Peace Journalism


Dietrich Fischer – TRANSCEND Media Service

Johan Galtung is often asked to define peace journalism. In the most concise way, he says, it is to ask two questions (in addition to the usual questions like how many bombs were dropped, how many buildings destroyed, who is winning, etc.):

“What is the conflict about, and what could be the solutions?”

If George W. Bush were asked, “What is the conflict with Iraq about?”, he would probably reply, “It is a struggle between good and evil.” “Would you like to expand on that?” “No.” “What is the solution?” “To crush evil!” “Would you like to expand on that?” “No.” If he were asked this twenty times, and quoted each time, he could not get away with it forever. Bush is being under-quoted.

In the 18th century, we had “disease journalists” who reported in detail how epidemics were spreading and how people suffered, but little was known about cures and little reported. Today we have “health journalists” who write about current research on new cures for diseases, and healthy lifestyles that help prevent disease.

The time has come for “peace journalists” to write not only about war, but also about its causes, prevention, and ways to restore peace. They need not invent solutions to conflicts themselves–in the same way as health journalists need not invent cures for diseases themselves; they ask specialists.

Similarly, peace journalists can ask various peace organizations and mediators about their ideas for preventing or ending a violent conflict, and report about it. Health pages in newspapers are very popular, and it can be anticipated that the same will be true for reporting about peace proposals, once they become available.

People thirst for peace. All we ask is “Give peace a page.”


Dietrich Fischer, born in 1941 in Münsingen, Switzerland, got a Licentiate in Mathematics from the University of Bern 1968 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University 1976. 1986-88 he was a MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security at Princeton University. He has taught mathematics, computer science, economics and peace studies at various universities and been a consultant to the United Nations.

Excerpted from Dietrich Fischer’s Stories to Inspire You – TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 6 Apr 2015.

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