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Using Conflict Analysis in Reporting the Peace Journalism Option 3

by Jake Lynch
15th of February 2002

Produced for Conflict and Peace Forums



Table of Contents


1. Introduction, 3                                                                                                                                         


    Conflict Coverage, 4                                                                                                                       


2. Practical Examples eg Indonesia, 6                                                                                                 


    Britain and Ireland, 10                                                                                                                     


    South Africa, 11


    Worthy/ Unworthy victimhood, 13                                                                                                   


    Beyond ‘victim journalism’ and ‘how do you feel’?, 16                                                                 


3. Reporting of the ‘Kosovo Crisis’, 18                                                                                              


4.  Journalism and market forces, 25



5.  Appendix: Middle East, 29                                                                                                            


References, 31                                                                                                                                       


About the author & publisher, 32



1.     1.     INTRODUCTION



Journalists have become accustomed to vying with estate agents and politicians as the profession least trusted by the public at large. Complaints from readers, listeners and viewers often echo the classic critique scripted by Rudyard Kipling and delivered by his cousin, then British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, nearly seventy years ago. Journalists, he complained, wield “power without responsibility - the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.”

The traditional response has been to plead, ‘we just report the facts’. In particular journalists in Western, especially Anglophone media generally resist any suggestion that the consequences of specific decisions they make in reporting can be predicted in advance. The logical corollary of this, that such decisions might be made with reference to some sense of responsibility for the consequences, is only permissible in certain tightly circumscribed situations. British newspapers and broadcasters not mentioning the ethnic identity of someone committing a criminal offence, except where it is relevant to the story, is one isolated example.


In general, the belief that journalists ‘just report the facts’ holds sway as a constitutive assumption of the work journalists actually do. But in doing it, many are increasingly struck by the inadequacy of this theory as an explanation for the way really things work.


In a media-savvy age of spin and chequebook journalism, it is increasingly clear that facts are provided or created - at least partly - for reporters to report. Sources for stories are constantly adjusting, presenting or even devising their newsmaking behaviour in the first place, in order to get on the news for purposes of their own. Something which applies to members of the public featuring in ‘human interest’ stories as much as to politicians and their media teams. To report these facts is therefore to imbibe an agenda, whether acknowledged or otherwise; an agenda always already built into the facts even as they occur.


Neither is it useful to ask who put it there: after all, newsmakers can only know what to do or say, in order to be reported, by studying previous reporting. ‘Just reporting the facts’ is a model of the process as a linear sequence of cause and effect. In this model, events arise ‘spontaneously’ of their own accord, in precisely the way they would have arisen, whether anyone ever thought journalists might report them or not; only then do newspeople enter the process by arriving to cover them.


In many instances, modern conditions of newsgathering can only be understood by remodelling the process as a positive feedback loop. The reporting of a fact or statement in a helpful or gratifying way feeds back into the calculations and creates an incentive for more of the same - for a similar fact or statement to be provided later. The converse is also true - if the story ‘goes wrong’ from the perspective of the source, the incentive is then to offer something different.


So any and every piece of reporting adds another layer to the cumulative influence of news on the collective understanding of journalists’ likely response to facts or statements provided for them to report. The precise nature of this influence is always the result of conscious news decisions about what to cover and how to cover it. These decisions therefore condition the nature of the facts likely to occur in future.


Conflict Coverage



For all the diversity of today’s media, it is still possible to discern a typical pattern of decisions made by most journalists when covering conflicts, and to use this model, the positive feedback loop, to predict the influence of the pattern of decision-making on the kind of facts likely to be presented and/or provided for them to report in future. The classic journalist’s portrayal of conflict is as a titanic tug-of-war, a zero-sum game between two parties, played out along a single axis and consisting entirely of violent exchanges.


Put it like this, and any inch gained by one side can only be the same inch lost by the other.

A framing of the conflict which requires one unambiguous winner, and one equally clear loser, as the outcome.


If violence is the only thing or the main thing being reported, it appears to be its own cause: the attack by side ‘A’ explained as retaliation for the earlier strike by side ‘B’. It leads inevitably to the question, ‘who started it?’ - the answer to which, of course, always depends on how far back you go.  Crucially, with no other issues being reported as possible causes of the violence, the behaviour of the side which ‘started it’ at the chosen point of origin can only be explained as irrational or evil. These are factors which merit no serious analysis, cannot be ‘reasoned with’ and demand that the party in question be coerced instead into ‘backing down’ from its unreasonable stance - or face ‘punishment’. A logic which makes violence seem to make sense as a means of settling disputes.



A new approach



Conflict & Peace Forums is one of a number of groups to have developed and experimented with a new approach, drawing on the insights of conflict analysis and transformation theory and aiming to suggest broader, fairer and more accurate ways of reporting.


·         ·        Instead of a tug-of-war, the first priority is to frame a conflict as a round table, consisting of many parties, many issues. A complex, interlocking pattern of fears, inequalities and resentments which can only be overcome by seeking, devising and implementing complex, interlocking solutions.


·         ·        For that it is necessary to insist on parity of esteem for needs and suffering in place of worthy and unworthy victimhood. The emphasis is therefore less likely to fall on a search for someone to ‘blame’, and more likely to lead to an examination of the structural/cultural factors which perpetuate the conditions for violence. They now appear as ‘the problem’.


·         ·        The structure and culture of a conflict are shared - and contributed to - by all the parties. Because ‘blame’ cannot therefore be pinned on one, demonised party, suddenly it makes sense to balance and neutralise those factors if the conflict is to be transformed into a non-violent phase - not something you can do with more violence.




·         ·        This ‘pulls the focus’ of reporting to penetrate the meta-conflict – often in the form of familiar ‘positions’ as articulated by official sources on each side – through to an examination of how the real conflict, the pursuit of incompatible goals, bears upon the lived experience of people in the conflict arena and thus perpetuate the conditions for violence.


·         ·        Portraying the nuance and complexity of lived experience, with an equal esteem for the needs and suffering of all parties, can transcend the tendency to lump all stakeholders together into two ‘sides’ or aggregates – vital in framing the conflict as a round table of many parties, many goals.


·         ·        Which is the better story - familiar bellicose rhetoric from the leaders or ‘official sources’ of one party; or creative ideas for transforming or resolving the conflict, even if suggested by others?


·         ·        What, indeed, is required to resolve or transform a conflict? Compromise, where all the parties end up accepting less of the same thing they were seeking in the first place - or the creativity to transcend existing agendas and devise a hitherto unimagined way forward?


·         ·        What does a resolved or transformed conflict look like? Can peace be measured by visible effects alone (a signed document plus a ceasefire), or must invisible effects, including stored-up guilt and trauma, be taken into account?


·         ·        Who makes peace - elites in halls of negotiation, or the people who must live with any eventual settlement? Or both? 


Professor Johan Galtung, director of the international TRANSCEND network of invited scholars and practitioners for peace and development, diagnoses traditional reporting of conflicts as a condition he calls ‘War Journalism.’


He invites us to imagine the debilitating effect by transposing it to the work of health correspondents. It would amount to “a news blackout on everything we associate with medical practice” - all that would be reported is the advance of disease. “That kind of journalism would be disease-orientated, and the journalist could refer to himself as a disease correspondent. His concern would not be to highlight how diseases might be overcome, except by means as violent as the disease itself (eg open-heart surgery, chemo or radiotherapy). The softer approaches would go unreported; so would anything known as preventative medicine.”

Perspectives, ‘The Facts’ and ‘The Truth’



Typically, in ‘War Journalism’, privileged perspectives are camouflaged as facts, using phrases which have become classics of journalese: ‘said to be’; ‘thought to be’; ‘it’s being seen as’. Osama bin Laden is ‘said to be’ a Saudi multi-millionaire and ‘thought to be’ responsible for the 1998 American embassy bombings. Talks take place between Western envoys and authorities in

Belgrade: ‘it’s being seen as clarification, not negotiation’. Instead, the approach presented here offers ways to:


·         ·        Equip audiences to interrogate perspective, and to alert them to a world consisting of many different perspectives.


·         ·        It directs them to the question, who wants me to know or believe this, and why?


·         ·        In place of the time-honoured journalistic quest for ‘the truth’, singular, it recognises many, contingent truths. The most important thing may be to understand how and why some truths are routinely commended to our attention, while others are ignored or suppressed.






Explaining violence, framing conflicts



Much reporting in and from Indonesia still bears the imprint of the ‘New Order’ orthodoxy of the Suharto years, part of which was the official ideology of ‘panca silah’, or unity-in-diversity. One consequence was for reports of violence to be suppressed. It meant that unpalatable facts about conflicts between Indonesia’s peoples were never faced. Typical are remarks by President Abdurrahman Wahid, shortly after taking office in 1999 and quoted in the Jakarta Post in one of its reports on the violence in Maluku province and its capital, Ambon.


“Abdurrahman reiterated his belief that ordinary people in Maluku do not harbour hatred against each other despite their different faiths and ethnic backgrounds. He claimed they were merely victims of the work of irresponsible parties wishing to disrupt the country’s security and peace.”

This is the classic New Order explanation for violence - ‘provokasi’ or provocation. Indonesian journalists are working through an impressive array of civic society organisations and activities to try to fashion a responsible, truthful way of framing conflicts now the New Order restrictions on their work have largely gone. Many realise the patronising aspect of the ‘provokasi’ theory, namely that Indonesia’s people have a sheeplike preparedness to follow the promptings of ill intentioned, shadowy figures behind the scenes.


Indonesia’s horizontal and vertical conflicts are invariably tangled up with power plays involving elements in Jakarta politics, and it would be naive not to see their influence. The important point is not that this analysis is wrong, but that to attribute the violence wholly to ‘provokasi’ would be to offer an incomplete explanation. It begs the important question - what has brought these people to a condition in which they are prepared to be provoked?


Wahid was responding to journalists’ tendency to seek reasons for the violence in Maluku’s “different faiths and ethnic backgrounds.” This is the ‘tinderbox’ theory familiar from so many analyses of conflict in present and former Yugoslavia - that deep and instinctive antagonisms between, in this case, Muslims and Christians are forever smouldering and ready to ignite into

violence. Once violence begins, a cycle of vengeance develops which is sufficient to explain further violence. A piece on the website of Time Asia, again from January 2000, appeared with the standfirst: “Religious differences have turned the Moluccas into a battlefield, filled with hate and the prospect of more violence.”

Reporter Jason Tedjasukmana remarked: “Neither side in Ambon says it wants a fight, and yet the violence seems unstoppable. How far back does one have to go to affix blame, or untangle the emotions... The widespread destruction and torching of mosques and churches occurs without explanation.”


Conflict or Meta-conflict?



The same edition of Jakarta Post as carried the comments by President Wahid also heard from Maluku military commander Brigadier-General Max Tamaela, who “told reporters on Sunday that the fighting in Central Maluku had nothing to do with religious issues, saying the warring villages were of the same religion.”

One reporter who penetrated discourses of the meta-conflict, such as religious antinomies and the cycle of revenge, to discern the outlines of the underlying conflict, was Gerry van Klinken in the fourth-quarter, 1999 edition of Inside Indonesia.


He noted that, in Ambon as elsewhere, “people often identify with a particular religious community for quite worldly reasons... Joining the Protestant or Muslim community means being part of a network that not only worships God in a certain way but does practical things for its members - provides access to friends in powerful places, for example, or protection when things get tough.


“These networks extend up the social ladder to influential circles in Jakarta. And they extend downward to street level, where gangs of young men provide the protective muscle that an inefficient police force cannot provide.”

The New Order entrenched the expectation among people that spoils of economic success would be shared according to who you knew, not what you knew.  Provincial people were “dependent on their patrons in Jakarta to get senior appointments in the public service, as well as business opportunities in the form of untendered government contracts.”

And, of course, two enormous upheavals had just sent anxiety cascading down through these networks, from Jakarta high politics to the streets of Ambon. One was the drawn-out disintegration of the Suharto presidency - the other, the economic meltdown which slashed incomes and employment opportunities across Indonesia in 1998, leading up to the upsurge of violence in Maluku province. In time of scarcity and uncertainty, mechanisms people had relied on to ‘see them all right’ were suddenly threatened. A habit of scapegoating supervened. Whatever opportunities or benefits were not coming my way were being corruptly diverted to someone from the other section of the community - each now had a reason to construct the existing social and economic paradigm as a threat by ‘them’ against ‘us’.


The point, as van Klinken observes, is that this makes the conflict transparent. “In every other type of collective violence, people seem to be driven by motives we can understand - to get a better deal for themselves, or to protect their interests. Why should religious strife be any different?” If there are reasons for the violence which we can understand, the violent parties can be reasoned with.


Defects in the structure and culture of the conflict can be balanced, neutralised and removed by devising complex, interlocking solutions which work simultaneously on different levels. Then the conflict can be transformed into a non-violent phase.



Media responsibility



The question of media responsibility in driving the cycle of events which saw Maluku plunged into violence preoccupied Indonesian journalists to the extent that it became a story in itself. In February 2000, the Jakarta Post examined claims that reporting, particularly in the Islamic press, had itself exerted a provoking effect. One paper had baldly declared: “The war in Maluku is not one of social or economic groups, it is clearly among Christians and Muslims, and what is happening is a genocide against Muslims.”

The Post piece was headlined, “Islamic media defy taboos on sensitive reporting.” After the New Order, restrictions on the written press were lifted, with journalists now free to report violent incidents which might previously have been suppressed. The paper had spoken to Didik Supriyanto, an official of the Independent Journalists’ Association, previously an underground organisation, about the vexed question of how, precisely, such coverage might influence people on the ground.


“In response to the view among the media and some observers that readers are not necessarily influenced by what they read, Didik said: ‘That’s true but constant coverage, particularly by the mass media, which is hardly balanced with the other side, could by and by give suggestions to readers.’”

Coverage from around this time contains a number of interesting indications that a different mechanism - the positive feedback loop discussed above - may also be operating. Indonesia’s transition from authoritarian rule had seen the emergence in Jakarta of a new creature - the spin-doctor, using persuasion, rather than coercion, to get journalists to write ‘good news’ stories about the deeds of his or her political patron. In a culture where peaceful co-existence is genuinely highly valued, any suggestion that a politician was taking effective action to end violent conflict would be just such a story.


So what incentive does the coverage send around the feedback loop? If the violence is seen as the result of ‘provokasi’, then a ‘good news’ story awaits the politician who will be seen taking action calculated to root out and remove the provocateurs. London’s Guardian newspaper quoted President Wahid, on January 20, 2000, from an interview he gave to reporters in Jakarta. Under the headline, “Indonesia pledges ‘harsh action’ against rioters,” reporter John Aglionby said the President had promised “a massive crackdown to prevent widespread violence and social unrest from causing the country to break apart.”

Once again, Wahid offered the ‘provokasi’ theory as an explanation for the violence: “In an interview, he claimed that a small group of religious fanatics and military officers were responsible,” Aglionby reported. The Jakarta Post said he was sending Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri “to go there and take action against perpetrators of the violence.”

There is also a hint that reporting of the kind van Klinken provided might add a further incentive to a different response. If people have been brought to the point where they are prepared to be provoked, he suggests the causes may be to do with economic injustice. Corruption made opportunity and security contingent on  patronage from particular networks, which happened to be based on religion. President Wahid’s interview also indicated an willingness to address these underlying conditions. The Guardian piece quoted him as saying: “We tried to make the rule of law supreme in this country. They [the ‘small group of religious fanatics and military officers’] did not like it because in the past they were used to doing whatever they liked.”


Practical reporting decisions



Shortly after these reports appeared, the British Council organised a one-day conference in Jakarta for national media editors and owners, to discuss issues in the coverage of Indonesia’s conflicts. One announced that his newspaper had been calling for an independent judiciary so that all Indonesians could be equal before the courts, and the rule of law could, as Wahid said, be made supreme.


Calling for things is something editors and owners can do in leader and comment pages, but the question is, what practical reporting decisions by their journalists might strengthen the case? One strong strand in coverage of events in Ambon was to examine the role of the army and whether it was behaving in a way which placed it above the law.


But reporters on the ground can also look beyond entrenched positions, which define and delineate the meta-conflict, to enquire into the lived experience of people in the conflict arena. What are the everyday fears and frustrations caused by corruption, where the neutral state, guaranteeing basic rights to citizens regardless of their religion or ethnic identity, is overpowered by corrupt networks of the kind van Klinken describes?


If these factors are identified as explaining the violence, then a ‘good news’ story could occur whenever action is taken to address them. Moves towards strengthening the independence of the judiciary might be one; as might the establishment of equal opportunities mechanisms. This is also a framework of understanding in which we could appreciate the importance of grassroots initiatives which are, at the moment, greatly under-reported.


Examples could include the young men from the Christian community providing security outside mosques, and young Muslims standing guard outside church services in gestures of cross community solidarity designed to uphold the same inalienable rights - in this case, freedom of worship - for all, regardless of their religious identity.


The situation throughout Maluku province was, and continues to be extremely difficult for journalists as for many others, particularly for a reporter from, say, the Muslim community who tries to report on the lived experience of those in a Christian area, and vice versa. Some efforts are being made by civic society groups, led by the ngo LSPP, the Independent Journalists’ Association, and the British Council, to help. But no-one should underestimate the difficulties and dangers. The discussions in Jakarta were part of an ongoing dialogue between members of Conflict and Peace Forums and Indonesian journalists about ideas for responsible coverage of conflicts.


Britain and Ireland


Another context where, for many years, mainstream reporting routinely explained violence as caused by ‘deep hatreds’ or ‘revenge’ was the Britain/Ireland conflict. ‘IRA violence’ was always seen as ‘the problem.’ If only this ‘paramilitary gang’ could be defeated militarily, and the ‘men of violence’ caught and imprisoned, the problem would go away. This became known in nationalist and republican circles as the ‘securocratic mentality’. It was, and to a large extent remains, the standard analysis of most coverage of ‘the troubles’ by London-based news organisations.


So why did men from Catholic communities in Northern Ireland take up arms? Many may indeed have been ‘evil’ - but was this a sufficient explanation? Assigned to the province by Sky News in 1998, I met Eilish McCabe, in the border village of Aughnacloy, in County Tyrone. Her brother, Aidan McAnespie, had been killed by a British soldier’s bullet from the checkpoint which straddles the main road out of the village into the Irish republic. The Army said it was an accident which took place while the soldier was cleaning his gun.


The ‘accident’ occurred as Mr McAnespie walked up the road towards the checkpoint, a hundred metres or so away, and the rifle would have to have been pointing out of the sniper’s aperture at the time it was being cleaned for the Army version to have been correct. But Ms McCabe had long since passed the point, she said, of seeking justice for his killer. At a belated inquest, the only witness, another British soldier, had gone AWOL and so could not give evidence. She wanted “the truth,” so the family could move on from his death.


While in Aughnacloy, I also spoke to Michael Muldoon, a local Catholic, who told me he’d endured twenty years of “harassment” by soldiers from the checkpoint, dating from the time he’d got his driving licence and started to pass through it on the way to work - the same treatment as that endured by Aidan McAnespie before his death. Mr Muldoon had gone to court to try to get a legal definition of a ‘body search’, to which, he said, the troops had subjected him on occasions too numerous to mention, the latest just weeks before our interview.


The court case had brought him no closer to a legal definition of his rights or, therefore, of any statutory restraints on what he said was sometimes extremely rough treatment, but it had yielded one nugget of information along the way. Some time in his youth, he’d been handed a ‘P1’ security assessment as a terrorist suspect in secret records compiled and maintained by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, a force composed of at least 90% Protestants. There was no way of hearing any of the allegations against him, which had led to this assessment, or of having them tested in any tribunal providing for his accusers to be cross-examined, or the evidence challenged, by his representatives - fundamental and internationally recognised principles of jurisprudence.


According to Eilish McCabe, Mr Muldoon’s frustration was part of a pattern in which normal routes of redress for citizens with a grievance were denied to Catholics. A senior clergyman, Monsignor Denis Faul, had taken up as many as fifteen hundred cases over fifteen years with army commanders, initiated by locals who believed themselves to have been mistreated. “He’s never even got a response” in the overwhelming majority of them, she said. “That’s very, very, very frustrating for some young people.” Mr Muldoon went further - the checkpoint was “a recruiting sergeant for the IRA.”


The point of reporting on such stories is to shed some light on one factor perpetuating the conflict and the conditions for violence - the sense of injustice in Catholic communities at a security order perceived as arbitrary, discriminatory and impossible to hold to account by legal or political means.


Taking that perception seriously therefore appears as key to explaining the violence and understanding what helped to reproduce and sustain it over so many years. Addressing and overcoming what these people saw as institutionalised discrimination is exposed as a precondition for ending the violence - not something ‘the securocratic mentality’ understands.

By the time of this report, of course, these connections already figured in the official agenda for the conflict. It appeared on Sky News as people prepared to vote on the Good Friday Agreement, which provided for the handover of paramilitary weapons but also the reform of policing in Northern Ireland, to address precisely the concerns presented by Eilish McCabe and Michael Muldoon.



From ‘apportioning blame’ to conflict analysis in South Africa



Another arena where many journalists have examined the effects of their reporting on framing conflict, and on the perceived options for transforming it, is post-Apartheid South Africa. One fascinating example, from the build-up to the country’s first all-race election in 1994, became the subject of an important study by Lesley Fordred, an anthropologist from the University of Cape Town. Once again the central issue is the nature of the explanation provided for violence. Late one Friday night, Fordred writes, “thirteen children and one adult were massacred by unknown rifle-bearers in a deserted mud hut outside a village called Mahehle, about 200 km south west of Pietermaritzburg in kwaZulu/Natal, South Africa.”

This territory abutted the heartland of an ongoing violent conflict between supporters of the rival African National Congress and Inkatha Freedom Party. After this incident, Fordred comments, “once again, it seemed the ANC-IFP conflict in Natal was going to drag democracy out of reach.” Indeed, the area’s main newspaper, the Natal Witness, ran a piece in its edition of the following Monday morning, headlined: “Massacre blamed on ‘fear of election’” - an explanation sourced to two local ANC party officials.


The direct connection between the massacre and the election was explained in this piece thus: “In the incident, four gunmen opened fire on a group of mainly teenagers preparing for an African National Congress voter education workshop in rural Mahehle.”

Both main party leaders commented on the incident. “ANC leader Nelson Mandela yesterday blamed IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi for the deaths and said Buthelezi is fanning violence with his opposition to the election... Buthelezi yesterday condemned Saturday’s massacre, saying such violence could further polarize South African society. ‘We are never going to have peace and prosperity in South Africa by eliminating each other through such terrible acts of violence’, he said.”



As Fordred observes: “ ‘Balance’ is attained through the identification of ‘both sides’ of the conflict, and sourcing of comments from each of them. Selections from their various spokespersons’ comments attempt to define positions on the attack, rather than by searching for common ground: the fact that both the ANC and IFP condemned the massacre is completely ignored...


“Probing questions are not asked; names of the dead are not given; a reporter did not visit the scene; there is a heavy reliance on police information and on comments obtained by telephone and fax - a work routine that precludes the insights of villagers. And finally, the narrative itself - the construction of the sequence of events, and the suggestion of motivation - is taken directly from politicians in Pretoria.”

Fordred goes on to describe how she accompanied the paper’s assistant editor, Khaba Mkhize, as he went to Mahehle to file a follow-up report. Several different nuances emerge. His piece begins with suggestions that the killing of unarmed children was a tragic mistake. In a fraught situation, the presence of unknown people in a deserted hut on the edge of a village conveyed the impression of menace: “The unseen occupants of the hut were apparently braaiing mealies on a fire. This caused some people to panic, believing that an attack was being planned” and having no way of knowing those inside were unarmed. A line which emerged only by the reporter inspecting the scene and talking face-to-face with locals.


A  detective investigating the killings told Mhkize: “’It appears the attackers were not aware of who was occupying the house. Judging by the long-range shots that hit the mud walls, it is safe to deduce that they later stormed the house because there was no return of fire.” The piece also heard from a local farmer, Ephraim Nxsane, who lost two grandsons in the attack. He attributed the group’s decision to camp out on a summer’s night to “youthful excitement” at the imminent electioneering and the prospect of connecting themselves - albeit distantly - with the legendary figure of Nelson Mandela. Mhkize’s piece does not attempt to fix blame, but is carefully even-handed in relating another observation made at the scene - that holes in the hut’s mud walls were made in some cases by G3 and in others by AK47 bullets – weapons of choice for the IFP and ANC respectively.


The effect of this is to begin to move the narrative away from an episode in an ongoing tug-of-war, or series of blows exchanged by two parties, with one fingered as ‘guilty’ of this particular atrocity. Instead it directs us to consider how the conflict itself, with its attendant fears and resentments, is causing tragic errors of judgement, and consequences - the killing of unarmed children as young as 12 - that nobody intends or wants. Here, Mkhize creates a space for the insights of conflict transformation and analysis to be brought to bear.


Professor Johan Galtung calls this the “exculpatory nature-structure-culture” approach to bringing about “3 ‘R’s - Reconstruction, Reconciliation, Resolution” of conflicts after violence - in this case, after the end of Apartheid:


“A structure-oriented perspective converts the relationship from inter personal, or inter-state/nation [here, inter-group] to a relation between two positions in a deficient structure. If the parties can agree that the structure was/is deficient and that their behaviour was an enactment of structural positions rather than anything more personal, then turning together against the common problem, the structural violence, should be possible.”

Apart from a powerful argument in favour of journalists going to the scene of stories to find things out, rather than pulling them together back at base, this, then, stands as one reporter’s contribution to a logic which eventually led South Africa to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as an experiment in moving on from the structural violence of Apartheid. Fordred records Mkhize’s keen sense of power - and the attendant responsibility - in making these reporting decisions: “Our journalistic mistakes are not visible,” he tells her, “like the doctor’s mistake that gets buried... But in actual fact our mistakes start wars and civil wars.”

Extensive media coverage of the massacre victims’ funeral was another occasion to focus on the common problem of structural violence. Several months later, according to Fordred, “The accused [three IFP officials and one IFP member] were acquitted for lack of evidence - too few witnesses had been willing to come forward. Several journalists I spoke to believed political horsetrading between the ANC and IFP to have been behind the acquittal.”

But this was after the historic election had passed off without major outbreaks of violence and the two parties had embarked on creating a new relationship as rivals in normal, democratic political exchange. An illustration, perhaps, of both the benefits and the drawbacks of a structure-oriented perspective and one which mimics some of the ambivalence in South Africa towards the TRC process itself. (One reason why many of its proponents, including Professor Galtung, invariably advocate applying it in conjunction with other approaches, not in isolation.)



Worthy/unworthy victimhood



In Khaba Mkhize’s report, the problem is the conflict, not the evil or irrational behaviour of one ‘side’. The effect is to make it make sense to focus on structural or cultural factors which perpetuate the conflict and the conditions for violence. Because ‘blame’ cannot therefore be pinned on one, demonised party, suddenly it makes sense to balance and neutralise those factors if the conflict is to be transformed into a non-violent phase. But for this, it is necessary to apply an equal esteem to the suffering and testimony of all parties, and to take their fears, resentments and grievances equally seriously.


Western readers, listeners and viewers grew accustomed to blood curdling accounts of ‘black-on-black’ violence from South Africa’s troubled townships during the decay of Apartheid. In one frighteningly familiar image, gangs of young ANC supporters - ‘Comrades’ - would triumphantly dance and parade for the cameras after some flaring of communal strife. Fordred quotes Mkhize extending a compassionate understanding to these, the demonised figures of so many frontline reports: “For every Comrade that exists in South Africa,” he says, “there’s not a single one that’s not a concern of a parent.”

Coverage of Northern Ireland by London-based media has long been criticised for a lop-sided approach to reporting on the suffering of different sections of the community - a ‘hierarchy of death’. In Aughnacloy, Eilish McCabe told me that the sense of grievance of those in nationalist communities bereaved by ‘the troubles’ was exacerbated by the fact that “the media doesn’t want toknow. No-one wants to know.” Roy Greenslade, former Mirror editor and later media columnist for the Guardian, is a frequent exponent of this critique.


One piece in 1998, shortly after the beginning of the stand-off at Drumcree, where Orange marchers refused police requests to move from a field outside the local church, detailed a “catalogue of intimidation, arson, hijacking, house-burning, bombing, blockading, terror and mayhem.” None of these incidents was considered important enough to make the pages of London newspapers, though they were extensively reported in the Irish News, Newsletter, Derry Journal and the Irish Times. If just one had happened “in any six counties of England, Wales or Scotland,” Greenslade writes, it would have been headline material.


The only individual attack which did receive widespread British coverage was the slightly later killing of three children from a single family, on a housing estate not far from Drumcree, at Ballymoney. In one 24-hour span of the week leading up to this tragedy, Greenslade counted 191 attacks on police and troops, 412 petrol bombings, 73 houses damaged, 93 other buildings attacked and 136 vehicle hijackings. He comments: “This widespread, premeditated orgy of violence and sectarian intimidation was the reason the people of Northern Ireland were not surprised by the petrol bomb deaths of the Quinn children in Ballymoney. They knew something ghastly would happen because, quite apart from their own experience, they were reading every day.


“The British people did not. Their newspapers (especially the mass market tabloids) ignore most of the horrors perpetrated by the men who roam the streets waving Union flags and unleash savagery on their fellow citizens in the name of the Queen.” The common factor, of course, in all this unreported violence was that it was committed by Loyalist mobs - not Republicans.


In other pieces in the same series, Greenslade connects this disparity with the framework of understanding within which political developments are reported. He remarks on the difference in rhetoric among London newspapers when Sinn Fein MPs Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were received for the first time at 10 Downing Street; compared with the occasion when the same welcome was extended to (unelected) fringe Loyalist leaders, who included actual former paramilitary prisoners. In the former case it was bellicose and hysterical (“the darkest day in the history of British democracy” - Daily Telegraph); in the latter, comparatively anodyne in its restraint.






An effect of the ‘securocratic mentality’ underpinning most London based coverage of the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement has been to focus on ‘IRA decommissioning’ as the issue which could ‘make or break’ the prospects for peace. Another tug-of-war in which any inch gained (weapon extracted) by one side can only be the same inch lost (weapon yielded) by the other. One particularly delicate phase of this dispute, in 1999, coincided with the date of the next scheduled Drumcree march. Fraught discussions over the Orange Parade, according to the Times, “completely overshadowed negotiations to save the Good Friday Agreement half a mile away at Stormont Castle buildings, where neither the Unionists nor Sinn Fein offered any hint of compromise.”

Of a front-page lead article running to fifteen paragraphs, just one, the thirteenth, mentioned the “widespread, premeditated orgy of violence and sectarian intimidation” catalogued by Roy Greenslade:

“Last year there were nightly confrontations with the security forces at Drumcree. The riots spread throughout the province and the mayhem subsided only when three young brothers were burnt alive in a loyalist arson attack on their Ballymoney home.”

An expanded consideration of this, the threat posed by Loyalists to the safety of residents in their homes, may have helped to shift the focus from the need for ‘IRA decommissioning’ to the urgency of a general overhaul of security arrangements in the province, to neutralise the structural and cultural factors helping to perpetuate the conditions for violence. Again, this would include reform of the security apparatus itself. In Portadown, home of the Orange Lodge involved in the standoff at Drumcree, a young Catholic man, Robert Hamill, was kicked to death by a Loyalist mob in April 1997, a year before the killing of the Quinn children. This took place in full view of RUC officers in a Landrover and 200 metres from an RUC station, yet none of the officers present made any attempt to stop the attack or arrest the perpetrators.


According to a letter in The Journalist, the monthly magazine sent to members of the British National Union of Journalists, this case had been “virtually ignored by the British press, although it concerns an illustration of police bigotry even worse than the case of Stephen Lawrence.”

(Stephen Lawrence was a black teenager murdered by a racist gang in South London. The 1998 public inquiry into the bungled investigation of the killing diagnosed ‘institutional racism’ in the Metropolitan Police and their failure adequately to protect members of London’s ethnic minority communities. By this stage, after years of general indifference from the mainstream media, the case was attracting blanket media coverage.)


The connection is between the comparative lack of esteem for the suffering, fears and grievances of Catholics, and the ‘securocratic mentality’ which frames the conflict as being confined to the issue of ‘IRA decommissioning.’ Sure enough, the same edition of the Times with the front-page report discussed here carried an opinion piece inside by star columnist Michael Gove. This opened with a beguiling Proustian flourish - musings arising from the contemplation of an everyday item, not a dipping biscuit in Gove’s case but a Labour Party coffee-mug from the 1997 General Election campaign, bearing the legend, “tough on crime.”

On the decommissioning issue, Gove demanded: “Why, in the first instance, should we believe Sinn Fein? If republicans are happy to kill to achieve their aims, then why should they exhibit any moral scruple about lying?” The piece ended with an epitaph for the Northern Ireland peace process itself: “It is because we have gone too far that we must stop now. The Prime Minister tells us that there is no alternative. That, I’m afraid, is the greatest fiction of all. There is always an alternative to appeasing those who use violence. The alternative is etched on my Labour Party mug.”

The comment is a logical counterpart of the news reporting - Gove’s prescription of a security ‘crackdown’ would be easier to apply if the category, “those who use violence” was confined to those he called “Gerry’s private army” - the IRA. Over time, regular readers of the Times, or other London newspapers observing a ‘hierarchy of death’ in deciding whether violence is newsworthy, might indeed have gleaned this general, dripfed impression. Dividing people into worthy and unworthy victims makes a violent solution - being ‘tough on crime’ - seem to make sense.



Beyond ‘victim journalism’ and ‘how do you feel?’



A common feature of ‘victim journalism’ is the use of some variant on the question ‘how do you feel?’ as a cue for hearing from members of the public affected by violence. The enduring unexamined dominance of this newsgathering strategy was suggested by a memo, from the then editor of Granada’s World In Action programme, which fell into the hands of Private Eye. The note, to journalists working on an episode set in Northern Ireland, titled, The Price of Peace, advised: “Hundreds of psychos will be out of prison and back on the streets if people vote Yes in the referendum. This [programme] is relatively easy to do - I have seen shorter versions on the news. What you do is to focus on four or five particularly vicious killers and remind people of their crimes. Talk to the relatives of their dead victims, or even some living victims minus various limbs, eyes, etc”.


Shortly after Michael Gove’s piece appeared in the Times, the Mirror ran a two-day mini-series of special reports by Belfast features editor Jilly Beattie. These tracked the personal transition of an IRA man - from hatred of the British, to his own realisation that all parties to the Britain/Ireland conflict share a common enemy in a deficient structure and culture which perpetuates cycles of violence. Vincent McKenna grew up alongside Eilish McCabe and Michael Muldoon, in the very same border village of Aughnacloy, County Tyrone.


Beattie describes his violent childhood, how frequent beatings by his parents were offset by the kindness and brotherhood extended to him by neighbouring children and their families - police or army families in many cases. The trigger for his paramilitary career came when his uncle, a well-known IRA commander, died in prison: “I was sick of being bullied, sick of being frightened... We were told Uncle Sean had been tortured and died of a heart attack. He was only 41. In that moment I promised to wage war on the British state - the bully of the Irish people.”

Mr McKenna recalled how he would gather intelligence on his old Aughnacloy neighbours for his new friends in the IRA, but that, when it came to actually killing them, he would invariably lose his nerve, contriving ‘accidents’ to make the planned operations go wrong then feigning outrage that an ‘unknown’ hand had sabotaged them.


(This suggests that a complete report on the ‘harassment’ of Catholics in Aughnacloy would require some further explanation. These ‘near misses’ no doubt added to the fears and resentments of local police and army personnel in their dealings with those, like Michael Muldoon, labelled ‘terrorist suspects’. Fears and resentments which created conditions for violence against Catholics.)


Later, after first lapsing into alcoholism and then rediscovering religion - in a Presbyterian church, not the Catholicism of his upbringing - Mr McKenna had gone to university, studied politics and child psychology - “I wanted to understand how my childhood had turned me into the person I was.” He then founded the Northern Ireland Human Rights Bureau, which helps victims of violence. He told Beattie he would make sure his children went to an integrated (non-sectarian) school.





It is clear from Beattie’s account that the interviewing technique for this piece took a significant step beyond the hackneyed ‘how do you feel?’ line of questioning. Although Mr McKenna recounts his emotions and impressions at various stages of his personal journey, the point of interviewing him was to get him to share the inner work he had already done in examining and processing his feelings, drawing conclusions from them and facing the implications for the wider political situation in Northern Ireland. At the end, he declares: “I suppose part of the reason I work so hard to help people who have suffered terror is that it acts as a salve to the damage I have done to myself. It’s my way of asking forgiveness, of trying to do right after

years spent doing wrong.”

This connects with one of the key insights of conflict transformation, according to Professor Galtung. Victims of violence can seek restitution through punishment of the perpetrator or to ‘get even’ by revenge. Or, like Eilish McCabe, they can hope to be released from the trauma of suffering and loss by being told the truth - a step towards accepting reconciliation as the outcome. In implicit exchange for this:


“The perpetrator may seek release from his guilt: from the Third Party through submission, penitence or punishment; from the victim through apology and forgiveness; and from himself by hard inner work. Reconciliation has essentially to take place between perpetrator and victim. But that also means either of them can withhold reconciliation, putting the trauma/guilt into the world trauma/guilt bank and using them as weapons.”

Is this account of Vincent McKenna’s life telling us anything of wider importance? After all, he does not, himself, have any say in the halls of negotiation referred to in the Times report, to “save the Good Friday Agreement.” This is the logic inherent in so much reporting of conflicts - concentrated, as it is, on official information sources and their agenda. At one stage, the Ulster Unionists were publicly havering over whether to join the phase of talks at Stormont which led to the Accord in the first place.


Their parliamentary ranks were, according to reports, evenly divided - a convenient shorthand, it was generally assumed, for opinion among the Unionist population of Northern Ireland as a whole. Then a poll commissioned by one Belfast newspaper suggested that 86% of Unionist supporters wanted their party to participate. Shortly afterwards, David Trimble duly led his colleagues into the talks.


For a conflict genuinely to be transformed, and cycles of violence interrupted, peace must be made by and between people who will have to live with the eventual settlement, honestly looking in on their own lives, connecting with and processing their feelings, and drawing conclusions from them. For the reporter to detect these important stirrings, the questioning needs to take them through this entire process. The rarity of such questioning might be connected to the fact that the poll findings took many by surprise.


In another context, the Economist’s Palestine correspondent, Graham Usher, recounts a meeting with a Palestinian fisherman who lost his home in 1948, in what Arabs call ‘al-Nakba’ - ‘the Catastrophe’ - as Jews set up the State of Israel. He settled in the Gaza Strip, earmarked, at the time of this piece in 1994, as the first area, with Jericho, to be handed over to the new Palestinian Authority (PA).


This man, Abu Musa, tells Usher: “I feel like a man who has lost a million dollars and been given ten. But you see, I lost the million dollars a long time ago. So I will keep the ten. We cannot go on the way we are. I accept, I accept, I accept. After so much bloodshed, I accept. But, please, don’t ask me how I feel.” From a single news report, we cannot expect comprehensive solutions. This one perhaps tells us as much about what many - including Usher - perceive as imbalances written into the Oslo accords, which set up the PA, as it does about the process of people making peace. But it does suggest, as with the piece on Vincent McKenna, what clues can emerge if people are treated as thinking human beings capable of processing their experiences, instead of “victims minus various limbs, eyes, etc” or ciphers for accumulated hatred and bitterness.


Once the Good Friday Agreement had been approved by an overwhelming majority in separate votes both north and south of the Irish border, some London newspapers had the good grace to accept that, as the Guardian put it in an editorial, politicians had been led by the people in coming so far along the road to a resolution. The implication being that many journalists, too, had been left looking slightly out of touch. The episode perhaps reminded them of what may be missed if a broad swath of stakeholders in a conflict are routinely swept up into an ‘aggregate’ - factoring them in to any analysis of that conflict as representatives of one fixed viewpoint or identity.






‘The Serbs’ – Aggregation and Dis-Aggregation



Nowhere has the tendency to ‘aggregation’ been more evident than in coverage of the past decade’s upheavals in present and former Yugoslavia. The zero-sum analysis offered by most Western reporting is based on the proposition that ‘the Serbs’ were guilty of ‘starting it.’ A piece for the BBC’s Newsnight, screened as Yugoslav forces vacated the province in June 1999, proved an extraordinary example of this underlying narrative and an apt illustration of how ‘aggregation’ plays an important part in constructing it.


The report was filed from Urosevac as local Serb civilians fled in fear of violence by the Kosovo Liberation Army. In the link read by the presenter, we learned that Russia had, that day, called for an urgent debate in the United Nations Security Council on demilitarising the KLA, as called for under Resolution 1244, which ended Nato’s bombing campaign. The reporter’s voice-over began:


“Imagine the Serbs’ reversal of fortune today. The rulers have themselves become refugees. Shedding tears of departure - and stashing the loot - two phones in the back of a car. But the Serbs are scared. Having bombed them from the air, the Americans are now having to protect them on the way out - with the deadline fast approaching.”




Clip of interview with US Commander: “I told them at 1400 that they could move with the escort. They can move whenever they want to, we’re not stopping them at all.”

Reporter: “Such is the Serbian fear of the Kosovo Liberation Army and Albanian revenge that they’re prepared to pack up in 20 minutes and accept an American escort. Their humiliation is complete.”

Clip of interview with Yugoslav army soldier: “Yesterday we had KLA with guns, they took the post office, and a local ambulance...”

Reporter: (over pictures of people boarding a bus) “Brutality has given way to self-pity. Following the Serb armour is a pathetic trail of Serb refugees. Overnight, the villains think they’ve become the victims in this war.”


The “Serb armour” belonged to the VJ, the Yugoslav National Army, a largely conscripted body drawn from any and every one of the many ethnic identities still represented even in Yugoslavia’s attenuated latter-day form. This, the Serbian MUP (Interior Ministry Police) and various paramilitary groups were all lumped together in most reporting of the Kosovo story as “The Serbs” - a demonized aggregate including, as is clear from this piece, the civilian population as well.


Distinctions collapse - the Americans bombed “them” from the air - meaning, at least in Nato’s official version of events, strictly military targets - now they’re escorting “them” out of Kosovo; the “deadline” referred to was for the troops to leave, but the pictures showed families fleeing their homes.


The reference to “the villains” was over pictures of civilians boarding a bus; and to “stashing the loot” over a picture of a soldier putting two telephone handsets in the back of a car. If evidence existed for the allegation of looting, it was not adduced - judging from what we are told and shown, the phones might, for all the reporter knew, have rightfully belonged to the family in question.


This treatment of the exodus from Kosovo after the end of Nato bombing served to make a violent solution seem to make sense, in this case in retrospect. The disparity of esteem for suffering produced blanket coverage when the province’s ethnic Albanian population came in waves across neighbouring borders; then, after the bombing, buried the persecution and ejection of Serbs, Roma and other minorities on the inside pages of a couple of newspapers. They were tainted by association, therefore unworthy victims.


Conversely, treating their plight with due seriousness inevitably raises questions about the wisdom and effectiveness of the policy. The Guardian, in its editorial stance a staunch supporter of Operation Allied Force, was one of the newspapers which afterwards maintained at least some interest in the situation on the ground in Kosovo. In an editorial on December 7, 1999, on Russia’s bombing of Chechenya, its leader writer remarked: “Chechenya is not Kosovo, and Russia is not Serbia. Much as some might wish it, we cannot send in the smart bombers. And as Kosovo since the war has shown, that would not, in any case, be much of a solution or even any at all.”




How to report on events within this arena in a way which accurately frames the conflict and helps audiences to understand what is important, and what effects are likely to be wrought by, say, particular kinds of policies pursued by third parties? If the third parties are their own governments, this is essential equipment for reaching a mature assessment of major and important actions taken in their name.


A parity of esteem for suffering and testimony is a prerequisite for focussing on the structural and cultural factors perpetuating the conditions likely to lead to violence. When the Kosovo bombing began in March 1999, saturation coverage of refugees fleeing ‘Serb ethnic cleansing’ across the Albanian and Macedonian borders was not matched by reports of displaced civilians heading north.


In April, an American Congressional delegation, led by senior Republican Jim Saxton under the auspices of the International Strategic Studies Association, visited Yugoslavia. They found that “some one-third of the Albanian and other refugees appear, in fact, to be fleeing further into Serbia, to avoid the Kosovo Liberation Army... There is no doubt that the Nato bombings have contributed heavily - perhaps overwhelmingly - toward the outflow.” RTS Television Serbia, derided by Nato leaders for the crude propaganda interspersed with its news, did carry pictures of refugees arriving in Belgrade, explaining them as having fled the KLA and Nato bombing. Shortly afterwards the station was bombed and its transmissions blocked by EUTELSAT.


The reports may have been important enough to warrant an attack because these images were filtering through into Western news bulletins as well, thus affecting what Downing Street spokesman Alastair Campbell called “the only battle that Nato might lose - the battle for hearts and minds.” They went to the nub of one of the most difficult issues for Nato - namely, whether its bombing campaign was bringing the stated objectives nearer, or moving them further away.


The initial aim, described by then British Defence Secretary George Robertson as “averting a humanitarian catastrophe” was subsequently finessed to “reversing” the same. Was this catastrophe - the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Kosovo - the cause or consequence of the bombing? The existence of refugees fleeing, they said, Nato bombs, suggests the answer is at least partly the latter. In basing the coverage of refugee outflows exclusively at the southern borders, and appointing one set of ‘worthy victims’, the reports missed something important for audiences to know - information relevant to an ongoing judgement about the wisdom and likely effectiveness of their leaders’ responses.


Some journalists who did look beyond the cliches about historic enmities between ethnic groups managed to dis-aggregate the parties involved in the conflict. In the edition of Newsnight screened on June 16, 1999, the piece discussed above was directly preceded by one from the programme’s Diplomatic Correspondent Mark Urban.


This told “the extraordinary story of how a group of Serbian monks stood up to the men of violence” at an ancient monastery in Decani. This, Urban declared, was “one of the few places here where the story of ethnic hatred between Serb and Albanian was checked by a barrier of faith and common humanity.”

The Abbot explained that, as Serbian paramilitary gangs went looting and extorting money in nearby towns and villages, his 21 monks had offered “food, medicines, support and especially we were speaking to the officials, to the police and army, to protect those Albanians who stayed.” One Albanian, Agim Morani, told Urban about an incident where the Abbot had intervened personally to save local Albanians from the paramilitaries, escorting them to the safety of a nearby Orthodox church. “If he hadn’t come, it is 100% certain we would be dead,” Mr Morani declared.


Urban explained that thousands of Serbian civilians were now fleeing “retribution” from returning Albanians. The piece showed Italian K-For peacekeepers guarding the monks, “but now their prayers are needed by those of their own faith,” Urban explained. “The KLA have not yet established much of a presence here, but where they have, Serbs have fled.” Local Albanians

were “determined to repay” the monks’ courage and kindness by protecting them, but “there is a real threat now from extremist Albanian armed groups - today the Serb bishop of a nearby town fled after one of his monks disappeared during the night. Elsewhere a monastery has been burnt down... Even if their [the monks’] acts have safeguarded their future, the wider Serb community is disappearing by the day.”

This was important in connecting with peace initiatives without waiting for them to emanate from official sources, one major missing factor in so much reporting of the conflict. By this stage its practical importance was as evidence of some willingness by people on the ground to live in the multi-ethnic society which Nato was aiming to establish. For a reporter to be able to detect such stirrings depended on dis-aggregation - an awareness, contained in the phrase, “the wider Serb community” that demonising those responsible for (some of) the violence as ‘the Serbs’ does the audience a disservice by presenting a distorted picture.



Assumptions Revisited



Nato’s bombing of Yugoslavia enjoyed almost universal editorial support among London newspapers. The passage of time made it possible to gauge more of the consequences and led to some reassessments, including a nagging suspicion summed up by BBC World Affairs editor John Simpson: “I think we were suckered.” What assumptions were built into news reporting before and during the bombing, how did these help to construct a framework of understanding which made it seem to make sense, and how could it have been different?


An award-winning correspondent with a major US TV network put her finger on one widespread assumption at the London launch of The First Casualty, the new edition of Phillip Knightley’s classic history of war reporting which contains an important chapter on Kosovo. She recalled a period in the Autumn of 1998 when, as she put it, “the international community was putzing around, wondering what the hell to do” about the growing crisis in the province. An appealing narrative to journalists since the next logical step is for intrepid coverage of atrocities to act as a 'prod to the conscience' of a disinterested international community, bringing it reluctantly to intervene.


While there was, no doubt, a great deal of soul-searching on the part of many politicians and officials in Nato countries about the Alliance’s responses to events in Kosovo, this may not have been the full story.

In March 2000, Allan Little’s profoundly important BBC Panorama special, ‘Moral Combat’, suggested that at the very moment the correspondent referred to, elements, at least, of the international community knew exactly what they were doing, they were far from disinterested and the intervention was already underway.


The OSCE’s Kosovo Verification Mission, headed by William Walker, a high-ranking State Department official, was busy carrying out a lopsided brief which effectively cleared Kosovo of Yugoslav Army (VJ) units and allowed the KLA to take over their revetted positions, thus entrenching the guerillas as a threat to Serb police and civilians. Having withdrawn the

armoured divisions, only to find the enemy stealing a march, Yugoslavia then sent them back in. Most breaches of the ceasefire were still coming from the KLA but this intelligence, reported to the Nato council of ambassadors at the time, was never publicly disclosed.


A second assumption was that the KLA had spontaneously arisen as a factor in the equation, an inchoate upsurge of resistance in response to the iron heel of Belgrade. So when reporters did uncover scenes of violence it came with a built-in analysis - ‘the Serbs’ were to blame for ‘starting it’. This ignores the fears and grievances of one party to the conflict - we are left with explanations for its behaviour such as that offered by Newsweek, which decided the obduracy of President Milosevic under fire could be attributed to the influence of his wife, Mira Markovic, “an extremist even more fanatical than himself.” Extremism and fanaticism are not reasonable and cannot be reasoned with - explain violence in this way, as the expression of evil and irrrationality, and it seems to make sense to coerce the party guilty of ‘starting it’ into backing down - or to punish it when it refuses.


The antidote is to accord equal esteem to the suffering of all parties. During the bombing, the US media activism group, FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting) circulated a New York Times special report from Kosovo which listed familiar allegations - young men shot in their beds, systematic rape of women and girls, crops burned, wells poisoned, desecration of national and religious symbols. A recent story? No - the date was not 1999 but 1987; the complainants not Albanians, but Serbs.


Seldom can it have been clearer that delving back into the history of a conflict in an attempt to identify who ‘started it’ leads to an incomplete account. The proportion of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo when the province gained self-governing status in the mid-sixties was nearly thirty percent - by the time of the FAIR piece, it was under ten percent. Neither did Albanians gain very much as a result - in the mid-eighties, if the GDP per head in Kosovo was 100, in Slovenia it was 700, albeit redistributed to a certain extent through Yugoslavia’s federal state apparatus - one of the centrifugal forces pulling the country apart.


The grievances of Serbs in the late 1980s were cynically instrumentalised by one S Milosevic in the odious nationalist politics which propelled him to power - but in order to be so instrumentalised they had to exist, and did exist, in the first place. Without Mr Milosevic, the violent break-up of Yugoslavia would almost certainly not have been avoided, any more than preventing the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand would have prevented the First World War.

By 1999, of course, Yugoslavia had more refugees than any other European country, each one adding to the collective resentment and insecurity which creates the conditions for violence.



While reporting for Sky News from Nato headquarters in Brussels, I put questions at briefings, to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and then Secretary-General Javier Solana, about a plan put forward by the TRANSCEND Network for Peace and Development. This called for a settlement based on repatriating the Serbian refugees from the Krajina, violently expelled by the Croatian Army in 1995, in parallel with the return of the Kosovans to their homes.


This was inspired in part by the epic correspondence in 1991 between Hans-Dietrich Genscher, then German Foreign Minister and an early advocate of breaking up Yugoslavia, and Javier Perez de Cuellar, last-but-one Secretary General of the United Nations. Warning against the uncoordinated flurry of recognitions which brought Croatia and Slovenia into being as separate states, and triggered the disastrously divisive referendum on independence for Bosnia, Perez de Cuellar urged the adoption of three basic principles. Any further intervention must be conceived as part of a solution for the whole of Yugoslavia; no one party should be favoured; any plan must be acceptable to minorities.


Now, Nato was keen to commend its actions as the result of a sense of moral purpose - something greeted by some reporters with a cynicism which served to replace the demonisation of the Serbs with a similar demonisation of Nato. Indeed, one opinion piece from the Guardian was titled, ‘Nato - act with a moral purpose? Don’t make me laugh’. But taking the notion on its merits, that Operation Allied Force was driven by morality, makes the TRANSCEND plan, based on the Perez de Cuellar principles, worth reporting. If it is right – not merely as a matter of politics, but morally right - that Kosovans be allowed to return to their homes, then the same moral right extends to Serbs. In order to connect with this it would be necessary to report with equal esteem for the needs and the suffering of both Kosovans and Serbs.



The KLA and the media



What about the realist interpretation of the KLA, that their actions and motivations could be understood as expressing a latent sense of national identity, brutally suppressed by ‘the Serbs’? In August 1999, in the NUJ magazine, The Journalist, I suggested another explanation - provoking newsworthy reprisals, hoping they would be reported in isolation as ‘Serb aggression’ and creating the apparent need for international intervention to stop it. It would have been a fair expectation given the lopsidedness in most Western coverage of Yugoslavia’s upheavals of the past decade. As BBC diplomatic correspondent Mark Urban has remarked about an earlier phase of the violence: “Few of the British-employed journalists... seem to have been

concerned with telling us the tales of the Serbian housewives blown away by Muslim snipers’ bullets, or the Croat villagers whose throats were slit by Muslim raiders.”


Allan Little’s film contained a frank interview with Hacim Thaci in which he admitted the KLA had known that civilian deaths would ensue as a result of their own policies. BBC World presenter Nik Gowing, in an important critique of reporting in the Great Lakes crisis of 1996-7, writes that journalists must never again underestimate the sophistication of parties to a conflict operating under what he calls ‘the tyranny of real-time news’. His warning: “understand from the start that warring factions, even if their soldiers wear gumboots, have now acquired a sophisticated military doctrine and techniques for fighting low-level information warfare using manipulation, disinformation, misinformation and obstruction.”

Furthermore, individuals in a media-savvy world have internalised the narrative structures which best appeal to news - the stories reporters want to hear. Hence ‘The Truth About Rajmonda’, a remarkably brave and honest piece of reporting by a Canadian TV correspondent, Nancy Durham, about a nineteen-year-old woman who presented herself as bereaved, her younger sister shot by Yugoslav forces, and about to take up arms with the resistance. In a series of reports screened by broadcasters around the world, Durham tracked Rajmonda’s progress through 1998 as she joined the KLA, then, after the bombing, visited her home village, only to find the ‘dead’ sister conspicuously alive and well. One Albanian explains in Durham’s valedictory report that if the lie helped to bring about Western intervention, it was justified.


The piece offers one of those rare, uncomfortable moments when journalism examines its own part in the sequence of cause and effect. Generally, realist explanations for events commend themselves to news because it too is accustomed to explaining itself in realist terms - ‘I just report the facts’ as if facts arose spontaneously of their own accord. We need more reporting which opens for inspection the process by which facts are created in order to be reported, and techniques for news to meet the responsibilities this brings, whilst remaining, recognisably, news. In this respect, ‘The Truth About Rajmonda’ represents pioneering work.


Could the KLA have reasonably expected that an intervention would eventually come? Analyses in newspaper Op-Ed sections often presented Kosovo as a ‘Cinderella conflict’, left out of the Dayton accords and ignored by the West. Actually it was only the non-violent, democratically elected leaders who were ignored. US policy had been clear and explicit as long ago as 1992, when a diplomatic telegram from President Bush specifically threatened armed intervention in the event of any violence in Kosovo. The full text was only published in April 1999, in the Washington Post, together with the disclosure that it was to be read out loud by the then US ambassador, “verbatim, face-to-face and without elaboration” to President Milosevic himself.


Can it have been the case that this policy was subsequently allowed to lie, dormant, on the table until Western journalists forced it to be revisited, six years later? Jan Oberg, director of the Transnational Futures Foundation, is not alone in concluding that there must have been some form of “clandestine support for the KLA... How else,” he wonders, “was an army developed since 1993? International missions, embassies, intelligence services... must have been fully aware... One wonders why, for instance, Nato, the OSCE, the UN etc in Albania did nothing to control the transborder [arms] traffic and the extensive build-up and training of the KLA in northern Albania.”

What would have happened if the KLA had received a different set of signals about the likely Western response to anyone stirring up trouble? Early in 2000, we were treated to a fascinating ‘study in microcosm’ in the emergence of the ‘UCPMB’ in the Presevo valley - a crescent of southern Serbia abutting the Kosovo provincial border with a majority Albanian population.


They too give the classic realist account of their appearance on the scene, describing themselves to reporters as “the small army in uniform which arose to defend our people”. The difference in news response was epitomised by Jonathan Steele in the Guardian who ‘dis-aggregated’ the parties involved by reporting that at least some Albanian residents, both in Kosovo and in the Presevo valley itself, opposed the UCPMB and its actions. If you refuse to divide people into two neat categories of villains and victims it makes it more difficult to visualise a solution being brought about by intervening on one side against another.

The other difference was that, on this occasion, American K-For troops made it abundantly clear they would not ride to the rescue. Just after this ‘media launch’ of the ‘UCPMB’, they carried out a high-profile seizure of guns and explosives belonging to the group, from an illegal arms dump. It was reported shortly afterwards that the UCPMB had renounced violence and committed themselves to pursuing a political settlement of their grievances, although they did continue to crop up in news reports in connection with reports of murders of Serb civilians.


Another widespread assumption helped to shape assessments, before, during and after the bombing, of its likely strategic impact in ‘making the world a safer place’ - namely that the consequences of violence can be confined to visible, physical damage and to the conflict arena itself. What about Russia’s offensive in Chechnya: not, by any means, directly caused by Operation Allied Force but indissociable from what Professor Johan Galtung, director of TRANSCEND, has called “Our geo-political predicament after Nato’s war on Yugoslavia”?

Further afield, even the GAM, the armed rebels fighting for independence in the Indonesian province of Aceh, have been accused of keeping thousands of villagers in refugee camps, blaming their plight on Jakarta, in order to draw outside intervention to their side. New Internationalist’s Anouk Ride reported: “the refugees are being controlled, even created, and their image manipulated into a humanitarian plea for independence.” Last year the tarmac at Banda Aceh airport was bedecked with huge slogans calling for Nato to send its planes to the province.


And in Yugoslavia itself the psychological damage left by the bombing and ethnic cleansing has now driven thousands of non-Albanians from their homes and will keep the international community present on the ground for decades.


Here, too, there must be a degree of co responsibility. Yes, Belgrade’s Spring Pogrom was, as Robert Fisk called it in one of many memorable dispatches for the Independent, an act of “great wickedness.” Yes, it was planned as Operation Horseshoe - but planned as a response to bombing, when Nato’s deployment of the OSCE Extraction Force in Macedonia confirmed that violence was on the agenda and enacted after Rambouillet removed any doubts.


At any rate, it cannot be properly understood on the basis of a ‘black-hat, white-hat’ map of the conflict. The approaches which Conflict and Peace Forums and others are developing are based on the need to transcend this discourse and, therefore, offer audiences a better service in informing them about a complex and dangerous world.






The content of news is shaped by three main influences. One comes from the limits set down by the state, in the form of laws, censorship and access to information. The second is a ‘civic society’ element: journalists are exponents and guardians of values which belong both to everyone and to no-one. These have evolved in implicit dialogue with audiences and the public at large, and develop a little further whenever journalists meet to discuss the ethics and principles of their work - especially if they do so in consultation with professionals from other fields as in the conferences Conflict and Peace Forums have organised over the past few years.


But the factor which has been the focus of most critical endeavour in Western societies is the influence of market forces, including the pattern and identity of media ownership. The approach to conflict coverage advocated here is a demanding one. Although many aspects of it can be built into the most modest pull-together of agency copy and/or pictures back at base, it represents an argument for proper location reporting and the space to convey complexity, two commodities threatened by the conditions of a ferociously competitive global market. These conditions, as experienced by the many professional journalists of good conscience who grapple with the constraints they impose, were characterised by then Observer editor in-chief Will Hutton at the CPF conference in 1999:


“Firstly, there is now a multiplicity of outlets. Two - they want to be heard so they shout to be heard, which coarsens what can be said...and so when you place a phone call to the commissioning editor, often they are just ignorant, actually of some of the points you’re making. And they haven’t got the time to do anything else, either accept the official line, or crudely challenge it head to head...Coming at it from the flank, [trying] to redefine the terms of debate or to declare independence from the herd’s agenda is just not on in this context.”

This publication represents an attempt to enhance journalists’ ability to open up official agendas from the flank, redefine the terms of debate and to differentiate their coverage from that of the herd. But to do so by working through civic society means alone is to risk being swamped by the coarsening, crudifying processes Hutton laments.


As in so many other contexts, the challenge is to rethink the economics of the free market so as to harness them to human needs. There is a certain homology between classical economics and mainstream news as discussed here, so much so that it is possible to see them both as artifacts of the industrial age. Hazel Henderson, the internationally published futurist, describes economics as “the quintessential expression of Sensate values.” She takes a definition of the Sensate value system from Pitirim A Sorokin, a Soviet sociologist who defected under Stalin and later built a successful career at Harvard: “Only what we see, hear, smell, touch and otherwise perceive through our sense organs is real and has value. Beyond such a sensory reality either there is nothing, or if there is something, we cannot sense it; therefore it is equivalent to the non-real and non-existent.” The journalist cuts it down still further: ‘we just report the facts’.

Henderson goes on to argue that economics is politics masquerading as science - the important decisions it makes are about the things it chooses to ‘see, hear, smell, touch and otherwise perceive’. The rest are left out of equations as ‘externalities’. So the profits of, say, an oil company can be calculated without taking into account the costs of clearing up after the damage to the environment wrought by people using its products. These costs are borne by society at large and not entered on the balance sheet.


Similarly, journalists who adhere to ‘reporting the facts’ theory believe their actions bear only the most random, fortuitous and tenuous connections with any real-world consequences - they too are ‘externalities.’ The case made here and by CPF over the past few years is based on examining precisely how particular kinds of newsgathering and reporting decisions can lead to particular kinds of consequences, thus sharpening the sense of responsibility. In economics, the research and campaigning work by a generation of environmental activists and scientists has mapped the effect of productive processes on global commons and given rise to a sophisticated discourse of corporate responsibility.


The rise of ethical purchasing and investment



Expecting companies to change their behaviour purely through goodwill would be the equivalent of hoping for a change in news to arise solely through the civic-society means of dialogue and the cultivation of shared values. Each process stands a good chance of stimulating the large number of committed individuals in their respective fields to do what they can - but without some system change it might not amount to very much.


Henderson herself is at the centre of a process based on obliging corporations to take externalities back into their calculations and behaviour, namely the rise of ethical investment and purchasing. An adviser to the New York-based Calvert Group, the world’s leading ethical investment company, she has led the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators project, devising means to measure economic activity against the needs of sustainable human development. In the foreword to the book of the same name, she sums up the effect of pressure from ethical investors and consumers on corporate processes:


“Only in the past decade have we seen the rise of environmental and ecological economics, full-cost accounting and life-cycle costing for investment purposes.” The Social Investment Forum in New York estimated the total funds invested in the US alone according to socially responsible criteria at US$1.3 Trn in 1998 - and over US$2 Trn by 2000. The pattern of investment and purchasing, the research and development of sophisticated ethical criteria and the change in corporate practices are counterparts in a feedback loop of cause and effect.


The emergence and growth of this phenomenon cannot be understood using free-market economics, according to which people’s behaviour in a market is based on maximising their own monetized self-interest at any given moment. It is this nostrum which brings us constant imperatives to remove barriers to the free expression of that self-interest. Neo-liberalism or The Washington Consensus argues that this is the key to maximising the efficiency of market economies, to the eventual benefit of all.


Inscribed in this is an assumption that ‘self’ is a settled, knowable category of ‘natural’ impulses, which arose logically prior to the social arrangements - what is at stake is the minimum extent to which these impulses need to be restrained. So with mainstream news - what we might, after Henderson, call ‘industrial news’. ‘Just reporting the facts’ contains an assumption that facts are a settled, knowable category, logically prior to the intervention of news. A convenient way to avoid discussing what the journalist chooses to see, hear, smell, touch and otherwise perceive, and to blur the connections between these decisions and real world consequences in a feedback loop of cause and effect.


Hutton, too, in his guise as an economic commentator, has bemoaned “the British economic establishment [which] refuses to accept that financial structures and flows have ‘real’ effects.” In one remarkably prescient piece for the Observer in July 1997, he foresaw Britain’s economic problems of the ensuing three years, in particular job losses associated with a high pound caused by interest rates consistently higher than those in other similar countries.




British interest rates were set in order to keep a check on inflation, and pumped higher by the inbuilt bias in the British economy in favour of consumption over investment. Typical of this was the way mutual financial institutions had been allowed to turn themselves into corporations, portrayed as letting market forces have their head. But:


“The current demutualisation of building societies is going to pump £35 billion of consumer spending into the economy over the next twelve months while it creates a new layer of now demutualised consumer lending institutions. The profitability and stock market standing of these institutions will depend on their lending aggressively to those self-same consumers, thus adding to the institutional structures that favour consumption over investment.”

The economic establishment works with an assumption that ‘financial structures and flows’ evolve in response to market forces, the natural preferences of market actors, to allow their freer expression. Hutton’s argument is that the behaviour of market actors is at least partly constructed by financial structures and flows, just as the argument here is that the behaviour of newmakers is at least partly constructed by the newsgathering and reporting decisions made by journalists.



Two tentative suggestions



Many will know Hutton as the author of a highly important popular economics commentary, The State We’re In, an eloquent and persuasive case for ‘stakeholding’ as a principle on which the UK economy could be rebuilt. A case he renewed in the Observer in the Spring of 2000: “All actors in a capitalist economy should be seen not simply as having individual freedom to do whatever they please, but rather as being at the centre of a reciprocal web of claims and obligations.”

As with news, corporate behaviour may be influenced by the state as well as civic society and the markets, with Hutton’s specific call being for governmental action from New Labour to build these principles into the framework of rules applying to corporate governance. However the specific needs of media companies make journalists and their audiences rightly suspicious of any suggestion of state control.


Which leaves the market - the aggregate of actions taken by consumers and investors - as a means to bring exernalities - the web of reciprocal claims and obligations, or the feedback loop of cause and effect - back into the equation. A tentative suggestion - the principles CPF have been developing could be the basis for a quality of life index for news, able to offer consumers and investors ways of gauging the contribution of news suppliers to sustainable human development before buying them or buying into them.


A second suggestion concerns the potential impact on the content of news of being disseminated by post-industrial means, like the lightwave technology of the Internet. There are familiar dystopian arguments that WAP technology will reduce news to the few headlines people can read from a tiny mobile phone window, or that being able to editorialise for oneself will lead to insatiable demand for an unadulterated diet of sport and sensationalism. But I argued in What Are Journalists For, the predecessor to the current volume, that news could find a role for itself in ‘illuminating the pathways’ by which readers, listeners and viewers could become active in challenging the injustices and inequities brought to their attention by journalists.


Many London newspapers now list the addresses of websites for further reading around the subject covered by any particular piece. Fine if you can spare sufficient extra attention to do so. But the Internet is uniquely equipped to gather together the information about a particular subject in the same space as the means to wield an impact upon it, streamlining the process of activating the engaged conscience. If journalists can bring us a situation report from, say, the Thai-Burmese border, they can tell us, with another click on the same site, about the involvement of commercial interests in perpetuating and worsening the conflict involving the Yangon government and the country’s ethnic minorities.


A further click could bring anything from the text of a letter to send to the management of a company involved, to a list of pension funds which invest in the company (and an information pack from an ethical fund which does not). Or perhaps another click could download a covenant form to make regular donations to a non-governmental organisation working to bring aid to refugees, or a catalogue featuring fair-traded goods made by exiled populations. A means of reconnecting all participants in news - both journalists and their audiences - with a sense of responsibility and a promising investment vehicle, perhaps, for funds applying an ethical screen

to media companies.



5. Appendix – The Middle East



During 1999 and 2000 members of Conflict and Peace Forums held training dialogues with journalists from Middle East countries, assembled using local contacts by the Danish ngo, Severin, and funded by the Danish overseas aid ministry, Danida.


Professionals from Israel, the Palestinian Authority area, Jordan and Egypt discussed the formation of a network for mutual help and support, and ways in which their reporting could enhance the prospects and understanding for peace in the region. They produced a manual with a chapter by the current author, reproduced here, on representations of the Middle East in international media.



Middle East - the view in international media



The Middle East is one of the most important postings for the world’s media, with Jerusalem one of a handful of ‘must-have’ bureaux along with Washington, Moscow, Asia (Beijing or Hong Kong) and Europe (London or Brussels). What predominant view of Middle Eastern affairs do readers, listeners and viewers of international media receive?


Early in 2000, Middle East correspondents were filing background feature material on some of the questions at issue for Israeli and Syrian negotiators, then meeting for face-to-face talks in the USA. The Irish Times, London’s Guardian and The Scotsman were three among many newspapers to focus on the politics of water as one important factor.




David Horovitz of the Irish Times had discovered that “While Israel was talking peace with Syria in West Virginia earlier in the week, at home its national water company was quietly drilling new wells to access underground aquifers in the Golan Heights, pumping out millions of cubic metres of water that would otherwise have flowed into Syria.”

The effect of this is to configure the conflict as a tug-of-war, characterised in the phrase, “would otherwise have flowed into Syria.” Any inch gained by one side - in this case, millions of cubic metres of water - can only be the same inch lost by the other, a narrative which requires a clear winner and an equally unambiguous loser.


The word, “quietly” suggests a hidden agenda to scupper the chances of a settlement, leading Horovitz to conclude: “This revelation is likely to make the already tough negotiations about the Heights even trickier for Syria, at a moment when Israeli opposition to any withdrawal from Syrian territory is growing.”

The Guardian’s Ilene Prusher filed a fascinating dispatch from Ma’ale Gamla in the Golan about an expatriate English family, the Eastons, who had emigrated in the early 1970s. The “rolling, green hills” and “damp smell of a recent rain” made their adoptive home eerily reminiscent of the Old Country, Prusher wrote. The idea of handing the Golan back to Syria was “a hard concept for the Eastons to swallow, and one they say they will fight as best they can.”

Prusher penetrated beyond this position to enquire into the issues, the goals of the parties as they bear upon the lived experience of people in the conflict arena, in this case the Eastons themselves. Mr Easton was studying for a PhD in fish ecology and spent his days “surveying the quality of fish life in the sea of Galilee at the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Company.”

He too was worried about water supply. Prusher quotes him: “I can see the Syrians building large pumping stations or taking water from the Jordan after a peace agreement is reached, and nobody will be able to stop them... That could very seriously affect our water, and 40% of the nation’s supply is from the Kinneret [Sea of Galilee]. In an area where water is of major strategic value, it should be that they have absolutely no access to the Kinneret or the Jordan in the peace agreement.”

To focus on the Eastons and their concerns in isolation represents a set of newsgathering and reporting decisions which also configure the conflict as a tug-of-war. One party stands to gain access to the Jordan and the Sea of Galilee - the other to lose it, as Mr Easton avers. While Irish Times readers might have gleaned the impression that Israel wanted to ‘steal Syria’s water’, Guardian readers could have come away thinking that Syria wanted to ‘steal Israel’s water’.


The interesting perspective comes from reporting both at the same time, as I have done here. If all parties - Israel, Syria, the Golan residents - have concerns about losing ‘their’ water, then it seems to make less sense to seek the emergence of one ‘winner’ as a solution. We are more likely to see the conflict as a shared set of problems requiring a shared solution - as in the Israeli-Palestinian track where water is one of the final status issues, as yet unresolved but at least framed in such a way as to acknowledge the common challenge facing the parties to devise a sustainable water regime for the whole region.


There was another clue to this in the Scotsman report, by Matt Rees from Hamat Gader and focussing on one individual, Yoav Tsur, who made his living by harnessing another common resource, in a wind farm. Interestingly he was picked out because he represented a breach in the bipolar conflict model, an Israeli citizen and Golan resident who had nevertheless been campaigning for a settlement in which the territory would revert to Syrian control. As Rees notes, most Golan residents voted for Ehud Barak as Israeli PM, despite his promise to make “painful concessions” on the Golan. Mr Tsur’s son was a commando about to go to the front line in Lebanon, giving him another reason to support peace: “We are fighting a stupid war in Lebanon just to avoid giving back the Golan,” he tells Rees.


Perhaps most interestingly of all, Rees reports that Mr Tsur’s home is near “the hot springs at Hamat Gader... Bathers have reclined in the sulphurous water since the Romans built the first baths here at the southern tip of the Golan Heights. It is the biggest single tourist attraction for Israelis. More than a million come here each year. But even many members of the kibbutzes that own the baths are ready to pack their bags, if it means peace.”

So this is a water resource, a much-loved amenity, which cannot be packaged up and taken away by one side or another - to retain its value, it must stay where it is. Access to it after a settlement may remain to be resolved, but it cannot be ‘stolen’ in the sense of being removed. Any attempt by anyone to do so would simply destroy it.


Taken together, these three reports place many parties to this conflict on the same ‘map’ - Israel and Syria as represented by their governments, meeting in the US; Golan residents; the families of Israeli soldiers on active service in Lebanon; owners and users of the hot springs. To do this, and to enquire beyond their positions into the lived experiences of each, effectively configures the conflict as a ‘round table’ where problems and solutions must be shared.


Taken individually, each of the first two reports, from the Irish Times and London Guardian, places only two parties on the map. The only shape connecting two points is a straight line, so the conflict can only be configured as a tug-of-war. The third piece, from the Scotsman, is more

interesting, but as yet untypical of representations of the Middle East in international media. A good reason for continuing contact between the most aware and sophisticated players in local media and representatives of international news organisations.






Johan Galtung’s work on conflict analysis and transformation and peace studies runs to over a hundred books – one of the most radically important intellectual projects of the twentieth century. An introduction to his thinking, together with directions to further reading, can be found at the website of the TRANSCEND network of invited scholars and practitioners for peace and development:


Jan Oberg’s observations on the Kosovo conflict come from his recent pamphlet Preventing Peace. This and the highly illuminating set of media releases from his Transnational Futures Foundation can be found at


Hazel Henderson’s powerful and stimulating work on the shortcomings of classical economics and the need for something better is perhaps best represented by one of her many books: The Politics of the Solar Age (Knowledge Systems inc, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1988).



About the Author



Jake Lynch currently works as a freelance correspondent for Sky News. During the Kosovo Crisis he was based at NATO headquarters. Recently co-presented training dialogues with local journalists in the Middle East, Indonesia, Norway, Germany and the Caucasus, introducing them to ideas contained in this report. Author of What Are Journalists For? Former Sydney Correspondent, The Independent. Later this year will teach an MA module at Sydney University, and train UN staff in Geneva.



About the publisher



Conflict and Peace Forums run events all year round to generate new ideas and practical approaches to conflict transformation and its application to other professions. The forums are aimed at governmental and non-governmental groups, conflict workers, journalists, policymakers, economists and the business community who come together in a variety of fora to discuss conflict and to create a practical model of cooperation for local and global interests.


Primarily Conflict and Peace Forums are an independent think-tank for finding creative solutions to end centuries of war in the search for a Millennium of Peace.



Conflict and Peace forums include:



  • Conferences
  • Publications
  • Training courses at Taplow Court
  • Training courses in conflict zones
  • Academic courses
  • International video conferencing workshops
  • Round table discussions
  • Media Consultancy



Recent Conferences:


  • May, 2000 - Corporate Citizenship in the 21st Century What can Business do for Peace and Sustainable Development? With  Professor Johan Galtung, father of peace studies; Hazel Henderson, author ‘Building a Win Win World’ and ‘The Politics of the Solar Age; Anita Roddick: founder of The Body Shop and New Academy of Business.


  • ·        March, 2000 - Between the Wars: Role of the media and international community in incipient and unfashionable conflicts. With Nick Stockton, Oxfam; Tim Judah; Tom de Waal. In conjunction with Twenty-First Century Trust.
  • ·        August, 1999 - After Violence: Reconstruction, Reconciliation and Resolution, a training course with Professor Johan Galtung
  • ·        September 1999, News for a New Century. Examining the role of news in the cycle of events driving the development of conflicts. With: Will Hutton, then Editor-in-chief, the Observer; Danny Schechter, award-winning US TV producer, executive producer of Globalvision and founder of The Media Channel Internet supersite ; aid worker Larry Hollingworth & Phillip Knightley, author, The First Casualty.


Some assessments of previous publications, the Peace Journalism Option and What Are Journalists For?:


“Journalists have the power to entrench divisions between people or to contribute to healing them. This highly original document contains many fascinating proposals for discharging the responsibility that brings.” Clare Short MP, Secretary of State for International Development.


“Much the most interesting thing about journalism I’ve read for a long time.” George Eykyn, BBC correspondent.


“A brilliant production. I would support it completely.” Adam Curle, professor emeritus, Bradford University. 


Conflict and Peace forums have a variety of sponsors including:


  • Department for International Development
  • Polden Puckham Charitable Foundation
  • Buddhist Society for the Creation of Value (SGI-UK)
  • Freedom Forum
  • The Millennium Fund


Conflict and Peace forums have partnered with:


  • TRANSCEND Peace and development network
  • United Nations, Geneva
  • 21st Century Trust
  • International Federation of Journalists
  • National Union of Journalists
  • Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Sydney
  • Toda Peace Institute, Tokyo
  • The Tate Modern





C&P Future Events at Taplow Court, 2000:



October 25-29 Power of the Arts: An ongoing research project exploring the growing role and function of the arts in personal and social development. Over five days it will gather together an international group of arts and science practitioners, academics and policy makers as well as educationalists and journalists who will, at a variety of levels:


·         ·        Examine how the arts stimulate, liberate – or in some cases – proscribe creativity

·         ·        Explore the relationship between the arts and the mind and the significance for our emotional life

·         ·        Question the role of the arts as a vehicle for spirituality and a synthesiser of cosmic truths

·         ·        Acknowledge and demonstrate the growing importance of the idea of creativity at the core of policy making – in health, education, conflict transformation, business and more

·         ·        Look at the ways this new emphasis is beginning to affect our social behaviour – not only in public life but in our workplace, relationships and families - and second guess future development




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