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Role Of The Mass Media To Conflict Resolution

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The role played by media in conflicts has been an issue of discussion all over the world. Although media influence has increased tremendously in the last decade, researchers are yet to agree on the degree and magnitude of its influence in conflicts.

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This research investigated the role of the media in the management of conflict in the Tuabodom area of Ghana. Past two decades or more several parts of Ghana have been afflicted with communal conflict. The Ghanaian media as most conflicts in the nation, mostly on ethnic level has not felt much of the impact of the media in the resolution of the conflict. (Ronald Osei Mensah, 2017 )

For this reason, the study evaluate the media’s role in Tuabodom conflict, to observe the perception of residence about the media’s role in managing conflict and also to determine achievable policy recommendation. Primarily, they used questionnaires and interviews to collect data. For collecting secondary data, they used internet, literatures on conflict and the media, archival findings and other related works. This data exposed that, major conflicts in some parts of Ghana happened through the media of which Tuabodom area is of no exception. (Ronald Osei Mensah, 2017 )

Therefore, media should play an active role for managing this conflict. It could be done by adopting a multi-dimensional approach in educating the public about conflict and its resolution. Beside this, their panels used for discussions on radio and television programmers should be decorous in their choice of words and be tolerant in others views when given the appropriate medium. The researcher found that, media could be playing a role to create conflict, in the same it could resolve it. (Ronald Osei Mensah, 2017)

This research studied on the nature of media in resolving conflicts and media’s possibilities in conflicts transformation. Media is a powerful tool which could be used made a peaceful coexistence among citizens during conflicts and encouraging them to participating national development agendas. Besides this, media plays an important role in reunion and transformation processes of conflicts which are the most effective results. (Korir Geoffrey Kiplimo and Sr. Dr. Justin Nabushawo, 2015)

This study suggested that, the media goes further than conflict resolution and support of peace building initiatives by also addressing underlying issues that ignite and fuel violence. And also, the media advocates for peace arrangements after a planned and/or unplanned eruption of violence. Moreover, the media educates individuals on the probable causes of conflicts, the possible reasons for violence and the need for conflicts resolution. Furthermore, the media prevents a failure in conflicts resolution by ensuring that its journalists steer themselves away from ethnic prejudices. (Korir Geoffrey Kiplimo and Sr. Dr. Justin Nabushawo, 2015)

End of the war in 2009, Sri Lanka witnesses a peaceful atmosphere. Suddenly, it was disturbed with the recent uprising occurring in the wake of a disputed private sector pension scheme at Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ). Although the government media points its fingers at some political parties over the clash between thousands of workers and the police at the Katunayake FTZ, the protest campaign seemed to reflect the workers ‘own fear and distrust of the Pension Bill, introduced by the government for private sector workers. A young worker died and hundreds were injured because of police gunfire, enraging trade unions, opposition parties and the critical public including some sectors that even supported the ruling regime. Reacting to this emerging opposition, the Rajapaksa regime has had to be on the defensive for the first time since its victory over the LTTE, and was forced to retract the present Pension Bill and promised a new one. However, the death of Roshen Chanaka made the co-workers ignite anger and frustration against the police who shot him. The government and the opposition parties cast blame on each other for causing this conflict in the first place. (HETTIARACHCH)

In a situation of conflict, the local media can play a major role in preventing the conflict. The public relies on the media to separate facts and tangible realities from assumptions and spin, to provide a reliable account of what is really going on. Audiences should receive an intelligent account that enables them to form their own views. However, it is believed that the media largely failed to deliver on this promise. In this research, the main aim was to investigate how local media behaved in news reporting on this situation. (HETTIARACHCH)

The researcher found that, the print media have built-in agenda and they represent these personal/political agendas and/or biases when they report facts. The study discloses the fact that it was the ownership of the media that decided what, when, where, why and how to report like our country. According to the findings, two newspapers used subtle propaganda techniques representing intentional dissemination of their ̳claims ‘to support/ justify both governments and JVP‘s political actions or ideologies regarding the Katunayake incident. Their biased reported facts with no reliable account of sources and all parties involved in the conflict represented propaganda journalism and seemed to expose their untruths‘ or ̳help cover ups‘ according to propaganda-oriented journalism. (HETTIARACHCH)

On the other hand, the other newspaper among the three covered unbiassed story. Though it was not very neutral as they were should be, neutral reporting about the incident could make readers more confused about where the truth lay and more likely to doubt their own ability to ever determine. (HETTIARACHCH)

The context of 2007/08 Kenya’s election coverage and post-election conflict revealed that media has a ‘double-edge’ role in electoral conflict situation. The conflict de-escalation role was played by nationwide mainstream stations while the conflict escalation role was more predominant with vernacular (local) media stations. Additionally, people’s response to conflict coverage is influenced by their age, gender and social status as human variables. (Chebii, December2015)

This study showed that, there was any significant variation in hours spent on media as majority of residents spent between 30mins to 3 hours on media per day. However, there is a slight significant variation amongst favorite media/prints. The study also found that media greatly played conflict escalation roles during the 2007 general election and subsequent 2007/08 PEV. Some of the roles included; encouraging hate speeches to greater extent; running parallel tallying centres etc. The study concludes that media significantly influenced people based on age factor; highly influence people based on gender factor; high influence on people based on religious factor; moderately influence people based on status factor and low influence on people based on residence factor. (Chebii, December2015)

Therefore, to mitigate conflicts, a common approach to conflict reporting should be designed and followed to. Moreover, there need to be strict rules and control of vernacular (local) FM stations which are prone to manipulation by political party. This should be coupled with training of journalists on conflict reporting and development of a standard conflict reporting procedure. Lastly, media houses should be discouraged from running parallel tallying centres, a mandate reserved for valid electoral body. (Chebii, December2015)

This paper is an investigation of conflict and the media and the society in which it subsists. Africa has become a hot bed of conflict. However, it essentially examines the media in Nigeria vis -a – viz its traditional role of informing, educating and entertaining the masses. It further studies on how the media in Nigeria can use these roles in line with the social responsibility theory to promote peace through conflict resolution in the society (AFRICA).

The paper suggests other roles that, in the social responsibility theory that can be employed by it in ensuring the resolution of conflict. Some of them are, accurate reporting and interpretation of events and conflicts, playing the linkage role, the role of surveillance, consensus building, understanding the society and transmission of values etc (AFRICA).

The paper concludes in part with the belief that the media in Nigeria and Africa must fully emancipate itself from attachment to foreign traditions and practices and the preferences for foreign concepts of news if it must contribute to the processes of conflict resolution. This is in addition to entrenching principles which underscore agenda for peace in the minds of the people. (AFRICA)

31 October 2020

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