peace techniquesThe media, and particularly radio in Africa, plays a significant role in pouring either water or oil on the flames of different conflicts. Although specific peacebuilding techniques do exist, they are neither widely known nor commonly used. Radio professionals positive attitudes towards these techniques and their willingness to use them can assist in preventing and defusing conflicts. They can also contribute to the improvement of the approach and to its adaptability to local realities.
In many cases, broadcasters make no attempt to find common ground or to encourage non-adversarial approaches, often simply because they are unaware of these techniques. Many believe that audiences find conflict sexy, and problem-solving boring. However, after a year of searching we find no statistical proof for this claim. Raising awareness of peacebuilding techniques can rectify this situation.
Below are examples of peacebuilding techniques that can be used in talk and news radio programmes. Some of these techniques can be applied to other radio formats.
Examples of peacebuilding techniques for talk show programmes:
Examples of peacebuilding techniques for news journalism:
- Listening for yes statements, and inviting all sides of the debate to identify and examine their assumptions
- Questioning assumptions to encourage flexibility, looking at an issue from all sides, and exploring areas of common ground
- Challenging stereotypes by examining pockets of uncertainty, encouraging parties to move out of the past and into the future
- Inviting all participants to share their hopes and dreams, and describing a future vision where everyone feels the situation is improved
- Promoting dignity by reframing issues in respectful and non-judgemental language
- Humanising involved parties, getting to the opinions and feelings behind them
- Differentiating between positions and interests
- Finding other affected people who are opposed to violence and including their views
- Giving ordinary people the opportunity to voice their opinions as well as politicians and officials
- Reporting on shared interests and goals which may reveal common ground between the opposing factions
- Treating all sides suffering as equally newsworthy
- Quoting people when words like "devastated", "tragedy", "terrorized" are used to describe what has been done to one group rather than using these words yourself
- Using words precisely. Using strong language carefully: e.g. "assassination" is the murder of a head of state and no-one else; "massacre" is the deliberate killing of innocent, unarmed civilians; "genocide" is attempting to kill an entire people, race, ethnic or religious group
- Calling people what they call themselves rather than using words like "terrorist", "extremist" or "fanatic", which make the other side seem impossible to negotiate with
- Giving the name of anyone who states their opinion to make clear that it is their opinion and not a fact
- Finding alternative voices to propose solutions rather than only depending on the leaders and officials
- Presenting alternative solutions to the leaders and reporting their responses
- Differentiating between your own opinions and facts