The relationship between war, journalism and the media has always been problematic. Soon after the daily newspaper arose, war-making elites began to censor the press and/or to instrumentalize it for their purposes (and later other media as well). Journalists have also always considered themselves fighters on the propaganda front. At the same time, however, there have also always been critical journalists who have not let themselves be instrumentalized, who have not abjured the ideal of truthful and impartial reportage, even under massive social pressure; and some have even given their lives to uphold the right to free speech.
As well in communication and media studies, propaganda and war reportage are of enduring interest. Every new war stimulates a mass of social-scientific studies; some serve the optimization of propaganda; increasingly, however, there are also studies that investigate the unholy alliance of military and media and/or expose the actual lack of differences between war reportage and propaganda.
Only toward the end of the last millennium, however, did peace researchers, journalists and media creators begin to systematically think about how the potential of the media could be used not to fuel conflicts, but rather to encourage peaceful conflict settlement and in the end perhaps even contribute to reconciliation between conflict parties.
What was initially still an academic project quickly developed into a type of movement that united under the slogan of "peace journalism" in part quite heterogeneous efforts, ranging from social-scientific basic research to case studies to current and topical war and post-war reportage by the media to further educational and training courses for journalists.
The present and the next two issues of conflict & communication online are dedicated to a critical evaluation of the state of these efforts. The first two issues present theoretical approaches (Vol. 5, No. 2, October 2006), as well as case studies and instructional material (Vol. 6, No. 1, April 2007), whose development was sponsored by the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research. The authors, in part scientists, in part practitioners, are among the most prominent representatives of the peace journalism project. In the third issue (Vol. 6, No. 2, October 2007), critics of peace journalism have their say. With the title "The peace journalism controversy," an exchange of words takes place between proponents and opponents of peace journalism. For critics, we were fortunate to obtain contributions from two high-ranking authors, BBC journalist David Loyn and media researcher Thomas Nahitzsch from the TU-Ilmenau.

Konstanz - Berlin
October 2006

Wilhelm Kempf

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