For conflict resolution scholars, the idea of focusing on the media is a logical one. After all, the media is the primary method through which the public and political leadership perceive and understand conflicts at home and abroad. If we are working to better handle these conflicts, the way that these conflicts are explained and understood is a crucial part of that process. Do the media have a responsibility to report all sides, even if one side is “wrong”? Do the media share in responsibility for escalation of a conflict if the reporting is incendiary? (The conviction of certain media figures involved in the Rwandan genocide and the use of “Tokyo Rose” during World War II are only two stark examples of how media can be directly involved in conflict.) And what of the responsibility of conflict specialists—are those of us in the conflict resolution field ignoring the media at our peril?

Many commentators on the media—from journalists to lawyers to conflict resolution scholars—have argued about the proper role of journalists and decried the common “if it bleeds, it leads” approach to reporting. Can journalists play a different role in informing the public, moderating the debate, creating understanding? In answering this question, we wanted to take a broader approach and bring a variety of disciplines and experiences to bear. So, we start this symposium with four different disciplinary looks at the linkage between media and conflict.

We then spread across the world, with case studies from five different continents to illuminate the concepts while providing important insight into the actual functions performed by the media. The case studies we include also raise interesting points on the types of media. As media have evolved from newspapers to three primary television stations to cable news to the Internet, we also need to understand how that evolution has impacted the reporting on conflict.

Included in

Law Commons