100 articles – ‘War or peace journalism? Asian newspaper coverage of conflicts’

9 May 2010

Written by: Lawrie Zion

‘War or peace journalism? Asian newspaper coverage of conflicts’ by Seow Ting Lee and Crispin C. Maslog

I was born in 1983. The year when war broke out in my beautiful countrySri Lanka. Clashes between the Sinhalese and Tamil groups formed a Tamil rebel movement – the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and the war began. For 25 years there hasn’t been one day I have lived, without hearing in the media, the number of casualties from the war. When we left home we were never sure if we would return or will be blown up in a bomb blast. I hated the war.

I started working in television in 2003. That was when I was able to do something about the war I hated so much. I spent three years of my career producing peace-building programmes with a production house dedicated to peace media. Every person caught in the war has a story to tell. A story that no one has asked from them before. It makes you a different person after you tell their stories to others.  I believe that every journalist should be aware about peace journalism. Among the very little research done on this subject, this study reflects on the reporting of four South Asian conflicts.

Mainstream media is often invaded with stories of triumph, casualties, damaged properties basically, war journalism. What about the people in the border villages, the widows and the displaced? What about female carders who are not immortalised as heroes? What about the children who fight in frontlines? There should be a peace journalist to tell their stories. A war is not only about the fighting, it is also about the people who are caught up in it.

Shashini Gamage is a journalist and  Master of Global Communications student at La Trobe University.

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