Guidelines for Peace Reporting

Aug 14, 2008 in Specialized Topics

The Institute on War and Peace Reporting

Six Duties

I. Duty to understand conflict:

A. We have an obligation to study and understand conflict and conflict resolution generally before reporting on it.

B. We should understand how conflicts develop and how resolutions can emerge; we should know about the "rules of war" as well as something about peace studies and the evolution of resolutions.

C. This is the same with any specialised or “beat” reporting.
i. We would never report on medical issues, for example, without trying to understand and reading up on the science and technology of it at least a little.
ii. Why should conflict and conflict resolution be any different?

II. Duty to report fairly:

A. We have an obligation to report on the conflict fairly and in a balanced way.
i. We must make every effort to report the complexities and opinions of all factions and sub-factions in a conflict.
ii. We should always make our own allegiances clear. As journalists, we must let the reader know where we stand if we are on any one side.

B. Again, this is true of any type of reporting journalists do.

III. Duty to report background and causes of conflicts:

A. We should accurately represent both the legitimate and perceived grievances of all parties.

B. We must remember, and remind our readers, that even perceived grievances are important to perpetuating and resolving conflicts.

IV. Duty to present the human side:

A. We have an obligation to represent their trauma and the human stories of all the conflict’s victims in a balanced, professional and non-exploitative manner.

B. This is an obligation we have not only to those people we are reporting on but also to our readers.

V. Duty to report on peace efforts:

A. We should report on the efforts of those working on peace and reconciliation every bit as much as those who exacerbate the conflict.

B. We should actively seek out sources outside the primary belligerents, especially those who break from simplistic, bipolar interpretation of events. This expands our understanding and our readers’ understanding of the conflict.

C. This does not mean taking sides or “propagandising for peace”; it simply means reporting on peace efforts as well as war efforts.

VI. Duty to recognise our influence:

A. We should always be aware that our reporting will affect the conflict and the lives of people in it.

B. We should be ever vigilant to avoid being used by one side or the other in their war efforts and to expose those attempts at media manipulation if so found.