Public Information & Media Development: Case Studies
The case of Studio Ijambo in Burundi demonstrates how foreign developed and supported radio initiatives can become locally relevant, locally owned, and sustainable. Studio Ijambo is a project of Search for Common Ground (SFCG), a conflict resolution and conflict prevention non-governmental organization (NGO) that seeks to transform the way the world approaches conflict. SFCG developed Studio Ijambo in 1995 in order to combat and counteract the use of radio for spreading ethnic hate and spurring violence in Burundi following the Rwandan genocide. Studio Ijambo is staffed by both Tutsi and Hutu radio professionals, who produce peace-oriented radio programs that aim to promote reconciliation, dialogue, and collaboration among their listeners.
Prince Claus Fund
Just Vision highlights the power of media to shift perceptions of the conflict's immovability by producing documentaries that demonstrate cooperative Palestinian and Israeli efforts to build peace, thus attempting to discredit the assertion that there are neither efforts nor partnerships for peace in Israel and Palestine. Just Vision's recent documentary film, Encounter Point, follows the travels of a former Israeli settler, a Palestinian ex-prisoner, a bereaved Israeli mother, and a wounded Palestinian bereaved brother who risk their lives to promote a non-violent end to the conflict. The film has been screened in 150 cities worldwide, including Gaza, Tel Aviv, New York City, Ramallah, Sderot, Dubai, Doha, Amman, Barcelona, and London, capturing top awards at film festivals around the globe.
Although Just Vision's efforts to highlight peacebuilding have been heralded by the international community, some scholars and practitioners note that it is of equal if not more important to have locally owned, binational peace-oriented film initiatives to reach and shift the perspective of the local people involved in the conflict. Without a locally owned initiative, some scholars and practitioners suggest, perspectives on the conflict will not change among those whose support is essential for resolving the conflict, that is, the people living and/or involved in the conflict.
For more information:
Loveland, Elaina. "Envisaging Peace between Israel and Palestine." International Educator, August 16, 2006. In this online article, International Educators interviews Ronit Avni, founder of Just Vision, about creating Just Vision and producing Encounter Point. Avni discusses her perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an Israeli-Canadian and her belief that more attention should be focused on peacebuilding efforts in order to shift opinions and change perspectives about the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
Nimer, Mohammed Abu, and Ned Lazarus. "The Peace Building Paradox and the Dynamics of Dialogue: A Psychosocial Portrait of Israeli-Palestinian Encounters." In Beyond Bullets and Bombs: Grassroots Peacebuilding Between Israelis and Palestinians, edited by Judith Kuriansky, 167-71. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007.
This article uses examples from Encounter Point to illustrate the dearth of interaction between Israelis and Palestinians, noting that opponents of non-violence decry attempts at peaceful interaction between the two groups.
Shefrin, Elana. "Re-Mediating the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: the Use of Films to Facilitate Dialogue." PhD diss., Georgia State University, March 19, 2007.
In the chapter, "Procedural and Psychological Obstacles to Dialogic Communication: Confronting the Issues of Power, Identity, and Discourse," the author discusses Just Vision's aims and development, noting that it makes an important contribution to strengthening peace. However, the author cautions that international endeavors need to be complemented by locally developed and implemented initiatives in order to be most effective in resolving conflicts.
This website provides information about the documentary, including background information and interviews with the participants, director, and production staff. In addition, visitors can access a trailer, order the DVD, and find information about screenings and events.
This website provides information about Just Visions development, aims, and projects. Visitors can access the following on the site: information about Encounter Point; educational tools for classroom learning and screenings; a timeline of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; information on past and upcoming events; interviews, or "portraits," of peacebuilders; and information about becoming involved in the effort.
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While this program has been hailed as demonstrative of the beneficial uses of text messaging for peace, in the same context such devices were also used to incite ethnicity-based violence. After the elections, text messages were sent out en masse that encouraged Kikuyu and Luo communities to commit acts of violence against one another. Some such texts were even sent from overseas. Particularly problematic was the fact that the texts were easily forwarded, which helped rapidly enflame tensions.
In response to this, the government sent a number of texts warning of potential prosecution for incidences of hate speech, and further considered shutting down some text messaging services. Safaricom, Kenya's primary mobile service provider, as a compromise agreed to send around "peace" messages to all its customers in the hopes of combating texts that encouraged violence. These messages, as well as warnings from the government, were not seen as particularly successful in counteracting "hate messages." Hence, in this context, text messaging was concurrently used for furthering both peace and conflict.
For more information:
BBC World Services Trust. "The Kenyan 2007 Elections and Their Aftermath: The Role of Media and Communication." BBC World Services Trust Policy Briefing 1, April 2008.
Part of this paper discusses the use of text messages for encouraging violence in Kenya.
"Kenya: Peace Calls Amid Continued Bloodletting." East African Standard, January 2, 2008.
This article discusses the government's response to text messages that incited violence. Specifically, the government disseminated a text warning of the legal ramifications of hate speech and discussed shutting down some text services.
Kinkade, Sheila, and Katrin Verclas. "Case Study 7: Text Messaging as a Violence-Prevention Tool (Kenya)." In Wireless Technology for Social Change. Washington, DC: UN Foundation/Vodafone Group Foundation Partnership, 2008.
This case study discusses the SMS Nerve Centre funded by Oxfam and hosted by PeaceNet Kenya.
Oxfam Great Britain. Pushing for Peace. Oxford: Oxfam Great Britain, February 4, 2008.
This article discusses work supported by Oxfam in the post-election crisis in Kenya. Oxfam funded the SMS Nerve Centre, which served as an early warning system that sent mobile text messages on potential or actual attacks, based on verified information, to district Peace and Security Committees.
Quist-Arcton, Ofeibea. "Test Messages Used to Incite Violence in Kenya." National Public Radio Morning Edition, February 20, 2008.
This broadcast from National Public Radio in Nairobi discusses text messages sent after the December 2007 elections, inciting ethnicity-based violence between Kikuyu and Luo. A key point of the broadcast is that although a comparatively few people generate the text messages, what is more at issue is that in the fervor of the moment, the messages get forwarded on to many people.
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). Kenya: Spreading the Word of Hate. Geneva: UNOCHA, January 22, 2008.
This article discusses how informal public information networks contributed to post-election violence in Kenya. One section focuses in particular on "hate texts" sent to incite coordinated acts of violence between Kikuyu and Luo.
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights
A human rights organization in Kenya that advocates for freedom of expression and access to information. It reported incidences of hate speech leading up to the elections.
Peace Development Network Trust (PeaceNet Kenya)
PeaceNet hosts the Nerve Centre for the SMS peace project funded by Oxfam.
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Listeners can use the Internet, the telephone, and other FM technology to participate in the 60-minute talk show. Listening sessions, organized with a university students network, are held in high schools and universities in three countries. A recent survey found that 63 percent of students in the region regularly tune in to the program.
The Bridges for the New Balkans media project is a similar regional initiative launched in 2000 by Search for Common Ground to improve communication between different ethnic communities and nations in the Balkans. The project aims to use media as a peacebuilding tool in order to promote reconciliation and understanding. By overcoming prejudice and enhancing trust, Bridges for the New Balkans hopes to lay the foundation for regional cooperation. Participating countries include Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Kosovo, and Serbia and Montenegro.
The primary objectives of the project include: overcoming information barriers and creating a platform for common public opinion; stimulating cooperation between various media outlets in the Balkans; and providing reliable, accurate information throughout the region. The project incorporates various media components, including a multi-ethnic forum, regional and local magazines, a regional television exchange program, and radio programs.
For more information:
Search for Common Ground (SFCG). "SFCG in the Great Lakes Region."
This page discusses SFCGs initiative, Great Lakes Generation. Information is provided about the objective, aims, and successes of the program.
Search for Common Ground (SFCG). "'Hello Kigali! Hello Kinshasa!' The Great Lakes Generation is Talking, Live on Air, Every Week." Press release, December 6, 2007.
This press release discusses Great Lakes Generation's (GGL) design and implementation. It notes that GGL aims to provide youth with a space in which to talk, listen, and learn about the issues and challenges facing their region, noting that listeners from the three countries can dial in to their local stations at the same time and participate in the same program.
Search for Common Ground (SFCG). "Bridges for the New Balkans: Regional Media Project."
This page describes the Bridges for the New Balkans media project. Information about the programs development, aims, objectives, and programs is provided.
Search for Common Ground
This website details SFCG's aims, objectives, projects, and programs. Visitors can access publications, reports, and key resources concerning conflict resolution.
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For example, the Afghan soap opera, "New Home, New Life," focuses on thematic storylines that continually revisit issues connected with conflict, such as community participation, children in conflict, landmines, and gender. Surveys conducted in conflict zones show that soap operas transmitted by local radio stations reach a significant percentage of the population, including hard-to-reach rural areas. A study by BBC World Trust found that of 50,000 people surveyed in villages and cities in Nepal, 27 percent watched "New Life, New Footprints," a program that focuses on peacebuilding issues such as youth soldier reintegration and reconciliation.
Soap operas also highlight the debate concerning the inclusion of peace-oriented programs in media assistance projects. Difficulties in measuring the impact of soap operas in conflict and post-conflict societies has led to some frustration among donors and media support practitioners. The inability definitively to link shifts in attitude and practice among people in affected societies to peace-oriented media has led some to question whether there is indeed a connection between media and behavior. Supporters of soap operas and other behavior change communication argue that such media operates concomitantly with other parts of the peacebuilding operation, such as peace agreements and reconciliation efforts. In this way, it is only a component of the larger peacebuilding strategy.
For more information:
Department for International Development (DFID). Working with the Media in Conflict and Other Emergencies. London: DFID, 2000.
In a section on creative media, the report highlights the increasing use of radio dramas to impart specific messages addressing conflict, mediation, and reconciliation. The publication highlights the potential usefulness of radio dramas given the neutral space they create for expressing views and the entertainment they provide to listeners.
Howard, Ross, Francis Rolt, Hans van de Veen, and Juliette Verhoeven, eds. The Power of the Media: A Handbook for Peacebuilders. The Hague: European Centre for Conflict Prevention, 2005.
This online publication discusses the radio soap operas in Afghanistan and Senegal produced by the Afghan Education Projects of BBC World Service and the Panos Institute West Africa, respectively. The authors chart the development, implementation, successes, and challenges of the programs in both countries.
Kalathil, Shanthi, John Langlois, and Adam Kaplan. Towards a New Model: Media and Communication in Post-Conflict and Fragile States. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2008.
This publication highlights the debate among media support practitioners concerning censorship, advocacy, or impartial reportage in post-conflict or conflict contexts.
Tripathee, Serena Rix. "Measuring a Moving Target: Peace Building Soap Opera in Nepal." Paper presented at the 3rd Symposium Forum Media and Development, Measuring Change in Media Development, Bonn, Germany, September 2007.
This report discusses Search for Common Ground's initiative to create a peace-oriented soap opera in Nepal. The author discusses methods for monitoring the effectiveness and reach of peace-oriented dramatizations. She highlights the difficulties in assessing whether changes from violent to peaceful behavior, attitude, and practice after listening to soap operas is a result of the dramatization, structural changes within the country, or a combination of both. She notes that while donors demand to see results from behavior change communication is understandable, it needs to be tempered by an understanding that peace-oriented media works within larger, behavior-influencing constructs.
Antenna Foundation Nepal (AFN)
This website provides information about AFN, a co-sponsor of the Nepalese soap opera, "New Life, New Footprints," as well as about its other radio programs.
BBC World Service Radio
This site provides links to BBC World's radio programs.
BBC World Service Trust
This site provides information about BBC's Afghan education projects, including the soap opera, "New Home, New Life."
Panos Institute West Africa
This website provides information about the Panos Institute West Africa. Visitors can access reports, articles, publications, and links to the institute's radio programs in West Africa.
Search for Common Ground
Search for Common Ground has a number of radio projects running in conflict and post-conflict countries that include soap operas. Users can find information about and links to these projects, such as the Angolan soap opera, "The Game," which promotes inter-ethnic integration and reconciliation.
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Groundviews, which takes its information directly from the citizenry and makes it available in a blog format, allowing for greater participation, has been well received and has received additional support from international actors as a result. In 2007, Groundviews received the Award of Excellence from the Society for New Communications Research for its innovative approach to communications. Given the support for and interest in Groundviews, CPA also launched Vikalpa, a second citizen journalism platform in Sinhalese and Tamil. Because of their approach, these two forums have been lauded as uniquely able to support debate and a range of voices from disparate locations, even including diasporic communities. Vikalpa also utilizes mobile technology, sending news to phones and getting videos from this source, and hosts a video channel off of YouTube, where its broadcasts have ranked among the top 100 most viewed sources around the world.
While these developments have exemplified how new media can be utilized for dialogue in environments where the media has been largely discredited, it comes at significant risk. Not only is traditional media subject to repressive policies and even incidences of torture, citizen journalists have been confronted by police and arrested for taking photographs. Thus, there is growing concern and risk for the security of citizen journalists in Sri Lanka.
For more information:
ICT4Peace. "Vikalpa Video in the YouTube Reporters Top 100 for Coverage of 1983 Anti-Tamil Riots." ICT for Peacebuilding, July 30, 2008.
ICT4Peace. "Shooting in Public: Citizen Journalism under Threat in Sri Lanka." ICT for Peacebuilding, February 14, 2008.
This article reviews the growing risks facing citizen journalists in Sri Lanka, who have been subject to censorship and repression, which has been at times violent .
Free Media Movement. "Letter to Inspector General of Police." Letter, February 13, 2008.
A letter calling upon the general of police to halt violence against citizen journalists by police and Civil Defense Committees.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). "UNESCO Supports Citizen Journalism in Sri Lanka." UNESCO News, March 23, 2007.
UNESCO and the Centre for Policy Alternatives began funding citizen journalism initiatives in response to the fact that available media is largely composed of elite and unrepresentative groups.
Free Media Movement
This Sri Lankan organization advocates on behalf of journalistic freedom in Sri Lanka. It puts forth news on attacks on freedom of speech and, in particular, attacks targeting journalists.
Sri Lanka's first and award-winning citizen journalism website features ideas, opinions, and analyses on humanitarian issues, media freedom, human rights, peace, democratic governance, and constitutional reform.
Vikalpa is a citizen journalism initiative located in Sri Lanka. It aims to build on the success of citizen journalism pioneered by the Centre for Policy Alternatives by providing content in Sinhala and Tamil that explores oftentimes hidden facets of democracy and governance in Sri Lanka.
Vikalpa Video You Tube
A citizen journalism video platform made available by Vikalpa.