Kempf, Wilhelm

Peace Journalism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the German press and the German public




Umfang & Ausstattung
Erschienen 10/2011
ISSN & Heft-No. 1611-1818_72


The present paper discusses the potentials and limitations of Peace Journalism (PJ) and exemplifies them with the results of (1) a recent survey of the mental models (individual frames) according to which Germans interpret the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, (2) a comparative analysis of the German press coverage of the second Intifada and the Gaza War, and (3) an experimental study on how the German public copes with the frames that are offered by the media.
According to the author’s understanding, PJ is not a variant of advocacy journalism, but a means to fulfil the quality norms of journalism in cases of conflict and crisis. Most journalists try to do their best to produce quality journalism. Since they share the same beliefs as the rest of society, however, in an antagonistic situation they often end up with one-sided coverage that does not live up to these norms. The only way out of this dilemma is to learn to accept facts before they are interpreted. Accordingly,
the first rule for journalists who aim to facilitate such a process of social learning is to mistrust the plausible, and the second rule is, to ask the right questions.
In order to accomplish this, journalists need to refrain from the media’s focus on negative news, they need to refrain from a superficial balancing of their reports, and they need to avoid over-simplification. If they succeed, they will find an audience that appreciates their coverage as less biased than conventional war reporting. If news recipients already side with one party or the other, however, they may reject PJ as biased in favor of the opposing party. Nonetheless, in the long-run PJ may contribute to a society’s co-construction of reality in a more beneficial and productive way.