THE ROLE OF MEDIA IN CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION – RESEARCH PROPOSAL
The Role of Media in Conflict Transformation – Research Proposal
Chapter One: Introduction
The objective of the research is to analyze the role of the media in conflict transformation. In addition, the research seeks to enlighten governments and humanitarian organizations on how they can leverage the media to promote peace in their areas. Countries such as Pakistan would benefit from understanding the role of the media in conflict transformation. Pakistan experiences challenges of sectarianism, ethnicity, and political turmoil (Khalid, 2019). Different geographical towns uphold varying forms of cultural and social values with different political and religious parties. The differences create an environment of hatred which has adversely impacted the Pakistan’s economy (Khalid, 2019). In the case of Pakistan, the media can be leveraged by the Pakistan government as well as humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF to spread messages of peace and harmony.
The beginning of the mass media era in the 16th century was characterized by the dominant printing press in Europe. Ever since, the media field has experienced rapid progress and innovation globally (Riaz, 2017). The rise in technology use and multiple technology advancements have transformed mass media to become an informative, influential, and educative source. The 21st century mass media possesses significant powers that can tear down governments, fuel conflict, or shame multi-national corporations (Riaz, 2017). The strategies employed during reporting have the ability to make the guilty seem innocent and the innocent guilty (Meyer, Baden and Frère, 2018). Due to the significant power held by the mass media, states place regulations to prevent them from becoming rogue anarchists. The challenge comes in when media groups traverse state boundaries. For instance, international media groups are oblivious to state regulations of mass media (Meyer et al. 2018) As a result, it becomes a tool or rather a toy that can be used to fuel violence, hatred, or peace. With such power comes the need to analyze whether the media can be utilized in conflict transformation as easy as it is used in fuelling violence.
Research Proposal Outline
Chapter One: Introduction: The introductory chapter provides the objective of the study. It outlines the problem statement as well as the importance of conducting the study.
Chapter Two: Literature Review: It provides an analysis of the academic sources that will be utilized to form the theoretical background of the study while providing perspectives on the importance of the media and how the media is used to fuel conflict. The literature review chapter assists in identifying the primary research question of the research project.
Chapter Three: Methodology and Conclusion: This chapter provides the research method that will be utilized in conducting the project. Particularly, it provides the research design, data collection, as well as data analysis methods. It will also identify the risks involved and the need for ethical approval before conducting the research.
Chapter Two: Literature Review
This chapter analyzes existing and reliable literature on media and their role in escalations as well as management of conflict.
2.0 The General Role of Media in Conflict
Ukka and Kombate (2019) points out that the media promotes peace journalism or war journalism during conflict. Peace journalism encompasses the analysis of the root cause of conflict. It zooms in to identify the cause of the conflict based on information provided by both sides and moves to determine ways of reducing or managing the conflict. Ukka and Kombate (2019) goes ahead to state that peace journalism upholds facts and does not focus on the winner or loser of the conflict. Instead, it seeks to bring to light the facts and examine the reality of the situation. On the contrary, war journalism is focused on keeping the environment of hatred and violence alive. Riaz (2017) points out that war journalism does not begin before the war. It starts after the wat and bases it propaganda on a specific side. It is essential to understand that it seeks to make the facts and reality about the war opaque to avoid the parties involved coming to a decision of making peace (Schoemaker and Stremlau, 2014). The focus of war journalism is having a winner and loser regardless of the extent of damage that takes place. Schoemaker and Stremlau (2014) reveals the decline in reporting after the existing conflict is resolved without trying to understand the real cause of the conflict. As a result, it leaves the wound caused by the conflict sore which is likely to bleed again or heal at a decreasing rate.
2.1 War Journalism
Payne (2005) notes that a significant share of research has been directed to the role of media in social, political, and economic issues leaving its impact on conflict under researched. The number of ongoing conflicts today is at a lower level as compared to the cold war period. The Conflict Data Project reports the status of armed conflict and organized crime. For the period between mid-1990 and 2001, the conflict data project reported an approximate of 34 ongoing armed conflicts with the most affected continent being Africa (Aslam, 2014). Orgeret and Tayeebwa (2016) notes that the period of the Vietnam War was evidence of the power of the media on the American population. During the Vietnam War, Orgeret and Tayeebwa (2016) notes that the American military intervened to ensure peace restoration. However, the media was allowed in the war zones due lack of state regulations. Puddephatt (2006) goes ahead to note that journalists provided first hand pictures and information from the warzones which depicted how the American military was finding it difficult to fulfil their objective. On the other hand, the American government had been feeding its population with hopeful information contrary to what journalists in the warzone communicated (Puddephatt, 2006). As a result, the Congress and public withdrew their support for the foreign intervention policy by the United States.
Pedde (2017) identifies the Libyan Civil War as an example of war journalism. As aforementioned in the definition, war journalism seeks to promote the winner and shame the loser. In addition, it seeks to hide the facts and the primary reason behind the war from the public. Elmahjub (2014) identifies that the Libyan Civil War was placed in a similar category with the revolutions of Tunisia and Egypt. However, the author goes ahead to mention that what most people failed to identify was that the Libyan revolution was violent from the start. Prior to the civil war, Pedde (2017) notes that most Libyan newspapers were indirectly or directly owned by the government. In addition, the Libyan government had placed one state broadcaster to ensure that it could control the form of information being passed to the media.
Research reveals that most international organizations understood the power of the media during the Libyan Civil War. The presence of social media networks rendered it easier for people to share first hand graphic pictures and information with the international community (Elmahjub, 2014). In addition, people shared videos of previous attacks perpetrated by Muammar Gaddafi which fuelled a significant share of the international community to believing that he did not deserve to rule over Libya. The rate at which people shared the real-timing of Muammar Gaddafi’s assassination with the international community was adequate proof that the media had the power to influence people’s views and perceptions.
2.2 Peace Journalism
The media holds the power to influence conflict transformation. Bosnia experienced a period of war that saw the death of a significant share of its population. Research observes that the media had the power to promote peace but they chose to fuel ethnic conflict (Aslam, 2014). However, Kuusik (2010) points out that the Open Broadcast Network is a Bosnian media network that has worked to push for messages of peace. Bratić (2005) states that the Open Broadcast Network was opened as a result of an agreement between Croats, Serbs, as well as Bosnians in an attempt to end the long-term conflict. With the numerous propaganda messages spread countrywide, Open Broadcast Network upheld an unbiased media plan that involved the push of messages of peace and reconciliation (Bratić, 2005). Prior to the initiation of the Open Broadcast Network, Bosnian media networks passed information based on the war journalism propaganda.
The case of Bosnia and the United States during the Vietnam War depicts the significant influence of the media on its population. Valenzuela (2002) states that regardless of the evidence of its power, there still exists difficulties in researching the influence of media in conflict transformation. First, it is dangerous for researchers to specialize in the research on conflict-stricken areas due to the hostility of its occupants (Valenzuela, 2002). Also, researching on conflict management demands substantial resources which most researchers like. This explains why most researchers are inclined towards analyzing the impact of media in social, economic, or political systems. Second, mass communication possesses the ability to reach a wider population. However, Aho (2004) notes that a wider population gives notable information but it becomes difficult to assess the real impact. Third, Aho (2004) ascertains that there are no global standards that define or specify the term good or effective communication when dealing with conflict. Consequently, it becomes difficult to gauge the existing strategies of managing conflict or preventing the occurrence of one.
The primary research question of the project will be:
Does the media have a far-reaching impact on conflict transformation?
Chapter Three: Methodology and Conclusion
Research methods are an opportunity for promoting intellectual growth. Walliman (2017) ascertains that effective research methods are acquired through being attentive to the data collection and analysis process which demands innovative thinking. Walliman (2017) mentions that the research questions allow researchers to select the most appropriate research method to ensure the gathering of reliable data.
3.1 Research Design
This research project will employ a systematic review research design of articles to answer the primary research question; Does the media have the power to play a role in conflict transformation? Williams (2007) defines systematic review as the analysis of identified peer-reviewed journal articles to inform a particular study. The benefits of implementing a systematic review research design is that it is less costly. Most university students lack adequate financial resources to utilize certain research designs. The systematic review research design involves searching for journal articles based on a given set of criteria from a number of databases. Second, systematic reviews are more accurate and reliable as compared to individual studies (Williams, 2007). The studies being analyzed are already conducted and the researcher is aware of the existing research gaps. Therefore, researchers have the capability of making effective deductions. Finally, systematic reviews take less time as compared to research projects that involve new studies (Williams, 2007). As aforementioned, the studies are already conducted and the results are already provided. Researchers are only required to examine the results and the research gaps to make conclusive deductions.
3.2 Data Collection
The journal articles utilized in the systematic review will be garnered from reliable databases such as ProQuest, EBSCO, Google Scholar, and Emerald Insight. The keywords that will be utilized in identifying reliable articles include conflict, conflict transformation, media, and peace building. The identification of reliable articles will be based on a given set of inclusion and exclusion criteria. The inclusion criteria will include articles in English, those dated between 2012 to date, and the articles need have full access. Based on the research topic, the study cannot rely only on information provided in abstracts for journal articles with limited access. Also, journal articles before 2012 and those in other languages besides English will be excluded from the study.
The analytical step in this study will adopt a content analysis approach. By definition, content analysis is the process by which researchers identify the existence of particular themes, words, or concepts in the utilized studies (Mohajan, 2018). Content analysis allows researchers to assess, understand, and put forth analytical information in a reliable format. Mohajan (2018) affirms that content analysis encompasses critically identifying major themes in identified studies. Taking into consideration the primary research question, the objective is to understand the power of the media in managing conflict. The studies identified in the systematic review process will be analyzed for matching themes and content to ensure that researchers can spot a pattern in the provided findings.
3.3 Reliability and Validity
Young and Hren (2009) affirms that the reliability and validity of a research creates the difference between poor and reliable research. A research’ reliability and validity allows readers to accept the analysis and findings provided as trustworthy and credible. The reliability and validity of a research is of utmost importance in qualitative studies. This is because researchers are bound to portray subjectivity when analyzing numerous studies and cloud the real implication of the research (Young and Hren, 2009). The reliability and validity of this study is highly reliant on the documentation of the project. In addition, it will rely on the ability of researchers to assess, critique, as well as interpret the findings of the systematic review. Finally, the researchers will uphold an objective stance in the course of the research to ensure that the study lack personal bias.
3.4 Ethical reflection
Research ethics is a critical topic in conducting studies. According to Mohajan (2018), abiding by the research ethical guidelines allow researchers to promote the aims or objectives of the research. Second, all research projects have supporting values. Therefore, abiding by the ethical guidelines guarantees researchers support of the values required for an effective research. Research ethics is strongly emphasized in scientific studies, more so, those that involve the use of human subjects (Young and Hren, 2009). However, that does not in any way imply that qualitative studies should be lenient in upholding research ethics.
Mohajan (2018) determines that research ethics in conducting systematic reviews is rarely analyzed. The author points out that researchers should be keen to determine if the authors of the utilized journal articles were keen to abide to the ethical guidelines. Failure to abide to the provided ethical guidelines of research renders the information provided unreliable (Young and Hren, 2009). This is because the results provided were acquired through an unreliable way. In this case, the researchers will be keen to ensure that all utilized journal articles abide by the ethical guidelines of researchers. This will be to ensure that the information garnered is reliable and will be utilized in informing future research.
In this case, the study will utilize primary and secondary sources from various databases. Therefore, researchers are required to cite the work of authors correctly to avoid giving authors credit for incomplete work. Unlike scientific studies, this qualitative study will not involve the use of informed consent as it does not involve human subjects. This study will encompass a systematic review research design. Therefore, not significant ethical issues are bound to arise in the process of data collection.
The rise in the power of media networks necessitates extensive research in the area. It is essential for organizations and governments to understand how they can leverage the media to promote peace and harmony. In the case of Libya, the support to continue with the Civil War was garnered through the media. A significant share of the international community understood the rage that came with the Libyan population after people shared evil acts of Muammar Gaddafi. Second, the case of Bosnia also depicts the significant power of the media. Bosnia a nation with conflicting people from different geographical regions has always been a tensed environment. The existing media networks are directly or indirectly controlled by the government of Bosnia. Therefore, they are bound to spread messages that continue to build up the spirit of ethnic conflict. The Open Broadcast Network was formed by the major powers of Bosnia state to ensure that the population also listened to messages of peace and restoration. The literature review section will bring out different cases in various states of how the media has been utilized to spread messages of hate and violence or peace and restoration.
The research project will adopt a qualitative research method. It will utilize a systematic research design that will involve a critical analysis of peer-reviewed journal articles. The journal articles utilized in the systematic review will be garnered from reliable databases such as ProQuest, EBSCO, Google Scholar, and Emerald Insight. The keywords that will be utilized in identifying reliable articles include conflict, conflict transformation, media, and peace building. The identification of reliable articles will be based on a given set of inclusion and exclusion criteria. The inclusion criteria will include articles in English, those dated between 2012 to date, and the articles need have full access. The research will be keen to uphold the required ethical guidelines of a qualitative study.
Aho, M.C., 2004. Media’s Role in Peacebuilding (Doctoral dissertation, George Mason University).
Aslam, R., 2014. The role of media in conflict: Integrating peace journalism in the journalism curriculum (Doctoral dissertation, Auckland University of Technology).
Bratić, V., 2005. In search of peace media: examining the role of media in peace developments of the post-cold war conflicts (Doctoral dissertation, Ohio University).
Burg, S.L., 2004. Intervention in internal conflict: The case of Bosnia. Military Intervention. Cases in Context for the Twenty-First Century, pp.47-66.
Elmahjub, E., 2014. Facebook Versus Ghaddafi: social networking as a tool for democratic change in Libya. In Space Place & Culture (pp. 1-18). Future Leaders.
Khalid, A.U., 2019. A Case Study of Pakistani News Channels: Media Education and Journalists’ Training. In Smart Technologies and Innovation for a Sustainable Future (pp. 1-9). Springer, Cham.
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