Violent conflicts pose important challenges to journalists’
ability to objectively cover events. Some argue that poor reporting
of violence intensifies an already volatile situation.
Danny Schechter, the executive editor of
MediaChannel.org recently attended a two-day seminar
on media coverage of violence hosted by Jake Lynch, of Sky News.
There he learned about the ideas and work of Peace Studies
Professor Johann Galtung, whose theory about problems with media
coverage of violence includes 12 areas of concern. The reoccurring
theme throughout all 12 is context. Violence is not just an
individual act, Galtung argues, there are ‘structural causes, like
poverty, government neglect, and military or police
In addition to adding context, Galtung’s work urges reporters to
avoid reducing a conflict to two side–one of which is often
villified, and to include alternatives to violence as viable
Though Galtung’s points may seem like common sense, not all who
attended the seminar agreed. Nonetheless, ‘the healthy back and
forth suggested that seminars like this provide a needed forum,
missing in the hectic environments in which many of us work, for
more reflection about how journalists work and what journalism is
for,’ Schechter writes.