuenced the ongoing marginalisation of African conﬂicts. The consequences of this have been deadly in for example Burundi, Rwanda and Congo where many have died in what have been dubbed local “ethnic conﬂicts”. As noted by Frère (2007: 2), Central Africa has been a laboratory for regional and international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), and for public institutions, and civil society leaders looking for “durable solutions” to conﬂicts. To this the media have contributed war and peace frames. Frames are important ways of understanding how conﬂicts are conceptualised, a frame being “[s]omething that can outline the context within which the conﬂict is being fought, provide a point of focus, and perhaps an enemy to which we, as distant observers, can direct our indignation” (Hawkins, 2008: 39). Conﬂicts perceived in this way involve struggles at many levels, the objective of these struggles being to inﬂuence and dominate others. “Terrorism” and “genocide” are examples of frames that have been applied to conﬂicts. These inﬂuence the scope and speed of intervention. As observed by Hawkins, some conﬂict parties deploy genocide framing to inﬂuence the direction of intervention. “The use of the genocide frame is also eﬀective because of guilt over past failures to stop genocide” (2008: 41). The genocide frame makes, however, the cannibalisation involved in conﬂicts clear. If invoked, it can help move away from the prior tendency to dodge or tiptoe around this question by deﬁning cannibalism too narrowly, and by outsourcing or projecting it onto purportedly inferior others, while taking attention away from our own cannibalism and its resultant anxieties in the name of civilisation and pretensions to a superior moral order. (ibid.) For Freire (2007: 3), Central African conﬂicts are marked by competition to acquire power over resources, and by accumulation of wealth that leads to control over machinery of the state. Hence the recurrent appearance of predatory and kleptocratic governments and, in turn, rebel movements who challenge them for access to resources. Added to this is what Freire (2007) considers to be a “low level of institutionalisation of state machinery” which has seen the bulk of the African population not share in public wealth (ibid.). High levels of poverty have created desperation amongst Africans. Heightened competition has therefore emerged between a variety of actors in pursuits “less about territory than about money, commodities and ideas” (Naim, 2013: 123). The new entrants are, furthermore, no longer held back by traditional barriers to entry. The dominance of the traditionally powerful institutions has at the same time been altered: “The rise of powerful non-state actors and the breakneck
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diﬀusion of technology beyond the realms of specialists have destroyed that nuts and bolts advantage” (ibid.). Interest therefore lies in putting a new perspective on the multifaceted unethical and moral struggles implicit in conﬂicts pursued by those engaging in a “quest for superiority and supremacy” through the cannibalisation of “Others”. As noted by Nyamnjoh: In the game of life characterised by unequal encounters between individuals and cultures compelled to share places and spaces like scorpions in a lidded basket, it would appear that the question is not so much whether cannibalism is possible but rather who is eating whom, how and why, and the power relations that render such eating or being eaten visible and invisible in particular ways and contexts. (2018: 40–41) The above observation could help direct attention onto issues of power relations, ethics and politics within conﬂicts. Nyamnjoh (2018) rightly argues that the recognition of such cannibalism can help address human open-ended compositeness, and the ethical and moral dilemmas involved. Recognising the incompleteness of conﬂict actors can also help overcome the selective, skewed and political nature of interventions in Africa. Mutual recognition of the positions of the variety of actors (divides, hierarchies and inequalities) could provide the basis for genuine dialogue, and the resolution of conﬂicts by involving all actors including the media, in a mutually respectful way.
Media and conﬂict In times of conﬂict the media disseminate, withhold and manipulate information in ways that can inﬂuence conﬂicts. “The appearance of the mass media has multiplied this potential by making possible vast propaganda and indoctrination operations” (Frère, 2007: 1). The media can therefore be a two-edged instrument of destructive and constructive strategies: History provides us with multitude of examples that show the ability of journalists, from behind the shelter of their microphones, to incite hatred, provoke violent mass movements, voluntarily manipulate information, in the service of war-mongering strategies, promote anti-democratic reﬂexes, and more or less consciously or perversely, create the roots of deep divisions within society. (Frère, 2007: 1) Media can exacerbate conﬂict through a destructive role, but it can also help bring peace. The media can transform the “warriors of yesterday into negotiators in the process of conciliation”, and so help initiate dialogue between conﬂicting parties (ibid.). Normatively, and within troubled conﬂict countries:
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The media play a fundamental role in these contexts. First, they can provide space for encounters and dialogue between protagonists (who do not always have other common forums for discussion). Secondly, they are able to voice the preoccupations of populations who are generally neglected and condemned to silence. (Frère, 2007: 1) This ideal role has not, due to the conﬂicting agendas and vested interests of the conﬂict parties, been adequately fulﬁlled in African contexts. For Marthoz (2007: 225), the problem also is that Africa is generalised in Western media: “The coverage of Africa is particularly inﬂuenced by the classic reﬂexes of the US press, which needs a story line – a label ‘ethnic war’, ‘ancestral traditions’ – onto which the individual or complex elements can be grafted.” African and international media have therefore reported conﬂicts in ways that have undermined the understanding of issues and peace-building.
The case of Darfur The uneven approach to prioritising, deﬁning and ﬁnding solutions in African conﬂicts became clearer in the case of Darfur. Framing is always political, because to “deﬁne is to conﬁne, and to predetermine the outcome is to direct attention to certain aspects by taking attention away from other aspects” (Nyamnjoh, 2018: 3). This was the problem at the heart of the approach to the conﬂict in Darfur. According to Mamdani (2009), the conﬂict in Darfur was triggered by two issues. One local and one national: The local grievance focused on land and had a double background; its deep background was a colonial legacy of parcelling Darfur between tribes, with some given homelands and others not; its immediate background was a fourdecades-long process of drought and desertiﬁcation that exacerbated the conﬂict between tribes with land and those without. (2009: 4) It began as a localised civil war (1987–89) and turned, at the beginning of 2003, into a rebellion. African conﬂicts have generally been marginalised in terms of the allocation of attention and material resources. Hawkins, however, argues (2008: 3) that Darfur quickly drew international attention. According to Mamdani this was because Darfur was supposed to be the Save Darfur Movement’s moment to show that the lessons learnt from Rwanda could prevent a new genocide: But how do we know it is genocide? Because we are told it is. This is why the battle for naming turns out to be all-important: Once Darfur is named as the site of genocide, people recognise something they have already seen elsewhere and conclude that what they know is enough to call for action. But killing is not what
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deﬁnes genocide. Killing happens in war, in insurgency and counterinsurgency. It is killing with intent to eliminate an entire group – a race, for example – that is genocide (2009: 3) Mamdani argues that the violence and conﬂicts in Darfur operated at two levels: locally in response to demands for land, and nationally in terms of a rebellion or a civil war against central government. Mamdani crucially posits on international reports by the UN Commission in Darfur on the post-2003 violence. In his book, he discusses how advocacy groups such as the Save Darfur group deﬁned the conﬂict in terms of Arab perpetrators and African victims. He furthermore argues that the term genocide is not appropriate, because the killing was carried out by the same kind of people who were killed, rather than by another people. This view inﬂuenced decisions in the US Congress and at the United Nations. The Save Darfur movement drew its support from students, faith groups, inﬂuential politicians and Hollywood celebrities such as George Clooney and Brad Pitt (Mamdani, 2009). The local African views were, however, ignored or exaggerated in this framing. The Save Darfur lobby in the United States, according to Mamdani, “turned the tragedy of the people of Darfur into a knife with which to slice Africa by demonising one group of Africans, African Arabs” (2009: 300). There was a stark contrast in positions, interveners in the African Union wanting to protect civilians and ﬁnd a political solution, the UN and other major powers pushing to “punish” Sudan as a rogue state with a “diminished possibility of reconciliation” (Mamdani, 2009: 300). The UN position was dominated by powerful UN Security Council members, but was inﬂuenced by inﬂuential groups such as Save Darfur which had a limited understanding of the conﬂict.
Concluding reﬂections The Darfur example shows that parties to a conﬂict are not only local, but also from other contexts that are motivated by frames in the media. Once positions are formed, most conﬂict parties are “unable to stand outside their own perceptions” (de Bono, 1985: 76). Yet such positions are not the A to Z of a conﬂict, and represent “incomplete” ways of arriving at conﬂict resolution. Traber (2008: 236) argues that “when people in situations of conﬂict stop talking, they start ﬁghting. Or when conﬂicts arise between groups of people and these groups are deprived opportunities for discourse, as often the case … intergroup violence is almost inevitable”. Better recognition of own perception and positions could produce transformational opportunities. The cause of the many conﬂicts could be the basis of individual and collective interest to develop a carefully negotiated and delicately navigated moral and ethical order of self-preservation that is founded on inclusiveness informed by the myth of wholeness, the humility of incompleteness and the reality of interconnections of interacting ﬂuidities. (Nyamnjoh, 2018: 3)
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It can here be observed that parties to the eaters and the eaten at some point realise that they need to “all survive together or perish together” (ibid.). Conﬂicts involve many actors. They are crucial to conﬂict transformation – and yet in reality are often side-lined. It is, however, important that all are included (Traber, 2008: 234). Such inclusive intervention has not been consistently evident at the United Nations, particularly when it comes to Africa. There is a tendency to simplify the conﬂicts in ways that exclude others. A new way forward requires new ethics, giving voice to all and listening to all. Conﬂicts cannot be transformed into peaceful coexistence unless there is mutual recognition and inclusiveness of all parties. Nyamnjoh notes that this demands a new ethics of conviviality, which recognises that no one has the monopoly of cannibalism or violence: That no single being, culture or civilisation can have the last laugh in the game of cannibalism? That as eaters and eaten we all survive together or we perish together? In our cannibalistic indulgence, there is hardly room for such extravagant assertions as: “Everyone for themselves, and God for us all.” Let’s not delude ourselves. We all are in it together, our Cannibalism Ubuntu boat: we either perish as one or we survive as one. (2018: 4) Peacebuilding is desirable and popular. It has, however, become an almost “banal policy instrument” given that UN interventions have not been able to end violence in key areas. As observed by Achankeng (2013: 11), conﬂict resolution needs to be more than the suppression or the elimination of overt violence, the imposing of peace-keeping forces on various African conﬂicts having shown that this does not provide the desired durable outcomes. “Most missions have failed to create conditions for durable peace and development. Some missions even seem to have produced more violence than they have stopped” (Goetze, 2017: 45). Failed approaches, one can argue, result from the poor conceptualisation of a conﬂict, “interventions” being dominated by a web of mostly Western international agencies, donors, third-party governments and other social forces, including those that believe they have “complete” deﬁnitions and solutions to the conﬂicts (ibid.). One can therefore conclude here that the mutual recognition of positions in conﬂicts is what ought to happen. Resolution can only arise from parties working together, so taking responsibility for their actions. These eﬀorts must also include the position of ordinary people, who are normally those most brutalised by conﬂicts.
References Achankeng, F. (2013). African Journal on Conﬂict Resolution – Conﬂict and conﬂict resolution in Africa: engaging the colonial factor. Journal on Conﬂict Resolution 13(2): January 2013, pp. 11–37. Annan, N. (2014). Violent conﬂicts and civil strife in West Africa: Causes, challenges and prospects. Stability: International Journal of Security and Development 3(1), Art. 3. doi:10.5334/sta.da. Cohen, H.J. (1995). What should we do when nations get angry? Nexus Africa 1(2): pp. 11–14.
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de Bono, E. (1985). Conﬂicts: A Better Way to Resolve Them. London: Harrap. Frère, M.S. (2007). The Media Conﬂicts in Central Africa. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Hawkins, V. (2008). Stealth Conﬂicts: How the World’s Worst Violence Is Ignored. Aldershot: Ashgate. Goetze, C. (2017). The Distinction of Peace. A Social Analysis of Peacebuilding. Michigan: University of Michigan Press. Mamdani, M. (2009). Saviours and Survivors: Darfur, Politics and the New War on Terror. London: Verso. Marthoz, J.P. (2007). “African Conﬂicts in the Global Media” (pp. 221–240) in M.S. Frere (ed.) The Media Conﬂicts in Central Africa. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Mesa-Vélez, L. (2019). “Culture of dialogue” as decolonial peacebuilding tool: The case of Colombia. Journal of Dialogue Studies 7, Special Issue: pp. 93–138. Naim, M. (2013). The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battleﬁelds and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be. New York: Basic Books. Nyamnjoh, F.B. (2017). Incompleteness: Frontier Africa and the currency of conviviality. Journal of Asian and African Studies 52(3): pp. 253–270. Nyamnjoh, F.B. (2018). “Introduction: Cannibalism as Food for Thought” in: B. Nyamnjoh (ed.) Eating and Being Eaten: Cannibalism As Food for Thought. Bamenda: Langaa. Olaopo, O.R. and Omodunbi, O. (2019). Politics of identity and crisis of nation building in Africa: the Nigerian experience. Journal of Nation-building & Policy Studies 3(2), December 2019: pp. 45–65. Peteet, J. (2005). Words as interventions: naming in the Palestine – Israel conﬂict. Third World Quarterly 26(1): pp. 153–172. Traber, M. (2008). “Communication Transforming Conﬂict (1998)” (pp. 231–242) in: P. Lee (ed.) Communicating Peace: Entertaining Angels Unawares. Penang: Southbound. Zein-Elabdin, E.O. and Charusheela, S. (2004). “Introduction: Economics and Political Thought” (pp. 1–18) in: E.O. Zein-Elabdin and S. Charusheela (eds) Postcolonialism Meets Economics. London: Routledge.
4 RESOLUTION, RESISTANCE, RESILIENCE Covering the conﬂict in South Sudan Charlotte Ntulume
On 15 August 2014, Bakhita Radio1 in Juba, South Sudan, received a press release signed by the South Sudanese army spokesperson saying rebel forces had attacked the army’s position in Unity, one of the country’s 28 states, in violation of a ceaseﬁre agreement. The news editor called the army spokesperson who conﬁrmed the information, adding that the army had killed a dozen rebel soldiers, but had also suﬀered a few casualties. The story was aired. The following day, the news editor found a statement online, in which the rebels claimed government troops had attacked their position in another area, also in violation of the ceaseﬁre agreement. The news editor aired the “developing” story, quoting both statements. Within a few minutes he was arrested, starting the journey that would lead him to exile. He narrated his ordeal: The story was aired in the eight o’clock morning news bulletin. Within ten minutes, a security vehicle had arrived at my radio station. They asked for the person in charge of the news, and that was me. They told me they wanted to talk to me at their oﬃce. I didn’t hesitate, and drove with them to their oﬃces. On arrival, the director of the National Security Service questioned me about what I had aired on the radio. I explained that I had aired a news story about ﬁghting between government soldiers and the rebels, and that I had tried to balance the story […]. They asked me why I had aired a story from the rebel side and said I am a rebel collaborator. […] They said as a journalist, I knew very well that the UN Security Council had warned about imposing sanctions against South Sudan, and that by airing a story that the government was attacking the rebels’ position, I was signalling the UN community to impose sanctions against the government. They accused me of ﬁghting against the government, and that the rebels were using me to voice their opinion. They took me to the DOI: 10.4324/9781003015628-5
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national security headquarters and dragged me into a dark cell where I remained for four days, unable to see daylight. (R1)2 Bakhita Radio was closed the same day and the news editor was released four days later after intense lobbying by media advocacy groups in South Sudan. But upon returning to work a day after his release, the news editor was summoned to the oﬃce of President Salva Kiir Mayardit. When it was clear that his safety was in jeopardy, the news editor managed to sneak out of the country and has since lived in exile. President Salva Kiir allowed the radio station to reopen two weeks later after the management had yielded to an order to apologise to the government and pledge in writing to steer clear of matters related to politics and the conﬂict (VOA, 2014). This is only one of many such experiences journalists and media houses in South Sudan have endured as they cover the violent conﬂict that has ravaged the country since 15 December 2013 when a brawl within the presidential guard led to a split in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). One section broke ranks with the regime and backed the former vice president, Riek Machar, who became leader of the SPLM in Opposition (SPLM-IO), the rebel faction of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party. The ﬁghting, which divided the country along ethnic lines between the president’s Dinka tribe and Machar’s Nuer, had led to the death of an estimated 383,000 people and the displacement of about 4.5 million by 2018 (Checchi et al., 2018). In April 2016, as part of the Compromise Peace Agreement for the Resolution of the Conﬂict in the Republic of South Sudan, Riek Machar returned as ﬁrst vice president of the transitional government of national unity. But just three months later, on 10 July 2016, on the eve of the country’s ﬁfth independence anniversary, the transitional government disintegrated and large-scale violence erupted again. Two years later, on 12 September 2018, President Salva Kiir and Machar signed yet another treaty, the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conﬂict in South Sudan, in which they agreed to stop ﬁghting and form a unity government. The transitional coalition government came into force on 22 February 2020 when Machar was sworn in again as ﬁrst vice president. This chapter discusses the media environment in South Sudan during the conﬂict and the transition phase. This includes the period from mid-December 2013 when ﬁghting broke out, to January 2020 as the country prepared for the transitional coalition government. Issues such as access and free expression, which are usually taken for granted in peaceful settings, are matters for which the media in South Sudan had to wrestle daily, throughout these six years, in their mission to bring the truth to their audiences. Journalists covering the conﬂict and other political and economic events in the country required, and indeed demonstrated, resistance and resilience – qualities often ascribed to war reporters. But they also displayed a third quality, resolution: the tenacity to keep working even when the environment is highly risky, traumatic and frustrating. The chapter also discusses some unresolved questions about theoretical notions on media and conﬂict, particularly the notion of “rallying around the ﬂag” (Wolfsfeld, 1997) and the concept of peace journalism (Galtung, 2003).
Resolution, resistance, resilience 63
Suppression of media freedom The conﬂict severely aﬀected all sectors of the South Sudanese society, especially security, livelihoods, food security, health and education. The media were not spared. The breakdown of social and communication infrastructure rendered access to media services diﬃcult, but the bigger challenge was the hostility that the government unleashed upon journalists. Even before the conﬂict, the media environment in South Sudan was characterised by government censorship and state-instigated persecution of journalists (Internews, 2013). The conﬂict made an already diﬃcult environment worse in spite of media laws aimed at promoting press freedom and access to information. The Media Authority Act, the Broadcasting Corporation Act and the Right of Access to Information Act provide measures for the creation of a national independent public service provider and establishment of independent bodies – i.e. the South Sudan Media Regulatory Authority (or “Media Authority”) and the Information Commission – to oversee content, deal with complaints and protect the right of access to oﬃcial information (IMS, 2014). In addition, South Sudan’s transitional constitution, which came into force upon independence in July 2011, has a Bill of Rights that enshrines fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, access to information and freedom of association and assembly. In principle, the laws are a positive element for the country’s beleaguered media, but in reality they remained on paper, as state suppression of media freedom became the order of the day (Internews, 2015).3 Citing national security, the government tightened its grip on the media using its security arm, the National Security Service (NSS), which derives its power from the National Security Bill of South Sudan passed in October 2014. The bill gives national security oﬃcers full authority to arrest and detain suspects, monitor communications, conduct searches and seize property. With the state’s blessing, the NSS used these powers against journalists as they exercised their legitimate and constitutional right to freedom of expression in the course of their work. The minister of information and broadcasting is on record as having said that security operatives should be authorised to arrest, detain and prosecute journalists who reported “news the government sees as false or infringing on national security” (Sudan Tribune, 2015). Giving the rebels a media audience constituted “subversive activity”, tantamount to a criminal oﬀense (Tanza and Zeitvogel, 2014). Subsequently, the NSS arrested and detained several journalists for expressing critical views about the government or the president, or for giving the rebels what was perceived as favourable coverage. Security agents raided media houses and shut down news operations, sometimes conﬁscating a newspaper’s entire print-run or grabbing copies from vendors. Radio was also aﬀected, notably Bakhita Radio cited earlier, the UN-operated Radio Miraya4 and US-funded Eye Radio,5 which are among the most inﬂuential broadcasters in the country. The NSS ordered Eye Radio’s closure in November 2016 for playing a voice clip of the then former vice president, Riek Machar, in a news bulletin. Eye Radio had recorded the clip from an earlier interview of
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Machar on Al Jazeera TV, in which he had called for an end to hostilities. The radio remained closed for nine days and only reopened after issuing a formal apology to the government (UN, 2018). Radio Miraya was suspended in March 2018 over regulation and licensing matters. Although this action was not visibly related to conﬂict coverage, the radio was not oﬀ the state’s radar. The head of the Media Authority said at the time that they were monitoring Radio Miraya for “hate speech and incitement” (Sudan Tribune, 2018). The debate on how media freedom should be addressed in times of violent conﬂict is unresolved, as is the question of whether free expression should be essential for peace building or some control is necessary to prevent violence (Allen and Stremlau, 2005). Proponents of control argue that media may amplify hate speech that helps fuel violence. They often cite such examples as the Rwanda genocide of 1994, the wars in the former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2001 and the Kenya post-election violence of 2007, where local media played a signiﬁcant role in inciting or escalating violence that ended in hundreds of thousands of lives lost (Allen and Stremlau, 2005; Kurspahic, 2003; Odhiambo, 2017). Allen and Stremlau (2005) make a case for restrictions on media content that is divisive and inﬂammatory, but acknowledge yet another puzzle concerning who should decide what is excessive and unacceptable, and based on what criteria. In his analysis of the Balkans conﬂict, Kurspahic (2003) noted that the media fanned ﬂames of ethnic tension, hampered peace eﬀorts by being one-sided, silenced the voices of those that opposed violence, and even invented crimes. He, however, advocates for freedom of the press in conﬂict management; discourages censorship because it makes room for rumours, propaganda and hate speech; encourages governments to provide for journalists’ safe access to conﬂict zones; and calls for media training and monitoring to promote balanced and ethical reporting of conﬂicts.
Methodology The analysis in this chapter is based partly on qualitative ﬁndings from in-depth interviews of eight media professionals in South Sudan conducted in Juba in March 2015 and May 2016. The professionals included four who had dual roles of journalist and editor in the two leading daily newspapers in the country (Juba Monitor and The Citizen); an editor of Bakhita Radio; and three leaders of media advocacy groups.6 Three of the eight respondents were women. These interviews were part of a wider study that analysed coverage and framing of the South Sudan conﬂict in leading newspapers in three East African countries: Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda (Ntulume, 2019). In the subsequent discussion, ﬁve respondents (R1, R2, R3, R4 and R5) are quoted directly, but their identities are not revealed, for their protection from any reprisals. In addition, the analysis beneﬁtted from two focus group discussions comprising journalists, editors, journalism trainers and leaders of the advocacy group, the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS). The discussions,
Resolution, resistance, resilience 65
which focused on the state of media freedom in the transition phase compared with during the conﬂict, were held in Juba in January 2020 and included a total of 21 people. One of the groups (FG1) comprised nine members of faculty at the School of Journalism, Media and Communication at the University of Juba: four women and ﬁve men. The discussion was held at the university. The second focus group (FG2) comprised 12 seasoned journalists, including editors, reporters (two of them correspondents for international news agencies) and leaders of media advocacy groups. The discussion was held at the AMDISS premises in Juba, and involved four women and eight men. In all, the analysis that follows is informed by the views and experiences of these 29 media professionals purposively selected, comprising 11 women and 18 men.
Effect of the hostile media environment on coverage of the conﬂict Intimidation for not toeing the line The government used diﬀerent strategies to intimidate journalists and to force the media to toe the line. Summons, arrests and detention were the most common, and any prominence accorded to Machar and the SPLM-IO was certain to land journalists in the vengeful hands of the security. A newspaper editor (R2) recounted an incident in which the NSS summoned him over placement of a story and photograph: One time, we placed the photograph of Riek Machar on page one. He had said something and we thought it was important, so we placed his photograph and what he had said on page one. The president had also said something, but it was not very interesting, so we took it to page four. The security summoned me to their oﬃce and said, “What is this you are doing? You’re putting Riek Machar on page one and the president on page four! Are you trying to make Riek Machar the president of this country?” They started to intimidate me, saying, “You’re a supporter of Riek Machar. We know this.”7 State agents also used bizarre tactics to scare the media oﬀ coverage that cast the government in a negative light. In two separate incidents, masked men suspected to be state security agents kidnapped two journalists and tortured and abandoned them in graveyards at night, warning them to stop writing if they valued their lives (Otto, 2016; Reliefweb, 2016). Respondent R2 said: I don’t know why they dumped them at graveyards, of all places. Maybe it was to send a message that, “you will end up in this place if you continue your activities”. This really frightened journalists and many ran away to Uganda and Kenya because they didn’t feel safe.
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Self-censorship – deciding how (not) to cover the conﬂict Journalists resorted to self-censorship and avoided content that might have fuelled the conﬂict, some broadcasters suspending programmes that could be perceived as inciting violence in the communities. One newspaper editor (R3) said that because of the challenges in accessing credible information and the total blackout of the rebels, media proprietors and editors in Juba unanimously agreed to take a neutral stance and to be “vanguards for peace”. He said: “Most of our FMs were tuned to music, and when I turned on my television, there was nothing. […] The government was insisting that it was a coup, but we did not oppose it and we did not support it.”8 Journalists avoided examining the how and why questions, and interrogating the root cause of the conﬂict. An analysis of the Juba Monitor and The Citizen newspapers during the period from January to March 2014 revealed that coverage of the conﬂict was more informative than interpretive. News stories typically relayed what government oﬃcials said at press conferences or information they issued in media statements, and oﬀered little explanation and interpretation of events (Ntulume, 2019). Some media houses supposedly avoided stories that would require another opinion, which the government might interpret as oﬀensive or irresponsible. In trying to avoid state harassment, journalists, to some extent, practised conﬂict-sensitive journalism, which entreaties the media to cover conﬂicts in a way that does not escalate the violence (Howard, 2004). This, though, fell short of the principles of peace journalism, which include exploring the background and context of the conﬂict formation by, among other things, presenting its causes (Lynch, 2014).
One-sided coverage Government sources dominated the news because journalists heavily relied on oﬃcial press releases and press conferences usually jointly addressed by the minister of information, the army spokesperson and the head of the SPLA (Ntulume, 2019). One respondent (R4) observed that these three became “reliable sources, ﬁlling the media houses with information about politics of the frontline, which was part propaganda”.9 Journalists said they always quoted government oﬃcials to avoid being accused of disseminating unauthentic information, which could lead to arrest or closure. A respondent said: The media was handicapped. […] The government did not really want anything said about President Salva Kiir that would be interpreted as something not favourable. So, they would place restrictions on the media, such as summoning journalists. Even myself; I have been summoned several times by the security over my reporting. (R2)
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Another respondent explained: The government tells the media what to report, so the media has no free hand to report independently as required by our journalistic ethics. Journalists who report contrary to the government position are arrested, harassed, and some have been killed; and for media houses, they are either closed down, or, in the case of newspapers, the copies are conﬁscated. No one is supposed to go outside the government-regulated method of reporting the conﬂict – which means, opinions from outside should not be reported. The government is not interested in balanced reporting. You cannot check your story, you cannot balance your story; you have to report only the government’s version. (R5)10 Consequently, there was an absolute blackout of news from the rebels’ side, and even other political parties were silent. The views of non-political actors usually featured in reports on events perceived to be neutral, such as relief operations (Ntulume, 2019). Journalists considered the government to be the “safest” (but by no means the most credible) source of information. According to Wolfsfeld, journalists promote the government’s position during wartime, act as “faithful servants to the authorities” and “rally around the ﬂag” in support of the state against its enemies (1997: 69). This, however, was not the case with the South Sudanese journalists. Giving prominence to government oﬃcials and messages was out of compulsion, not conviction. This scenario also diﬀered from theories of media, peace and conﬂict, particularly peace journalism, that urge for all rival parties to a conﬂict to be heard and for journalists to report the truth by exposing lies, cover-ups, perpetrators and excesses committed by all parties (Lynch, 2014). We further discuss these issues later.
Mistrust between the media and the newsmakers Any conﬂict situation is typically characterised by suspicion and mistrust among the various parties involved. Journalists recounted the diﬃculty they faced trying to access information or to verify reports they had obtained. Apart from the government being cagey at any mention of rebels in the news, respondents said the SPLM-IO was also anti-media and accused journalists of bias. The suspicion extended to the meeting rooms in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where the peace negotiations took place. Representatives of either side usually viewed journalists covering the peace talks with distrust, suspecting that they had taken a position and were advancing the interests of the other side. One respondent (R3) said: There’s no way we can cover this conﬂict [eﬃciently] […] In the peace talks, if you go and sit near the government delegation, then you have a problem with the rebels. If you sit near the rebels, you have problems with government. So, we have just decided to keep low, give the people the information we have and let them decide.
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Situation during the transition phase There were varying views on whether or not the media environment had improved since the signing of the Revitalized Agreement in September 2018 to create a transitional coalition government. Some respondents interviewed in January 2020 argued that the situation was changing for the better, with the Media Authority taking up an active role in regulation of the media. The Media Authority is responsible for overseeing regulation and development of the media industry, and issuing broadcasting licences. Since the Revitalized Agreement came into force, the NSS had not summoned or detained any journalists as at January 2020, and no reporter had been killed since 2018 (UNESCO, 2020).11 One respondent observed: There is now a formal administrative approach to dealing with journalists who err in the course of their work, not necessarily to arrest them or shut down media houses. The Media Authority now has procedures to summon and deal with the journalists and editors. With this development, including the Access to Information Commission, the media is beginning to get some space. (FG1 participant, 8 January 2020)12 The Information Commission, responsible for promoting disclosure of information in the public interest, is also proving to have some impact, with the government now more open to allowing journalists access to some areas in the country (albeit on invitation) that were previously out of bounds to the media. Additionally, broadcasters occasionally host guests from diﬀerent sides of the political spectrum to discuss solutions to the conﬂict and other matters of public interest, something the audiences had not previously witnessed. Such engagements with journalists are an indication to some that the government is beginning to acknowledge the role of the media, especially in the peace process. But the optimists were few and far between. Most of the participants in the focus group discussions argued that the improvements were merely cosmetic; that the institutions meant to protect media freedom were in fact dancing to the government’s tune and there had been no signiﬁcant change in the status quo. The government still controlled the media and, as one respondent noted, “the eyes and ears of the authorities are open so wide to listen to whatsoever has been said over the media” (FG2 participant, 9 January 2020).13 Government authorities continued to violate media freedom. The NSS, for instance, was posting its agents at printing facilities to review news content and remove articles from newspapers before they went to press, a practice that had surfaced after the re-eruption of violence in 2016 (UN, 2018). This violation of media freedom had become more frequent, and some respondents said they had been victims. One focus group participant, the news editor of a relatively new publication, explained: In our newspaper, this incident has happened three times now, where we send our template to the printing company, but at the end of the day, we’ll not
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ﬁnd some sensitive stories in the printed copy. Sometimes the manager at the printer will call us at midnight and say, “This article or the story on page 1, page 11, page 10 … has been removed.” When we ask who removed it, they say, “Security”. It happened that we reported about the US sanctions against ﬁve national security oﬃcers here in Juba and that story on page 1 got deleted at night. When we asked why, the response was very arrogant. The paper appeared with a blank cover page! Yesterday and the day before, we experienced the same scenario when security personnel deleted some opinions from our template and the newspaper came out with blank pages. These opinions were about the governance in some states and they got deleted at night. (FG2, 9 January 2020)
Continued mistrust and hostility During the transition phase, the state continued to view journalists with suspicion, and the relationship between the two was akin to that between “cat and mouse”, as one media association leader said. Journalists had been labelled foreign agents, spies, traitors, rebels and enemies of the state, and were blamed when regional and international actors threatened punitive action against South Sudan over human rights and ceaseﬁre violations. A respondent noted: If you’re reporting something sensitive concerning certain institutions in this country, they may either arrest you or they may use other means to make sure that this story does not get out. They ask: “Why are you reporting such a thing? Do you want to betray us to the outside world? Are you a spy for the Western countries?” These are misconceptions about our work as media organisations in this country. (FG2, 9 January 2020) Due to suspicion, security agents conﬁscated journalists’ equipment and harassed reporters at events and at security checkpoints. A Kenyan journalist who covered the conﬂict said one of his main challenges had been the endless confrontation with hostile soldiers. He said: Taking pictures in Juba is very tricky. While one must have permission from the Ministry of Information to take pictures, the soldiers would not care whether you have a permit or not. To them, a journalist taking pictures is illegal. (Ntulume, 2019: 304) This had not changed during the transition phase. Various respondents said they had been in trouble for simply carrying a camera or recorder. Movement of journalists was also restricted and some were under constant surveillance as recently as January 2020. AMDISS oﬃcials cited incidents where journalists had been stopped from going to some locations, for instance the oil ﬁelds, to report. It was common
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for public oﬃcials to avoid media interviews and refuse to provide information even when there was no justiﬁable reason to withhold it. Correspondents of prominent international news agencies said they often had to ask their headquarters in Nairobi to call cabinet ministers in South Sudan when they needed their comments on certain issues, because the ministers refused to talk to them. Consequently, there was a decline in the quality of news. Respondents said they found it diﬃcult to carry out in-depth and investigative reporting even when they were aware of vices such as corruption, killings, violence against women, and other human rights violations. This hostile environment rendered journalism an unattractive career for young people, and many journalists have left the profession – a matter of concern to AMDISS leaders who fear that the media industry is being deprived of institutional memory.
Lessons from the South Sudan experience Exception to “rallying around the ﬂag” notion The experience of South Sudanese journalists shows that they departed from the norm in covering conﬂicts. As mentioned earlier, the literature suggests a strong relationship between the government and the media in times of national crisis and war, where the media tend to be loyal to their own governments (Wolfsfeld, 1997). For example, studies have shown that American journalists covering conﬂicts in which the US military is involved over-rely on oﬃcial government sources and let them set the media agenda (Hallin, 1986; Bennett, 1990; Entman, 2004; see also Ottosen and Nohrstedt, Chapter 2 in this volume). This relationship was absent in the South Sudan scenario. Journalists were reluctant to step into the expected role as a tool in the state’s media strategy for the conﬂict. For instance, when the government formed a crisis management committee in the early months of the conﬂict, its activities did not receive much coverage because, as one respondent (R3) said, it was a “propaganda machine and we didn’t want to be used for propaganda”. Journalists revealed their disapproval of the government’s attitude towards their professional responsibility to inform the public and hold authorities accountable for their actions. While they admitted that the government set the media agenda, it was clear that journalists had no alternative; it was either the state’s agenda or no agenda.
Limitations of the peace journalism model Many studies analyse conﬂict coverage using the peace journalism model, which prescribes an approach to reporting on war and conﬂict in ways that seek to correct bias towards violence as opposed to peace. This includes, as earlier mentioned, making conﬂicts transparent by giving voice to all parties involved (Lynch and Galtung, 2010; Lynch, 2014). Similarly, conﬂict-sensitive reporting requires journalists to report in depth, cover all sides and avail all parties involved an
Resolution, resistance, resilience 71
opportunity to express their aspirations (Howard, 2004). The experiences from South Sudan demonstrate some limitations of the peace journalism and conﬂict-sensitive reporting models. Due to fear of reprisals and the government ban on media coverage of the SPLM-IO, it was diﬃcult for journalists to discuss the root cause of the conﬂict, to give voice to all sides, to oﬀer solutions to the conﬂict and to expose the cover-ups and wrongdoers. Thus, journalists could have the best intentions, but may face hurdles that are beyond their control. In such contexts, it is diﬃcult to achieve peace journalism in its true sense since journalists are unable to report in depth. Additionally, peace journalism and conﬂict-sensitive reporting place an emphasis on journalists as the ones that determine whether the media contribute to resolving or intensifying conﬂicts, but assign no role to government actors, who, as the South Sudan case shows, have a part to play in enabling or hindering the media in their duty to cover conﬂicts professionally. Peace journalism is not solely the responsibility of journalists, but also of all parties to a conﬂict. There has been a lot of emphasis on training journalists in South Sudan in conﬂict reporting, but this has not been matched with strategies to sensitise state actors on the beneﬁts of media freedom and the responsibility to protect journalists. As Allen and Stremlau (2005) argue, policies that are too permissive towards media during violent conﬂict or transition to peace may be counterproductive, and there should be a case for restrictions on divisive and inﬂammatory media content or even closure of media outlets if they are being used to mobilise populations for mass slaughter. But in South Sudan, harsh measures were targeted at journalists and media houses for merely being critical of the regime, even though the coverage may not have contained hate speech or inﬂammatory language. It appears that the state was punishing journalists for carrying out their watchdog role. One respondent noted: “What is urgently needed now in South Sudan is media literacy because there are people in government who don’t understand the role of the media. Journalists are not enemies of the state” (FG2, 9 January 2020). There is a need for media literacy for government actors intended to create harmony between the state and the media during times of conﬂict.
Journalists’ resistance, resilience and resolution In spite of the toxic media environment in South Sudan, many journalists persevered and continued to report on the conﬂict. It takes a lot of determination to stay the course in a profession with such huge risks, yet it does not even pay well (according to AMDISS leaders, the highest paid journalists in South Sudan earn about $120 a month). So, what motivates them? Resistance and resilience are terms often attributed to journalists covering conﬂicts (Barrios and Miller, 2020). Resistance, an obstinate spirit that pushes one to ﬁght back and refuse to comply with the status quo; and resilience, which is the ability to survive adversity and come out strong, are key in giving journalists who cover conﬂict the mettle to withstand the risks and hardships associated with their work.
72 Charlotte Ntulume
The South Sudan experience shows that journalists there demonstrated these qualities. For example, after being detained and threatened, most journalists often returned to work; and media houses that had been closed, some multiple times, continued covering the conﬂict once re-opened, including reporting critically about government activities and oﬃcials. Media associations also always came out strongly to denounce the persecution by state operatives. One incident in August 2015 stands out. A reporter, Peter Julius Moi, was shot dead in Juba on his way home from work, becoming the seventh journalist murdered in South Sudan that year. In a show of solidarity and resistance, media organisations across the country, led by AMDISS and UJOSS, staged a 24-hour media blackout in protest of the killing. But in addition to resistance and resilience, journalists in South Sudan displayed another quality rarely discussed: resolution – the ability to endure very diﬃcult experiences yet persevere regardless. Journalists were resolute in reporting the conﬂict no matter what obstacles they had to overcome. Passion, patriotism, perseverance and tenacity pushed them to continue working in a treacherous ﬁeld, as these excerpts from the focus group discussions illustrate: One thing that motivates journalists is their passion and their love for the country. They want to make sure that the people and the communities get information because for us to be able to change the way of life in South Sudan, we need to make sure that the people are given accurate information to be able to make decisions on their own. (FG1 participant, 8 January 2020) Until we’ve realised peace in South Sudan, our relationship with the government will remain as that of cat and mouse, because when we catch them, they will ﬁght us. But we’ll not keep quiet; we won’t give up. We owe it to our country. (FG2 participant, 9 January 2020)
Conclusion Journalists in South Sudan endured harsh treatment from the government as they covered the conﬂict that devastated the country for six years. The cost of not toeing the line included harassment, arrest, detention and, for some, death. Public oﬃcials accused journalists of working for the rebels and hostile foreign interests, while the opposition forces claimed that journalists were biased towards the regime. Despite the progressive media laws, there was unjustiﬁed suppression of media freedom and restrictions on access to information. The result was self-censorship, declining quality of news and attrition from the industry, even though some journalists were resolute in their duty in spite of the obvious danger. The South Sudanese experience brings to light unresolved questions about the “rallying around the ﬂag” notion of the media, and the peace journalism model in conﬂict reporting. It highlights the need for strategies aimed at sensitising state actors about the beneﬁts of vibrant media in the conﬂict resolution process.
Resolution, resistance, resilience 73
Notes 1 Bakhita Radio, run by the Catholic Archdiocese of Juba, South Sudan, has been in operation since 24 December 2006 as a platform to promote evangelisation, communication for peace and good governance, and active public participation in the aﬀairs of the country. 2 This interview with the former News Editor of Bakhita Radio took place in Juba on 20 May 2016. The exiled respondent said he had secretly returned to Juba to process academic documents. 3 See also “South Sudan: Media Legislation”, Media Landscapes: https://medialandscapes. org/country/south-sudan/policies/media-legislation (retrieved 2 April 2020). 4 Radio Miraya, with the widest national coverage in South Sudan, is jointly operated by the UNMISS and the Swiss-based Fondation Hirondelle, with funding from the governments of the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden. 5 Eye Radio is operated by Internews, a media development organisation funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). 6 The groups were: the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), the Association of Media Women in South Sudan (AMWISS), and the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS). AMDISS is an umbrella and advocacy group for all media organisations in South Sudan, AMWISS is its women’s division, and UJOS brings together all practising journalists in the country. 7 Interview with the managing editor of one of the leading English language newspapers in South Sudan; Juba, 18 May 2016. 8 Interview with the managing editor of another of South Sudan’s inﬂuential English language newspapers; Juba, 24 March 2015. 9 Interview with a leader of a media advocacy group; Juba, 19 May 2016. 10 Interview with a former journalist, who was teaching journalism at the University of Juba at the time of this interaction; Juba, 20 May 2016. 11 According to UNESCO, nine journalists were killed in South Sudan between 2015 and 2017, seven of them in 2017 alone. Before then, one journalist had been murdered in 2012. No media-related murders have been recorded since 2018. 12 Focus Group One (FG1) was held at the University of Juba on 8 January 2020. 13 Focus Group Two (FG2) was held at the AMDISS oﬃces in Juba on 9 January 2020.
References Allen, T. and Stremlau, N. (2005). Media Policy, Peace and State Reconstruction. London: Crisis States Research Centre, LSE [online]. Retrieved 12 March 2020 from http://eprints.lse. ac.uk/28347/1/dp08.pdf Barrios, M.M. and Miller, T. (2020). Voices of resilience: Colombian journalists and self-censorship in the post-conﬂict period. Journalism Practice, doi:10.1080/17512786.2020.1778506 BBC (2016). South Sudan “deports critical reporter”, BBC, 7 December 2016 [online]. Retrieved 9 December 2019 from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-38237947 Bennett, L.W. (1990). Toward a theory of press-state relations in the United States. Journal of Communication 40(2): pp. 103–127. Checchi F., Testa A., Warsame A., Quach L., and Burns R. (2018). Estimates of Crisis-Attributable Mortality in South Sudan, December 2013–April 2018: A Statistical Analysis. London: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Entman, R.M. (2004). Projections of Power: Framing News, Public Opinion, and U.S. Foreign Policy. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Galtung, J. (2003). Peace journalism. Media Asia 30(3): pp. 177–181.
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Hallin, D.C. (1986). The “Uncensored War”: The Media and Vietnam. Berkeley: University of California Press. Howard, R. (2004). Conﬂict Sensitive Journalism: A Handbook. Copenhagen and Vancouver: IMS (International Media Support) and IMPACS (Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society). International Media Support (IMS) (2014). South Sudan signs media bills into law amid press freedom concerns, 12 September 2014 [online]. Retrieved 6 March 2020 from: https://www. mediasupport.org/south-sudan-signs-media-bills-into-law-amid-press-freedom-concerns/ Internews (2013). South Sudan national audience survey: A nationally representative assessment on radio listening habits with key ﬁndings in ﬁve booster areas for Internews stations. Internews, Juba, South Sudan. Internews (2015). We’re still listening: A survey of the media landscape in the accessible areas of South Sudan in 2015. Internews, Juba, South Sudan. https://internews.org/ resource/were-still-listening-survey-media-landscape-accessible-areas-south-sudan-2015 Kurspahic, K. (2003). Prime Time Crime: Balkan Media in War and Peace. Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace. Lynch, J. (2014). A Global Standard for Reporting Conﬂict. New York and London: Routledge. Lynch, J. and Galtung, J. (2010). Reporting Conﬂict: New Directions in Peace Journalism. St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press. Ntulume, C. (2019). Framing an African Conﬂict: Perspectives from the Local Press: An Explanatory Mixed Methods Study of Newspaper Coverage and Framing of the 2013 South Sudan Conﬂict in Three East African Countries (un-published doctoral dissertation). Oslo: University of Oslo. Odhiambo, S.A. (2017). The media and election-related violence in Africa: Lessons from Kenya, Southern Voices Network for Peace Building [online]. Retrieved 13 March 2020 from https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/ﬁles/media/documents/publication/p olicy_brief_-_the_media_and_election-related_violence_in_africa_lessons_from_kenya.pdf Otto, O.P. (2016). South Sudan is destroying its free press, one journalist at a time. The Guardian [online]. Retrieved 4 March 2020 from https://www.theguardian.com/world/ 2016/jul/07/south-sudan-is-wiping-out-its-free-press-one-journalist-at-a-time Reliefweb (2016). South Sudan: Journalist tortured and left for dead in Juba cemetery, 12 October 2016 [online]. Retrieved 13 January 2020 from https://reliefweb.int/report/ south-sudan/south-sudan-journalist-tortured-and-left-dead-juba-cemetery Sudan Tribune (2015). South Sudan President appoints media regulatory authority. 15 May 2015 [online]. Retrieved 9 December 2019 from https://www.sudantribune.com/spip. php?article54982 Sudan Tribune (2018). South Sudan suspends UN Miraya Radio. 10 March 2018 [online]. Retrieved 23 January 2020 from https://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article64902 Tanza, J. and Zeitvogel, K. (2014). S. Sudan oﬃcial says broadcasting interviews with rebels “an oﬀense”. Voice of America, 11 March 2014 [online]. Retrieved 19 November 2019 from https:// www.voanews.com/a/south-sudan-oﬃcial–broadcasting-interviews-rebels-oﬀense-law-unrest /1869037.html UNESCO (2020). UNESCO observatory of killed journalists – South Sudan [online]. Retrieved 21 April 2020 from https://en.unesco.org/themes/safety-journalists/observa tory/country/223814 United Nations (UN) (2018). Report on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression in South Sudan Since the July 2016 Crisis. Juba: UNMISS & OHCHR. Voice of America (VOA) (2014). Kiir says South Sudan’s Bakhita Radio can resume broadcasts. Voice of America, 16 September 2014 [online]. Retrieved 19 November 2019 from https:// www.voanews.com/a/south-sudan-salva-kiir-bakhita-radio-broadcast/2451802.html Wolfsfeld, G. (1997). Media and Political Conﬂict: News From the Middle East. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
5 THE ROHINGYA REFUGEE IN THE BANGLADESHI PRESS Kajalie Shehreen Islam and Mubashar Hasan1
The remarkable photograph shown here is one of several published in the Bangladeshi press following the organised mass violence of the Myanmar army against Rohingya Muslims in August 2017, the violence resulting in a large inﬂux of refugees into Bangladesh (Figure 5.1). Myanmar is being tried in the International Court of Justice for genocide against its Rohingya population. Bangladesh, a neighbouring country to Myanmar, is today a temporary home of the Burmese Rohingya refugees who, therefore, receive regular coverage in the Bangladeshi media. Bangladesh is, however, struggling to provide the more than 1 million Rohingya refugees living in camps in the country with food, shelter, health facilities and education, particularly as donor interest wanes as time goes by, as the crisis gets older, and its resolution seems increasingly elusive. This chapter explores the visual framing of the Rohingya refugees in two Bangladeshi newspapers, the Bengali-language Kaler Kantho and the Englishlanguage The Daily Star during the period between 2017 and 2019. Much research has been carried out into media and migration in a Western context. There has, however, been very little scholarly interest in the media coverage of migrants in the Global South, and hardly any interest in visual representations. This chapter, therefore, aims to ﬁll this gap by examining the coverage of the Rohingya refugee crisis, primarily photographic images, in the Bangladeshi press. Our intention is, through drawing on Johan Galtung’s (2002) model of peace and war journalism, to better understand the visual representations and whether they reﬂect peace journalism or war journalism.
76 Kajalie Shehreen Islam and Mubashar Hasan
Two young men hold up the ends of a long bamboo pole on which an elderly woman is hanging from the middle by her hands. The three are crossing a stream, followed by a long line of children, and young and old women. The photo caption states that the woman on the pole is more than 70 years old, and is the grandmother of the two men. They have been travelling for eight days along the hilly path to ﬁnally reach the Bangladesh border. Source: Photograph by Tofayel Ahmad, Kaler Kantho. FIGURE 5.1
War and peace journalism Galtung and Ruge (1965), in their seminal essay “The Structure of Foreign News”, found that news in general and foreign news in particular is dominated by conﬂict frames. Galtung (1998; 2003) subsequently chalked out a roadmap for peace journalism, peace journalism being peace/conﬂict-oriented, people-oriented, truth-oriented and solution-oriented, as opposed to war journalism, which is violence-oriented, eliteoriented, propaganda-oriented and victory-oriented. A peace/conﬂict-orientation, according to this model, explores conﬂict formation, parties, goals and issues and has a win–win approach. It is open in space and time, and causes and outcomes are considered to be able to happen anywhere. It gives voice to and humanises all parties. It is proactive, and conﬂict prevention before conﬂict occurs is emphasised. It also focuses on the invisible eﬀects of conﬂict such as damage, glory and trauma. As shown in Chapter 2 of this volume, peace journalism is truth-oriented, exposing untruths on all sides and uncovering all cover-ups. War/violence journalism is, on the other hand, war/violence-oriented, focusing on conﬂict between two parties, on a closed space and time, on making wars secret (please see Galtung’s model in Chapter 2 for more details).
The Rohingya refugee in the Bangladeshi press 77
Galtung’s model has been updated by several theorists. Tehranian deﬁnes peace journalism as a kind of journalism and media ethics that attempts, as well as possible, to transform conﬂicts from their violent channels into constructive forms by conceptualizing news, empowering the voiceless, and seeking common grounds that unify rather than divide human societies. (2002: 79) Kempf’s (2003) notion of peace journalism as “good journalism” stresses a two-stage strategy. The ﬁrst is de-escalation-oriented coverage, characterised by neutrality and a critical distance from all parties involved in the conﬂict. The other is solution-oriented coverage, which forgoes dualism and reframes conﬂict as a cooperative process. Shinar (2007) elaborates on the notion of peace journalism as a journalism which explores backgrounds, contexts and causes of conﬂict formation. This approach gives voice to not just two, but all rival parties in a conﬂict, presents ideas for conﬂict resolution, and for development, peacemaking and peacekeeping. It pays attention to not only the current conﬂict, but also to peace stories and post-war developments. Atay (2016) talks about the media’s ability to fuel conﬂict through presenting a “good-us” “badthem” dichotomy, and through dehumanising and demonising the enemy. True reconciliation, however, requires the rehumanisation of the enemy and creation of empathy between adversary groups. Lynch and McGoldrick, in a study of audience responses to war and peace journalism, found that presenting the perspectives of socially distanced parties in their own words is more likely to lead to greater empathy, love and happiness in the media audience than to anger and fear (Lynch and McGoldrick, 2012). Some theorists have found peace journalism to be not only redundant, but also opposed to the values of traditional journalism, in particular the value of objectivity. They argue that advocacy and peacemaking are neither the responsibility nor the role of the journalist (Hammond, 2002; Hanitzsch, 2007; Loyn, 2007). Advocates of peace journalism, however, consider it to be even more accurate, responsible and useful than traditional journalism. The visual aspects of journalism are, however, often ignored in the discussions of peace journalism, even though they constitute an important element of how a conﬂict is framed in the news, as this chapter will show.
A “chronic crisis” The Rohingya is a group of people who lived in Western Burma, accounting for approximately 4 per cent of Burma’s total population. They are predominantly Muslim, in a country in which almost 90 per cent of the population of the country is Buddhist. Their language, ethnicity and religious identity are regarded by the Myanmar authorities to be separate from mainstream Burmese cultural identity. The historical roots of the problem are complex and go back to British colonial actions in the 1820s (see Lewis, 2019). The Muslim minority population living in
78 Kajalie Shehreen Islam and Mubashar Hasan
Arakan were, in 1948, granted citizenship rights as a distinct indigenous group when Burma gained independence. These citizen rights were, however, withdrawn under the 1982 Citizenship Law, the Rohingya overnight becoming stateless (Parnini et al., 2013; Ty, 2019). They experienced discrimination, conﬂict, instability, persecution and religious oppression for many decades (Lewis, 2019; Brooten et al., 2015). Myanmar’s government refers to the Rohingya as “Bengalis” or “illegal Bengalis”, which speaks of their status as Bangladeshi immigrants uprooted during the British occupation (Brooten et al., 2015: 719). The violence between the Muslim Rohingyas and Rakhine Buddhists has been referred to as a “chronic crisis” (Fuller, 2012, cited in Brooten et al., 2015: 719). There have been allegations after the August 2017 violence of organized, systematic, and severe human rights abuses by Burmese security personnel, ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, a Rohingya nationalist group), and local Rakhine “vigilantes” have given rise to claims of possible crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, or genocide taking place in Rakhine State. (Martin et al., 2018: 335–336) David Lewis describes it as “organised mass violence perpetrated by the Myanmar army and its local collaborators, including the murder of more than 6700 Rohingya in September 2017, the systematic use of rape as a weapon and the destruction of at least 288 Rohingya villages”, this prompting the large-scale exodus of people across the border to Bangladesh (Lewis, 2019: 5). This “clearance operation” carried out by Burma’s security forces resulted in the rapid displacement of more than 700,000 Rohingya into makeshift camps in eastern Bangladesh, and the internal displacement of an unknown number of people within Rakhine State (Martin et al., 2018; Kipgen, 2019; Ty, 2019).
The Rohingya refugees in the Bangladeshi press Bangladesh, a country of 148,460 sq. km and a population of around 170 million, is ﬁnding the provision of refuge to the now 1.1 million Rohingyas to be a daunting task. Repatriation talks are in progress. Many, however, fear these talks will be futile unless the safety and security of the Rohingya people in Myanmar is ensured and discriminatory laws are amended. Both are required for them to be able to return home. Two newspapers were selected to study how the Rohingya refugee is portrayed in the Bangladeshi press. These were the popular Bengalilanguage daily Kaler Kantho and the highest circulation English-language newspaper in Bangladesh, The Daily Star. Kaler Kantho, which began publication in 2010, is owned by the East-West Media Group, which also owns other Bengali and English language newspapers, online portals and a radio channel. The group is a sister concern of the business conglomerate the Bashundhara Group, which is involved in property development, and manufactures everything from chemicals and cement to food, beverages and toilet paper. The Daily Star was established in 1991 and is
The Rohingya refugee in the Bangladeshi press 79
owned by Mediaworld, a major shareholder being the Transcom Group, which also owns one of the highest-circulation dailies in Bangladesh, Prothom Alo. The Transcom Group is a local agent of several international brands, its business interests including pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, as well as a radio channel. The period of study for this chapter is the ﬁrst month of the inﬂux, 25 August to 25 September 2017 and the same time period in 2018 and 2019. These time periods were selected to trace the evolution of coverage from the time of inﬂux, through the humanitarian crisis, the negotiations and the repatriation process. The analysis considers images and the language of the accompanying captions and headlines. The front and back pages and the editorials of the e-paper of Kaler Kantho, which is identical to its print version, and the online version of The Daily Star, which has slight diﬀerences from its print version in terms of content and image use (discussed below), were consulted and a framing analysis was conducted of Rohingya-related visual media content. Some 267 news stories (including nine editorials) relating to the Rohingya issue were published between 25 August and 25 September in the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 on the front and back pages of Kaler Kantho. A total of 78 images were carried in 78 of these stories, one image per story. In this period, 238 news items and editorials were published in The Daily Star; 199 of them were accompanied by 265 photographs, more than one image per story for some. A total of 30 images in the Kaler Kantho and 55 in The Daily Star were of Burmese, Bangladeshi and global political leaders and rights activists. The focus of this study is the framing of the Rohingya refugee. These images are therefore not included in this analysis.
Kaler Kantho – portrayal of the Rohingya from victims to “snakes” Kaler Kantho published 190 news items and editorials and 63 images on its front and back pages during the Rohingya exodus from Myanmar, following the violence of 25 August 2017. Of these images, 18 depict Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children; a few depict men and boys. They are shown as helpless victims, crossing the Bangladesh border, living in refugee camps and in obvious distress, as seen through images such as crying refugees. The photographs very rarely portray outright violence or death. There is one image of Rohingya homes burning, and one of a dead child who was washed ashore after the violence of October 2016. Kaler Kantho published 40 news stories and editorials with 12 accompanying photographs between 25 August and 25 September 2018. One photograph was of a very young girl at one of the refugee camps with a searching look in her eyes (Kaler Kantho, 25 August 2018). She is, according to the caption, wearing a new dress for Eid (a Muslim religious festival). The story headline, however, marks the one-year anniversary of the Rohingya exodus from Myanmar and points out that “43 per cent of locals have been harmed”, locals meaning Bangladeshis in the area. Another image published on 26 August is a long shot of one of the camps where a mass gathering is being held to commemorate the anniversary of the exodus. Some of the makeshift homes and hundreds of nameless, faceless people can be seen.
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Such images create less impact on readers, who may ﬁnd it diﬃcult to feel empathy for the anonymous masses. A further image published on the same day is of an elderly woman crying and is captioned “No more genocide, no more refugee life” under a story headlined “Turbulence in Rohingya camps over demands for genocide trial”, which also points out that the Rohingya want to return to Myanmar after being given citizenship rights. Kaler Kantho published 46 news items and editorials between 25 August and 25 September 2019. Only four images, however, were published in this period, all in the last week of August. The newspaper published a front page headline on 25 August 2019 which, roughly translated, reads “Many of the Rohingya given humanitarian shelter are today ‘snakes’”. The sub-heading claims that in the two years since arriving, many Rohingyas have become millionaires through snatching away the businesses of local Bangladeshis, and that more than 1,000 Rohingya are accused of murder. One of the two images accompanying the story is of a Rohingya home on land that allegedly belongs to the Forest Department in Kutopalong, Ukhiya in Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar. The other is a satellite image of the forest land that had to be cleared to make camps for Rohingya refugees. A front-page photograph published on 26 August shows a mass gathering of refugees commemorating “Genocide Day”. The headline claims, “Everyone’s gain, Bangladesh’s loss”. The story describes the international players involved in the crisis and the burden on Bangladesh. Another front-page news report published on the following day raises questions and concerns about the previous day’s gathering, and is accompanied by a photograph depicting an arms cache that was allegedly being sent to one of the camps.
The Daily Star – giving agency to the Rohingya refugees The Daily Star published 273 front and back page news stories and editorials related to the Rohingya crisis and 284 images between 25 August and 25 September in 2017, 2018 and 2019. In 2017, 172 news items and editorials with 204 images were published; in 2018, 50 with 40 photographs; and in 2019, 52 with 39 photographs. It should be noted that photographs are not published with editorials in the print edition of The Daily Star. Editorials are, however, often accompanied by photographs in the online version. The Daily Star, alongside their own photographs, also published several high-quality images from foreign news agencies such as AFP and Reuters. A total of 160 photographs in The Daily Star depicted the Rohingya as helpless victims, 130 of these being published in 2017. Most were photographs of refugees entering Bangladesh in rows, on foot or packed in boats, mostly women and children. Women carrying infants, men carrying their elderly fathers on their backs, and families taking shelter under plastic sheets from the rain. Close-up photographs mostly showed elderly women in tears looking helpless and hapless. There were also a few photographs of violence, particularly Rohingya homes on ﬁre in Myanmar and a couple of images of children aﬀected by the violence. One photograph depicts a dead body.
The Rohingya refugee in the Bangladeshi press 81
One photograph shows a man tied to a tree by his wife. The caption states he “witnessed the brutal murder of both his parents when riots broke out on October 16. Since then, his mental state has deteriorated and this is the only way his wife can ensure his safety” (The Daily Star, 8 September 2017). The sad face, the blank stare and the caption put the man’s plight in context and, without depicting actual violence, shows its longterm consequences. Another photograph shows a woman who has just arrived in Bangladesh by boat, bent over on the beach, touching the soil, exhausted from her struggle to escape the atrocities at home. The Daily Star published a photograph on 13 September 2017 of a one-year-old boy, his body covered in burns, with the caption or disclaimer of: “To expose the brutality of the Myanmar security forces, we are running this photograph going beyond our editorial policy.” A photograph published on 15 September of a line of refugees entering Bangladesh had the text within it of “400,000 and counting”, the caption referring to the Rohingya “pouring in” in a “seemingly endless line”. Another photograph published on 15 September shows a woman in mourning, holding her 40day-old son close to her face. The boy died when their boat capsized near the coast of Bangladesh. Other photographs include views of the refugee camps and hordes of Rohingya jostling to get the relief being distributed by local authorities. Images published in 2018 and 2019 of large gatherings and protests against the atrocities carried out in Myanmar and to demand justice and repatriation, seem to show Rohingya refugees gaining some form of agency. Most photographs refer to the anonymous “Rohingya woman/man/child”. Some, however, focus on individuals and their stories, including their names, which adds to the agency of their representation. The Daily Star also, and importantly, depicts the everyday lives of the Rohingya living in refugee camps and the challenges they face.
Framing the refugee Media coverage of migration has been categorised into two types – episodic and thematic (Iyengar, 1991; Lawlor and Tolley, 2017). Episodic coverage, for example, uses a human interest narrative to focus on individual immigrants and refugees, and individual events and accounts, that can be told quickly, portrayed easily, and that appeal to and are easily accessible to the audience. The media in this type of coverage, therefore, focuses on stories that are proximate, large in scope, timely, and contain an element of conﬂict (Lawlor and Tolley, 2017). Thematic coverage, on the other hand, takes a broader approach, exploring a policy-based or demographically oriented angle. Research on media, migration and refugees has found a combination of episodic and thematic coverage in the media. An analysis of the images published in Kaler Kantho and The Daily Star shows a combination of episodic and thematic coverage. There is some focus in the images on individual people, events and conﬂict incidents. There is also, however, a broader coverage of the overall refugee crisis, especially the inﬂux of refugees into Bangladesh. Both newspapers provide a historical and a contemporary context of the issue, of when and how it came about and how it has continued over the decades, as will be discussed below.
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Refugees are often dehumanised and criminalised by the media. They are, for example, depicted as spreading infectious diseases. It is also often suggested that refugee claimants are bogus, terrorists gaining entry to Western nations disguised as refugees (Esses et al., 2013). Some of the most common refugee frames in the media are those of unwanted invaders, dishonest or tragic asylum seekers, boat people and illegal immigrants (Parker, 2015; O’Doherty and Lecouteur, 2007). The Rohingya are primarily framed in three ways in the three years of Bangladeshi press coverage that was analysed: in 2017, as helpless victims in need of refuge and humanitarian aid; in 2018, still as victims but gaining some agency and the ability to demand rights and justice; and in 2019, as victims with agency, many, however, becoming a concern and even a threat to the host country due to their potential or actual involvement in criminal activities. The Rohingya are mostly humanised through the depiction of their plight, and by images of hundreds of thousands of refugees crossing into Bangladesh to escape the violence in Myanmar. They are also humanised through stories of individuals in tears, struggling to survive and not knowing whether they will. The focus is, however, on crossing into Bangladesh, scores of photographs showing their entry in lines, collecting relief material, or protesting in masses. There are only a handful of images of the violence that caused them to ﬂee or of the individual plight of the many. The Rohingya are, in 2019, shown less as victims and more as a burden on Bangladesh, the underlying message being that they should return home. We ﬁnd images, captions and headlines portraying the Rohingya as a threat, in the Kaler Kantho, in particular. The Rohingya are depicted as gathering in large, threatening masses in observance of “Genocide Day”, their voice and demands not, however, being heard. There is, at times, a clear viliﬁcation of the Rohingya as greedy criminals who have beneﬁted at the cost of the Bangladeshi people and lands. Frames are central organising ideas in stories that suggest ways in which politics should be thought about. They also encourage an interpretation and understanding of events and issues and what should be done about them (Kinder, 2007; Perloﬀ, 2014). This is not always a hegemonic process and competing frames do exist (Parry, 2010). Framing is eﬀective because readers generally accept news stories as “transparent descriptions of reality …. Although readers may question whether news organizations have the story right, this is not because they recognize news messages as social constructions, inﬂuenced by journalistic routines, economic limitations, or conﬂicting political ideologies” (Greenwood and Jenkins, 2015: 208). Entman states that framing in the context of the media, is “selecting and highlighting some facets of events or issues, and making connections among them so as to promote a particular interpretation, evaluation, and/or solution” (2004: 88). Framing is therefore composed of a problem deﬁnition, a hypothesised cause, a moral evaluation and a proposed remedy. Photographs, perhaps even more so than written or spoken news, are recognised as eﬀective tools for framing. This may be because images are, in a less obvious way, expected to truthfully represent reality rather than being constructed messages made by people (Greenwood and Jenkins, 2015). Todd Gitlin referred both to visual and verbal framing, stating that media frames are “persistent patterns of
The Rohingya refugee in the Bangladeshi press 83
cognition, interpretation, and presentation, of selection, emphasis, and exclusion, by which symbol-handlers routinely organize the discourse, whether verbal or visual” (1980: 7). D’Angelo deﬁnes a media frame as “a written, spoken, graphical, or visual message modality that a communicator uses to contextualize a topic, such as a person, event, episode, or issue, within a text transmitted to receivers by means of mediation” (2017: 1). Visual images are seen as being more powerful and persuasive tools within the framing process (Barry, 1997; Iorgoveanu and Corbu, 2012). Their power and persuasiveness are due to their ability to appear “more natural, more closely linked to reality than words” (Messaris and Abraham, 2001: 216) and because images reinforce cultural stereotypes which may not be referred to in the lexical-verbal text. Tirosh and Klein-Avraham (2017) state that “visual framing is an important and forceful technique as it turns complex events into memorable narrativized images”. They are, however, never a neutral representation, but promote a speciﬁc point of view which serve “as tools at the hands of powerful actors promoting [their] ideology” (2017: 5–6). A clear process of framing is evident from the above analysis of images. There are two dominant frames, these shifting over the three years of analysed content. The ﬁrst frame, which was most dominant in 2017, centres on the problem of the Rohingya refugee crisis, a problem primarily borne by the Rohingya people. The cause is the atrocities carried out against them in Myanmar, which forced them to come to Bangladesh. The moral evaluation is that the Myanmar government and military carried out genocide against the Rohingya, based on their religion and ethnicity. The crisis could be resolved if the persecution and violence ended and the Rohingya were ensured safety and citizenship rights in Myanmar. They could then return home, and Bangladesh would be released from the burden of refugees. A second frame, which was more dominant in 2019, posits the problem for Bangladesh and its limited resources. In this frame, the cause of the problem is the Rohingya themselves, their taking over of the land, their causing diﬃculties for the local people, and engaging in criminal activities. The solution would therefore be to send them back home. The role of the powerful elite of Bangladeshi and global political leaders and rights activists represents a large part of the frame solution angle in all three years. The elite have a say on these matters and can apply pressure upon the Myanmar government to end the persecution and violence against the Rohingya. This could create a safe and conducive environment for the Rohingya and so facilitate the repatriation process which would allow them to return. News images from war zones or of extreme humanitarian crises do not only reﬂect events. They are also cultural products inﬂuenced by governmental management, the media business and political persuasion (Hellmueller and Zhang, 2019). According to Katy Parry, photographs of suﬀering can provide a rare connection with victims who otherwise would have no voice or access, and at the same time make us aware of the knowledge that our political leaders are privy to, and may/can do something about. Ideally, and perhaps rather idealistically, the pictures are an “invitation to pay attention” (2010: 81).
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Visual representations of asylum seekers and refugees in the media play a critical role in shaping how refugees are viewed by the general public (Yeung and Lenette, 2018; Wright, 2002). Schwalbe and Dougherty (2015) found that photographs command more attention and are processed more quickly than words, helping readers to make sense of news even when they do not read the text. Photographs do not necessarily lead to a deeper understanding of the issues portrayed. Schwalbe and Dougherty (2015) cited Griﬃn in their literature review as arguing that “most news photography reinforces existing ideas and stereotypes rather than revealing new information or perspectives”. Chouliaraki and Stolic (2017) also found that, despite the visibility of refugees in the European media, the media failed to humanise migrants and refugees. They, therefore, argue that the media’s responsibility towards “vulnerable others” should be reconsidered. Yeung and Lenette (2018) found that some photographs of Rohingya refugees transcended the usual “threat versus victim” dualism. These photographs captured both the suﬀering and the agency of the Rohingya during the crisis, and were eﬀective in triggering international concern and policy responses during the 2015 Bay of Bengal crisis. Longer-term public perceptions of migration and policy responses were, however, indeterminate as a result of such depictions.
Bringing peace through journalism? The analysis of the newspapers examined in this study reveals a combination of peace and war journalism. The Daily Star more or less maintained balanced reporting over the three years studied. There is, however, a visible shift in the Kaler Kantho coverage in this period from peace journalism to war/violence journalism.
Finding-1: Kaler Kantho – from peace to war journalism in framing the Rohingya Examples of peace journalism in Kaler Kantho include timelines, charts and peace proposals. For example, one timeline traces the history of the Rohingya crisis from the days of British colonialism and Burmese independence, through the violence and oppression of Rohingya Muslims to their exodus from Burma into Bangladesh (Kaler Kantho, 25 August 2018). A graphical representation of violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar from loss of citizenship in 1982 to the genocide in 2017 is presented with a photograph showing a woman in the foreground of ruins (Kaler Kantho, 11 September 2017). A photograph with the foreground of a boy among ruins is also used to present an outline of a 20-point proposal by the European Commission on the violence in Myanmar and what should be done by both Myanmar and the international community (Kaler Kantho, 15 September 2017). These images may be categorised as peace journalism because they provide context of the conﬂict and outline measures towards possible solutions. Most of these images were, however, published in 2017. By 2019 there is a visible shift towards war/violence journalism, the dualistic “us versus them” being used to frame the Rohingya refugee as an enemy, a threat to the people and the lands of Bangladesh.
The Rohingya refugee in the Bangladeshi press 85
Finding-2: The Daily Star – closer to peace journalism The Daily Star, on the other hand, maintains balance in its coverage. There was greater and more sympathetic coverage in 2017, and the paper did not engage in dualistic framing of the Rohingya refugee as the enemy. The paper in 2018 and 2019 reﬂects the increasing agency of the Rohingya by depicting their protests and demands for rights and justice. It also portrays the everyday lives of the refugees, showing their homes and lives in the camps. Sympathy is, however, waning from the level it had in August 2017. The newspaper still covers stories of the lives of the Rohingya, but also pushes for their repatriation.
Conclusion Media portrayals of refugees have been found to be dehumanising and dehistoricising, refugees being depicted as voiceless, helpless victims or as uncontrollable threats to state security. Refugees are, instead of being portrayed as people in crisis, shown as being the crisis, with clear demarcations of “us versus them” (Mannik, 2012; Pickering, 2001; van Dijk, 1987). The consequence of such coverage is the portrayal of refugees as people who should be kept out of or removed from the host country. It also portrays some migrants as being more deserving of protection than others, depending on the beneﬁts they bring to the host country (Holzberg et al., 2018; Parker, 2015). A politics of fear characterises much of the media coverage on refugees, this contributing to the construction of nationalistic discourses (Gale, 2004; Bleiker et al., 2013; Mannik, 2012). We clearly see such trends in the Kaler Kantho two years into the mass inﬂux of the Rohingya. Media frames can shape public opinion and public agenda (Boaz, 2005). Media framing of migration can also promote interpretations of the immigration system, and cue speciﬁc considerations such as legitimacy, need and security (Lawlor and Tolley, 2017). Robinson (2000), in his study of the policy–media interaction model and the role of the media during humanitarian crises, found that media inﬂuence occurs when policy is uncertain and where media coverage is critically framed and empathises with suﬀering people. Media inﬂuence is unlikely when policy is certain. It is therefore important to have a clear media policy on how to or how not to cover crises, conﬂicts and its victims, including refugees. Repatriation is a crucial issue. It is, however, important to highlight the plight of refugees, to provide the host country audience with accurate contexts of the conﬂict and violence that led its victims to seek refuge in their country, and to promote peace and ways of achieving it before pushing for refugees to be sent back. One of the reasons behind the diﬀerences in coverage could be that the owners of Kaler Kantho are known to be pro-government. Government policy towards the Rohingyas has shifted from being welcoming to being antagonistic, the newspaper’s framing and coverage reﬂecting this. The Daily Star, which is more independent of the government, is more consistent in its coverage. It focuses more on the development of the crisis
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and less on the changing stance of the state. This opens an opportunity for scholars to investigate whether media framing and the characteristics of journalism (peace or war) are conditional on ownership. This chapter has sought to understand and connect the media framing of refugees with types of journalism. In doing so, it suggests that coverage of the crisis through peace journalism gives a more accurate, responsible and useful form of journalism, one that humanises the refugee, promotes a resolution of the conﬂict and peace in its aftermath.
Note 1 The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of research assistant Hojaifa Al-Mamduh.
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6 HOW OUR RAGE IS REPRESENTED Acts of resistance among women photographers of the Global South Saumava Mitra, Sara Creta and Stephanie McDonald
The power to create photographic images to support, substitute or (occasionally) subvert established regimes of representation (Hall, 1997) of places and people embroiled in crises and conﬂicts has long been concentrated amongst a few media organisations and predominantly male photographers from the Global North (Hadland et al., 2015; Hadland et al., 2016; Gursel, 2016; Ilan, 2018; Hadland and Barnett, 2018a). But the established hierarchies of global “image operations” (Eder and Klonk, 2017) are being challenged as digital technology and cost-cutting measures within the international media industry create opportunities for a more diverse group of image producers to tell visual stories. Scholarly understanding of this shift when it comes to conﬂict- and crises-aﬀected contexts have been skewed towards investigating the practices of non-professional image producers (e.g. Kennedy and Patrick, 2014; Eder and Klonk, 2017; Blaagard et al., 2017), but increasing attention on professional photographers is now being paid (Hadland et al., 2015; Hadland et al., 2016; Hadland and Barnett, 2018a). There is also a growing recognition within the international photographic industry that the global community of visual storytellers needs to be more inclusive of professional photographers from traditionally marginalised communities, and that promoting gender equity in this context is imperative (e.g. BJP Online, 2016; NUJ, 2019). This discussion within the photographic industry of empowering photographers from marginalised groups is in parallel with the growing recognition and academic investigation of the cultural mediation undertaken by local media professionals from the Global South for international media organisations (Mitra and Paterson, 2019; Palmer, 2019). In addition, the lack of the “female gaze” in photography has come into focus recently in academic research (Hadland and Barnett, 2018b) as well as within the photographic industry (BJP Online, 2017). However, focused academic study of perceptions and practices of female photographers from the Global South has not been conducted to date. DOI: 10.4324/9781003015628-7
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In this chapter, we report ﬁndings based on analysis of semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted with 22 female photographers, predominantly from the Global South, regarding the inequities they see as inherent in photographic representations and practices in relation to marginalised communities as well as how they respond to them. The purpose of presenting this analysis is to allow practitioners’ perspectives to inform the often-voiced idea that promoting equity, especially gender equity, in who (get to) tell visual stories will make a diﬀerence in the ways and means of representing the world, and its conﬂicts and crises, through photographs.
Theoretical background Our understanding of the long-established unequal power relationships which connect the photographed, the photographer, photographic representations and the viewer of photographs in and through what we call the established regimes of photographic representations and practices is based upon a body of scholarly work encompassing Critical, Feminist and Post-Colonial perspectives. These scholarly interventions have shed light on iniquitous power dynamics entrenched in representations of, and photographic acts committed while representing and viewing, marginalised peoples and places, especially in contexts of overt, structural, cultural and gender-based violence (Brothers, 1997; Hall, 1997; Boltanski, 1999; Sontag, 2003; Chouliaraki, 2006; Butler, 2009; Zelizer, 2010; Linﬁeld, 2010; Sealy, 2019). Cumulatively, these scholars have made visible the historical, sociological and political-economic forces and factors that constitute “hegemonic” regimes of photographic representations and practices in relation to the photographic “others”: places and peoples around the world that traditionally have not held the same representational power to visually interpret the world through photographs. While the spoken and unspoken assumptions, stereotypes and biases that ﬂow from these iniquitous power-dynamics within photography are central to our investigation, our focus in this chapter is on understanding both practitioners’ perspectives towards photographic representations as well as photographic practices, rather than focusing on photographic images as many previous studies have done. We are particularly inspired by Azoulay’s critical interventions (2008; 2015) stressing the importance of understanding acts surrounding the creation of photographs and their political implications. We posit that critical discussions of regimes of visual representation can beneﬁt from a qualitative research focus on the traditionally neglected perspectives of photographers from the Global South and especially women photographers among them. In this, we are also indebted to Nothias’s (2020) recent exposition of how moving away from the textual orientation of critical cultural studies and bringing in media practitioners’ perspectives can lead to more grounded understanding that allows identiﬁcation of otherwise invisible potential challenges posed to established regimes of media representations. In particular, the focus that we adopt in this chapter is meant to critically address, through practitioners’ perspectives, the core idea often expressed that a more gender-equitable and geo-culturally diverse group of photographers can make a
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diﬀerence in how we see the world, in general and in times of crisis in particular, through photographs. Beyond academia, this belief is also voiced periodically in photographic industry publications (BJP Online, 2017), by representative bodies of media practitioners (NUJ, 2019), and often by the representatives of the non-proﬁt organisations which are working towards supporting photographers from under-represented communities and photographers identifying as female or non-binary (BJP Online, 2016). “When we are documenting our world through a homogenous lens … we are teaching our audience to see and understand the world through a westernised and masculine perspective,” states Daniella Zalcman, the founder of one such initiative, Women Photograph (Abel-Hirsch, 2019). While defensible (Hadland and Barnett, 2018b: 2013), articulations such as these, currently lack evidence based on practitioners’ perspectives to support them. Based on the small number of such studies conducted, it is not conclusive that photographers from the Global South always depict their countries and communities diﬀerently from westernised perspectives (Mitra, 2019: 11–12). When it comes to the gender of photographers, as Hadland and Barnett (2018b: 2013) state, “the question of whether women ‘see’ diﬀerently from men has not been demonstrated decisively” (see also Campbell and Critcher, 2018: 1543). Campbell and Critcher (2018), in an investigation of correlations between women photographers’ gender and their images, found that female photographers can play a role in bringing to fore under-represented topics in visual narratives of conﬂicts. However, they also found that the “eﬀect of gender was simultaneously denied and aﬃrmed” (2018: 1549) by the seven female photographers they interviewed when it came to describing their photographic practices. In this chapter, we extend the scope of investigating how the gender identity of photographers may play a role in photography to an understanding based on intersectionality that takes into account socio-economic and geo-cultural identities of female photographers as well (Brah and Phoenix, 2004; Yuval-Davies, 2006). Our departure point in exploring the perspectives of women photographers is based on recognising diﬀerences in lived experiences of women photographers in societies around the world and their embodied practices as women in their profession (Orgeret, 2016: 111–112; Palmer and Melki, 2018), rather than suggestive of any innate diﬀerence between women and men (Hadland and Barnett, 2018b: 2014). It is our aim to ﬁll the existing gap in analysis based on the perspectives of women photographers, especially those from the Global South, by identifying: Research Goal 1: commonalities in women photographers’ articulations of what they view as established regimes of photographic representations and practices regarding the places and people with whom they have socio-economic and geo-cultural ties. Research Goal 2: commonalities in how women photographers narrate their professional actions in response to what they view as established regimes of photographic representations and practices.
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Methods Our methodological approach in this study is to rely on identifying common themes within the cognitive-normative perspectives of women photographers as well as within their self-narration of their professional practice (cf. Hanitzsch and Vos, 2017). Most recent studies on professional photographers have been conducted with participants of the annual World Press Photo competition (Campbell and Critcher, 2018; Hadland and Barnett, 2018a; 2018b). Purposive sampling based on existing databases, as done in these studies, makes identifying potential participants and data gathering practicable and we adopted this approach in our study as well. However, given the scope of our study, we sought to interview photographers who took part or are taking part in international mentorship programmes run by Native Agency and Women Photograph, two non-proﬁt initiatives which respectively seek to support professional photographers from under-represented communities (see nativeagency.org), and those who identify as female or non-binary (see womenphotograph.com). These initiatives were chosen because they are global, rather than regional,1 in scope. Invitations were sent to the photographers who took part in these mentorship programmes, and interviews were conducted between March and May 2020 by the authors based in Dublin, Ireland via the online platform Zoom with 22 women photographers who agreed to take part in the study. The audio-recordings made during these interviews with prior consent were then transcribed. Due to ethical considerations, the identities of, and identiﬁable information about, the photographers who participated in the study are conﬁdential. However, the women photographers who were interviewed (21 in English, one in French) hailed from 18 diﬀerent countries spread around the world. Two of the three photographers who were resident in countries in the Global North did not mention having personal ties to countries or communities in the Global South. Their responses however were important in allowing understanding of shared perspectives among women photographers across geo-cultural boundaries. The breakdown by region is in Table 6.1.
TABLE 6.1 Regional locations the interviewees self-identiﬁed as
having close ties with Region
Number of participants
South America & Caribbean North America & Europe Middle East & North Africa Sub-Saharan Africa South & South-East Asia
3 3* 3 4 9
Note: *One photographer also had close ties to a country in the South and South-East Asian region.
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In keeping with previous studies which acknowledge the ﬂuidity of genres in professional photographic practice and allow for self-deﬁnition of their professional practice by participants themselves (Hadland et al., 2015; 2016; Hadland and Barnett, 2018a), we asked each participant to identify as a photojournalist or photographer. Only 10 of the 22 participants saw themselves neatly ﬁtting into either of the two categories. The remaining 12 saw their roles as slightly broader or more speciﬁc, or oﬀered other descriptors for how they self-identiﬁed professionally. The responses are summarised in Table 6.2. Our analytical approach in understanding the perceptions of these photographers is “critical-realist” (Clarke et al., 2015); we recognise the subjectivity we bring as researchers to the investigation and interpretation of empirical data. Our subjectivity was also present through the pre-formulated questions asked during the interviews that were related to the research goals mentioned above. However, the questions were open-ended and intentionally broad, allowing participants to interpret the queries in their own way. For the purposes of research goal 1, the participants were asked if they think whether the place and people they said they have close ties with have been misrepresented in global photographic images. In response, the photographers chose to speak of their belonging in terms of countries, geographical regions stretching across nation-states, physical location (e.g. rural/urban) within a country, socio-economic class as well as ethnic group. For the purposes of research goal 2, the photographers were asked if they aim to and are able to change or challenge how the place and people they have ties with have been represented. As follow-up, they were invited to give examples of any such attempts made by them. During our reﬂexive analysis of the responses to these questions in the interview transcripts (Braun and Clarke, 2019), we maintained the quality of our interpretation by “staying close” to the interview data (Clarke et al., 2015: 246) at all stages to identify the themes we describe below. TABLE 6.2 Self-identiﬁed professional roles of interviewees
Self-chosen professional descriptor
Number of participants
Photojournalist Photographer Documentary photographer Photographer more into visual arts Visual storyteller Storyteller Narrative journalist
4* 6 8 1 1 1 1
Note: *One identiﬁed as a photojournalist as well as a documentary photographer, another as both a journalist and photojournalist.
94 S. Mitra, S. Creta and S. McDonald
Photographers’ perspectives on regimes of photographic representations and practices Each of the 22 photographers responded in the aﬃrmative when asked if in their view the people and places they had close ties to were misrepresented in photographs in the international media. Two overarching themes emerged from these responses, as described below.
Lack of respect A common theme that emerged regarding perceptions of established regimes of photographic practices, was the lack of respect shown for non-Caucasian human bodies, particularly when it came to images of death resulting from crises and conﬂicts in the Global South. In speaking of the images used in international media of the conﬂict in her country versus photographs of those who lost their lives during the Covid-19 crisis in Italy, one photographer said, everybody has been so ﬁxat[ed] in capturing the dead bodies of that war. I think we’ve seen many of those images already and … for example in … the coverage in Italy, we know hundreds of people are dying every day. I have not seen a dead person’s body … you can make those kinds of stories and that kind of coverage with preserving human dignity and people’s privacy as well. A photographer from the region said that Sub-Saharan Africans in general “don’t get oﬀered the same courtesy as other continents in terms of reporting of deaths. You can see how black bodies are treated in the mass media. How our rage is represented”. She gave an example of visual reportage of the Ebola crisis in African countries by a current aﬀairs magazine of international standing. I’m sure if this was in America … they would show that this person is dead but they wouldn’t show us the body. This is a man who’s dying …. The person was not covered. Their face was not covered. There was no dignity in the coverage. And this was masqueraded as a beautiful image. And they say it’s a powerful image, and based on the parameters that are set with photojournalism, people have gotten away with so much of that. The sense of non-Caucasian people being depicted with less respect than deserved was shared widely by photographers from elsewhere and extended to contexts beyond death as well. A photographer from the South and South-East Asian region spoke of how: [I]n a reputed magazine they are showing summer in European countries and summer in my country. They are showing a boy with a bucket, they are searching for water. And you will see in the European country, there they are sunbathing.
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This sense of a selective focus on negative aspects of life experienced by non-Caucasian peoples was central to the second theme that emerged in the photographers’ responses.
Perpetuating partial truths as universal The other overarching theme spoke to the established regimes of representation as the photographers highlighted how photographic images of their countries or communities were based on a handful of selective and repetitive visual frames in lieu of visual narratives that oﬀered multi-faceted perspectives. By and large, the photographers held the view that when it came to countries in the Global South, these selective frames were reserved for negative images of the place or people. Describing how her country is depicted, a photographer from Sub-Saharan Africa, said “a lot of international photographers come … to show poverty, to show the dead, the conﬂicts”. Another photographer from a diﬀerent country in the same region said, “[w]here there is blood, that’s what they want”. The accumulated representational power of such negative visual frames to become universal was underscored by several. A photographer from the South and South-East Asian region mentioned, I’m not saying that we don’t have any ﬂaws as a country, of course we do, but what happened was that … the positives were totally neglected and that just became a pattern … that just became a narrative. So now a lot of the audience in the West, they don’t really know what [my country] is. Another photographer from the South American and Caribbean region mentioned how stereotypes perpetuated in international images were also often reﬂected in the major newspapers in her own country. Similarly, a photographer from the South and South-East Asian region spoke of how a Western reporter she worked with on a story had a “very, very, very narrow … completely western perspective …. It was just a very narrow-minded perspective without really … asking the right questions … and they were not willing to challenge it”. And she thought that some of her own colleagues who come down to work on stories over here and very speciﬁcally put out a very diﬀerent impersonation of the country. And that really frustrates me a lot because it’s not just the [foreign] editors, it’s also your colleagues who have that visual narrative in their head. Like her, some others also acknowledged that “narrow minded perspectives” extended beyond “foreign” photographers to photographers within particular national contexts who still were deemed to be outsiders to the community being depicted. A photographer from the South and South-East Asian region spoke of how ethnic minorities have been largely erased from images by photographers of her country. Another photographer from a Sub-Saharan African country said that
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images published in the national media of an impoverished neighbourhood she had close ties to in her home city, were most often of “gangsters, people using drugs, children on the street, kids involved in gang activity, or just really poor”. In sum, almost all the photographers shared the awareness that selective visual storytelling that relied on, and reiﬁed, long-established stereotypes was problematic because the repeated usage of these types of photographic representations accumulated over time to ultimately lay claim to a certain universal truth about these countries and communities. For most photographers, this awareness was linked to motivations to break away from these established regimes of representations which are detailed below.
Challenging established regimes of photographic representations and practices When asked if and how they attempt to challenge or change what they view to be misrepresentations of the communities they belong to, one photographer said she didn’t feel comfortable claiming that she was shattering stereotypes through her photographic images. She saw the task as one of systemic dismantling that she hadn’t personally taken steps towards to date. However, all the other 21 photographers shared the view that their own photographic practice was wholly or partly an attempt to shift what they considered “narrow”, “Western”, “overly done” and “one-sided” narratives about their communities. These reactions were articulated in gender terms by many of the photographers by speciﬁcally referring to the regimes of representations they viewed as problematic as being perpetuated by “white men in the industry”, “older white men” or “male white photographers”. Some also chose to speciﬁcally criticise the photographs and photographic practices of famous western Caucasian male photographers when it came to representing their countries or communities. The sense of historical gender and racial injustices inherent in who gets to produce visual narratives was palpable among the photographers interviewed, with speciﬁc reference to the dominance of the “white man’s gaze” in the “whole continuum of the history of photojournalism”. But the photographers also referred to this inequity as a contemporary problem that the international photographic industry had “a long way to go” yet, to solve. While acknowledging the power concentrated mostly among privileged male outsiders, a majority of the photographers however mentioned that they enjoyed diﬀerent accesses as insiders to the communities they photographed. Being of a place meant they were less reliant on intermittent access to people and places. Most saw their continued presence in a locale as allowing them time and space for more thoughtful practice and the ability to tell diﬀerent stories. Such belonging also meant superior knowledge of the place, understanding of the culture and speaking the language, allowing unique insights according to some. A number of the photographers also spoke of their diﬀering access in the ﬁeld which stemmed from their gender identity. Particularly, they spoke of having greater access to women’s lived experiences and thus the ability to take their pictures to tell their stories. One
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photographer said that because of her gender, “people trust me with kids, people trust me with vulnerable women’s stories”. Another said she was able to transcend insider/outsider dynamics when working as a photographer in communities which she does not belong to because she doesn’t appear as a “scary person” or a “threat” to the people she photographs. These diﬀerent accesses were integral to how the photographers described acting as professionals to challenge and change established regimes of representations. Their self-described professional actions could be understood as acts of resistance that sought to establish an alternative visual narrative of their regions, countries, communities and compatriots. Three themes emerged from the descriptions of these acts of resistance.
Restoring dignity Many of the photographers spoke about how they consciously focus on treating and portraying people as valuable. They spoke both of treating people with “respect” while photographing them as well as capturing their innate human “dignity” in photographs. In this context, a photographer from a conﬂict-ridden country said that her practice centres around “letting people show themselves in their best version, instead of their worst”. A photographer from a Sub-Saharan African country said that a big motivation behind her work is to break down stereotypes, to show “people of colour” as “valuable people to society”. At the same time, she described how, “photography can also be quite a violent and intrusive act, especially in private moments or where violence has already occurred to these people” and that her aim is for the people she photographs “to feel dignity. I want them to look at themselves and … feel good when they do look at these images”. While the photographers’ perceptions in this respect were based on a sense of belonging to the community they photographed, which meant that in their everyday photographic practices they related their professional role with personal responsibility, we must note here that some of the photographers also described their struggle to break free from the very same communities, because of imposed gender roles and gender-related biases. This added another layer of complexity to the task they chose to set themselves. A photographer who identiﬁed herself as of a minority group within a South-East Asian country mentioned, I’ve faced criticism within my own community, not even from the majority, as well as my own community culturally as well, it’s not very common to have like a (minority group) woman photographer, going around, traveling and covering stories and just working independently as a freelancer. Another photographer from the Middle East and North Africa region mentioned that when it came to how women photographers were viewed in her own community,
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They are not going to expect you to be a photographer. They are going to expect you to be a mother. Raise the baby at the end of the day … but I have a role to educate and I’m going to take that. Sentiments such as these were echoed time and again by the photographers we interviewed. However, in spite of the complexity and in some cases ambivalence, the sense of responsibility to maintain and restore the dignity of photographic subjects from within their own communities was strong amongst almost all interviewed photographers. Their sense of responsibility was further strengthened by their continued presence in the community as opposed to “parachute” photographers. One photographer told a story of a well-known foreign photographer who visited a refugee camp in her country and took photos of a young woman at a vulnerable moment in a way that the photographer found disrespectful. She mentioned that the renowned photographer must have secured consent to take those photographs but spoke of the many social norms that were nonetheless transgressed by his act of photographing, which she wouldn’t, and couldn’t: because I am coming back to them again and again. In my mind, I know that they are my people and that I have to go back to them and answer [to] them [about] what I have done to them.
Reinstating ignored partial truths A second theme that emerged from the photographers’ responses centred around challenging the established regimes which reify partial truths through selectively shedding light on other, less-exposed partial truths about their countries and communities. Often, these acts of reinstatement of partial truths were articulated by photographers as an intentional focus on private and personal spheres in their photography. One photographer spoke of looking for “the nuances of everyday life that people won’t necessarily take note of”, in her images. For some, the intention behind the focus on the personal and the private was to show that where they are from is a place like any other, in spite of the unrest or social ills that may be present. One photographer said that, there used to be a lot of foreign photojournalists or documentary photographers that came to [my country] to portray the crisis or violence and all that. But what they did was reinforce stereotypes of [my country]. So my work is trying to undo what they did with those stereotypes and show [us] as we are, like people who go to birthdays or funerals or going away parties. It’s a place where there are celebrations, and also there is sadness. But it’s not just one thing, it’s not just misery, it’s more than that. It’s people … wanting to have a normal life. In the articulations by the photographers about changing visual narratives, a shared sense emerged of seeking to replace the over-exposed selective narrative frames
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with more and diﬀerent narrative frames, while not claiming universal truth for them. As a photographer from the South America and Caribbean region said, photos from her country depicted mostly misery and people shown in a very undigniﬁed way and also a lot of violence, which is true, but I think that when you make a work that talks about [a country] as a generality, you should also include the other things. For one of these photographers, her act of challenging established representational regimes extended beyond visual frames to modes of photographic storytelling. Describing how her country has been always depicted by outsider photographers as a place full of vibrant colours, she said that she’s drawn to shooting photographs in black and white, in conscious contrast to those ubiquitous images.
Refusal Four photographers speciﬁcally spoke about their resistance as refusing to produce certain types of images asked of them, speciﬁcally images which in their view would be a misrepresentation, an over-represented narrative, a visual story that perpetuated negative stereotypes, or victimised those who would be photographed. In their articulations regarding these acts of refusal, the photographers’ identity as women and identiﬁcation with women as photographic subjects, were strongly linked. One photographer spoke about a request from a foreign media outlet for photos of women who had been raped during a conﬂict. I said no. I refused, I sa[id] no, we can do something else. We told about the rapes, but we can make images of these women in their associations, where we can do, for example, the work which can cheer up these women. We can do something else. Women who are doing well in business is something else entirely, to overcome their pain. But no, they wanted only portraits of the raped women. I sa[id] if you want me to do that, I suggest this. If you don’t want to, I can’t do it. So we did not agree on this point there. We separated like that. I don’t know what they did, but in any case, we didn’t get along. In two other instances, the photographers spoke about choosing to not exploit the insider access they had. A photographer spoke of a certain story on sex work in her country that she thought has been shot in the same way by foreign photographers for the past 20 years. She said, I had greater access [than outsider photographers] to do the same thing but I didn’t because I am waiting to have a vision in a diﬀerent way. So that the representation, [and] my pattern of history-telling, will evolve and change.
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More weight is added to understanding this act of refusal as a powerful act of resistance in itself through an observation by a photographer from the North American and European region, who enjoys superior international mobility compared to most others interviewed for this study. She said that she had been increasingly questioning whether she should travel to other countries for her photographic work, or whether a local photographer is better placed to do the job. This is why I recently haven’t been really working on these representations of other people, especially from other cultures because I’ve felt like, well there is always the danger of misrepresentation …. And maybe partly this thing has led me to make more artistic work, that I’m able to take the full responsibility of, that this is my truth, instead of portraying other people and claiming that this is the truth about them. In sum, while 21 of the 22 photographers felt they were actively resisting established regimes of photographic representations and practices, the ways in which their acts of resistance take place were, according to them, not uniform. In this context, we should also note that some photographers mentioned that their very presence within the international and national photographic industries was, in itself, an act of resistance.
Discussion In their understanding of their diﬀerent, and in some ways privileged, accesses to certain spaces because of belonging to a community and/or being a woman, the views of the photographers who took part in this study showed remarkable similarities to views on accesses while working in the ﬁeld expressed by insider and/or women photographers and media workers elsewhere (cf. Baroni, 2015; Orgeret, 2016; Campbell and Critcher, 2018; Palmer and Melki, 2018; Mitra, 2019; Palmer, 2019). The perceptions of the photographers regarding established regimes of photographic representations and practices towards marginalised people and places also echoed issues discussed in previous scholarly works regarding selective visual framing and stereotypical “negative” representations of marginalised peoples in photographs in ways that rob them of agency and human dignity, reducing them to universal symbols of suﬀering or misery (e.g. Boltanski, 1999; Sontag, 2003; Chouliaraki, 2006; Zelizer, 2010). While noting the conﬁrmation based on practitioners’ perspectives of previous critical discussions, it is more important to draw attention to the broader implications of the current ﬁndings.
Intersectional self-reﬂexivity First, what we believe to be noteworthy are the degree and depth of critical reﬂexivity towards photographic representations and practice among the photographers we spoke to. As recently noted by Nothias, the “textual orientation”
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(2020: 248) of scholarly studies on representational regimes means that often the reﬂexivity that media practitioners bring to their practice is overlooked in scholarly discussions. In his study on foreign correspondents working in Kenya and South Africa, Nothias found their perceptions and practices marked by what he termed “postcolonial reﬂexivity” (2020). Borrowing his term, and extending its scope, we posit that in our study with female photographers from the Global South, we found their professional perceptions and practices to be marked by intersectional reﬂexivity – awareness about and reaction against hegemonic regimes of representation based on both geopolitical and gender-based inequities. This reﬂexive awareness among the photographers not only extended to the practices of those the photographers considered “foreign”, and photographers from within national contexts considered “outsiders”, but also to their own photographic practice. This intersectional self-reﬂexivity included recognising and embracing their own inability to present the whole truth through photographs, but was most prominent when it came to acknowledging and embracing the human element at the centre of the practice of photography.
Responsibility and resistance Beyond documenting their intersectional self-reﬂexivity, identifying how the women photographers diagnose, but also seek to remedy, the problems inherent in established regimes of photographic representation and practice, as we have done above, in our view is the most important contribution of this current chapter. We found that the photographers’ sense of belonging interacted with their intersectional reﬂexivity towards photographic practice in ways that give rise to acts of resistance in and through their own professional work. The photographers’ resistance also stemmed from understanding the importance of their very presence: as women, within an industry traditionally dominated by Caucasian males, in certain marginalised places, among certain marginalised peoples, with the (reclaimed) power to visually interpret and mediate the representations of the people and the place they consider themselves to be part of, for the beneﬁt of wider audiences. Azoulay emphasised that “the citizen of photography enjoys the right to see because she has a responsibility toward what she sees” (2008: 144). In our case, we found that the photographers were aware that their right to show who they photographed came with the responsibility to show the people in ways that put respect towards individuals and communities at the forefront of their photographic representations and practice. The photographic practices of most of these women photographers were marked by a sense of mobilisation against those forms of power that seek to deﬁne their own existence and that of “their” people within global imagery. These acts of resistance, we argue, may be seen as identiﬁcation among a majority of the photographers interviewed, with an ongoing, evolving, and as yet perhaps amorphous, critical and political project that they are both part of and giving shape to. Azoulay’s formulation of photography as a civil act that necessarily requires a relationship (2008) between the photographer and the photographed, with the twin potential
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arising out of that relationship to either reinforce or resist established regimes of representation (Azoulay, 2015), can help us make sense of this amorphous project of resistance. Almost all the women photographers we interviewed may be understood as having made a conscious choice: recognising the possibility of, and in some cases shaping, resistance to iniquitous power dynamics through active rehabilitation of connections between themselves and the people they photograph, as well as between photographic images and their viewers.
Conclusion We believe that the ﬁndings related to the intersectional reﬂexivity among the interviewees, and the project of photographic resistance we found them to be giving shape to, provide some empirical basis to the often-voiced core idea that photographers from the Global South, especially women, can make a diﬀerence in how marginalised peoples and places, particularly those embroiled in conﬂicts and crises, have been and are depicted in photographs. But any such optimism must be cautious. Whether or not the intersectional reﬂexivity or the acts of resistance described above are widespread enough to constitute a substantial challenge to established regimes of photographic representations and practices is beyond the remit of the current study to ascertain fully, given its limitations of being based on a purposive sample and its reliance on self-narration by practitioners of their own photographic practices. Especially, we would like to note that it was clear from the responses of most of the interviewees that the ability to take on the responsibility to resist established regimes of representation were predicated on having reached a point in their career where they had acquired the ability to negotiate their terms with employers to an extent. For a majority of them, this was a result of pre-existing or acquired economic capital as well as substantial cultural and social capital (Bourdieu, 1986) within their professional ﬁeld that they had built up in the course of their career. In plain terms, ﬁnancial considerations were not, or no longer, primary for many of the photographers interviewed and access to prestigious publications, platforms and channels to showcase their photography was more or less established for most. Eﬀorts to support equitable redistribution of representational power for women photographers, especially those from the Global South, may in the future need to focus on doing away with the need to acquire such capital ﬁrst to be able to resist established regimes of photographic representations and practices at an international level. In addition, we also oﬀer that the project of resistance described above should be understood as deeply personal. First, for the photographers it entailed creating, reinstating and maintaining a civil contract between themselves and their photographic subjects and, second, the photographers’ extension of this civil contract to audiences around the world through their images may mirror to an extent their own need to gain acceptance into and take part in the global “citizenry of photography” (Azoulay, 2008: 166).
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At the same time, the cumulative eﬀect of these individual, perhaps even isolated, acts of resistance by women photographers that we captured in this study cannot be discounted wholly either. The fact remains that if a project of resistance taking shape even among a select few photographers is to ﬂourish, then it will need to be actively supported. Future initiatives to make the global community of photography more inclusive will need to recognise, foster and amplify these acts. The mentorship programmes to support photographers of under-represented groups, from whose cohorts we drew our sample of photographers, could prove crucial to granting them such acceptance. Thus, it will be important to take these initiatives into scholarly purview in the future to further investigate their ability to empower photographers from marginalised communities through transferring economic, social and cultural capital to them. Beyond academia, as members of the viewing public, we will also need to share future responsibility. We will need to play our part within the citizenry of photography by being aware, and raising awareness about, who gets to produce the photographic representations of conﬂicts and crises that we consume, and by recognising and debating the ethical and political questions embedded within the photographic acts which surround the production of these images.
Note 1 Cf. Arab Documentary Photography Programme (see arabdocphotography.org) or Invisible Photographers Asia (see invisiblephotographer.asia)
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7 CITIZEN JOURNALISM Is Bellingcat revolutionising conﬂict journalism? Glenda Cooper and Bruce Mutsvairo
Introduction Bellingcat, the citizen-oriented investigative journalism website that has grabbed international headlines because of its fact-based and open-source reporting, has been gathering momentum since its formation in 2014. From the Syrian civil war to the downing of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, from the war in Ukraine to Yemeni civil war, Bellingcat seems to have weathered a storm, following initial attacks from countries targeted by its aggressive reporting, including Russia. Its hard-hitting reporting style, especially on controversial issues, most of which often involve conﬂict narratives, has earned it praise and scorn in equal measure. This chapter seeks to facilitate a discussion into the organisation’s practices and methods. Ultimately, the purpose of this contribution is to critically analyse Bellingcat as a case study to envision and critique its role in journalism. Has Bellingcat changed journalism? If so, in what ways? What kind of journalism does Bellingcat represent? How has Bellingcat transformed citizen journalism? What opportunities and limitations can be associated with Bellingcat, especially insofar as reporting conﬂict-related cases is concerned? When a Russian-made missile hit and shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 on board in July 2014, the Dutch authorities responded by establishing a transnational taskforce whose job was to pursue justice for the crash victims. At around the same time the then little-known British journalist and blogger Eliot Higgins launched an investigative website that would play an integral part in providing evidence, which has since helped Dutch investigators indict four men on 298 counts of murder. Seven years since its formation, Higgins’ Bellingcat has made a name as a leading contender for using fact-based technological and innovative approaches to expose the truth, especially in unfathomable cases emerging from around the world. DOI: 10.4324/9781003015628-8
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The purpose of this explorative chapter is to look into Bellingcat’s investigate approaches to establish how its methods have furthered our understanding of the transformative landscapes of citizen journalism and conﬂict reporting. Apart from a telephone interview with Higgins, we review important studies in the areas of citizen journalism and conﬂict reporting using a case study analysis to historicise and conceptualise Bellingcat’s reporting methods and practices, revisiting citizen media and discussing the contextual disputes between “mainstream” and “new/ alternative” media narratives. Like citizen journalism, open-source culture has emerged as a form of journalism innovation that allows journalists and non-professionals including technologists to unite in contributing towards greater transparency and credibility of news by collaborating in fact-checking and publishing of online news. Indeed, on its website Bellingcat calls itself “the home of online investigations” (www.bellingcat.com). Looking at the role that the award-winning open-source site has played in providing public knowledge on the works of secretive and obscure organisations such as the alleged Russian military intelligence involvement in the 2018 poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, some, arguably, will argue it deserves that title. The site uses the smartphone and other digital technologies to seek evidence, investigate and provide the truth for its readers and followers. Major international media organisations including the New York Times and Al Jazeera English have all reached out to Higgins, seeking to raise awareness of his methods and practices. A documentary about Bellingcat recently won an international Emmy Award as the organisation’s popularity continues to rise. Also, inﬂuenced by Higgins’ work, leading international broadcasters such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) have introduced their own open-source desks to investigate, collaborate and seek truth. But not everyone has been inspired by Higgins’ work. For example, Russian authorities, who do not recognise Higgins’ journalistic endeavours, have accused Bellingcat of openly siding with the West in its MH17 investigations.
Citizen journalism: A changing terrain Over the last ten years or so, empirical research focusing on citizen journalism has experienced a nosedive. During its peak, between 2000 and 2012, several books and peer-reviewed papers were published as researchers sought to investigate the resurgence of citizen-supported reporting powered by ubiquitous digital technologies. As more and more people gained access to the Internet and digital devices, movements including the “Arab Spring” protests in the Middle East and North Africa helped make a case for citizen journalism as online campaigners took to the Internet to register their protests against misrule and totalitarianism. While global research on citizen journalism has experienced a deep-seated tumble, a recent journal special issue has concluded that citizen journalism is thriving in Asia, especially among countries with less media plurality, such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia (Zeng et al., 2019b). Another study by Zeng, Burgess and Bruns (2019a) zoomed in on China and demonstrated the importance of citizen journalism in the country, arguing messages
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shared by ordinary people on social media platform Weibo played a pivotal role in oﬀering alternative news to what was being oﬀered by oﬃcial Chinese media reports. Contributing to the rare special issue, Luo and Harrison (2019) concluded citizen message exchanges on Weibo inﬂuenced policy direction and set the agenda for conventional media. A number of factors, including the hesitation by some researchers (e.g. Grant, 2007) to consider citizen-based reporting as legitimate as journalism or a form of empowerment (Berger, 2011) or as a democratising tool (Mutsvairo, 2016; Mutsvairo and Salgado, 2020), even in cases where little or no evidence was given, could have contributed to the global decline in citizen journalism research. But if journalism has a big role to play in resolving conﬂict situations (Orgeret and Tayeebwa, 2016), what role could reporting by non-professionals play in making the world more peaceful? Mogekwu’s (2011) work in Nigeria includes telling accounts of citizen journalism playing a very important role in providing critical information that could help end a conﬂict. But then there have also been several accounts of continuing worries among the public about citizen journalists’ hand in distributing inaccurate news or “fake news”. Usher argues that trust in journalism is a “critical mechanism in social cohesion” (2018: 564) but studies by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (2020) show that in many countries trust in journalism has continued to decline. For many journalists this has proved deeply worrying, with a large number urging colleagues to adopt more rigorous fact-checking techniques to resolve the problem with the public (Schapals, 2018). This however is not conﬁned to so-called “professional” journalists – those who earn money through journalism – either by working for legacy media outlets or as freelancers.1 A recent study in Hong Kong by Darbo and Skjerdal (2019) not only showed that both citizen and traditional journalists were concerned about the loss of public trust but also that there was little diﬀerence in how they perceived their roles in society especially with regards to duty and autonomy. Ultimately, citizen journalism has managed to challenge but also complement the work of established news journalists. For example, choosing to call them “citizen activists”, and using the Syrian War as a case study, Hauser (2018) argues that the work of unprofessional journalists has left seasoned journalists in a quandary as they struggle to integrate and align practices emerging from non-traditional journalists with professional norms of the industry. But she also admits in the absence of professional journalists, information supplied by “citizen activists” has been critical in giving us an informative discourse about the Syrian war. How does Bellingcat ﬁt into the tradition of conﬂict reporting by legacy media organisations? Since the early days of conﬂict reporting, war correspondents have often achieved fame and status. Crimean war correspondent Sir William Howard Russell ended up with a bronze and marble statue in St Paul’s Cathedral, London (Knightley, 1976); while in televisual times it was said that “until the [BBC correspondent] Kate Adie turns up it is not a war” (Leonard, 2003).The mythology surrounding war correspondents has frequently been built up to a narrative of adventure, independence and truth, “projecting intellectual authority and macho
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bravado” (Pedelty, 1995). At the centre is a lone ﬁgure (usually male), a maverick and individualist who pursues the story alone, bearing witness from the scene, while often being in conﬂict with authorities to tell the truth. However, this mythologising is often exactly that – myth. From the beginning, conﬂict reporting has been carried out by reporters who rely on a wider group of individuals beyond conventional journalists to facilitate their reporting. They have found themselves consistently challenged by technology, which has then gone on to alter their reporting habits. And ﬁnally they have found it diﬃcult to verify information and overcome censorship, both external and internal, as well as overcome what Williams ( 2013: 15) called the culture of distance – reporting from far away through a screen.
The role of the “other” in conﬂict reporting Conﬂict reporting has frequently focused on the “star” reporter, but the reporting of wars has relied on other, largely unsung individuals. These traditionally range from freelance reporters, local reporters and ﬁxers who facilitate the war reporter’s ability to ﬁnd stories and arrange interviews (Hamilton and Jenner, 2004; Palmer and Fontan, 2007). These individuals have played a vital role in directing journalists on where to go and to whom to speak, not always just logistically but editorially (Murrell, 2010) – they are part of the “underground economy that makes foreign news reporting possible” (Palmer, 2018: 5). They have become increasingly vital at a time when global media have been closing down foreign bureaux and restricting foreign news (Harding, 2010; Moore and Loyn, 2010). These developments form what Ulf Hannerz calls the “paradox” of current international news where “in an era of intense globalisations, foreign news coverage in many media channels has recently been shrinking” (2012: 23). In an era of parachute news (where correspondents are “parachuted” in to cover a story rather than living in the country beforehand), those with specialist knowledge about conﬂicts become increasingly important. In many cases this may be the stringer or the ﬁxer. Murrell’s work (2010; 2014) investigating the dynamics of the ﬁxer– journalist relationship looked at the interplay between ﬁxers, newsroom managers and foreign correspondents from the BBC and CNN’s Baghdad bureaux and found in some cases the security situation was so extreme that ﬁxers were not only facilitating interviews but had carried out the interviews too. Freelancers have also played a crucial role in war reporting as well; without being subject to one media organisation, they are able to take initiatives to follow up stories that may be under-reported or further down the news agenda in order to ﬁll in gaps. As Nate Thayer, who was the only reporter to cover the “trial” of Pol Pot in Cambodia in 1997, pointed out, his persistence, context and background allowed him to achieve this scoop. As a freelancer he had the “latitude (if not the expense account) to ignore those who urged me to stop my investigations. Had I been a staﬀ reporter … I would not have kept reporting many stories that were deemed ‘important’ as time went on” (Thayer, 2001: 29).
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This however should be seen in context – freelancers often have to put themselves at considerable risk. It is notable that in 2015 those journalists beheaded by ISIS in Syria – James Foley, Steven Sotloﬀ and Kenji Goto – and the hostage John Cantlie, were all freelancers while Bill Keller, the former New York Times editor, once coined the sardonic phrase “the replacements” for freelancers who went to war zones, untrained and unsupported (Keller, 2013). They may also not have the cultural capital that established staﬀ reporters have. In recent times, the problems of journalists accessing conﬂict zones such as Syria, combined with the growth in social media and open-source material, have led to increased use of content that has not been created by journalists employed by legacy media organisations (Johnston, 2015; Lewis and Usher, 2013) but which is often then used by journalists (Bennett, 2016; Johnston, 2016). Since Salam Pax’s blogs during the 2003 Iraq war, the ability of citizens to report when legacy media cannot also challenged the concept of the journalistic role of bearing witness (Allan and Zelizer, 2004; Allan and Thorsen, 2009; Allan, 2013). Journalists have had to think about how they interact with these new agents in the journalistic ﬁeld, both in terms of veriﬁcation (Sacco and Bossio, 2015; Bennett, 2011) and in terms of interacting with such citizen journalists (Johnston, 2017; Cooper, 2015). Particularly in Syria, where journalists could not get access, reporters were reliant on activists and also on those who could make sense of the videos and information that were uploaded by members of the public.
The role of technology in conﬂict reporting Technology has constantly challenged the way that the war correspondent functions. In the early days of Russell’s war reporting, it would take dispatches at least a week to reach London from the Crimea (Knightley, 1976) with reporters often using military or diplomatic mail bags, while the telegraph moved at the speed of light with governments learning of the results of battleﬁelds from newspapers rather than their own sources (Neuman, 1995: 20). By the time of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1, the telegraph had become central to newsgathering during the war. Speed, rather than beautiful writing or accuracy, was all – whether the correspondent rode to a telegraph oﬃce themselves or entrusted their words to a courier (Harris and Williams, 2018). In the early twentieth century, the introduction of the typewriter and then the telephone made reporters more independent and also more accountable to their editors, as well as distinguishing between roving reporters and the newsroom staﬀ structure back home (Mari, 2018: 1367). Speed again accelerated with the possibility of 75 words per minute being transmitted via telephone compared with 40–50 by telegraph (Mari, 2018: 1371). The development of the Leica camera also proved decisive around the time of the First World War: while most war photography was heavily censored, the growth of cameras that were portable and could be managed by all contributed to a potential “ﬁrst step on the way to the democratisation of image-making in wartime as well as the emergence of the photojournalist” (Harris and Willams, 2018: 82).
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The power of broadcasting was clear too – from both during the war to its aftermath with Ed Murrow’s and Richard Dimbleby’s powerful broadcasts from the Nazi death camps (Knightley, 1995). But the need for cumbersome technology to report meant that the next step forward came in the mid-1980s and 1990s with the growth of satellite technology and videophones. These allowed much more ﬂexibility and, combined with the growth in 24-hour news, focused on breaking news “deinstitutionalizing news content” (Livingston and van Belle, 2005: 47), which would promote the reporter’s own impressions and ﬁrst-hand account (Gans, 2003: 51). However, as reporters complained, this frequently meant less actual reporting than actually “being there” in front of a camera (Bell, 2017; Rodgers, 2012). Added to that was the rise of the “CNN eﬀect” – arguing that 24-hour media and pictures had a signiﬁcant impact on foreign policy (Kennan, 1993), although this has been questioned (van Belle, 2008; Robinson, 2002). Finally, the growth of social media and citizen journalism, as mentioned above, has led to a focus on war reporters on the ground producing more emotional and subjective reports, producing content in diﬀerent forms, from blogs to tweets to livestreaming (Cooper, 2018), while dealing with ongoing challenges to the conventions such as not showing graphic imagery (Brown, 2015).
Getting information For the war reporter, collecting and verifying information has always been a diﬃcult matter. For as long as wars have existed, those on the winning (and losing sides) have tried to impose propaganda, glorifying their own side and demonising the other (Knightley, 1976). War reporters have had to deal with various attempts by governments to control the reporting of conﬂict, most notably in recent times with the practice of embedding journalists with troops, as happened in the Falklands War and then the two Iraq wars, which can then restrict journalists’ traditional investigative abilities. As the CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour pointed out, it was not just a question of whether the right information was being given, but also “a question of tone … all of the body politic, whether it’s the administration, the intelligence or journalists, whoever did not ask enough questions for instance about weapons of mass destruction” (Allan and Zelizer, 2004:9). With the growth of smartphones able to record high-quality video and apps to distribute it, journalists have also had to face issues around veriﬁcation of what appears to be bona ﬁde footage – and have been caught out (McPherson, 2015). It was not until 2014 that a handbook, authored by a mixture of academics and journalists, suggesting how to verify digital content in emergencies was published (Silverman, 2014).
From blogger to open-source protagonist Bellingcat describes itself as an “independent international collective of researchers, investigators and citizen journalists using open source and social media investigation to probe a variety of subjects” (www.bellingcat.com). Its investigative work
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through open-source intelligence (OSINT) came to public attention in August 2013 in the aftermath of the Ghouta chemical attack in Syria, when Eliot Higgins, then a lone blogger in Leicester, England posted as many videos as he could ﬁnd on his blog, then called Brown Moses (Radden Keefe, 2013). Higgins had previously published a collection of videos on his blog from protests to explosions, but, because he did not speak Arabic had “concentrated on documenting weaponry” (Radden Keefe, 2014). In the aftermath of the Ghouta chemical attack of 2013, which left hundreds dead, he identiﬁed a weapon that looked similar to those which had delivered chemical agents; after comparing multiple videos, using geolocation tools and working with Storyful, a social media news agency which linked him with contributors from diﬀerent ﬁelds, he identiﬁed what appeared to be a 330 mm surface to surface rocket. His work was later cited in the Human Rights Watch report into the attack (Human Rights Watch, 2013). Seven years later, Higgins now heads Bellingcat, an organisation that is funded by a variety of foundations, crowdfunding and running workshops, and has a regular staﬀ of 20 including three admin staﬀ, ampliﬁed by 12 regular volunteers who work together on Slack and dozens who may contribute on a more informal and ad hoc basis. It has won the European Prize for Innovation in 2017, the 2019 London Press Club Award for Digital Journalism and the 2020 Scripps Howard Award for Innovation, amongst others. Signiﬁcant investigations include MH17, the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury and analysis of the 2018 Douma chemical attack in Syria. One of the key points of Bellingcat’s work is that the majority of what they look at is available freely online. Unlike traditional investigative journalism, which may rely on leaks and secret documentation, Bellingcat scours what is in the public domain. Higgins realised early on the potential conjunction of three technological advances from 2007 onwards. First, there was the widespread adoption of smartphones which allowed anyone to take high-quality photographs and videos. Second, there was the development of apps such as Facebook and Twitter which facilitated easy sharing of such open-source information. And ﬁnally the introduction of satellite imagery such as Google Earth and Street View allowed veriﬁcation of the open-source information that was being shared via apps. “Combining those kinds of … developments allows us to do this new form of investigation that we do wouldn’t have been possible before, say, 2008,” Higgins concludes in a phone interview carried out on 20 April 2020, which lasted 50 minutes and was recorded. Bruno (2011) coined the phrase the “1440-minute” cycle, to reﬂect the speeded-up nature of the news cycle in a technologically advanced age. With newspapers constantly updating their websites rather than waiting to go to press, and TV news either having an online or 24-hour broadcasting presence, the need for fresh content has become paramount, as has the fear of being left behind (Hermida and Thurman, 2008). Another potential beneﬁt Higgins recognises is that Bellingcat, funded by a diverse group of organisations and not subject to the tyranny of the daily news agenda, has the luxury of space to pursue their investigations. As he puts it:
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I don’t think it’s so much about what we can do that other people can’t because anyone can do this [such investigations]. I mean, one of the main things is really having the time to do it, a lot of modern journalists say they are pushed for time, especially with the commercial approach of most news organisations. So we are in a position where we can spend a lot of time on subjects and keep revisiting it and, kind of become the expert on a subject, like for example, we had with MH17. (phone interview, April 2020) What Bellingcat also saw the potential of early on was engaging with people beyond the investigative journalism community. In analysing Sohaib Athar’s (@ReallyVirtual) tweets of the raid which killed Osama bin Laden, Myers (2014) makes a persuasive argument that those who do not identify as citizen journalists may still be participating in “acts of journalism” (Stearns, 2013) by starting to act in a journalistic manner. In Athar’s case, he observed something unusual and shared it, answered questions, tried to act as a conduit for information and sought corroboration. This does not make him a professional journalist, but Myers argues it does mean that he is acting journalistically. Higgins too used the term “act of journalism” to describe Bellingcat’s work as not only being a blog article, podcast or documentary but also archiving material from conﬂict zones and making them accessible (phone interview, April 2020). He saw Bellingcat as a “node” connecting human rights organisations, lawyers and journalists, which also allowed their investigations to make impacts in very diﬀerent ﬁelds and move into “justice and accountability”. I think it’s a very satisfying way of working because it means that you might be working on a new story, but you also know that story will have life somewhere else in a diﬀerent kind of way. And that in itself might lead to more happening with that story than would happen if you just stuck it into a newspaper or on a website. (phone interview, April 2020) Bellingcat worked early on with Storyful, which described itself as the world’s ﬁrst social media news agency, as well as people from humanitarian organisations like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, and more recently Forensic Architecture, a research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London. But it also included those whom Higgins had “met” on social media sites such as Twitter who were interested in similar subjects. This ability to harness diverse expertise has led to an ongoing community of volunteers who work with Bellingcat, some of whom have gone oﬀ to form other outlets such as the New York Times’s Visual Investigation Team. Even now Bellingcat’s structure how it works, we have the “coal burning” investigation team, which is a few dozen people and that’s a mix of staﬀ and volunteers who are really, really engaged all the time. Then outside of that we
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have contributors who write articles for Bellingcat but don’t get involved in the Slack side of things. Then we have a very engaged community, other people on Twitter who are really engaging with us, if we share something they’ll hop on and try and verify it and are useful for amplifying stuﬀ … And then there’s a wider community outside of that who are the general public who are on social media. (phone interview, April 2020) At the time of writing, Bellingcat is relaunching its website to include a new volunteers’ section to harness the power of this collaborative form. Crucial to its investigative work, however, is the inner circle of active investigators who communicate via Bellingcat’s Slack stream as referred to above. Such online collaborative software packages are now widely used but have proved particularly useful for journalists. Bunce, Wright, and Scott (2018) in their study of the Slack virtual newsroom at the humanitarian news agency IRIN, note the possibility of closer collaboration and connection despite the lack of physical connection, and Bellingcat’s diversity of contributors also seems to reﬂect this with Higgins talking about “really really engaged” contributors who were on Slack every day. The open and networked nature of the online community was also something that helped identify those who would be committed and those who would be disruptive. It’s such a small community, you tend to know everyone. And that’s also a certain degree of protection. It’s not like the traditional journalism community where there’s tens of thousands of journalists and if you piss someone oﬀ, you can forget about them. If someone pisses oﬀ someone in the open-source community, the entire community knows about it very, very quickly. We’re all very interested in each other’s work and I think we’re quite protective of each other as well. (phone interview, April 2020) The other beneﬁt that Higgins saw, in comparison with newsrooms with rapid turnovers of staﬀ and layoﬀs (Ekdale et al., 2015) was that there was a hinterland of knowledge that was built up with Bellingcat’s dedicated followers. He talked of people who had, from “day one” looked at every single piece of evidence connected to MH17 that allowed them to contextualise new information because of the vast amount of knowledge that was accrued. This went beyond individual stories to more general areas that Bellingcat looked into such as stories to do with Russian spies. Bellingcat’s set up also meant there was potential for diversiﬁcation of funding streams. When Higgins ﬁrst set up Brown Moses, he was blogging in his spare time while juggling childcare; when it looked like he would have to take a job which would restrict his ability to do so, he raised enough money online to ensure he could continue blogging (Radden Keefe, 2014). Today, Bellingcat receives money through grants and foundations, crowdfunding and through running workshops (the last of which generates around 30 per cent of its income). The site is now
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looking to set up its own production company in order to use other means to disseminate their investigations and, as Higgins puts it, “to take full advantage of the situation”. Having disseminated information through “traditional” means of blogs and in co-operation with mainstream media organisations, Bellingcat has now moved into both podcasts and documentary ﬁlm making. However, there are limitations when it comes to conﬂict reporting. One of these is that Bellingcat uses the online veriﬁcation tools available, but they do not have direct access to on-the-ground sources that legacy media reporters would commonly use when putting together a story about a conﬂict or the ability to experience a particular place itself. This was partly a cultural approach as Higgins made clear in a 2014 interview: Although having contacts on the ground could signiﬁcantly improve the ﬁdelity of his picture of the war, Higgins was ambivalent about such sources. “I felt it ruined the purity of what I was doing a bit,” he told me. Video is a particularly transparent medium … “The problem with drawing on oﬄine conversations,” he explained, is that “you can’t say, ‘OK, here’s a link to me talking to this person’.” (Radden Keefe, 2014) Conﬂict reporting has traditionally relied on bearing witness and “being there” (Knightley, 1976); something that Bellingcat’s investigators do not do. Higgins however refuses to see this as a problem, instead critiquing traditional conﬂict reporters such as Robert Fisk and Seymour Hersh for not taking a similar approach and focusing on such veriﬁcation techniques, rather than their own experience. But he does acknowledge that “the limitation of online opensource investigation is that there has to be online ways of getting information”. Use of open-source intelligence (OSINT) is not possible in all investigations. For example, with the suspects in the Skripal poisoning which Bellingcat identiﬁed, the initial tip-oﬀs were not through open-source material. However, Bellingcat then used what Higgins refers to as a “chink in the armour” to discover as much as possible through open-source material. With the kind of stories that Bellingcat does, another issue is security; they have been targeted by Russian intelligence (Bellingcat Investigations Team, 2019). Without the history and power that a legacy media organisation may have, they have taken two approaches to counter this. First is to ensure digital and physical security. The second is to maintain as high a proﬁle as possible. We decided if we have the highest proﬁle possible, then it’s less likely that they’ll try something. I stub my toe and people think the Russians are behind it. So that’s why we do the books and TV series and documentaries so we’re just making sure we’re as visible as possible and people know who we are and what the threats are against us. (phone interview, April 2020)
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Citizen journalism has faced insurmountable criticism linked to its supposed failure to handle ethical matters. In general, citizen journalists, for instance in Africa, have not been seen to be paying particular attention to professional ethics (Mutsvairo, 2016). Yet Bellingcat, at least through its membership in the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN), an international hub that oﬀers support and training to investigative data journalists and provides professional advice on matters such as ethics and safety, has shown its commitment to ethics. GIJN uses a network of international “citizen investigators” who use “investigative techniques to uncover wrongdoing and expose the invisible” (gijn.org), a mission that falls within Bellingcat’s remit. More research will have to be carried out to determine Bellingcat’s ethical endeavours.
Conclusion The purpose of this chapter was to explore Bellingcat’s contribution towards the conﬂict reporting discourse. We conclude that Bellingcat’s inﬂuence on conﬂict reporting has taken several diﬀerent forms. First, it has proved the important role that those outside the legacy media organisations can play in reporting conﬂict situations and events. Second, its use of OSINT has inspired legacy media journalists to work with it (for example the New York Times over the case of the Ukrainian airplane PS752 and the BBC’s Africa Eye over a murder in Cameroon) and also to set up their own open-source investigations. Bellingcat now trains reporters amongst others in the regular workshops they run around the world. Bellingcat has also changed citizen journalism practices. By adopting a set of reporting guidelines and principles, which have earned praise and respect from several journalistic institutions around the world, it has established norms and practices which ensure that citizen journalists’ work can be evaluated and compared to legacy media work. This can, as above, result in co-operative projects between legacy media and Bellingcat but its use of new technology has inﬂuenced mainstream organisations – for example with the setting up of the New York Times’s Visual Investigation Team – or by training reporters in open-source investigative techniques as mentioned above. Furthermore, Bellingcat’s journalism endeavours are principally investigative in nature, meaning it invests heavily in resources and time, diﬀerentiating itself from other social media-driven citizen journalism outﬁts that focus mostly on hard news. In so doing, Bellingcat has ushered in new approaches and thinking to conﬂict reporting. Given the lack of academic perspectives on Bellingcat’s journalistic approaches, we hope this chapter will lead to some form of debate and discussions among journalism scholars focusing primarily on the models and methods used by the UK-based organisation. It is our desire to take this research to another phase that will focus on engaging other forms of empirically driven data.
Note 1 The deﬁnition of professionalism in journalism is notoriously diﬃcult as the boundaries of journalism become more porous (Carlson and Lewis, 2015). Journalists themselves have
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also queried the idea of journalism as a profession with some seeing it more as a trade or a craft (Tumber and Prentoulis, 2005), and how professionalism is deﬁned (Waisbord, 2013). In this chapter we use the words professional journalist to mean someone who sees it as their occupation and who receives money from legacy media outlets for the work they perform.
References Allan, S. (2013). Citizen Witnessing: Revisioning Journalism in Times of Crisis. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. Allan, S. and Thorsen, E. (eds) (2009). Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives. New York: Peter Lang. Allan, S. and Zelizer, B. (2004). “The Culture of Distance: Online Reporting of the Iraq War” (pp. 347–365) in: S. Allan and B. Zelizer (eds) Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime. London: Routledge. Bell, M. (2017). War and the Death of News: Reﬂections of a Grade B Reporter. London: Oneworld Publications. Bellingcat Investigations Team (2019). Guccifer rising? Months-long phishing campaign on ProtonMail targets dozens of Russia-focused journalists and NGOs. Retrieved from https:// www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2019/08/10/guccifer-rising-months-long-phish ing-campaign-on-protonmail-targets-dozens-of-russia-focused-journalists-and-ngos/. Bennett, D. (2011). “A ‘Gay Girl in Damascus’, The Mirage of the ‘Authentic Voice’ – And the Future of Journalism” (pp. 187–195) in: R. Keeble and J. Mair (eds) Mirage in the Desert. Reporting the Arab Spring. Abramis. Bennett, D. (2016). Sourcing the BBC’s live online coverage of terror attacks. Digital Journalism 4(7): pp. 861–874. Berger, G. (2011). Empowering the youth as citizen journalists: A South African experience. Journalism 12(6): pp. 708–726. Brown, P. (2015). OMG I can’t ever unsee that: What happened when the live aftermath of the Bangkok blast was streamed on periscope. Retrieved from https://medium.com/1st-dra ft/omg-i-can-t-ever-unsee-that-what-happened-when-the-aftermath-of-the-bangkok-bom b-blast-was-7a3f39ee2b0 Bruno, N. (2011). Tweet First, Verify Later. Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Bunce, M., Wright, K. and Scott, M. (2018). “Our newsroom in the cloud”: Slack, virtual newsrooms and journalistic practice. New Media & Society 20(9): pp. 3381–3399. Carlson, M. and Lewis, S.C. (eds) (2015). Boundaries of Journalism: Professionalism, Practices and Participation. London and New York: Routledge. Cooper, G. (2015). Do mainstream news outlets have a moral obligation to citizen journalists? Retrieved from https://www.niemanlab.org/2015/07/do-mainstream-news-outlets-have-a -moral-obligation-to-citizen-journalists/ Cooper, G. (2018). Reporting Humanitarian Disasters in a Social Media Age. London and New York: Routledge. Darbo, K.N. and Skjerdal, T. (2019). Blurred boundaries: Citizens journalists versus conventional journalists in Hong Kong. Global Media and China 4 (1): pp. 111–124. Ekdale, B., Tully, M., Harmsen, S. and Singer, J.B. (2015). Newswork within a culture of job insecurity: Producing news amidst organizational and industry uncertainty. Journalism Practice 9(3): pp. 383–398. Gans, H.J. (2003). Democracy and the News. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Grant, S. (2007). We Are All Journalists Now. New York: Focal Press.
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Hamilton, J.M. and Jenner, E. (2004). Redeﬁning foreign correspondence. Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism 5(3): pp. 301–321. Hannerz, U. (2012). Foreign News: Exploring the World of Foreign Correspondents. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Harding, P. (2010). The Great Global Switch-oﬀ: International Coverage in UK Public Service Broadcasting. London: POLIS and Oxfam. Harris, J. and Williams, K. (2018). Reporting War and ConﬂictNew York and London: Routledge. Hauser, J. (2018). Citizen-activist as journalist: Network journalism and professional practices in the coverage of the Aleppo oﬀensive. Irish Communication Review 16(1): pp. 1–26. Hermida, A. and Thurman, N. (2008). A clash of culture. Journalism Practice 2(3): pp. 343–356. Human Rights Watch (2013). Attacks on Ghouta: Analysis of alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/report/2013/09/10/atta cks-ghouta/analysis-alleged-use-chemical-weapons-syria Johnston, L. (2015). “UGC in the Newsroom: How BBC Journalists’ Engagement with Internet Activists has Altered Newsroom Practices” (pp. 182–194) in: E. Thorsen, D. Jackson, H. Savigny, and J. Alexander (eds) Media, Margins and Civic Agency. New York: Springer. Johnston, L. (2016). Social news = journalism evolution? How the integration of UGC into newswork helps and hinders the role of the journalist. Digital Journalism 4(7): pp. 899–909. Johnston, L. (2017). Looking after Ibrahim: How journalists network, develop and safeguard relationships with citizen journalists and activists in Syria. Journalism Practice 11(2/3): pp. 195–212. Keller, B. (2013). It’s the golden age of news. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/ 2013/11/04/opinion/keller-its-the-golden-age-of-news.html?_r=2& Kennan, G.F. (1993). Somalia, through a glass darkly. New York Times, 30 September 1993. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1993/09/30/opinion/somalia-through-a-gla ss-darkly.html Knightley, P. (1976). The First Casualty: From the Crimea To Vietnam: The War Correspondent as Hero, Propagandist, and Myth Maker. New York: Harcourt. Knightley, P. (1995). The cheerleaders of World War II. British Journalism Review 6(2): pp. 40–45. Leonard, T. (2003). Kate Adie: A hard act to follow into the war zone. Retrieved from https:// www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1420619/Kate-Adie-a-hard-act-to-follow-into-the-war -zone.html Lewis, S.C. and Usher, N. (2013). Open source and journalism: Toward new frameworks for imagining news innovation. Media, Culture & Society 35(5): pp. 602–619. Livingston, S. and Van Belle, D.A. (2005). The eﬀects of satellite technology on newsgathering from remote locations. Political Communication 22(1): pp. 45–62. Luo Y. and Harrison, T.M. (2019). How citizen journalists impact the agenda of traditional media and the government policymaking process in China. Global Media and China 4(1): pp. 72–93. Mari, W. (2018). Technology in the newsroom: Adoption of the telephone and the radio car from 1920 to 1960. Journalism Studies 19(9): pp. 1366–1389. McPherson, E. (2015). “Digital Human Rights Reporting by Civilian Witnesses: Surmounting the Veriﬁcation Barrier” (pp. 193–209) in: R.A. Lind (ed.) Producing Theory in a Digital World 2.0: The Intersection of Audiences and Production in Contemporary Theory, vol. 2. Oxford: Peter Lang. Mogekwu M. (2011). “Conﬂict Reporting and Peace Journalism: In Search of a New Model (Lessons from The Nigerian Niger-Delta Crisis)” (pp. 241–262) in: I.S. Shaw, J. Lynch and R.A. Hackett (eds) Expanding Peace Journalism: Critical and Comparative Approaches. Sydney: Sydney University Press.
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Moore, M. and Loyn, D. (2010). Shrinking world: The decline of international reporting in the British press. Retrieved from http://mediastandardstrust.org/wp-content/uploads/ downloads/2010/11/Shrinking-World-FINAL-VERSION.pdf Murrell, C. (2010). Baghdad bureaux: An exploration of the interconnected world of ﬁxers and correspondents at the BBC and CNN. Media, War & Conﬂict 3(2): pp. 125–137. Murrell, C. (2014). Foreign Correspondents and International Newsgathering: The Role of Fixers. London and New York: Routledge. Mutsvairo, B. (ed.) (2016) Participatory Politics and Citizen Journalism in a Networked Africa. A Connected Continent. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Mutsvairo, B. and Salgado, B. (2020). Is citizen journalism dead? An examination of recent developments in the ﬁeld. Journalism 21(12): pp. 1–18. Myers, S. (2014). Why the man who tweeted the Osama bin Laden raid is a citizen journalist. Retrieved from http://www.poynter.org/news/mediawire/131135/why-the-ma n-who-tweeted-bin-laden-raid-is-a-citizen-journalist/ Neuman, J. (1995). Lights, Camera, War. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Orgeret, K.S. and Tayeebwa, W. (2016). Journalism in Conﬂict and Post-Conﬂict Conditions. Worldwide Perspectives. Gothenburg: Nordicom. Palmer, J. and Fontan, V. (2007). “Our ears and our eyes”: Journalists and ﬁxers in Iraq. Journalism 8(1): pp. 5–24. Palmer, L. (2018). Being the bridge: News ﬁxers’ perspectives on cultural diﬀerence in reporting the “war on terror”. Journalism 19(3): pp. 314–332. Pedelty, M. (1995, 2013). War stories: The Culture of Foreign Correspondents. London and New York: Routledge. Radden Keefe, P. (2013). Rocket man. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/maga zine/2013/11/25/rocket-man-2 Radden Keefe, P. (2014). The blogger who tracks Syrian rockets from his sofa. Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10730163/Theblogger-who-tracks-Syrian-rockets-from-his-sofa.html Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (2020) Digital news report. Retrieved from: https:// reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/ﬁles/2020-06/DNR_2020_FINAL.pdf Robinson, P. (2002). The CNN eﬀect: The Myth of News, Foreign Policy and Intervention. London: Routledge. Rodgers, J. (2012). Reporting Conﬂict. New York: Macmillan. Sacco, V. and Bossio, D. (2015). Using social media in the news reportage of war & conﬂict: Opportunities and challenges. The Journal of Media Innovations 2(1): pp. 59–76. Schapals, A.K. (2018). Fake news: Australian and British journalists’ role perceptions in an era of “alternative facts”. Journalism Practice 12(8): pp. 976–985. Silverman, C. (ed.) (2014). Veriﬁcation Handbook: A Deﬁnitive Guide to Verifying Digital Content for Emergency Coverage. European Journalism Centre. Retrieved from http://veriﬁcationha ndbook.com/ Stearns, J. (2013). Acts of journalism: Deﬁning press freedom in the digital age. Retrieved from http://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/assets/docs/062/150/329303e-0d75796.pdf Thayer, N. (2001). Freelancers’ vital role in international reporting. Nieman Reports 55(4): 28. Tumber, H. and Prentoulis, M. (2005). Journalism and the making of a profession. Making Journalists: Diverse Models, Global Issues 58, 73. Usher, N. (2018). Re-thinking trust in the news: A material approach through “objects of journalism”. Journalism Studies 19(4): pp. 564–578. van Belle, D. (2008). Agenda-setting and donor responsiveness to humanitarian crisis and donor aid (paper 2.2 in the role of news media in the governance reform agenda). Paper presented at the Harvard-World Bank Workshop, 1.
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Waisbord, S. (2013). Reinventing Professionalism: Journalism and News in Global Perspective. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. Williams, R. (2013). Raymond Williams on Television (Routledge Revivals): Selected Writings. London and New York: Routledge. Zeng, X., Burgess, J. and Bruns, A. (2019a). Is citizen journalism better than professional journalism for fact-checking rumours in China? How Weibo users veriﬁed information following the 2015 Tianjin blasts. Global Media and China 4(1): pp. 13–35. Zeng, X., Jain, S., Nguyen, A. and Allan, S. (2019b). New perspectives on citizen journalism. Global Media and China 4(1): pp. 3–12.
8 THE NEW FRONTLINE Women journalists at the intersection of converging digital age threats Julie Posetti
“Women are targeted in cyberwars the same way they are in kinetic wars.” Finnish journalist Jessikka Aro
There is a new frontline in journalism safety – it is where female journalists sit at the epicentre of risk. The digital, psychological and physical safety threats confronting women in journalism are overlapping, converging and inseparable. Where and when they intersect, they can be terrifying. They are also potentially deadly. The risks requiring identiﬁcation and examination range from brutal, proliﬁc online harassment and abuse to overt, targeted attacks that frequently involve threats of sexual violence. Increasingly, they also include digital privacy and security breaches that can expose identifying information and exacerbate oﬄine safety threats facing women journalists. Disinformation tactics, like malicious misrepresentation using Artiﬁcial Intelligence (AI) technologies, are also a feature of the phenomenon. These combined threats can be termed “gendered online violence”. The perpetrators range from individual misogynists and networked mobs seeking to shut women up, through to State-linked disinformation agents aiming to undercut press freedom and chill critical journalism through orchestrated attacks. This scourge threatens women journalists around the world – across a range of platforms and digital communities. From news website comments through to social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, women in journalism are confronted daily by online violence, which follows them from work to home, invading their professional and private spaces. The abuse can be proliﬁc and feel unrelenting. It is also experienced by women journalists at rates disproportionate to those confronting their male counterparts (Gardiner, 2018; Bartlett et al., 2014). It can inﬂict psychological injury, cause professional harm, force women out of journalism and lead to physical violence – including murder. DOI: 10.4324/9781003015628-9
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Regardless of whether or not the women enduring these attacks are reporting from conﬂict zones, many use terms commonly associated with kinetic warfare to describe their experiences. Phrases deployed by the women journalists featured in this chapter include: “It’s like a low-intense, constant warfare”; “A barrage of hate”; “It’s like a bombardment”; “It feels like trench warfare.” Gendered harassment and abuse are key aspects of online violence against women journalists. When the pattern ﬁrst emerged in the early twenty-ﬁrst century, it was too often dismissed by media employers and social media companies as something that required acceptance as an “unintended consequence” of online engagement with audiences, a term borrowed from the defensive parlance of the platforms seeking to deﬂect blame for the social and political problems they facilitate and propel. Frequently, the responsibility to manage the problem was placed on the targeted women themselves, who were told to “toughen up” and grow a “thicker skin” because it was “only online” and therefore not “real” or “serious” (Posetti, 2017b; 2020b). However extensive reportage, research and civil society advocacy since 2014 has resulted in the problem and its impacts being widely recognised internationally, including at the UN level, and there are several collaborative initiatives in development designed to support those targeted. But at the same time, online violence has become increasingly complex, widespread and entrenched, posing signiﬁcant challenges to eﬀorts aimed at eﬀectively countering the problem. This chapter synthesises the ﬁndings from the author’s international research, journalism, intergovernmental policy work and news industry training in the areas of gendered online violence, digital safety and security risks, and social journalism practice undertaken between 2009 and 2020. It draws on dozens of interviews conducted during that time period and situates this research within the broader body of scholarship undertaken by academic and civil society researchers internationally. Four individual case studies based on journalists in four diﬀerent countries – The Philippines, South Africa, Finland and India – are also presented to demonstrate the impacts of online violence against women journalists and highlight the ways in which they are attempting to combat the problem. Finally, 30 recommendations for action are made, targeting a range of actors from industry and civil society organisations through to legislators, judges and law enforcement agencies.
Three converging threat types There are three main converging safety threats confronting women journalists in the digital age. They can be identiﬁed as follows.
1 Online harassment and abuse against women journalists This includes patterns of targeted, sexualised abuse and harassment, ranging from threats of violence (such as vicious sexual assault and rape) against the women journalists (and their daughters, sisters, mothers, etc.), through to gendered swearing and insults targeting their appearance, sexuality and professionalism, which are
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designed to diminish their conﬁdence and tarnish their reputations. Such abuse can come from individuals, from part of an organic “pile on”1 or be a feature of a networked attack driven by misogynistic groups, for example (Bartlett et al., 2014; Gardiner, 2018; OSCE, 2016; Posetti, 2017b; Posetti, 2018).
2 Orchestrated disinformation campaigns targeting women journalists Women journalists are frequent targets of digital disinformation campaigns, including orchestrated eﬀorts with links to state actors. Disinformation tactics, such as falsely accusing them of professional misconduct, spreading smears about their character designed to damage their personal reputations, and malicious misrepresentation (e.g. “deepfake” porn videos, abusive memes, manipulated images) are typical features of these attacks. The objective is to undermine journalists’ credibility, embarrass them into retreat and chill critical journalism (Posetti, 2018; Posetti et al., 2019b; 2019c).
3 Digital privacy and security threats exploiting women journalists’ vulnerabilities Privacy erosion – a combination of the criminalisation of investigative journalism via national security overreach and digital security threats like mass surveillance, device seizure and interception – also heightens the safety threats faced by women journalists in the digital age. Methods of attack designed to compromise women journalists’ online privacy, security and safety include malware, hacking, doxxing2 and spooﬁng.3 They escalate the physical threats faced by women journalists because these acts can reveal their residential and work addresses, along with their patterns of movement (Posetti, 2017a; Posetti, 2018; Posetti et al., 2019a).
Research context Early research highlighting the misogynistic nature of harassment experienced by women bloggers in the pre-social media era (Filipovic, 2007; Seelhoﬀ, 2007; Citron, 2009) serves as a beacon for the rampant networked misogyny now confronting women journalists in the age of “social journalism”. The expectation that journalists be actively embedded on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to facilitate the direct audience engagement that is now integral to journalistic research, production and content dissemination (Posetti, 2013) has placed women media workers on the frontline of a massive problem. In addition to threats of sexualised violence – including rape and murder – the “pile on” eﬀect (organic, organised or robotic mass attacks against a person online) worsens the impacts of online harassment experienced by women media workers, along with their female audiences and sources (Posetti, 2017a).4 This problem is chilling the media freedom rights of women (and their audiences and sources), exposing them to increasing physical safety risks, causing serious psychological injury, impacting on the
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functionality of newsrooms, pushing some women oﬄine (or behind pseudonyms) and driving some women from the profession altogether. Research published by the International News Safety Institute (INSI) and the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) in 2014 found that about 20 per cent of respondents had experienced some form of online abuse or attack. One of the respondents reported: I frequently – typically after appearing on air as a commentator on political issues – receive threatening or harassing phone calls, emails and messages on Twitter that can range from comments on my appearance to threats of rape or other sexualized violence, to comments about my lack of intelligence. (Barton and Storm, 2014) Women who report on issues of gender, technology and migration also ﬁnd themselves at greater risk of increased attack, according to more recent accounts. A study by British think-tank Demos, also published in 2014, examined hundreds of thousands of tweets and found that journalism was the only category where women received more abuse than men, “with female journalists and TV news presenters receiving roughly three times as much abuse” as their male counterparts (Bartlett et al., 2014). The keywords for the abusers were “slut”, “rape” and “whore”. In 2016, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) published research that demonstrated the international impact of online abuse of female journalists whom it described as being disproportionately targeted for “hate trolling”. The study found that “Female journalists, bloggers and other media actors are disproportionately experiencing gender-related threats, harassment and intimidation on the internet which has a direct impact on their safety and future online activities” (OSCE, 2016). One respondent told the researchers: “I was raped in imaginations of many … men, and in so many diﬀerent ways, and they have expressed their interest in doing that in person. Also, they have promised to do the same to my mother.” This theme – threats of sexualised violence against women reporters being extended to their family members, in particular mothers and daughters – was repeated in several of the interviews conducted for the study and it has emerged in subsequent research as well.5 One potent example involves Guardian U.S. columnist Jessica Valenti’s experience of waking up to a tweet threatening to rape and kill her 5-year-old daughter. As she tweeted at the time: “That this is part of my work life is unacceptable.” She decided to leave Twitter for a period in the aftermath of that threat. The intimate nature of these attacks, often received on personal devices ﬁrst thing in the morning and last thing at night, further sharpens the impact. “There are days when I wake up to verbal violence and fall asleep with sexist and racist rage echoing in my ears. It’s like a low intensity, constant warfare” (Posetti, 2016). These are the words of prominent Swedish journalist Alexandra Pascalidou, who testiﬁed in 2016 before the European Commission in Brussels about her experiences of online abuse:
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Tweet by American writer Jessica Valenti, 28 July 2016.
I’ve been called a dirty whore, a bloody Gypsy, Jewish, a Muslim slut, a Greek parasite, a disgusting migrant, a stupid psycho, an ugly liar, a biased hater. They keep telling me to go home, to kill myself or they will shoot me, cut my tongue oﬀ, break my ﬁngers one by one. They keep threatening me with gang rapes and sexual torture. Another hallmark of this online abuse of women media workers (and others producing veriﬁable information in the public interest across a range of digital platforms) is the use of disinformation tactics. Lies are spread about their character or their work as a means of undermining their credibility, humiliating them, and seeking to chill their public commentary and reporting. In some instances, they have been targeted in acts of “astroturﬁng”6 and “trolling”7 – experienced as deliberate attempts to “mislead, misinform, befuddle, or endanger journalists” (Posetti, 2013). More recently, computational propaganda (Woolley and Howard, 2017) and the emergence of “sock puppet networks” (Ressa, 2016), and “patriotic trolling” (Nyst, 2017) have increased the risks. These involve the use of bots and paid trolls to disseminate well-targeted false information and propaganda messages on a scale designed to look like an organic movement. Frequently, these attacks involve gendered elements and threats of sexual violence. In other cases, they face privacy-breaching cyber-attacks designed to expose them to increased physical risk, identify their sources, or access their unpublished data through phishing (King, 2014), doxxing, malware attacks and identity spoofing. Concurrently, AI technology is being leveraged to create “deepfake”8 porn videos and other forms of falsiﬁed content designed to discredit women journalists. One of the most chilling examples of online violence against a female journalist remains the 2013 case of Caroline Criado Perez in the UK. This is the kind of abuse that she suﬀered for daring to suggest that literary icon Jane Austen’s head should be on a bank note: There were threats to mutilate my genitals, threats to slit my throat, to bomb my house, to pistol‑whip me and burn me alive. I was told I would have poles
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shoved up my vagina, dicks shoved down my throat. I was told I would be begging to die, as a man would ejaculate in my eyeballs. And then they started posting an address linked to me around the Internet. I felt hunted. I felt terriﬁed. (OSCE, 2016)
Features of online violence manifestation Online violence targeting women journalists manifests in a variety of ways, as outlined above, but it has a number of common characteristics. These include: 1.
It is networked: Online violence is often organised and orchestrated. It can include State-sponsored “sock puppet networks”, acts of “patriotic trolling” and involve misogynistic mobs who seed hate campaigns within one fringe network (e.g. 4chan) before pushing it into more mainstream networks. It radiates: Online violence against women journalists radiates, with women in their families, among their sources, and in their online audiences also targeted. It is intimate: In detail and delivery, the threats are personal. They arrive on mobile phone screens ﬁrst thing in the morning and last thing at night, and they are often highly sexualised.
The link between online violence and murder with impunity The connection between the murder of women journalists (sometimes with impunity) and targeted online violence campaigns has emerged as a pattern which highlights the escalating threat levels that they face globally. In October 2017, the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed when a bomb placed under her car detonated close to her home in Malta. She was investigating corruption with ties to the state. Since her death, international NGOs, European parliamentarians and media support organisations have called on the Maltese government to identify and prosecute her killers, amid accusations of impunity (Brown and Willis, 2018). Before she was murdered, Caruana Galizia endured frequent online threats and spoke about being called a “witch”. There were clear gendered aspects to the intimidation she suﬀered and the impunity that surrounded those threats and preceded her killing (Gray, 2018). The pattern of online violence associated with Caruana Galizia’s death is so similar to that being experienced by another high proﬁle target – Philippines-based editor and CEO Maria Ressa – that the murdered journalist’s sons issued a public statement expressing their concerns that Ressa was also at risk of murder when State-sponsored harassment against her rose dramatically in 2020. “This targeted harassment, chillingly similar to that perpetrated against Maria Ressa, created the conditions for Daphne’s murder,” they wrote (Posetti, 2020a).9 Likewise, the death of the Indian investigative journalist Gauri Lankesh also drew international attention to the risks faced by women journalists openly critical of their
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own governments, amid calls for their killers to be brought to justice. Lankesh, who was shot dead outside her home, was known for being a critic of right-wing Hindu extremism. In the days after Gauri Lankesh’s killing, trolls took to social media to celebrate, describing her as a “bitch”, and the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was criticised for following some of the same accounts on Twitter (Saﬁ, 2017). Again, pointing to the emergence of a pattern, the case of another Indian journalist – Rana Ayyub – led ﬁve United Nations special rapporteurs to intervene in her defence following the mass circulation of false information online designed to counter her critical reporting. The independent journalist was on the receiving end of disinformation published on social media, including “deepfake” videos, as well as direct rape and death threats (OHCHR, 2018; Ayyub, 2018). The UN experts issuing the statement in defence of Ayyub pointed to the murder of Gauri Lankesh, and called on India to act to protect Ayyub, stating: “We are highly concerned that the life of Rana Ayyub is at serious risk following these graphic and disturbing threats.”10 In Mexico, Miroslava Breach spent the days before her murder in March 2017 documenting the murders of others in the drug war in her country, which has been consistently ranked among the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist, and particularly a female journalist, over the past decade (Vega Montiel, 2017). According to Article 19, the harassment women journalists face in Mexico draws on “pre-existing gender tensions, with the aim to stigmatise, ridicule, and discredit the work and views of women journalists” (Article 19, 2016). Elisa Lees Munoz of the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) has described these evolving patterns as “new levels of violence and retribution that deserve special attention” (Lees Munoz, 2017). Recognising the likelihood of online violence crossing over into the oﬄine world, and underlining the serious mental health impacts of online abuse, the United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution (UN, 2017b) with a particular gender focus, “condemning unequivocally” all “speciﬁc attacks on women journalists in the exercise of their work, including sexual and gender-based discrimination and violence, intimidation and harassment, online and oﬄine”. The resolution reﬂects many of the recommendations in a UN Secretary General’s report from earlier in 2017 on the safety of women journalists. (UN, 2017a).
Four case studies illustrating the scale of the problem A trend has emerged involving the speciﬁc targeting of women journalists by State and corporate actors engaged in “disinformation wars” (Posetti, 2018). Another feature of this problem is the complicity of the Internet communications companies in what can be called “platform capture” (Posetti et al., 2019c; Posetti, 2020b). Four international case studies in particular illustrate this trend.
1 Maria Ressa in focus (the Philippines) Independent Philippines news site Rappler.com and its largely female staﬀ were targeted in a campaign of proliﬁc online violence that began in 2016 during the national
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election that swept the populist President Rodrigo Duterte to power. In the aftermath of the election, Rappler’s CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa – a veteran CNN war correspondent - was subjected to unrelenting, sexualised online harassment and abuse. These attacks escalated in response to her investigative reporting on the “patriotic trolls networks” that helped propel popular support for Duterte (Ressa, 2016) and Rappler’s frontline reporting of the Duterte government’s campaign of extrajudicial killings in the so called “Drug War” (Ressa, 2019). “I’ve been called ugly, a dog, a snake, threatened with rape and murder,” Ressa said in 2017, describing attacks that targeted her physical appearance and sexuality (Posetti, 2017b). One of the perpetrators of online violence against Ressa wrote on Facebook: “I want Maria Ressa to be raped repeatedly to death, I would be so happy if that happens when martial law is declared, it would bring joy to my heart.” The same year, she was the subject of online campaigns calling for her arrest and interrogation, using hashtags like #ArrestMariaRessa and #BringHerToTheSenate. In a pattern familiar to journalists who are the targets of gendered online violence campaigns, Ressa was reluctant at ﬁrst to speak about her ordeal – partly because of a professional ethos that resists introspection, and partly because she wanted to demonstrate a “thick skin” to those attacking her and Rappler. But she broke her silence in an interview with me for a 2017 United Nations Educational Scientiﬁc and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)-published book on journalism safety. “It began as a spiral of silence. Anyone who was critical or asked questions about extrajudicial killings was attacked, brutally attacked. The women got it worst,” she said. “The system is set up to silence dissent – designed to make journalists docile. We’re not supposed to be asking hard questions, and we’re certainly not supposed to be critical. But now is not the time for silence” (Posetti, 2017b). Thereafter, Ressa became an international leader in the ﬁghtback against the crisis of online violence against women journalists. Initially, the response she and Rappler adopted involved positive audience engagement and a hashtag campaign – #NoPlaceForHate – designed to engender online civility. However, that strategy failed. “We were so naïve!” Ressa later acknowledged, recognising that the violence they were targeted with was linked to the State and fuelled by a toxic social media ecosystem (Posetti et al., 2019c). “They would plant messages within groups, inﬂaming the groups who would then become a mob to attack the target,” she said. Rappler then turned the tools of investigative journalism on the problem, deploying innovative computational analysis techniques that allowed patterns and networks to be identiﬁed in connection with the attacks they were experiencing, including links to the State. In this context, Ressa began to analyse the problem of online violence as a failure of the social media ecosystem – in particular, as a failure of Facebook, which is synonymous with the Internet in the Philippines. “A lot of the attacks would not have been possible without Facebook. It’s enabled a normalization of violence and far-fetched narratives,” she said. (Posetti, 2020b) Her activism against online violence, especially as it intersects with digital disinformation and the erosion of democracy caused by what Ressa describes as the “weaponisation of the
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tools of freedom of expression”, evolved into a global campaign which led to her being celebrated internationally as an emblematic press freedom case. Indeed, Ressa has become the focus of a “perfect storm” of State-sanctioned or commissioned attacks – from a coordinated barrage of gendered online assaults to cascading criminal investigations – which represented assaults on press freedom that served to undermine democracy. She describes herself as a “canary in the coalmine” for Western journalism and democracy (Ressa, 2019; Posetti et al., 2019c). At the time of writing, she was ﬁghting eight separate legal cases being prosecuted by the Duterte regime, facing cumulative prison sentences of up to 100 years. After being convicted on a trumped-up criminal cyberlibel charge by a Manila court in June 2020, the gendered and disinformation-laced online violence against her escalated again, demonstrating the vicious cycle faced by women journalists on the new frontline. It also highlighted the urgent need to combat the pernicious problem as a major press freedom and journalism safety threat which, as indicated earlier in this chapter, risks crossing into the physical realm (Posetti, 2020a; Posetti, 2020b).
2 Ferial Haffajee in focus (South Africa) In South Africa, prominent editor Ferial Haﬀajee was targeted in a campaign of online violence that escalated between 2017 and 2019. A wealthy family accused of capturing key state enterprises and politicians in South Africa in the scandal known as #GuptaLeaks, hired UK Public Relations ﬁrm Bell Pottinger to devise an elaborate propaganda campaign which deployed online violence against women journalists including Ferial Haﬀajee. It spread its messages via a “fake news” empire involving websites and a paid Twitter army which targeted journalists, business people and politicians with abusive, hostile messages and Photoshopped images, designed to humiliate and discredit their critics. In Haﬀajee’s case, her image was manipulated to create false impressions of her character, alongside deployment of the hashtag #presstitute. She was also similarly targeted by political ﬁgures associated with the populist Economic Freedom Front party (Posetti et al., 2019b, 2019c). Haﬀajee (2017) wrote of her experience: The images make me wince with their distortions and insults. I snap my phone shut and move to another screen. Or make a cup of tea. Images are powerful and the designers have very speciﬁc messages. That I am a whore, a harridan, an animal and a quisling. She also noted her concern about the risk that the violence would cross over into the physical world. “What happens when it jumps out of the ether into the real world? And what is the responsibility of political leaders to reduce rhetoric that can inﬂame hate?” (Haﬀajee, 2018). Like Maria Ressa, Ferial Haﬀajee has used the tools of investigative journalism to respond to the threats of online violence she’s been subjected to. “I’ve turned these experiences into investigations into what trolling armies look like in South Africa, into mapping them, into analysing them with the data scientists.” It’s a beat that
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helps reduce the personal “sting” of the attacks, according to Haﬀajee. “It’s a new enemy force, it’s a form of violence, it’s a trend. When you have the time and the support and the money to go study it, it reduces its harm,” she said. (Posetti et al., 2019b). However, Haﬀajee has also described how the online violence she has experienced ultimately left her feeling like “shrinking and hiding”, even reluctant to ask questions in press conferences because she was too aware of the hit she would take online afterwards. It is noteworthy that these are the reﬂections of a highly regarded editor and investigative journalist who has spent decades in the public eye. Also echoing Maria Ressa’s experience and analysis, Haﬀajee has framed her critical lens on the social media companies as facilitators of this digital violence. In the South African environment, Twitter was the main vector. The internet and the powerful social media platforms now host among the worst forms of violence against journalists and are a rising threat to media freedom. Women journalists come in for particular targeting in a trend now called cybermisogyny. Naming it makes it no less painful, as I have found. (Haﬀajee, 2019)
3 Rana Ayyub in focus (India) The ongoing case of online violence experienced by prominent Indian investigative journalist Rana Ayyub has seen “patriotic trolling”, including “deepfake” videos, as well as direct rape and death threats. The campaign of harassment and abuse against her deploys disinformation tactics designed to chill her critical reporting and expose her to increased oﬄine risks. “On a daily basis I get rape threats, death threats, I get calls in the middle of the night threatening to kill me. The barrage of hate that I get online has now also started aﬀecting my life oﬄine,” she has said (GEN, 2019). The campaign of online violence against Ayyub has been linked to the Hindu Nationalist government led by populist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A Muslim, she is regularly charged with “hating Indians”; she has been the victim of spooﬁng on Twitter and, in one episode, fake tweets that supported a child rapist, purporting to be from her, went viral. In another instance, she was portrayed as a porn star in a deepfake video (Posetti, 2018). “For the past few years, like several female journalists critical of the Hindu nationalist politics and government,” she wrote in The New York Times, “I have been targeted by an apparently coordinated social media campaign that slutshames, deploys manipulated images with sexually explicit language, and threatens rape” (Ayyub, 2018). As indicated earlier in this chapter, the scale and seriousness of the online attacks against Ayyub elicited the intervention of ﬁve United Nations special rapporteurs in her case. The UN experts cited the murder of Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh following death threats in September 2017 and called on India to act to protect Ayyub, stating: We are highly concerned that the life of Rana Ayyub is at serious risk following these graphic and disturbing threats. We call on India to urgently take steps to
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protect Rana Ayyub and to ensure the threats against her are promptly and thoroughly investigated. The Government has an obligation to provide eﬀective protection to those who receive death threats and to protect individuals from foreseeable threats to life or bodily integrity. (OHCHR, 2018)
4 Jessikka Aro in focus (Finland) Award-winning Finnish investigative journalist Jessikka Aro is the ongoing target of “troll factories” in a campaign that began in 2014 when she ﬁrst exposed Kremlinlinked disinformation networks in an investigation for the Finnish public broadcaster YLE. As with the other cases examined here, the online violence targeting Aro also threatened to spill over into physical violence. She has described inboxes and social media notiﬁcations overﬂowing with angry messages. “I received a phone call in which someone ﬁred a gun. Later, someone texted me, claiming to be my dead father and told me he was ‘observing’ me,” she wrote (Aro, 2016). Aro has experienced digital safety threats including spooﬁng and doxxing, along with attacks deploying disinformation tactics: propagandists started to spread fake information about me in Russian information spaces. I was framed as some kind of foreign agent or foreign spy. My contact information was put online along with that disinformation. This is the worst problem: some people actually believed it and they contacted me, and called me, and sent nasty text messages and threatening phone calls. (BBC Trending, 2017) The doxxing in Aro’s case involved her attackers disclosing her medical records as well as her home address. She was also the subject of a video hate campaign, and disinformation spread about her online included claims that she was a prostitute servicing NATO and CIA oﬃcials. At some point there was a music video campaign against me. Troll accounts were sharing a studio-quality song about me, alleging I’m a “stupid blonde” who was only imagining this whole troll phenomenon and I’m some sort of American or NATO spy. (BBC Trending, 2017) Some Finns, she said, participated in “patriotic trolling”, believing the disinformation spread about her, and threatened to rape and kill her. Like the other women journalists in this collection of case studies, Aro used the techniques of research and investigative journalism against her attackers. But she also took novel legal action against two of the trolls she unmasked. The two – found to have links to the Russian state – were sentenced to jail for their concerted campaign of stalking,
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harassment and abuse against Aro. However, their sentences were reduced on appeal in 2020 (YLE, 2020). Aro has directly correlated her experience of online violence with the ways in which women journalists are targeted in physical conﬂicts. “Women are targeted in cyberwars the same way they are in kinetic war,” she said (The Economist, 2019).
The perpetrators’ intent Online violence against female journalists is a core tactic designed to belittle, humiliate, discredit, induce fear, cause retreat, undermine accountability journalism and chill the active participation of women journalists, their sources and audiences in public debate. This amounts to an attack on media freedom, encompassing the public’s right to access information, and it cannot aﬀord to be normalised as a tolerable aspect of online discourse or “engaged” journalism.11 The perpetrators’ goals include: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Shutting women up. Discrediting and sullying the reputations of female journalists and their journalism/outlets. Increasing risk and fear. Chilling credible and critical reporting. Exposing and endangering sources. Manipulating public opinion for political gain. Undermining media freedom and the public’s “right to know”.
Conclusion This chapter has dealt with “cyberwarfare”, rather than kinetic warfare, and acts of online violence of a domestic or geopolitical nature, rather than examining the targeting of women journalists in conﬂict zones. In the same way that rape and sexual assault have been recognised as gender-based weapons of war, online violence needs to be understood as part of the arsenal designed to wage war on women journalists – from the home front to foreign battleﬁelds. While online violence is used against women war correspondents and it needs to be recognised as a new aspect of technological warfare in the context of traditional combat, the emphasis here on cases at the intersection of the “war on truth” – domestic and foreign – and networked misogyny serves to underline the breadth and scale of the “new frontline”. But while this phenomenon of constant online violence against women journalists may be regarded as novel, it cannot be accepted as the “new normal”.
Recommendations for action Based on the research and policy analysis underpinning this chapter, a series of recommendations is presented below which could be used as part of a “combat plan” for key actors seeking to counter online violence against women journalists.
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Recommendations for all actors 1. 2.
Acknowledge the pernicious problem of gendered online violence and take the impacts (psychological, emotional, professional, physical) seriously. Acknowledge that online violence against women journalists is a major press freedom issue which requires responses from policymakers; governments; law enforcement agents and the judiciary. Work collaboratively to address the problem – through advocacy, journalistic enterprise, corporate responsibility, action research, and law reform.
Recommendations for the news industry
Call the Internet communications companies to account over their failure to curtail and adequately manage online harassment/recognise principles of press freedom enshrined in freedom of expression rights. Stimulate senior management awareness of the issues and responsibility for responding. Recognise the psychological impacts and request/facilitate psychological support. Provide gender-sensitive cybersecurity/digital safety training and integrate it into physical safety training. View the Perugia Principles (Posetti et al., 2019a) through a gender sensitive lens, recognising the increased risks faced by female sources and whistleblowers. Invest in community engagement management (including clear policies and guidelines for intervention, along with adoption of eﬀective abuse reporting tools/processes). Consider adding misogynistic terms to comment moderation guidelines (e.g. bitch, slut, whore). Leverage loyal audiences to help repel and contain attacks. Make a plan to deal with potential harassment at the commissioning stage of lightning-rod stories. Escalate early. Explore technical solutions. Request/provide access to fast technical and legal support. Learn to recognise adversaries and their strategies. Forge alliances – with civil society and academia, and across media houses and national borders.
Recommendations for Internet communications companies
Recognise the role played by social media networks and apps in facilitating, fuelling and (in some cases) targeting online violence against women journalists. Recognise that press freedom and journalism safety are critical components of the internationally enshrined right of freedom of expression, meaning that online
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violence targeting journalists cannot be tolerated within their networks or on their sites. Avoid complicity in acts of online violence targeting women journalists by actively combatting gendered disinformation and hate speech campaigns. Ensure that measures taken to protect women journalists from online violence on their platforms/within their networks are distributed globally to ensure that particularly high-risk journalists in the Global South can access focused support. Improve reporting and complaint mechanisms, along with appeals processes, to ensure the safety of women journalists is treated with appropriate seriousness and urgency when it is reported. Improve monitoring, support/reporting services in languages other than English, recognising that many women journalists are attacked in e.g. Hindi, Tagalog, Zulu, Finnish, etc. Work with the news industry, civil society and independent researchers to address the structural and technological issues underpinning online violence and explore human rights-centred solutions. Implement the relevant recommendations regarding journalism safety from the UN-published global study on countering disinformation while defending freedom of expression, Balancing Act (Bontcheva and Posetti, 2020).
Recommendations for researchers
Adopt an holistic approach to researching gender issues associated with war and conﬂict reporting, extending the focus from the physical to the digital. Research beyond the impacts of online violence on women journalists to include an emphasis on eﬀective measures to counter the problem. Consider audience research that probes attitudes to incivility and violence against women journalists within online communities. Collaborate with the news industry and civil society organisations to undertake solutions-oriented action research that gives targeted women agency in the research process. Research the intersectional issues in play e.g. sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion. Conduct interdisciplinary research, responding to the professional, technological, social, psychological, privacy, and legal aspects and impacts of online violence against women journalists.
Notes 1 The Merriam Webster dictionary deﬁnes a pile-on as: “joining other people in criticizing something or someone, usually in an unfair way”. On the Internet, and especially within social media communities, this can involve the development of substantial mob attacks through ampliﬁcation and network eﬀects.
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2 From Technopedia: Doxing is the process of retrieving, hacking and publishing other people’s information such as names, addresses, phone numbers and credit card details. Doxing may be targeted toward a speciﬁc person or an organisation. There are many reasons for doxing, but one of the most popular is coercion. Doxing is a slang term that is derived from the word “.doc” because documents are often retrieved and shared. Hackers have developed diﬀerent ways to dox, but one of the most common methods is by obtaining the victim’s email address and then uncovering the password to open their account to obtain more personal information: https://www.techopedia.com/deﬁnition/ 29025/doxing 3 From Technopedia: Spooﬁng is a fraudulent or malicious practice in which communication is sent from an unknown source disguised as a source known to the receiver. Email spooﬁng is the most common form of this practice. A spoofed email may also contain additional threats like Trojans or other viruses. These programs can cause signiﬁcant computer damage by triggering unexpected activities, remote access, deletion of ﬁles and more: https://www.techopedia.com/deﬁnition/5398/spooﬁng 4 See a summary of the gender elements from the UNESCO study Protecting Journalism Sources in the Digital Age here: https://blog.wan-ifra.org/2015/09/18/gender-dim ensions-of-protecting-journalism-sources-in-the-digital-age 5 See also: Clark, M. and Grech, A. (2017). Journalists under pressure: Unwarranted Interference, fear, and self-censorship in Europe, Council of Europe: https://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicComm onSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=090000168070ad5d 6 “Astroturﬁng” is a term derived from a brand of fake grass used to carpet outdoor surfaces to create the impression it is natural grass cover. In the context of disinformation, it involves spreading fake information, targeting audiences and journalists with an intention to redirect or mislead them, particularly in the form of “evidence” of faux popular support for a person, idea or policy. See also Technopedia deﬁnition: https://www. techopedia.com/deﬁnition/13920/astroturﬁng 7 “Trolling” in its Internet-related application refers to acts that range from gentle teasing, tricking and goading to deliberate deception. However, it is increasingly deployed as a term to cover all acts of online abuse. This is potentially problematic as it conﬂates a wide range of activities and potentially underplays the seriousness of online harassment. 8 The term “deepfake” is a portmanteau of “deep learning” and “fake”. It involves AI technology in the creation of fraudulent content, sometimes of a pornographic nature, that is virtually undetectable. It is used in cyberattacks to discredit people, including journalists. See: http://www.newsweek.com/what-deepfake-porn-ai-brings-face-swapp ing-disturbing-new-level-801328 9 See the case study on Ressa later in this chapter. 10 See the case study on Ayyub later in this chapter. 11 “Engaged journalism” refers to the practice of journalism as it has evolved via the interactive social web. It involves realtime audience engagement.
References Aro, J. (2016). The cyberspace war: propaganda and trolling as warfare tools. European View 15(1), doi:10.1007/s12290-016-0395-5 Article 19 (2016). Mexico: Fear in the newsroom. Retrieved from https://www.article19. org/resources/mexicofear-in-the-newsroom/ Ayyub, R. (2018). In India, journalists face slut-shaming and rape threats. The New York Times, 22 May 2018. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/22/opinion/ india-journalists-slutshaming-rape.html Bartlett, J., Norrie R., Patel S., Rumpel R., and Wibberley S. (2014). Misogyny on Twitter. Demos. Retrieved from https://www.demos.co.uk/ﬁles/MISOGYNY_ON_TWITTER.pdf
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Barton, A. and Storm, H. (2014). Violence and harassment against women in the news media: A global picture. INSI/IWMF. Retrieved from https://newssafety.org/uploads/ IWMF.FINALA.PDF BBC Trending (2017). Jessikka Aro: How pro-Russian trolls tried to destroy me. BBC Trending, 6 October 2017. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-41499789 Brown, L. and Willis, C. (2018). Calls for justice mark six months since Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder. Retrieved from https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2018/04/ca lls-for-justice-mark-six-monthssince-daphne-caruana-galizias-murder/ Bontcheva, K. and Posetti, J. (2020). Balancing Act: Countering Digital Disinformation While Respecting Freedom of Expression. Paris: UNESCO/UN Broadband Commission. https:// www.broadbandcommission.org/Documents/working-groups/FoE_Disinfo_Report.pdf Citron, D. (2009). Law’s expressive value in combating cyber gender harassment. Michigan Law Review 108(3). Filipovic, J. (2007). Blogging while female: How internet misogyny parallels real-world harassment. Yale JL & Feminism 19: pp. 295–304. Gardiner, B. (2018). “It’s a terrible way to go to work”: What 70 million readers’ comments on the Guardian revealed about hostility to women and minorities online. Feminist Media Studies 18(4): pp. 592–608. GEN (2019). Rana Ayyub on online harassment in India: “I get daily rape & death threats”. Retrieved from https://medium.com/global-editors-network/rana-ayyub-on-online-hara ssment-in-india-i-get-daily-rape-death-threats-c970f542e554 Gray, S. (2018). The silencing of Daphne. Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters. com/investigates/special-report/malta-daphne/ Haﬀajee, F. (2017). Ferial Haﬀajee: The Gupta fake news factory and me. HuﬀPost South Africa. Retrieved from https://www.huﬃngtonpost.co.za/2017/06/05/ferial-haﬀajeethegupta-fake-news-factory-and-me_a_22126282/ Haﬀajee, F. (2018). Ferial: You deserve a bullet in the head. HuﬀPost South Africa. Retrieved from https://www.huﬃngtonpost.co.uk/ferial-haﬀajee/ferial-you-deserve-a-bullet-in-thehead_a_23461346/ Haﬀajee, F. (2019). Twitter and the rest of social media are a rising threat to media freedom and I am part of their roadkill. Daily Maverick, 6 August 2019. Retrieved from https:// www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-08-06-twitter-and-the-rest-of-social-media-are-a -rising-threat-to-media-freedom-and-i-am-part-of-their-roadkill/ King, G. (2014). Spear phishing attacks underscore necessity of digital vigilance. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 10 November. Retrieved from https://cpj.org/blog/2014/11/spea r-phishing-attacks-underscore-necessity-of-dig.php Lees Munoz, E. (2017). Why we should prioritize women journalists’ safety. Mediashift. Retrieved from http://mediashift.org/2017/11/need-prioritize-women-journalists-safety/ Nyst, C. (2017) Patriotic trolling: How governments endorse hate campaigns against critics. The Guardian, 12 July 2017. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/ 2017/jul/13/patriotic-trolling-how-governments-endorse-hate-campaigns-against-critics OHCHR (2018). UN experts call on India to protect journalist Rana Ayyub from online hate campaign. Retrieved from https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/Displa yNews.aspx?NewsID=23126&LangID=E OSCE (2016). Countering Online Abuse of Female Journalists. Vienna: OSCE. https://www. osce.org/fom/220411 Posetti, J. (2013). “The ‘Twitterisation’ of Investigative Journalism” (pp. 88–100) in: S. Tanner and N. Richardson (eds) Journalism Research and Investigation in a Digital World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Posetti, J. (2016). Swedish Broadcaster describes online threats of sexual torture and graphic abuse online. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from https://www.smh.com. au/lifestyle/Swedish-broadcaster-alexandra-pascalidou-describes-online-threats-ofsexua l-torture-and-graphic-abuse-20161124-gswuwv.html Posetti, J. (2017a). Protecting Journalism Sources in the Digital Age. Paris: UNESCO. http:// unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002480/248054E.pdf Posetti, J. (2017b). “Fighting Back Against Proliﬁc Online Harassment: Maria Ressa” in: L. Kilman (ed.) An Attack on One is an Attack on All: Successful Initiatives to Protect Journalists and Combat Impunity. Paris: UNESCO. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0025/002593/ 259399e.pdf Posetti, J. (2018). “Combatting Online Abuse: When Journalists and Their Sources Are Targeted” in: C. Ireton, and J. Posetti (eds) Journalism, “Fake News” and Disinformation. Paris: UNESCO. https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/ﬁles/module_7.pdf Posetti, J. (2020a). The Philippines is one of the deadliest countries on earth: We can’t allow Maria Ressa to be next. Daily Maverick, 18 June 2020. Retrieved from https://www.dailyma verick.co.za/article/2020-06-18-the-philippines-is-one-of-the-deadliest-countries-on-earthto-be-a-journalist-we-cannot-allow-maria-ressa-to-be-next/ Posetti, J. (2020b). Journalists like Maria Ressa face death threats and jail for doing their jobs. Facebook must take its share of the blame. CNN, 30 June 2020. Retrieved from https:// edition.cnn.com/2020/06/30/opinions/maria-ressa-facebook-intl-hnk/index.html Posetti, J., Dreyfus, S. and Colvin, N. (2019a). The Perugia Principles for journalists working with whistleblowers in the digital age, Blueprint for free speech. Retrieved from https:// whistleblowingnetwork.org/WIN/media/pdfs/Journalism-Sources-INT-Blueprint-2018-Pe rugia-Principles-for-Journalists.pdf Posetti, J., Simon, F. and Shabbir, N. (2019b). Lessons in Innovation: How International News Organisations Combat Disinformation Through Mission-Driven Journalism. Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/defa ult/ﬁles/2019-04/Posetti_Lessons_in_Innovation_FINAL.pdf Posetti, J., Simon, F. and Shabbir, N. (2019c). What if Scale Breaks Community: Rebooting Audience Engagement When Journalism Is Under Fire. Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/ﬁles/2019-10/Posetti %20What%20if%20FINAL.pdf Ressa, M. (2016). Propaganda war: Weaponising the Internet. Rappler. Retrieved from https:// www.rappler.com/nation/148007-propaganda-war-weaponizing-internet Ressa, M. (2019). Maria Ressa’s keynote speech for GIJC, 2019. Global Investigative Journalism Network, 8 October 2019. Retrieved from https://gijn.org/2019/10/08/full-text-maria -ressas-keynote-speech-for-gijc19/ Saﬁ, M. (2017). Narendra Modi criticised over Twitter links to abuse of shot journalist. The Guardian, 8 September 2017. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/ 2017/sep/08/narendra-modi-criticised-over-twitter-links-to-abuse-of-shot-journalist Seelhoﬀ, C.L. (2007). A chilling eﬀect: The oppression and silencing of women journalists and bloggers worldwide. Oﬀ Our Backs 37(1): pp. 18–21. The Economist (2019). How women are singled out for vile political ends. 19 November 2019. https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/11/07/how-women-are-singled-out-for-vile-a buse-for-political-ends UN (2017a). UN GA Report of the UN Secretary General on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity A/72/290. Retrieved from http://undocs.org/A/72/290 UN (2017b). A/RES/72/175 Resolution on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/72/175
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Vega Montiel, A. (2017). Violence of gender against women journalists in Mexico. Conference paper presented at IAMCR, Cartagena. Woolley, S.C. and Howard, P.N. (2017). Project on Computational Propaganda. Working Paper 2017.11. Oxford: Oxford Internet Institute. YLE (2020). Appeals court reduces sentence for academic after hate campaign against journalist, 14 July 2020. Retrieved from https://yle.ﬁ/uutiset/osasto/news/appeals_court_ reduces_sentence_for_academic_after_hate_campaign_against_journalist/11447401
9 CREATING CAPACITY FOR PEACE The power of news and civil norm building Jackie Harrison and Stef Pukallus
Introduction Whereas civil conﬂicts have many causes and many consequences they all have in common the breakdown of society’s factual communicative channels that provide accurate, sincere, and objective1 news outputs. The role of the media in post-conﬂict settings is more likely to involve initiatives that span the performing arts,2 stage managed conciliatory events, exploratory ways to use traditional or new media3 as well as an exhortatory range of ﬁlm and documentary programmes4 than it is news organisations, their newsrooms and news journalists. Where it does involve the factual mass media in general and news organisations and news journalism, in particular, there has been much attention given to the development of public service journalism; that is primarily public service journalism conceived of as informing and educating the public by providing diverse and reliable news outputs across a variety of platforms.5 However, the problem that peacebuilders face is that post-conﬂict news media landscapes are replete with partisan news organisations6 alongside vestigial remains of a public service news media, which either has to be rebuilt and/or repurposed from former state service news providers or, in the worst case, is non-existent and has to be created ex nihilo. In either case a lacuna needs to be ﬁlled and the question that arises (though it is rarely, if at all, asked) is what particular version of public service news journalism should be adopted? In this chapter we suggest a version that is based upon the recognition of the civil power of the news. It is a version that sees public service news journalism as more than providing news conceived of as free from vested interests, diverse (pluralist), reliable, factual and informative. This is not to say that all these virtues are not important and necessary, but rather that there is more to the news as a public service than just these virtues. DOI: 10.4324/9781003015628-10
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The point here is that we believe that a comprehensive version of “public service” that moves beyond the basic formulae of public mindedness and balance in news outputs is required in post-conﬂict settings,7 namely what is needed is a version of public service news journalism that engages in civil norm building. In this version news organisations and news journalists are inspired by a civil view of public service news journalism. More speciﬁcally they are inspired by a view that centres on a desire to support and maintain civil solidarity8 and that actively promotes the civil virtues of social criticism, civility, democratic integration, justice, reciprocity and mutual respect in news outputs (Alexander, 2006; Harrison, 2019a). It is a view that understands these civil virtues reﬂexively at both the organisational and journalistic level. In adopting and promoting these virtues the civil power of news is exercised in and through the judgements made in news outputs. They are judgements about how we should live an associative life and, correspondingly, about the quality of such associative life; about what ideals and values we should uphold, what mores and norms we should follow and what boundaries we should erect to promote and protect our “way of life”. Expressed another way, the fulﬁlment of this civil view of public service news journalism requires that news organisations institutionalise9 an understanding of the solidarising potential of their news outputs. In this chapter we are concerned with this potential. More speciﬁcally, we are concerned with how news organisations and news journalism can facilitate an improvement in the quality of associative life in post-conﬂict settings and how they can contribute to sustainable peace through the civil and solidarising power of the news. In short how they can help and support the civil norms of peace. In post-conﬂict settings one of the things standing in the way of the adoption and utilisation of the kind of civil version of public service news journalism as civil norm building is what is now called “media capture”.10 By this we mean the way in which those with political power or those pursuing political power see the control of the news media as a valuable asset to be owned. This is simply because they see ownership as a way to control public information, win elections, plunder public resources and, of course, demonise those regarded as “enemies”. This results in sectarian political interests questioning the very need for civilly inspired news organisations and news journalism. Those seeking political power in post-conﬂict settings often prefer partisan media because they can use them to serve their political ambition and promote their own political views. It is the nature of partisan news that we must try to understand. This is because it “diﬀuses incivility”11 and forms the locus of antagonism towards a version of public service news journalism as consisting of civil norm building.
Post-conﬂict settings: Partisan media and the anti-civil power of news journalism The diﬀerence between partisan news organisations and their attendant journalism and a civilly inspired news organisation and its form of news journalism is straightforward: Whereas partisan news organisations and news journalism are anti-civil and
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non-solidarising in outlook, civil news organisations and news journalism are civil and solidarising in outlook. In post-conﬂict settings the trick for those interested in peacebuilding is to tame the former and to grow the latter. However, the problem facing peacebuilders is the persistence and durability of the former. Partisan news organisations and news journalism continue the conﬂict in their news outputs, they keep up enemy tropes, images and stereotypes thereby aiming to reinforce rather than to overcome the friend–enemy distinctions that were at the root of the just ended conﬂict. According to Harrison (2019b), and based on Schmitt’s ( 2007) theory of the partisan and corresponding antagonistic view of “the political”, partisan news organisations can be described as having four particular aspects: (1) a conception of civil society’s communicative space as a battleground where (2) an intensely political battle upholds the friend/enemy distinction through discursive antagonism; (3) an encouragement of “interactivity, involvement and, above all, the mobilization of their audiences to aﬃrm their message and to protest against those perceived” to represent “the other” and (4) are funded by a speciﬁc cause. Overall, partisan media aim to keep stereotypes and enemy images alive by spreading fake news, rumours and outright lies. Catering for partisans naturally enough generates news which promotes the sectarian interests of a particular group. Usually this form of anti-civil news attacks public service news journalism as nothing other than news according to the precepts and tastes of dominant elites, pluralists and liberal democrats and as a form of news journalism that betrays the interest of the partisan group. Here, anti-civil partisan news and its form of news journalism aid and abet the blurring of the lines between fact and opinion, entertainment and information, truths and untruths. In so doing they undermine the capacity in post-conﬂict settings for rationally arrived at civil knowledge, or what John Dewey ( 2016) calls “social inquiry”. The extent to which partisan news organisations dominate the news ecology in postconﬂict settings is an indication of a form of civil diminishment and represents what Keene (2013: 121) calls “media decadence” – namely a trend that carries with it the decay and the erosion of democratic opportunities amidst an abundance of communication channels and outlets – opportunities that are lost at the point of their possible inception in post-conﬂict settings. Overall, and when exercising its anti-civil power in a partisan way, the news emphasises exclusivity, antagonism, one-sidedness, partiality and preference. Partisan news eschews all forms of public deliberation and collaborative engagement. As such, it is fundamentally non-solidarising and has as its aim the establishment of boundaries that demarcate who is regarded as on “our side” and who is “against us”. In short, a simple friend/foe distinction,12 which always accompanies what Thompson (2016) calls the “abolition of public language”. Anti-civil news journalism is most adept at exercising what Lukes (2005) calls one-, two- and three-dimensional power; that is, power which promotes selfinterest and does this respectively by a) inﬂuence over outcomes, b) agenda setting and framing or c) dominating choices, reasons and desires. The arena in which this power is played out is public sentiment (Harrison, 2019a). Correspondingly, at the
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disposal of news journalism that chooses to exercise its anti-civil power in a partisan way is an array of options – from the use of hate speech and “extreme speech” (Hare and Weinstein 2009), defamation as well as attributions of risk and blame (Douglas 1994) to more subtle forms of “otherising” and delegitimising.13 The desired net eﬀect is to arouse emotions in which public sentiment consists of, to adapt a phrase by Krause (2008), “anti-civil passions” directed at a particular group of people who somehow pose a risk to what are perceived to be (by the partisan) customarily accepted mores and norms. Nowhere is the power of the news more forceful and negative in its promotion of anti-civil passions than in post-conﬂict settings, although media capture and accusations against a perceived mainstream press as constituting a Lügenpresse 14 by contemporary Western nationalist and populist movements are rapidly rivalling forms of extremity usually associated with post-conﬂict settings. It is still the case however, that whether as a result of inter-state warfare or intra-state war, postconﬂict settings see anti-civil news journalism at its most extreme and virulent. It is in post-conﬂict settings that, typically, professional journalism has been compromised and the civil institution of news journalism has been diminished or destroyed. In its place there is partisan news journalism which incites violence, endorses the continuation of armed conﬂict, utilises degrading enemy images and stereotypes which, in turn, reinforce the constant tropes of “friend–enemy distinctions”, and which have vested interests in keeping conﬂict going or more invidiously re-igniting conﬂict. In short, news journalism becomes a spoiler of the peace process rather than a contributor to it. Accordingly, one of the urgent questions for those interested in communicative responses to peacebuilding in post-conﬂict settings is how anti-civil news journalism can be tamed and avoided and how news journalism can instead be utilised to facilitate an improvement to the quality of associative life. We argue that the peace-facilitating ability of news journalism lies in its capacity for civil norm building. To address this question, and to answer it realistically, several caveats need to be made since they frame and shape our response. These caveats are necessary in order to ensure we do not overclaim and attribute to news journalism “miraculous powers” of healing. Certainly, as we argue below, news journalism committed to peacebuilding is important, but we need to remember that it exists as one set of social conditions amongst many others. It is part of a set of tools necessary to bring about peace that can become sustainable, habitual, a way of going about things, and conceived of this way they are simply underutilised given the beneﬁts they can bring locally. As to the caveats, they can be listed accordingly: First, all forms of news journalism are contested by state and market forces disputing its independence and or trying to use it for its own purposes and this will not change in re-purposing news journalism in post-conﬂict settings, nor does this always result in partisan anti-civil news. There are many examples of public service journalism co-habiting with market-inspired or politically biased forms of journalism. The point is that such contestation should remain agonistic rather than becoming antagonistic, meaning that the contestation takes place between adversaries and not enemies.15 Second, news
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journalism doesn’t happen in isolation of other institutions – particularly legal institutions such as courts, tribunals and public enquiries. Free and independent legal institutions are vital and often underpin free and independent news journalism. Third, a civilly inspired form of news journalism committed to peace will always depend on forms of public engagement and criticism in terms of what news journalists exemplify in any given news organisation’s news outputs and what it is that they exemplify as constituting a peaceful and associative way of life. Fourth, civilly inspired news journalism is not a form of paciﬁsm. There is no inextricable link between a desire for peace and paciﬁsm since under certain circumstances a civilly inspired news journalism may support a “just war”, or advocate armed intervention designed to stop an injustice. With these caveats in mind the answer to the question of how news journalism can be used to facilitate peace in post-conﬂict settings requires that we now understand in contra distinction to partisan and anti-civil news what the news can do when it exercises its civil power in a solidarising way.
Communicative capacity and civil norm building Within the civil institution of news and news journalism civil power can be found in how the news frames its editorials, comment pieces, opinion pieces and reports and societalises16 matters that resonate with our invariant civil concerns of identity, legitimacy and risk; and how these concerns could be resolved in varying circumstances. Harrison (2019a: 11) deﬁnes these invariant civil concerns as follows: identity is a matter of who “we” regard as tolerable and intolerable, who “we” should be hospitable towards and who “we” should not, who is like “us” and who is not and so on. Legitimacy relates to what “we” can justify and how “we” do so, what is seen to be legally and ethically right and wrong, what is regarded as just and fair, what will withstand scrutiny, how and in what ways we address issues of power and of who has it and how is it exercised. Risk relates to fear and the need for feelings of security and correspondingly, the risks we collectively perceive “we” face. These three invariant civil concerns provide the basis for a form of architectural framework through which news journalism continually exercises its civil and anti-civil judgements, its civil and anti-civil power. In other words, the news exercises its power in a civil way when it encourages civil solidarity. As such, it is a power that is not orientated to pursuing self- or vested interests but civil concerns and collective interests that promote the interests of what Shils (1997: 340) calls the “collective self-consciousness” of civil society and what Pukallus (2016, 2019; forthcoming) calls “civil consciousness”.17 In and through this consciousness the news has the civil power to denote and inﬂuence whom and what “we” (that is an inclusive and contrastive we) think is civil and anti-civil. In post-conﬂict settings the news frames its news outputs and societalises the three invariant civil concerns of identity, legitimacy and risk in terms of how
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they are aﬀected by the nature and character of the conﬂict they are immersed in. It does this in a civil way when endorsing peace, since it is only through the establishment of peaceful co-operation and association that our invariant civil concerns take on the mantel of being solidarising and inclusive. The point is that for those interested in building sustainable peace the question (as noted above) is how to institutionalise and promote the civil power of the news in terms of its solidarising inﬂuence on public sentiment and the public’s invariant civil concerns. Of course, media development and training of local journalists in professional standards and ethics is of vital importance (see Price and Rozumilowicz, 2002), but in a setting in which the communicative capacity to deal with conﬂict in an agonistic non-violent way no longer exists and where (re-)building the (institutional) communicative basis of civil society is necessary (see Bratic, 2008; Pukallus, forthcoming), professional journalism has to do something else if it is to express its civil power positively: it has to adopt a civil norm building approach to reporting. In other words, the civil role of news journalism in post-conﬂict settings depends upon its real capacity to attach itself to and to express the ideals of solidarity that reside at the heart of the civil normative core of peace while, at the same time, maintaining in its news reporting editorial integrity and a concern for being regarded as trustworthy (Harrison, 2019a). The important concern for peacebuilders is whether or not news journalism in post-conﬂict settings endorses the categories of norms that constitute the civil normative core of peace in its news reporting. With regard to the civil normative core of peace three categories of norms can be delineated: 1) assent to peace, 2) substantive civility and 3) the building of civil capacity and civil competencies.18
1 Assent to peace Peace requires active and on-going assent. Importantly assent can be given and withdrawn, it cannot be taken for granted as something that a person has no choice about making, or whether they ﬁnd peace desirable or not. Peace is assented to as a preference – both civil and political – over interstate or intrastate war. As such it is a preference for an attempt to resolve a war and to (re)build associative life in terms of peaceful co-operation and association. As such it is on-going and open ended. It requires normative adjustments and new modes or a return to previous civil modes of behaviour. That does not mean that it aﬃrms a ﬁxed conventional way of doing things, rather it can herald new and diﬀerent ways of going about associative life. The category of assent is concerned with three reference points: the acceptance and aﬃrmation of the existence of and the need for toleration of conﬂicted histories; the acceptance that each member of the community is of equal civil standing; and the commitment to be future-facing; that is to endorse the need for civil peace and to agree to actively help the peace process. The point being that what is being assented to is in eﬀect a new social contract, or at least a codicil to a pre-existing “contract”, with the following binding agreements assented to: that peace is
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beneﬁcial to a community as a whole; forgiveness/reconciliation is possible and plausible; that institutional forbearance is necessary and that revenge is intolerable.
2 Substantive civility Civility is typically regarded as entailing good manners, courtesy, self-restraint, moderation and politeness. Substantive civility, in turn and though related to this form of civility, is diﬀerent. It was a term coined by Shils (1997: 345) which refers to “a concern for the common good”, a concern that orientates behaviour and public life to considerations of “society as a whole” and “which reduces the rigidity of attachment to the parts, whether it be social class or an occupational or ethnic group or a political party or a religious community” (ibid.: 341). Thus substantive civility is essentially concerned with public life at the level of daily routines and interactions; that is, how such routines and interactions meet common values and accepted standards of behaviour, how action is designated, how common welfare is understood and perhaps most importantly (in terms of the beginning of the peace process) with the acceptance and tolerance of diﬀerent viewpoints, agreed norms of argument and dissent. In short it is concerned with conduct. But it is conduct which he deﬁnes as “the readiness to moderate particular, individual or parochial interests” (ibid.: 345), “limits the intensity of conﬂict” (ibid.: 343), “reduces the distance between conﬂicting demands” (ibid.: 343) and “postulates that antagonists are also members of the same society” (ibid.: 340). It works “like a governor” (ibid.: 341) and is the cardinal virtue of civil society (ibid.: 339). Ultimately this category is constitutive of the norms of civil conduct and behaviour in public life and provides for the basis of trust and solidarity.
3 Building of civil capacity and civil competencies The ﬁnal category, building of civil capacity and civil competencies, is concerned with the inventive and creative capacity of individuals who come together as members of civil society in associations to build civil institutions. No one has understood this more clearly than Tocqueville ( 2010: 896), who wrote: Americans of all ages, all conditions, all minds constantly unite. Not only do they have commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but they also have a thousand other kinds: religious, moral [intellectual], serious ones, useless ones, very general and very particular, immense and very small; Americans use associations to celebrate holidays, establish seminaries, build inns, erect churches, distribute books, send missionaries to the antipodes; in this way they create hospitals, prisons, schools. This quote summarises the signiﬁcance of this category – it points to a capacity for forming an association and building, for energy and for active citizenship, for selfdetermination and for problem solving and community forming. Building civil
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capacity and civil competencies is a category of norms which refers to knowing how to form associations co-operatively and peacefully with people you might not otherwise agree with. It is a set of norms that guide building coalitions and alignments. Quite simply, it is working with people across a range of diﬀerent social and political skills in order to achieve agreed civil ends, of fulﬁlling self-imposed civil obligations and duties and of building civil institutions. Ultimately these three categories scope what Dewey ( 2016: 179) described as “wants and impulses attached to common meaning … transformed into desires and purposes, which, since they implicate a common or mutually understood meaning, present new ties, converting a conjoint activity into a community of interest and endeavour”. Though where the common meaning is the desire for peaceful co-operation, the scope of the three categories when presented like this remain aspirational. The categories of the civil norms of peace need to be moved from being merely a scoping exercise and essentially protreptic into the practical sphere and reality of a post-conﬂict setting. They need to become real, and for this to happen they require local expression; local in the sense that they must ﬁt in with local culture and be institutionalised in local news organisations. It is only as these categories are realised in situ that they have a locally relevant interpretive framework and from this a relevant prescriptive force. Guiding this interpretive framework is the fact that each of the three categories has its own particular language or domain of meaning (a ﬁeld of reference) which, when used individually or combined, delineates the interpretive framework and normative features of the news outputs in any news journalism organisation committed to working within the scope of these three categories of norms. The signiﬁcance of these three categories for news reporting rests precisely here – they are, if you like, translated by local news organisation into the context of a local setting. They are given what Ricoeur (2006: 34) calls an “equivalence of meaning”; that is, each of these categories is translated from a thin and universal category to a series of local, thick and practical mores and norms. Thus, and in order to build civil norms, news organisations have to be recognisably attached to what is culturally and traditionally wanted by a speciﬁc public and what for them constitutes an acceptable civil and peaceful associative life. At the same time, the public will only depend on a trusted news organisation to accurately and sincerely express the mores and norms of this desired life; that is, to show their practical presence, their sustainability and desirability and, where necessary, to engage in social criticism and agonistic disputes. The issue for news journalism in post-conﬂict settings is how the civil normative core of peace and its three categories, each with its own particular language or domain of meaning and ﬁeld of reference, can be accurately and sincerely represented in news outputs without distorting claims to objectivity. This is not a matter of idealising norms and hoping that they attach themselves to a public. Rather, it is a matter of news organisations and news journalists living and working within a local culture and tradition to work out how these categories can be expressed in news outputs. It is working out and understanding local preferences and choices about wanting a sustainable peace and not merely the elaboration of ethical principles that is at issue.
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The task, therefore, facing any news organisation in a post-conﬂict setting is two-fold: ﬁrst, to resist the temptation to express the news in an anti-civil partisan manner. Second, to adopt a form of news journalism that endorses the local civil norms of peace whilst at the same time being trusted locally. In O’Neill’s (2002: 98) terms, this will rely upon a local public having “assessable reasons” for judging whether to trust any particular news organisation. These assessable reasons centre on questions of how accurate, sincere and objective news outputs are. Only news outputs that are trusted can act as a conduit for subjective feelings of solidarity and a desire for peace and at the same time be relied upon not to undermine the public’s ability to judge things for themselves. The institutional commitment to the norms of peace manifest in and through civilly inspired news journalism forswears proselyting peace, nor does it fetishize freedom of expression – as O’Neill (2002: 94) puts it “freedom of expression is for individuals not institutions”. Rather there exists a virtuous circle which provides the architecture for a compact between news organisations and a public. Trusted news outputs enhance the communicative capacity of news organisations to stimulate in their publics the development of a public culture which, in its turn, enables the public to assess just how trustworthy and reliable a particular news organisation is when it comes to matters of peace. Equally, such a public culture demands for itself news that is trustworthy. In short, a form of compact emerges between a news organisation and a local public. This compact speciﬁes four necessary things: ﬁrst, that news organisations can play the role of a civil norm builder; second, that news organisations need to reﬂexively exemplify in their news outputs the three basic categories of civil norms that underwrite peaceful co-operation – they have to have institutionally internalised the fact that the civil norms of peace provide an interpretive framework for their news outputs; third, that news organisations meet (listen) to a local public expectation for trustworthiness; and fourth, that publics meet the expectation made of them by a news organisation that they too are also listened to.
Conclusion News organisation cultures matter as they are the measure of a news organisations’ beliefs and values and, as such, they set the tone for how news journalism is to be undertaken and how its news outputs conceive of and represent a public. We have argued above that a civil norm building version of public service journalism is most closely associated with the normative core of peace. Whether a particular public is open or closed minded, inclined towards tolerance or is basically intolerant of a particular group(s) or diﬀerent ways of life is a matter for particular publics, but news organisations are inextricably linked to what they conceive of to be the public’s own interest and what they therefore believe to be public sentiment. Some news organisations are disposed to merely replicate what they perceive to be public sentiment, some try to form and shape public sentiment towards a particular view and some engage with public sentiment in variously a supportive or a challenging
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way depending on the issue at hand. None of this is to suggest that publics are homogeneous, or that public sentiment consists of one outlook at any one given moment in time (though of course there are dominant views), but rather that public sentiment inﬂuences newsrooms just as newsrooms seek to engage with public sentiment. This relationship is well understood and while the processes and outcomes of this relationship are debated, few (if any) people actually argue that newsrooms and public sentiment are not inextricably and forever related. It is the kind of relationship that newsrooms have to public sentiment that is important. If it is of the kind where both the news organisation and its news outputs share with its public a commitment to sustainable peace, then the news has a form of civil power which can inﬂuence positively our invariant civil concerns and the quality of our associative relationships with others. It is this last point that is at issue in this chapter and nothing else. The choice in post-conﬂict settings is stark: a return to conﬂict or an associative life of co-operation between multiple publics who share what Dewey ( 2016: 172) calls “returning to the idea itself” (also Festenstein, 1997) – here the “idea” of peace and the three categories of behavioural norms that go with this idea of peace. Such a return only has any real value if it is practical and located in local circumstances and histories. It is in this practical turn that news organisations can play their part as civil norm builders. Their civil role is to exemplify social criticism, democratic integration, civility, justice, reciprocity and mutual respect in their news outputs and to present the news through the prism of local normative versions of “the idea of peace” accurately, sincerely and objectively.
Notes 1 On the meaning of these three terms see Harrison (2019a: 31–65). 2 For a wide range of examples of performative arts initiatives in post-conﬂict see Cohen et al. (2011a and 2011b), also Premaratna (2018) on theatre, and more widely Mitchell et al. (2020). 3 On the use of “participatory citizens” media see e.g. Rodriguez (2011) and Bau (2015). 4 For some examples on the use of ﬁlm in post-conﬂict settings see Mitchell et al. (2020). 5 These include editorial, comment and opinion pieces and news reports throughout this chapter. 6 We follow Schmitt (2007: 22) in understanding a partisan as someone who is intensely political and telluric in character and has the support of large organisations. We use the term in this chapter as a metonym for a public that is antagonistic to whomever they perceive to have betrayed their cause and homeland, who are utterly one-sided, who simply want their partiality and preferences conﬁrmed and who eschew all forms of public deliberation and collaborative engagement with those perceived to be “non-partisans”. 7 By post-conﬂict we refer to the period that starts once the peace agreement is signed. Of course, we are aware that such post-conﬂict societies are fragile and still prone to conﬂict, that they might relapse into conﬂict and that peace processes are not linear but face substantial challenges and have to address complex circumstances. 8 For us, solidarity does not imply a stultifying or debilitating orthodoxy, a bland uniformity or a suﬀocating regime. Rather as Alexander (2006: 31) notes “civil society should be conceived as a solidary sphere, in which a certain kind of universalizing community comes to be culturally deﬁned and to some degree institutionally enforced. To the degree that this solidary community exists, it is exhibited and sustained by public
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9 10 11 12
14 15 16
opinion, deep cultural codes, distinctive organizations – legal, journalistic and associational – and such historically speciﬁc interactional practices as civility, criticism, and mutual respect. Such a civil community can never exist as such; it can only be sustained to one degree or another. It is always limited by, and interpenetrated with, the boundary relations of other, non-civil spheres”. On the institutionalisation of speciﬁc civil virtues in news organisations and correspondingly the civil ideal of news journalism see Harrison and Pukallus (forthcoming). See Horsley (forthcoming). A term coined by Shils (1997: 82). Historically, there have been many examples of the foe, “the enemy”. These included amongst many others the Jews (Nazi Germany), kulaks (Soviet Union), “new people” (Cambodia), Tutsi (Rwanda), Bosnian Male Muslims (Bosnia) as well as the Communist Party and its sympathisers (Indonesia). Such otherisation robs citizens/minorities of their equal standing, status and social capital as citizens (see Waldron, 2012). It can include obvious and extreme othering such as to consider Jews to be rapists (seducers) and a meta-threat and all Muslims to be jihadists, or be done via the provision of “fact-look-alike” communication outputs as those produced by the US Army during the Cold War to show “the diﬀerence”: “The U.S. citizen has rights. The Communist has none […] An American Serviceman is a citizen. The Communist soldier is a weapon – not a human” (see Keen, 1986: 26). Another strategy is to portray the heroic and martyr-like nature of the “friend” in the battle against the enemy – the Nazi as a Dragon Slayer (ibid.: 42). “Lying press” – a term used in Germany since the nineteenth century typically by one political party or another railing against the press for their coverage of events. On the distinction between agonism and antagonism see Mouﬀe (2000; 2013). The term “societalization” is Jeﬀrey Alexander’s (2019: 3), who argues that “Problems become crises […] only when they move outside their own spheres and appear to endanger society at large. I call this sense of broader endangerment, and the responses it engenders, ‘societalization.’ Societalization occurs when the discourses and material resources of the civil sphere are brought into play. It is only when sphere-speciﬁc problems become societalized that routine strains are carefully scrutinized, once lauded institutions ferociously criticized, elites threatened and punished, and far-reaching institutional reforms launched, and sometimes made.” Shils (1997: 340): “Collective self-consciousness, which is a cognitive state, as seeing one’s self as part of a collectivity, has within it a norm which gives precedence to the interest of the collectivity over the individual or parochial interests. All societies engender some degree of collective self-consciousness.” For Pukallus (forthcoming), a civil consciousness is a state of mind. It is a disposition towards a certain kind of quality of associative life which includes both a cognitive-reﬂective (realisation of the need for civil solidarity, agonistic non-violent engagement with conﬂict and a conception of community) and an emotional-aﬀective dimension (longing for the experience of solidarity, belonging and safety) (see also Pukallus, 2016, 2019 on the role of civil consciousness in early European integration). Harrison and Pukallus (forthcoming).
References Alexander, J. (2006). The Civil Sphere. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Alexander, J. (2019). What Makes a Social Crisis? The Societalization of Social Problems. Cambridge: Polity Press. Bau, V. (2015). Building peace through social change communication: Participatory video in conﬂict- aﬀected communities. Community Development Journal 50(1): pp. 121–137. Bratic, V. (2008). Examining peace-oriented media in areas of violent conﬂict. The International Communication Gazette 70(6): pp. 487–503.
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Cohen, C.E., Gutiérrez Varea, R., and Walker, P.O. (eds) (2011a). Acting Together. Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conﬂict, vol. 1. Oakland: New Village Press. Cohen, C.E., Gutiérrez Varea, R., and Walker, P.O. (eds) (2011b). Acting Together. Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conﬂict, vol. 2. Oakland: New Village Press. Dewey, J. ( 2016). The Public and Its Problems. Ohio: Ohio University Press/Swallow Press. Douglas, M. (1994). Risk and Blame: Essays in Cultural Theory. London: Routledge. Festenstein, M. (1997). The ties of communication policy: Dewey on ideal and political democracy. History of Political Thought 18(1). Harrison, J. (2000). Terrestrial TV News in Britain: The Culture of News Production. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Harrison, J. (2019a). The Civil Power of the News. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Harrison, J. (2019b). “Public Service Journalism” in: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Harrison, J. and Pukallus, S. (forthcoming). News Journalism and Its Potential Contribution to Sustainable Peace in Post-Civil War Settings: Civil Norm Building. Hare, I. and Weinstein, J. (eds) (2009). Extreme Speech and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Horsley, W. (forthcoming). “Media Capture by Partisan Forces in Europe: Mechanics, Corrosive Eﬀects on Democracy and the Desecration Of Journalistic Ethics” in: L. Price (ed.) Routledge Companion to Journalism Ethics. London: Routledge. Keen, S. (1986). Faces of the Enemy. Reﬂections of the Hostile Imagination. San Francisco: Harper & Row. Keene, J. (2013). Democracy and Media Decadence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Krause, S. (2008). Civil Passions: Moral Sentiments and Democratic Deliberation. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Lukes, S. (2005). Power. A Radical View. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Mitchell, J., Vincent, G., Culbertson, H. and Hawksley, T. (eds) (2020). Peacebuilding and the Arts. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Mouﬀe, C. (2000). The Democratic Paradox. London: Verso. Mouﬀe, C. (2013). Agonistics. Thinking the World Politically. London: Verso. O’Neill, O. (2002). A Question of Trust. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Premaratna, N. (2018). Theatre for Peacebuilding. The Role of Arts in Conﬂict Transformation in South Asia. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Price, M.E. and Rozumilowicz, B. (2002). “Conclusion” in: M.E. Price, B. Rozumilowicz and S.G. Verhulst (eds) Media Reform. Democratizing the Media, Democratizing the State. London: Routledge. Pukallus, S. (2016). Representations of European Citizenship since 1951. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Pukallus, S. (2019). The Building of Civil Europe 1951–1972. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Pukallus, S. (forthcoming). Communication in Peacebuilding. Civil Wars, Civility and Safe Spaces. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Ricoeur, P. (2006). Translation. London: Routledge. Rodriguez, C. (2011). Citizens’ Media against Armed Conﬂict: Disrupting Violence in Colombia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Schmitt, C. ( 2007). Theory of the Partisan. New York: Telos Press Publishing. Shils, E. (1997). “The Virtue of Civility” (pp. 320–355) in: S. Grosby (ed.) The Virtue of Civility: Selected Essays on Liberalism, Tradition, and Civil Society. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.
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Thompson, M. (2016). Enough Said: What’s Gone Wrong with the Language of Politics?London: The Bodley Head. Tocqueville, de, A. ( 2010). Democracy in America, vol. II (ed.) E. Nolla, (trans.) J.T. Schleifer. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Waldron, J. (2012). The Harm in Hate Speech. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
10 COVERING CONFLICT Safety, sanity and responsibility Jonathan Munro
At the time of writing, I am Deputy Director of BBC News. I regularly make decisions which have echoes in the themes of this book. The buck, as they say, stops with me. But as in any trade, there is a limit to how much the theory of journalism plays out in practice. There are guidelines but no rules. There are precedents but no templates. Risks must be minimised but rarely can be eliminated. Most of what journalists do does not amount to a matter of life or death. But when it does, the basic rights and wrongs of reporting – the moral compass of journalism – can lead us to some exceptionally tricky dilemmas. As one of the largest media organisations in the world, we face the challenges of conﬂict reporting more often than most. Our output is global, so nothing we do can be expected to stay in its local environment. Previously, I was a producer, correspondent and manager at ITN – BBC News’ most signiﬁcant broadcast rival in the UK. I would never claim to have made a career as a war correspondent, though I’ve operated in a fair few conﬂict zones. I reported from Sarajevo at the height of the Balkans conﬂict, I was the news editor for ITN in Saudi Arabia throughout the ﬁrst Gulf War, and was back in the region during the second – this time to manage the aftermath of the killing of three members of an ITN team by American Marines. I spent three years on the streets of Northern Ireland in the early 1990s when peace was a long oﬀ aspiration. I’ve worked extensively in Russia, China, the United States, Africa and across Europe. At management level, I’ve sat across tables talking about our reporting in China, Syria, Iran, Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and even North Korea. Not all of that is classic conﬂict work, but it shapes the experience I now draw upon to make operational decisions. In this chapter, I will explore the key assessments we take around risk and safety; the opportunities and challenges posed by technology in war zones; the particular tension in covering a conﬂict in your own home patch; and the innate desire – despite all of these concerns – that some journalists have to go to war. DOI: 10.4324/9781003015628-11
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Journalists or social engineers As a senior practising journalist, I enjoyed the diﬀering perspectives on myriad challenges outlined in previous chapters. Global examples and best practice are sometimes hard to track, with newsrooms making decisions based on their own needs and requirements. Industry bodies exist to share both bad experiences and good ideas, but news journalists rarely step back and allow themselves time to assimilate lessons and actions. That is why works like this can play a valuable role in deepening understanding and widening context. I was also struck by what I will refer to as the betterment thesis, which several of the chapters implicitly or explicitly promote. It is found in some part of the thesis in Harrison and Pukallus’ chapter (Chapter 9) when arguing that “news journalism can … be utilised to facilitate an improvement to the quality of associative life”. However desirable it is at a human level, I would argue that it is not primarily a journalist’s job or responsibility to facilitate life improvement. It is our job to report honestly and openly a story of public interest. The consequences are secondary. That does not mean the consequences are unimportant. But if the consequences pre-empt the editorial evaluation of a story we are no longer acting as journalists, but as social engineers. A climate where free reporting is possible enables journalism to improve associative life. Indeed, history is littered with signiﬁcant events that might not have happened had journalists been allowed to report freely. The muddy carnage of the First World War, the rise of National Socialism in Germany, the murderous regimes of countless dictators from Stalin to Pol Pot. A journalist doing their job could have exposed these stains on humanity, though history might suggest that their own life expectancy would have been counted in small units once they were discovered. Societies are more free, more accountable and more robust if the media that reports on them is both resilient in its own right and exists in an environment where the freedom to report is respected. That in itself is a “betterment” theory, but of course many of the circumstances required to fulﬁl it are not in journalists’ hands. Put another way, everyday decisions are usually rooted in more prosaic concerns than the betterment of our societies. Editors will not often ask “Does this improve society?” but will almost always ask other questions: “Can we aﬀord it? What’s the strength of the story? How much other activity are we committed to? Is it practical? Is it the best use of our available resources?” This is the real world – the world of nip and tuck, compromise and real politic. When dealing with conﬂict reporting, these key questions pose the most acute dilemmas in journalism.
The whites of the eyes An obvious boundary when reporting on a conﬂict is the safety of journalists. No story is worth a life, though countless reporters have paid with theirs in pursuit of the truth. Often that has been happenstance – being in a sniper’s sight, crossing a front line by mistake, driving over a mine. It has happened even to the trade’s most
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experienced practitioners, backed by world class training and resources. The certiﬁcates which prove you have practised how to respond when kidnapped are corporately reassuring, but they can only reduce the risks, not mitigate them completely. Covering conﬂict requires journalists to act in a way which is completely at odds with common sense. We actively try to get into a trouble spot, whilst most sensible people are on the road out. War reporting can, therefore, attract a certain type of operator, which is not always a good thing. In addition, smartphones allow people to operate as “one-man bands” – gone are the days when acquiring ﬁlm was a team game, where colleagues could share their assessment of danger, watch each other’s back, and act as the person willing to say, “this far and no further”. In some ways that means we are operating more like stills photographers – always a lonelier job than being a broadcast journalist. The composition of a team is a key safety consideration. Everyone who becomes a war reporter has to start somewhere, so previous experience cannot be a pre-requisite. But a team of rookies cannot be a good idea. Equally, I have on occasions stopped a deployment because I think a member of the team is a bit war weary, or even pumped up by the prospect of battle. Sometimes there are casting considerations of a diﬀerent type. Reporters often have social media proﬁles – often with the proactive encouragement of their newsrooms. Social media accounts reach audiences which broadcasts cannot, so a reporter’s digital footprint is seen as an asset. But there are times when their proﬁle may show aspects of their lives which might increase the danger to them or their teams.1 In those circumstances, it is probably wiser to send someone else – an “out” gay reporter, for example, would be in greater jeopardy in cultures where homosexuality is a criminal oﬀence. In the hot-tempered atmosphere of a front line, with guns at the ready, these factors tilt the risk ratio in the wrong direction. These issues are always complex, with rival pressures in the mind of the Editor. So, my key benchmark is what I have often called the “whites of the eyes” test. If – God forbid – things went wrong, could I look into the whites of the eyes of that team’s loved ones and tell them in good faith that we did everything we reasonably could to keep them safe? That is a high bar, but when these things happen, we have to pass it. I used that explanation to a BBC team who were about to enter Syria from the Turkish border in 2014. They had been deployed there for several weeks waiting for the right moment to get to some of the routed villages of Idlib. The editorial prize was signiﬁcant, and the safety protocols were amongst the most thorough and robust I have ever seen. A hugely experienced safety advisor would cross with the team, and we had the use of our outstandingly brave local ﬁxers (always a reporter’s best allies). We were, to coin a phrase, good to go. But even though I had sanctioned every step of the process to date, I pulled it. Nothing had changed on the crossing, the route in or in the villages. But suddenly the factors around them had evolved, and not in a good way. A western hostage had been paraded in an orange jump suit ahead of his certain murder. He was a journalist too – Steven Sotloﬀ. His murder was hundreds of miles from where we had been planning to
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go, and it didn’t aﬀect our formal risk assessment (a key obligation for all hostile environment deployments). But, the propaganda value of an abducted western journalist had just rocketed. The chances of things going wrong on that deployment had not particularly changed, but the consequences if they did had been transformed. I could not look into the whites of the eyes of the next of kin and say that we had done all we could. They ﬂew home without a story. That is sometimes the price of making the call.
Behind the eyes A risk assessment, by its very nature, will focus on the physical dangers presented in a dynamic environment. But there is one key aspect of our responsibilities as deploying managers which this pre-deployment work cannot properly address. That is the eﬀect on journalists after they get home. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been diagnosed in many journalists across the world over the last 20 years. Before that, the hard-hearted news world did not acknowledge it. Reporters would mask their trauma, usually in the pub. Now, major newsrooms all have support structures in place, and they can be a life saver – literally – in serious cases. I have had several colleagues with PTSD – indeed some still suﬀer with it. Perhaps the most serious cases arose from the coverage of the massacres in Rwanda, where age old rivalries between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes erupted into barbaric genocide. The images of slaughter by men wielding machetes, were unspeakable. The teams on the ground saw the murders ﬁrst-hand, and – in the edit process – will have ﬁltered out the worst of the pictures, classing them as simply too brutal for audiences. To that extent, we as viewers are protected. But our colleagues, the news gatherers, are not. PTSD remains unrecognised in some parts of the world. Support may well be available in well-resourced newsrooms, but not for those who work for lesser equipped organisations or operate on a freelance basis. For them, exposure to scenes like those in Rwanda is a traumatic life-changing event.
News from nowhere A risk assessment on a conﬂict deployment for an ongoing war is a carefully crafted, considered document. It is a one-stop-shop for all the information that could possibly be needed. But it takes time to compile. The breaking story is now, it is immediate, and it can be just as dangerous. For news managers, these are gut instinct calls made in the heat of pressure. Good decisions are harder to achieve in a cacophony of often competing demands. Take a marauding gun attack, like we saw in Mumbai in 2008. In a situation like that, how can we be sure that the period of acute danger is over? Can we trust the word of state actors – like the security services and the army? How do we know that a claim that the shooting is over is not in fact a bluﬀ? And in the modern era, how much weight should we place on appeals not to televise a scene like this so that the attackers cannot see the police activity? If we agree not to
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broadcast, is not it the likelihood that the gunmen will simply be able to view it on a witness’s social media feed? These decisions play out in real time, on screens in virtually any household on earth – live. And no serious editor gets all of them right. But there is one benchmark against which those decisions can be calibrated. We are all human beings ﬁrst, journalists second. If taking a particular decision ﬂies in the face of basic human values and increases the threat to life, it can’t be the right call. It is just not always as obvious as we would like.
On the front lines Working inside a hostile environment is not a pursuit for the faint hearted. A regime which is “hosting” a journalist at the same time as trying to prosecute a war will have a keen interest in what is being said or written – because public opinion is a powerful weapon of war. Reporters have frequently found themselves beholden to censors monitoring their despatches – and it is often not the totalitarians who are the most active with the red pen. Ask any American reporter who covered Vietnam and they will tell you about draconian censorship. Why? Because the United States was losing the war on the home front as well as the foreign. Reporting from inside a military operation – a so-called “embed” – presents particular challenges for honest reporting and can lead to uncomfortable compromises. To get to the front line often requires embedding, but the ability to report openly on what you have seen for yourself is usually severely restricted. If that’s going to protect the lives of your own team on the ground as well as those of the military unit, who is going to object? But if the motivation of the censor is to discourage reporting the whole truth where does the onus of responsibility lie? I came across this issue ﬁrst-hand in the ﬁrst Gulf War in 1991. Colleagues who were embedded with UK and US forces regularly had their material truncated. By deﬁnition, their movements were restricted. It became a golden rule that we would ask our embedded reporters to ﬁle only on things they had witnessed with their own eyes – and never to be used to “wrap” the day’s events. The bigger picture had to be pieced together from further back, informed by the front-line reporting but not always led by it. On the other side of the line, teams were deployed to Baghdad to witness the “shock and awe”. Those teams were there as a result of compromise. They had to be granted a visa; they were under the watch of minders; they had to stay together in one nominated hotel; they could only move with permission and escort; they could only say what was permitted by local oﬃcials. How does that type of deployment sit with the big principles of free reporting – ﬁnd the story, check the story, tell the story? The dilemma is: to stay put and work under severe restrictions, or to withdraw completely and leave ourselves free to say what we chose, albeit from a distance? I am convinced we made the right choice in staying, but always being clear with the audiences that our reporting was not free or unencumbered. The integrity of what we do relied on that transparency. But these are not easy choices, and I make no criticism of others whose conclusion was diﬀerent. Gulf War 1 was, in truth, an
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old-fashioned conﬂict. Kuwait had been invaded. Tens of thousands of troops were sent to liberate it. Our bigger challenges now are not in the realm of organised conﬂict. Life has moved on due to insurgent activities on the ground, and technology in our hand.
Challenges and opportunities In the twenty-ﬁrst century, covering conﬂict has changed almost beyond recognition. Few of us carry a gun in our pocket, but almost all of us carry a smartphone. This global revolution presents huge challenges to journalists, and huge opportunities too. We can now report from conﬂict zones with the lightest of technical kit. The old days of trudging a satellite truck through the sand were in a diﬀerent century. We can now watch events live, unvarnished and unmoderated if we want to. We also have access to far greater material which can be critical to understanding how any story – including acts of conﬂict – has unfolded. I refer, of course, to the role of people who have popularly become known as citizen journalists (see also Chapter 7). I have a real problem with that description. Someone who ﬁlms an incident on their phone is – presumably – a citizen of somewhere. But they are not a journalist. They do not check their sources, get a second account, ask key questions or put an event into its proper context. They may well be an agent of the event. We cheapen our trade by lending them our label. So, let us call them what they are – video witnesses. Seen in that light, they are critical to the journalist because their footage is primary evidence. But it needs to be contextualised by the professional journalist. With the smartphone goes an inﬁnite number of other app-based resources. And these have revolutionised how we can report on conﬂict. A recent example comes from colleagues at the BBC, working with an investigative team at the online newsroom, Bellingcat (see also Chapter 7 of this volume). A claim by the Cameroonian army that the on-camera murder of two women and their infants was not perpetrated by their soldiers was destroyed by the team’s research. Employing online mapping, topographical analysis and contemporaneous footage of the army’s uniform and weaponry, we proved that the murderers were indeed Cameroonian soldiers. The primary evidence of the crime had come from someone nearby who had ﬁlmed it. That person was not the journalist, they were a video witness, with no platform of their own to report it. Once that footage had reached the hands of the skilled reporter, the journalism happened. And that reporting eﬀort was not led from the front line. It was undertaken in newsrooms and edit suites in the comfort of a London oﬃce. Technological change here has allowed some truly important work to be done without endangering life or liberty. The smartphone has also become the vehicle for a powerful new tool – misinformation, or to use the moniker favoured by some politicians, “fake news”. That label is now readily applied to stories which the subject does not like, but in a conﬂict situation it can be far more dangerous.
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As journalists, we still have much thinking to do about the extent to which it is our role to combat misinformation for the sake of straightening the record, as opposed to ensuring that we sterilise its toxicity by reporting the truth. Most observers of the war in Syria would not automatically think that the White Helmets would be a target of this kind of online misinformation, but they were – and to devastating eﬀect. In 2017, stories began to circulate which linked the White Helmets – a group of volunteer rescue workers – with al-Qaida. Online conspiracy theorists spread this nonsense with tacit support from Moscow. Russia is a long-time supporter of the Assad regime, believing that its strategic interests are best served by exercising signiﬁcant inﬂuence over a country with direct access to the Mediterranean. The aim was to discredit the White Helmets, whose volunteers were exposing chemical attacks by the regime on civilian targets. The misinformation was widely shared – often innocently by people who did not realise that the articles they were reading were based on lies. In the words of a Professor of International Politics, Scott Lucas, this is “agitation propaganda” (Solon, 2017). He went on to add that “the most eﬀective propaganda is when you ﬁnd someone who believes it and then give them support – you don’t create it from scratch”.
Retaliation by visa The speed of the reporting operation, and the fact that we can gather such content unseen on phones and lightweight kit, makes it all but impossible to stop the story getting out. That renders the role of the censor far harder. So, authorities across the world have adapted. Retaliation is not by censorship – it is by visa. Accreditations suddenly cease, passports are held indeﬁnitely. The Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe was a class act in this regard; Libya is at it now; Syria has been playing the visa game for years. The war in Syria has dragged on longer than the Second World War. The UN estimates that civilian deaths hover around the 400,000 mark, but nobody really knows. On the ground reporting from Syria has been achieved in two separate ways. Many reporters have sneaked over the Turkish border to operate illegally, and at huge risk. Others have joined the queue for oﬃcially sanctioned trips to Damascus, which usually came with the promise of a trip to an outlying town, chosen by the regime. There were several incredibly brave colleagues who journeyed into the hellish scenes of Aleppo to tell the real story, despite the very obvious peril of doing so. In wars like this, arrangements are made which are not always comfortable. I have sat in oﬃces in Damascus and been assured by senior oﬃcials that our journalists can go anywhere and see anything – an assurance which everyone in the room knows to be demonstrably untrue. How do editors handle that duplicity? Having a blazing row might make us feel better about standing up for principles, but it would get the permitted reporting presence, albeit scant, excluded, probably forever. Who has won? Like much else in conﬂict reporting, these are ﬁne judgements. Syria is an example of a civil war – conﬂict contained within its own boundaries. On occasions, journalists will cover a civil conﬂict in their own domain, which promotes a wholly diﬀerent level of engagement and involvement.
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When battles are fought at Home The long-running dispute in Northern Ireland gave me my ﬁrst taste of the issues that can arise in a domestic conﬂict setting. The majority protestant population wanted to remain part of the UK; the minority Catholics wanted union with the Republic of Ireland. The forces of law and order – the police, the army, the courts – were widely perceived in the Catholic community as being part of the very structure they rejected. Those forces were targeted for bombings and shootings – and almost all would lead to a reprisal. This was not a short conﬂict. In fact, the British troop deployment into Northern Ireland was the longest military operation in UK history. They arrived there in 1969 and ﬁnally left in 2007 – though the paramilitary campaigns had ended with the signing of the Belfast Agreement – more popularly known after the date on which it was ratiﬁed: Good Friday 1998. Thirty years of ﬁghting had not achieved a united Ireland, though the creation of power sharing – where old enemies sat together in government – was a major rebalancing of the exercise of authority in favour of the Catholic population. Nearly 4,000 people had lost their lives in the course of the three decades of conﬂict. A generation of British and Irish journalists grew up knowing that they were reporting on these events – some of them truly horriﬁc – for a home news audience. Editorial decisions on what was newsworthy were regarded by sections of the audience as loaded. It was widespread practice in the British and Irish media that all murders were reported, so nobody could claim we had deliberately chosen to take sides. Funerals, however, were neither uniformly covered nor ignored. And the reality of news is that some stories get more coverage than others for no better reason than the weight of a day’s news agenda. The IRA, and their political wing Sinn Fein, became astute at managing the news agenda, far more so than their rivals on the loyalist (protestant) side. The IRA were early adopters of the power of the media, especially in terms of releasing pictures and eventually videos too. Use of this sort of material is highly contentious, and most newsrooms have strict protocols – but the truth is that deciding not to air them can be just as big a story, so their objective of promoting their cause is achieved either way. In October 1988, the UK government was particularly alarmed by the media operations of Sinn Fein, and they decided to legislate to curtail it. They outlawed the use of the voices of its main spokesmen, including the party’s leader Gerry Adams – who was at the time an elected Member of the UK Parliament. The idea was to starve the Sinn Fein leadership of the “oxygen of publicity” as UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher put it. As a piece of policy, it was a disaster. Actors made a tidy living providing alternative soundtracks. At the time I was working at ITN, where our Belfast-born picture editor became one of the most famous voices in Britain, as he spoke Adams’ words, matching the lip sync so you could hardly tell the diﬀerence. Broadcasters, therefore, found a workaround which infuriated both the Unionist community, and the Thatcher government.
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And that in turn shines a light on another challenge posed by civil war reporting if it is in your own nation. The regulatory regime under which you operate as journalists is answerable to the very same regime which is a party to the conﬂict – the government of the day. The corporate interests of a news organisation can contrast with the editorial imperative. Of course, the greater danger is to compromise your reporting for the corporate good – which is rarely if ever a good idea. The same issues came up repeatedly for South African broadcasters during the ANC’s violent campaign in pursuit of the end of Apartheid. Looking back now, it seems incomprehensible that any government could defend the ruthless oppression of its majority population. Countless journalists paid with their lives and their liberty. Indeed, in 1979, a professor called William Hachten wrote that “being a black journalist in South Africa has been diﬃcult, but it must currently be one of the most hazardous jobs for any newsman in the ‘free world’”. One issue with civil conﬂict is that of impartiality. For public service broadcasters, being impartial should be part of our DNA. But to Professor Hachten’s point, black journalists were particularly vulnerable. And they were from the very sector of society which was being oppressed by the apartheid regime. In these circumstances, reporting events for a domestic audience, impartiality can be a tricky concept and few in the long and bloody battles in South Africa would emerge with a reputation for impartiality on all sides.
Conﬂicts are complex As this edited volume clearly illustrates – almost all conﬂicts are complex – civil or otherwise. The causes in both South Africa and Northern Ireland, for example, go back centuries and cannot be explained every time a news story occurs. In this regard at least, conﬂict does not lend itself to the tight news cycles of modern media consumption. Take the greatest conﬂict on the planet – that between Arab and Jew in the Middle East. Its roots are as old as the religions themselves. Millions of people who practise those faiths are peaceful, private human beings. Yet the catalogue of atrocity and reprisal is depressingly familiar. There is a mineﬁeld of language issues in situations like these. The BBC tends to avoid the use of the word “terrorist” itself since it is not objectively possible to categorise the combatants of one side with that word and not another. Small linguistic points like the diﬀerence between the use of “said” and “claimed” achieve huge signiﬁcance. That can have a direct impact on safety because grave exception can be taken to a reporter’s work, or capital made of it. Reprisals can follow, either immediately or further down the line. In the context of analysing the Middle East, it is not enough simply to describe the what – we need the why and the how too. Sometimes we want the what next. And to have any credibility in answering that, the reporter has to have a bank of relevant experience. Credibility can only be achieved if the what next is substantially more than wild guesswork combined with the bleeding obvious. Analysis of this sort plays back into the “betterment” thesis because it is the understanding of
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events, not just the knowledge of them, which is crucial. Take, for example, the 2020 explosion at the harbour in Beirut – knowing that it has happened is in itself a good thing for mankind, but understanding that it comes in the midst of a pandemic and an economic collapse, endemic corruption and the colossal strain on a small nation which has absorbed nearly two million Syrian refugees allows the consumer of the journalism to place it in a more structured and better informed context. That, in turn, is in the public interest because it shines intense light on issues that were not obvious to the vast majority of those watching these events unfold from outside Lebanon. Lebanon itself has a vibrant community of journalists, both local and international. Beirut has become the regional hub for most major news organisations, largely because it sits less than 40 miles from Damascus – the seat of the biggest story in the area. Those are the very same journalists who can assert with authority that the chemical explosion was not a deliberately violent act, but that the climate where it happened was shaped by the aftermath of war, and fanned by the outﬂux from a war just over the border. There is a sharp contrast between the journalistic community in Beirut, and the absolute lack of an equivalent in San’aa – the capital of Yemen. The humanitarian cost of this proxy war is widely acknowledged, though blame is handed round like a stick of dynamite. Everybody involved has a vested interest. The ﬂow of material “facts” and claims is always partisan. We can rarely get there to assess it ourselves, so expertise needs to be played in diﬀerently: at a distance. Those vested interests don’t just apply to the combatants – in this case the Houthi rebels and government forces. Even NGOs (non-government organisations) can have an ulterior motive – a need to raise cash, for example, might mean that aid agency video is focused on the wide-eyed malnourished child rather than the plight of a less sympathy-inducing but even needier group. They have a job to do – getting aid in costs money. We have a job to do too – to report as objectively as we can what is happening in a place we cannot access. If we cannot access Yemen, then I have one less thing to worry about – none of my colleagues are going to fall victim in that war because they are not there, at least for now. Indeed, at the time of writing, there are very few deployments anywhere because the Covid-19 outbreak has grounded us. It has also slowed or stopped many conﬂicts. But they will be back.
After the war Elsewhere in this book, contributors have written about the concept of “peace journalism”. It’s a phrase that has become quite fashionable in the aftermath of the Johan Galtung work referred to by Nohrstedt and Ottosen in Chapter 2 as well as in some of the following chapters. I would suggest, however, that the better description of most forms of peace journalism is “aftermath reporting”. That is largely because it’s a rare war in the modern era that transitions from war to peace in one easy move. To the victors the spoils, and that can include the ability to
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oppress, the desire to exact revenge, the ambition to go further. Aftermath can, in truth, be harder than the conﬂict itself as a journalistic exercise. Take, for example, the state of Iraq after the ﬁrst Gulf War. Saddam was still in power – indeed, there had been no attempt at regime change. It was a battle for the liberation of Kuwait, not the reform of Iraq. Saddam’s retribution against those who had been disloyal was ﬁerce. The Marsh Arabs would be both the victims and witnesses to that. In most wars, it’s relatively easy for audiences to take a side – who are the good guys? In the aftermath, it’s far harder. Failures of the state to enshrine human rights, clean water, civil structures can be blamed on the victor or the vanquished. The exhausted population does not really care – they just want it ﬁxed. But aftermath reporting also comes with an uncomfortable truth. Covering the war is an editorial necessity. Covering peace is an option to exercise, or not. Editors get tired of stories. They have committed people and airtime (or column inches) to a conﬂict sometimes for many years. It’s over. They want to move their agenda on. They’ll commit to returning to the former battleﬁeld for anniversary pieces but overall the wheels have turned on the bandwagon of news. Aftermath reporting does have another extremely important function, however. The process of delivering justice is often helped by the journalism that took place during the war. Take the Second World War. The sheer horror of the Nazi concentration camps was not understood by the outside world until a BBC ﬁlm crew and reporter Richard Dimbleby walked in Bergen-Belsen with allied troops in May 1945. Nothing had prepared them for what they witnessed. Starving, skeletal prisoners – Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and the disabled – methodically tortured by hunger, malnutrition and evil. Testimony may well have been enough to deliver some sort of justice, but it was the reporting and the visual evidence captured in those appalling days which ﬁnally caused the world to awake to what had happened. The Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa relied heavily on the contemporaneous reporting of the Apartheid regime. In the Balkans, various henchmen of the Milosevic regime were tried largely on the evidence of reporters who had witnessed the process known chillingly as “ethnic cleansing”. The trial of Ratko Mladic, for example, saw video evidence ﬁled by Reuters which showed the utter carnage of the murder of 8,000 male residents of Srebrenica in 1995. It wasn’t ﬁlmed for these purposes – it was a news story. But its true value was realised in the International Courts of Justice in The Hague. At a human level, the provision of primary evidence of atrocity, and the contribution that can make to securing a prosecution is a positive aspect of aftermath reporting. But there are downsides too. If a journalist is viewed as someone who is procuring evidence, that can make him or her a protagonist and not an observer. The camera – or smartphone – may be seen as a weapon of war in its own right. This in turn loops back to the myriad safety considerations that editorial managers like me need to factor into our decision making. And it places the onus of judgement on a team on the ground, whose slightest movement with their phone can be seen as a hostile act.
Covering conﬂict 163
Aftermath reporting has another interesting aspect to it. It’s inﬁnite. There is no date at which the remit ends, though the direct eﬀects of war fade over time. As generations age, and the sharpest of memories can fade, reporters can piece together more comprehensive accounts of what happened. Here, long-form journalism has a key role to play. Perhaps the ﬁrst true example of this in the broadcast era was a series made by Thames Television entitled The World at War. This ground-breaking series, in 26 hour-long episodes, set out to tell the story of the Second World War from all perspectives. Key to the success of the project was its ambition to hear from protagonists and victims who had never spoken before. Their accounts would crossreference each other to form the fullest picture. Production began in 1973, nearly 30 years after the end of the war. Judging that time gap is crucial. Enough time must have elapsed for interviewees to set their vested interests aside, but the players must still to be alive and mentally cogent to make as complete a narrative as possible. We saw the same trick in the 2017 PBS series, The Vietnam War, made by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. In this case, 40 years had passed but the eﬀect was just as profound. To have front line soldiers from the North Vietnamese Army, the Viet Cong, the Americans and the South Vietnamese all share their stories made for powerful journalism. And the breath-taking archive still stuns. The elapsing of time brings fresh perspectives, not weighed down by contemporary politics or strategy. For example, Burns and Novick’s assessment of the United States’ key benchmark of success in battle – the body count – was chilling precisely because it is no longer wrapped up in bravado. In aftermath reporting, getting to the whole truth can require immense patience. Journalism delayed is not necessarily journalism weakened.
There’s only one thing worse… If there is one over-riding question in this book and this chapter, I believe it is this: In conﬂict reporting, where does the onus of responsibility lie? The ultimate responsibility in a newsroom lies with its editor. But they cannot take every decision – literally whether to turn left or right on the battleﬁeld. So there has to be a relationship of delegated trust. That might be the reporter on the ground, the news editor on the desk, the ﬁxer who knows the lie of the land. But the onus of responsibility in the broader context of conﬂict reporting is spread far wider. It is the responsibility of a functioning government to allow freedom of reporting; except that often in conﬂict there is no functioning government. The onus of having the latest safety information usually falls on expert advisors; except that the information they can procure is often patchy and partial. The onus on journalism is to explain cause as well as eﬀect; except it is hard to ensure when a news agenda is busy and the causes complex. In journalism as a whole, grey areas are more common than absolutes. To say it’s an art not a science might imply that journalism has the same grace as art – it doesn’t, especially in war reporting. Covering a conﬂict is dirty, dangerous and
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nerve-wracking. Mistakes happen and should be recognised and learnt from. Catastrophe can strike even on the best prepared deployments, and a degree of risk aversion can then creep into subsequent decisions. It’s important to understand all these issues, but for some journalists, they simply go with the territory. One such was an ITN reporter called Terry Lloyd. He lost his life in Kuwait in 2003, together with one of his ﬁlm crew, Fred Nerac, and a locally hired driver, Husain Osman. A fourth member of their team survived. There was a full inquest into Lloyd’s death, but never any American admittance of liability for opening ﬁre on a clearly labelled media vehicle. Before Terry deployed to Kuwait as a non-embedded correspondent, he was interviewed for a “behind the scenes” documentary. In words which comforted many of us who had been involved in sending his team to that war, he said that as a reporter, “there’s only one thing worse than being asked to go to war, and that’s not being asked to go to war”. Not everyone in our trade would agree, but for as long as there is human conﬂict, there will be human journalists there to cover it.
Note 1 See Posetti (Chapter 8 in this volume), on how this places women media workers on the frontline and may drive some women from the profession altogether.
References Hachten, W.A. (1979). Black journalists under apartheid. Index on Censorship 8(3): pp. 43–48. Solon, O. (2017). How Syria’s White Helmets became victims of an online propaganda machine. The Guardian, 18 December 2017.
abuses of human rights see under human rights access, and gender 96–97 access to information 62, 63, 67, 68 Achankeng, F. 54, 59 active citizenship 145 “acts of journalism” 113 Adams, Gerry 159 Afghanistan 35, 41–42, 45 Africa, postcolonial conﬂicts 52–54; see also individual African countries aftermath reporting 161–163 agency, and refugees 80–81, 82, 85 Al Jazeera English 107 Alexander, Samuel 15–16 Allen, T. 64, 71 Anthropocene 15 apartheid see South Africa “Arab Spring” 107 arms exports 45 Aro, Jessikka 131–132 asylum seekers 17, 82 Athar, Sohaib 113 atrocity: primary evidence of 81, 162; surveillance of 22–23 Australia, climate change 23 authoritarian populism 17 Ayyub, Rana 127, 130–131 Azoulay, A. 90, 101–102 Bakhita Radio 62, 63, 64 Ballestrin, Luciana 3 Bangladesh 78, 83; see also Kaler Kantho
Barnett, C. 91 BBC 107, 109, 116, 152, 157, 160 bearing witness 110, 115 Beck, Ulrich 22 Beirut 161 Belfast Agreement 159 Bell Pottinger 129 Bellingcat 106–116, 157 belonging 24, 97, 101 Bennett, Lance 20 Berezovskaya, Anna 10–11 Berglez, Peter 21–22 Bernstein, Carl 37 bin Laden, Osama 113 biodiversity targets 27 bio-politics 33, 45 black journalists 160 blogs 110, 112, 115, 123 body count 163 Bolsonaro, Jair 23, 24 Bratt, Peter 37 Breach, Miroslava 127 Britain: and colonialism 77–78, 84; and Northern Ireland 159; online gendered violence 125–126 British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) see BBC Brown Moses 114 Burns, Ken 163 Burundi 55 Cambodia 37, 109 cameras, and war photography 110
cannibalisation theory 54, 56 Cantlie, John 110 capitalism 15, 54 Capitalocene 15, 16–17 carbon emissions, and Covid-19 26 Caruana Galizia, Daphne 126 censorship: government 63, 68–69, 156; self-censorship 66 Central Africa 55 Chakravartty, Paula 20 chemical attacks, Syria 112 Chouliaraki, Lilie 21, 84 CIA 36, 37, 38–39 Citizen, The 66 citizen journalism 107–117, 157 citizenship rights 78 civil capacity and civil competencies 145–146 civil norms 140, 144–147 civil solidarity 143 civil virtues 140 civil war reporting 159–160 civilian victims of warfare 41; see also atrocity; genocide climate change 15–19; global focusing events and spectacle 23–24; and inequality/poverty 17; and zoonotic diseases 26–28 CNN 109 Cohen, H.J. 54 Cold War, geopolitics 35–39 “collateral damage” 22 collective violence, and failed states 17 colonialism 52, 54, 77–78 community engagement management 133 computer-generated prediction and visualisation 18 conﬂict frames 55, 76; see also framing conﬂict resolution 59, 77 conﬂict stakeholders 51 conﬂict-sensitive journalism 66 Congo 55 conspiracy theorists 158 conviviality 59 coverage of conﬂict 66 Covid-19 12–13, 23, 25–28 Criado Perez, Caroline 125–126 Crimean war 108, 110 critical discourse analysis (CDA) approach 46 critical journalism, détente, 1970s 37–38 Daesh see ISIS Dagens Nyheter (newspaper) 35–36 Dahlum, Sirianne 3–4 Daily Star, The 78–79, 80–81, 85
Darbo, K.N. 108 Darfur 50, 57–58 death threats see rape and death threats online decoloniality 53 decolonisation 52, 54 “deepfake” videos 125, 127, 130 Demos (think-tank) 124 Dewey, John 141, 146, 148 digital privacy, assaults on 121–135 disinformation tactics 123, 127, 129, 130, 131, 134 documentary ﬁlm 107, 115, 164 Dougherty, S.M. 84 Downing, John 20 doxxing 123, 125, 131 Duterte, Rodrigo 128 East-West Media Group 78 Ebola 27, 94 eco-activists 15 economic recession 17, 26 eco-systems, and productivism 16 elite-oriented perspective 36 embedding 156 Entman, Robert 20, 82 epistemology 19 ethics 21, 51, 64, 116, 144 European colonialism 52 exclusion 1–2, 24, 83 extra-judicial killings 33, 43, 128 extreme weather events 17 Facebook 112, 123, 128 fake news 108, 129, 141, 157–158 ﬁnancial crises 17, 20 Finland, women journalists 131–132 ﬁres 23 ﬁxers 109, 154 Foley, James 110 Folket i Bild/ Kulturfront 37 food 17 foreign news: and conﬂict frames 76; restrictions on 109 Forensic Architecture 113 Fourth Estate 37, 42, 44 framing: conﬂicts 55, 76; Darfur 57–58; of Rohingyas 79–86; selective and repetitive 95; visual/verbal 82–83; see also photographs free expression see media freedom freelance reporters 109–110 Frère, M.S. 55, 56–57 Galtung, Johan 2, 4, 33, 44–45, 76–77 Garbo, Gunnar 40
gender (in)equity, and photography industry 90, 96–97, 101 gendered violence, online see under women journalists genocide 55, 83 Gerhardsen, Einar 36 Ghouta chemical attack 112 Girardet, Herbert 26 Gitlin, Todd 82–83 Gjelsten, Roald 39 global crises 11–28; climate change 15–19; Covid-19 25–28; deﬁned 14 global focusing events 23 Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) 116 global pandemics 20; see also Covid-19 global spectacle 23–24 global surveillance see surveillance Good Friday Agreement, 1998 159 Goto, Kenji 110 government, South Sudan: media laws 63; National Security Bill 63; news source 66–67, 70; and the NSS 68; transitional coalition 62, 68 Guillou, Jan 37 Gulf War, 1991 39–40, 156–157, 162
international law, violations of 33, 42–43 International News Safety Institute (INSI) 124 International Panel on Climate Change 24 International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) 124, 127 intersectional reﬂexivity 100–101 investigative journalism 123, 129–130; see also Bellingcat IRA 159 Iraq 20, 39–40, 162 IRIN (humanitarian news agency) 114 ISIS 23, 33, 110
Hadland, A. 91 Haﬀajee, Ferial 129–130 Hanitzsch, Thomas 2–3, 33, 45 Harrison, J. 141, 143 hashtags 128 hate speech 142 Hauser, J. 108 Hawkins, Virgil 2, 50, 55 Hellebust, Anders 37 Higgins, Eliot 106–107, 112–115 Hindu extremism 127, 130 Holmström, Mikael 40 Hoxha, Abit 2–3 human rights: abuses 33, 78; devaluated 46, 63; organisations 112, 113 Human Rights Watch 112 Hurricane Katrina 23
Kaldor, Mary 33, 45 Kaler Kantho 78–80, 82, 84 Kempf, W. 77 Khrushchev, Nikita 36 Klein-Avraham, I. 83 Kosovo 35, 40, 42 Kuwait 39–40, 164 Kyoto accords 23
identity(ies) 54–55, 143–144 ideology 33–34 India, women journalists 126–127, 130–131 inﬂuences on news production 2–3 Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) 4 institutions 143, 146 interdependency crises 15, 22 internal displacement 17, 53, 62 international criminal court 46
Johnson, Boris 23 journalists: black 160; and the CIA 37; freelancers 109–110; and government hostility 63–64, 69–70; killed 67, 72, 110, 126, 127; legacy media 116; loss of trust in 108; movement of 69; normative ideals of 4; persecution of 1, 63; professional standards and ethics 144; role and dilemmas of 153; self-censorship 66; training 46; see also citizen journalism; media freedom Juba Monitor 66
language issues 160 Lankesh, Gauri 126–127 Lebanon 161 legacy media 110, 115, 116 legal institutions 143 legitimacy 143–144 Lewis, David 78 Libya 35, 42–43, 45 Lloyd, Terry 164 local civil norms 146–147 Lynch, Jake 43, 77 Machar, Riek 62, 63–64, 65 Malta 126 malware 125 Mamdani, M. 57–58 marginalised groups, and photography 90 Marsh Arabs 162 mass surveillance 123
McGoldrick, Annabel 43, 77 media capture 140, 142 media ecology, and global crises 18–19 media frames see framing media freedom, suppression of: online 129, 132; South Sudan 61–62, 63–64, 68–69 media houses, South Sudan 62, 63, 66, 67, 71, 72 media surveillance see surveillance media–state relations 20 Mexico, women journalists 127 MH17 investigations 107, 112, 114 Middle East conﬂict 160 migration 17, 84, 85 misinformation 157–158; see also fake news Mladic, Ratko 162 Modi, Narendra 127, 130 moral panic theory 19 Morrison, Scott 24 Muslim Rohingyas 78–86 Myanmar army 75, 78 Myers, S. 113
organised violence 1 Osman, Husain 164 othering 26
National Security Service (NSS), South Sudan 61, 63, 65, 68 nationalism 26, 130, 142 Native Agency 92 NATO: and the “New World Order” (1989–2001) 39–40; and Norway 36, 42; and Sweden 35–37, 42 Nazi concentration camps 162 Nerac, Fred 164 neutrality 77 New York Times 107, 110, 113, 116, 130 NGOs (non-government organisations) 55, 126, 161 Nigeria 108 North Africa, photographs/photographic practices 97–98 Northern Ireland 159 Norway, security politics: Cold War and détente 35, 36, 37–39; new wars 39–44 Nothias, T. 100–101 Novick, Lynn 163 Nyamnjoh, F.B. 56, 59
partisan media, post-conﬂict settings 140–143 “patriotic trolling” 130 patriotism 36, 43 Pax, Salam 110 peace 24–25; assent to 144–145; civil norms of 140, 144–147; positive/negative 2 peace building 51 peace journalism 4, 43, 76; and CDA approach 46; Daily Star, The 85; deﬁned 77; Kaler Kantho 84; model and criticism 33; principles neglected 36–37; South Sudan 70–71 peacemaking 77 Perugia Principles 133 Philippines, women journalists 127–129 photographs/photographic practices 84, 90, 95–96; see also framing Pinker, Steven 3 podcasts 115 political responses to disaster 21 populations, ideological control of 33–34 populism 17, 128, 129, 130, 142 postcolonial critiques 52 post-conﬂict settings: and anti-civil news 140–143; and civil norm building 144–147 post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 155 poverty 17, 55 power dynamics, in photography 95–96, 101–102 press freedom see media freedom privacy, digital see digital privacy professional standards 144 propaganda 33, 36, 66, 111, 158; campaigns 125, 129, 130–131; and peace journalism 45 public sentiment 141–142, 144 public service news media: and civil norm building 140, 143–147; and partisan media 142
oil 45 Olaopa, O.R. 52 Omodunbi, O. 52 O’Neill, O. 147 ontology 19 open-source information 107, 112 open-source intelligence (OSINT) 112, 116 Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) 124
racialised inequalities 26, 96 Rakhine Buddhists 78 rape and death threats. online 124, 127, 130, 131 Rappler.com 127–128 Read, Rupert 15–16 Reagan, Ronald 38 refugee camps 78, 79, 81 refugee crises 53
refugees 79–86, 161 resilience 71 resistance 71–72, 97, 99–100, 101–102 resources, struggles over 52–53 responsibility 98, 101, 163 Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle 42, 46 Ressa, Maria 126, 128–129 Reuters 80, 108, 162 risk(s) 15, 143–144; assessment 155–156 Rohingyas, framing of 78–86 Rolling Stone 37 Ruge, M.H. 76 Russia 24, 39, 107, 114, 115, 158 Rwanda 51, 55, 155 safety 116, 153–155, 160, 162 Salva Kiir Mayardit, President 62 Save Darfur movement 57–58 Schwalbe, C.B. 84 Second World War 162, 163 security politics see NATO self-censorship 66 sexual violence 4, 33 Shaw, I.S. 1–2, 3 Shaw, Martin 20 Shils, E. 143, 145 Siberia 24 Sinn Fein 159 Skjerdal, T. 108 Skripal poisoning 107 Slack 112, 114 slavery 33 smartphones 107, 157, 162 Snowden, Edward 43 social inequality 13, 17 social media: and citizen journalism 108, 112, 113; and gendered violence 121, 127, 128, 133; and safety 154; see also Twitter Sotloﬀ, Steven 110, 154 South Africa 129–130, 160, 162 South America and Caribbean, photographs/photographic practices 95, 99 South and South-East Asia, photographs/ photographic practices 94–95, 97 South Sudan see government, South Sudan Soviet Union: airborne espionage of 35–37; end of (1991) 39; New Cold War 38–39 spectacle, in global crisis reporting 21, 23–24 SPLM in Opposition (SPLM-IO) 62, 65, 67, 71 spooﬁng 123, 125, 130, 131 Srebrenica 162
state surveillance 37 state-sponsored harassment, of women journalists 126–127 stereotypes 95–96, 99, 141, 142 Stolic, T. 84 Storyful 112 Stremlau, N. 64, 71 structural violence 53–54 Sub-Saharan Africa, photographs/ photographic practices 94, 95, 97 substantive civility 145 Sudan 51; see also Darfur Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) 62, 66 Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) 62 suﬀering, visibility of 21, 84 surveillance 22–23, 37, 123 Svensson, Massi 35–36 Sweden, security politics: Cold War and détente 35–39; new wars 39–44 Syria 108, 110, 112, 154, 161; and media failures 43, 45; and misinformation 158 Taliban 41–42 technology’s role, conﬂict reporting 110–111 telegraph 110 terrorism 20, 23, 33 Thames Television, World at War, The 163 Thatcher, Margaret 38, 159 Thayer, Nate 109 Tirosh, N. 83 Tocqueville de, A. 145 torture 33 Traber, M. 53–54, 58 Transcom Group 79 transparency 37, 42, 107 trolls 125, 129, 131–132 Trump, Donald 24, 26 trust 108, 145, 146–147 Twitter 113, 123, 124, 129, 130 U2 spy plane 36 Ulfstein, Geir 41 UN Security Council 39–40; resolutions 41, 42, 43 Ungar, Sheldon 20 United Nations (UN): in Darfur 58; Environment Programme 26; “Global Biodiversity Outlook 5” 27; on journalism safety 134; and online gendered violence 127; peacebuilding 59; reports on global crises 16; see also UN Security Council
United States: climate change 23; Cold War and détente 35–38; intelligence 43; megaﬁres 24; new wars 40–42; nuclear strategy 43; systemic racism 23; Vietnam War 163; see also CIA; NATO Valenti, Jessica 124–125 verbal framing 82–83 vested interests 161 video witnesses 157 Vietnam War 37, 163 violence, indirect/invisible 1–2 Virilio, P. 19, 21 visa, retaliation by 158 visual framing 95; see also framing; photographs
war journalism 33, 76; Kaler Kantho 82, 84 West Africa 52–53 “Whiskey on the Rock” incident 38–39 White Helmets 158 Wig, Tore 3–4 Wolfsfeld, G. 67 women, political empowerment of 3–4 women journalists, and online violence 121–135 Women Photograph 91, 92 women photographers 90–103 Wuhan city, China 27 Yemen 161 Yugoslavia (former) 39, 40 zoonotic diseases 27; see also Covid-19