By Michael Greenwell*
• It came as a slight relief to see at least some measured coverage of Donald Trump’s recent visit to South Korea. Sections of the media have been predicting World War III – and focusing on barbed and incendiary comments between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jon-un – so stories that take a more measured tone should be welcomed … by everyone.
North Korea has now launched another ballistic missile, and further doomsday journalism could inflame current hostilities in the region. Any positive influence to avoid actual military action and encourage all nations to stick to a peaceful, negotiated resolution is in the whole world’s interest.
The US president missed the press opportunity to stand at the border of North Korea on his recent trip, and it’s encouraging that he didn’t glower at the checkpoint, eyeballing his opponent like a boxer before a fight. It may well be helpful if he now tempers his reaction to the most recent launch. So far, he has said: “We will take care of it.”
Close analysis of events through the lens of Peace Journalism can help theorise when media coverage may have helped escalate or deescalate conflict. Peace Journalism aims to improve the conditions for peace through a considered editorial approach and practice. It is a means to peace.
Johan Galtung first theorised the notion of Peace Journalism in contrast to the notion of “War Journalism”. War Journalism foregrounds violence and body counts. Today, Jake Lynch and Annabel McGoldrick are leading proponents of Peace Journalism and adopt a critical, realist perspective when looking at the drivers of War Journalism. Lynch practices journalism that foregrounds marginalised voices in favour of dominant actors, provides accurate context and history – instead of polarised, short-term narratives – and presents peaceful options over grievances and violence.
So how can the media provide coverage that supports peaceful ends and addresses structural inequalities?
* Lecturer, School of Arts & Humanities, Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism, Nottingham Trent University
Michael Greenwell does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.