The continued presence of negative and violent information can influence the relationship between people and their environment, their world view, their social relationships and their attitude towards the possibility of changing things. As an alternative to the traditional information model, peace journalism claims a balance between negative and positive news and a type of social information of quality, responsible, contextualized and clearly positioned in favour of human rights. But the development of this kind of journalism requires, according to the study of Alex Ivan Arevalo Salinas, doctor researcher of the Department of Communication Sciences at the Universitat Jaume I of Castellón, a new regulatory framework and greater autonomy and capacity of action of the Audiovisual Boards.
The research paper “Periodismo y comunicación para la paz. Indicadores y marco regulatorio” (Journalism and Communication for Peace. Indicators and Regulatory Framework) considers that "it is possible to reformulate the discursive patterns that have led to the fact that, according to recent studies, only 1.6% of the information received from the media corresponds to positive stories about progress in conflict transformation". "An informative treatment mainly based on tragic and adverse events or crimes can influence perceptions of the environment and relationships with others. Even some people may develop psychological states marked by fear and mistrust, thus limiting their freedoms, social relations and possibilities for action in the collective space," says Arevalo Salinas.
The so-called peace or social journalism advocates for, according to Arevalo Salinas, "the need to disassociate from the rule of objectivity taught in journalism schools and promoted in the working exercise, especially when injustices and social issues are portrayed in which it is unethical not to show a clear commitment and support." The researcher highlights that, compared to traditional journalism, "peace journalism prioritize social impact and quality of content over economic interests. Similarly, the shallow and decontextualized analysis made by some conventional media, in line with the objectives of social control, is replaced by a concern to explain and show the factors causing events." From the peace journalism is is also defended a greater presence of positive news; information sources that go beyond those linked to power and elites; the creation of mechanisms for citizen participation in editorial decisions; and promoting monitoring devices of journalistic ethics.
The study by Arevalo Salinas establishes a system of indicators to assess the proximity of a specific means of communication to this type of peace journalism based on four characteristics such as active denunciation of injustice and its effect on the transformation of violence; the presence of positive news and commonalities; the inclusive and diverse approach to the selection of topics and news sources; and the press contextualization.
Positive experiences in the Net
While the so-called violence journalism remains as the dominant trend, says Arevalo Salinas, "information technologies have allowed to defend and encourage a more responsible and independent journalism of the economic powers, such as the magazine La Marea or the portal Periodismo Humano with different funding models based on donations or advertising that do not compromise their editorial line".
However, for peace journalism not to be kept in isolated experiences, the researcher considers necessary "an independent and efficient regulatory framework that encourages the social responsibility of the media".
When setting a regulatory framework, he explains that the possibility of sanctioning content is controversial "since for a significant sector of editors and journalists it would be an attack on the right to information and freedom of expression.
Nonetheless, groups that defend this need of sanction highlight the benefits of limiting the discursive abuse, warning that sometimes the media use freedom of speech as a safeguard to avoid their responsibilities when certain speeches violate the freedom of the people". In this sense, Arevalo Salinas is positioned in favor of "professionals to assume their responsibilities when their speeches violate the rights of individuals by a partial, biased and marked by prejudice and stereotypes news coverage". "When we talk about sanctions, they do not have to be necessarily economic, for example, in Bolivia, the Law Against Racism condemns the media which spread racist speeches to spread awareness campaigns."
Beyond the regulatory framework, the author of the study stresses the importance of ethical codes and style manuals, as well as the role of Audiovisual Boards, which must be independent and be given adequate funding.
Arevalo Salinas also highlights the importance of initiatives such as the awards Premios Enfocados y Desenfocados al Periodismo in Spain, seeking citizenship to assess which means of communication, journalists and programs develop adequate or inadequate coverage in relation to human rights, welfare of population, the care of the environment and the fight against inequality in all aspects (gender, ethnicity, social class, etc.). "This proposal is interesting because it is the only one in Spain where the public has the central role in the evaluation of journalistic quality because specialists and expert committees grant most journalism awards without external consultation," he stresses.
The research study is part of the working lines of the research projects CSO2012-34066 "Evaluación e indicadores de sensibilidad moral en la comunicación actual del los movimientos sociales."of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MINECO) and P1 1A2012-05 "De víctimas a indignados” of the Plan for the Promotion of Research at the Universitat Jaume I.
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