THE MEDIA

Q - Greetings Mr. Stewart!  My name is S and I am a graduate student at George Washington University, Washington DC, currently  studying International Development.  I came across your website as I was completing research for an upcoming project.  The information that I have found on your website is quite helpful.  The title of my project is "The Strength of Media as a Peace Building Tool".  Are there any recommendations that you could make concerning this topic?

A - Dear S, Your topic is very important, and I am happy to hear about your project.  I trust that you have used the search function on our web site on the word "media", and that is how you have found the articles we have posted. I have copied several reference below that I hope you did not miss in your research.

"Are there any recommendations that you could make concerning this topic?" (i.e. "The Strength of Media as a Peace Building Tool".) 
 
The motto of UNESCO is "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed."  We hear from the U.S. Administration about the need to capture the minds and hearts of the Iraqi people.  Orwell's "1984" dramatized the issues.  Corporate and political advertising targets susceptible minds (particularly the vulnerable, children).
 
The media of today reflects our current Culture of War and Violence.  It is one of the key institutions that must also be transformed in a Culture of Peace and Non-violence.  Currently, the media is part of the problem -- it needs to be part of the solution.
 
The recommendations that I would make (in no particular order; and off the top of my head - in other words, I am brainstorming here): 1. there should be a media code of ethics; 2. there should be an independent monitoring function to keep the media accountable and honest and professional (for example, why not be like Certified Public Accountants who are accredited and have professional standards that are generally accepted?); 3. all major communities should be encouraged to have more than one decent local newspaper; 4. media should be required to give equal time to opposing views (eg. currently in the Editorials, the Editor speaks as if his is the only truth and it is not, but people who are 'media illiterate' may think it is); 5. media should be required to warn consumers about their biases; 6. media should receive training such as Transcend's "Peace Journalism"; 7. individual corporations should not be allowed to own more than one media outlet, in each type of media (i.e. it would only be satisfactory to say own one newspaper, one radio and one TV network that could be available across the country; no monopolization should be allowed by interest groups); 8. the BBC and CBC (in Canada) are good examples of the need and benefit of independent, but publicly funded media; 9. all student should be educated in 'media literacy', to understand its weaknesses and biases;  10. there should be awards for media that makes positive contributions to society; 11. every newspaper should have a section devoted to a Culture of Peace and Non-violence; 12. there should be a Culture of Peace and Non-violence TV network (even if it must be publicly subsidized, although I think it could become financially sustainable on its own over time); etc. etc.
 
Here would be my challenge to the reader -- be leaders, and educators, and take the initiative to create the public venues for this crucial conversation within the values of a Culture of Peace (an approach to life that seeks to transform the cultural tendencies toward war and violence into a culture where dialogue, respect, equality, sustainable development, free flow of information and fairness govern social relations).  Currently, the discussion and politics is driven by a lobby comprised of special interest groups, and corporations that benefit from media bias.  Together, we can take back this important issue and help give it due process.  It is clear that this dialogue on media must be taken beyond Parliamentary committee rooms, corporate board rooms, university campuses, and newsrooms.

You can help give Americans the opportunity to participate in this discussion, and demonstrate a proper democracy in action.  It is within your power.
   
 
 
MEDIA REFERENCES:
 
The best writing that I have seen (or at least remember) on the topic is that of Dr. Johann Galtung of Transcend ( www.transcend.org ; http://www.peace.ca/coveringviolence.htm ; http://www.peace.ca/howjournalistscanhelp.htm ).  Transcend has a course on Peace Journalism.  Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent is of course another key resources I recommend.

At the following reference, you will see an important new U.N. media initiative.  My friend David Adams has initiated the U.S. version which is also referenced at this article:
CULTURE OF PEACE NEWS NETWORK - CANADA
...Culture of Peace News Network - Canada - U.N. Resolution A/RES/57/6 Encourages the involvement of the mass media in education for a culture of peace and non-violence, with particular regard to children and young people, including...
http://www.peace.ca/CPNN.htm - We will be having a workshop on CPNN Friday November 19, 2004 at our Annual Peace Education Conferences in Canada (ref. http://www.peace.ca/CanadianAgenda2004.htm ).   the Culture of Peace News Network - USA http://cpnn-usa.org/

Impacs - The Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society (IMPACS) is a non-profit organization based in Vancouver committed to the expansion and protection of democracy and the strengthening of civil society. Our goal is to help build strong communities by providing communications training and education to Canadian non-profit organizations, and by supporting free, open and accountable media internationally.  IMPACS' program is based on three centres of activity: the Communications Centre, our international Free Media Program, and the Civil Society Project.  IMPACS' Communications Centre is the first full-service, non-profit public relations and communications training organization in Canada. Launched in July 1998, it is one of IMPACS' key vehicles for "turning up the volume" on civil society. Our approach is simple. We broker the most sophisticated communications tools used by the corporate sector to charitable and non-profit organizations. We deliver these tools through training workshops, professional services and a continually evolving resource centre.  IMPACS' Free Media Program is designed to foster the development of free, critical and effective media worldwide, and to enhance the media's role in the process of democratic development, good governance and public sector accountability and transparency. The Free Media Program focuses on two areas: trade and peacebuilding.  IMPACS' Free Media and Peacebuilding Program is based on the simple premise that open and responsible media is a condition for good governance, respect for human rights and democratic development. Looking back over the years, Canadians have made a significant contribution to promoting media development in countries in transition to democracy - in South Africa, the former Yugoslavia and more recently in Indonesia and Cambodia. IMPACS' program goals are twofold: to address the gap in our understanding of the role of media development in peacebuilding, and to provide the best professional media training and support to countries in transition to democracy.  The term "civil society" is gaining currency around the world as a powerful concept which both embraces and expands upon typical notions of democracy. It means different things to different people. One Canadian non-profit leader calls civil society "the purest form of democracy", where citizens are "unfettered, unedited, unrestricted by public or private institutions."  IMPACS understands civil society to be the space between the state and the market where people join together to share ideas and take collective action. IMPACS' Civil Society Project works to strengthen this dialogue. Through cutting edge research, roundtable discussions on pressing issues and the publication of reports and policy studies, we explore tangible ways to elevate the profile and contributions of civil society organizations in Canada.  For more information: Shauna Sylvester, Executive Director, shaunas@impacs.org ,  The Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society, Suite 910, 207 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6B 1H6, CANADA; Tel: 1-604-682-1953; Fax: 1-604-682-4353; general email media@impacs.org ; web site http://www.impacs.org/

Media Literacy - try http://www.medialiteracy.net/

Movies - "The Insider"; "Control Room"

Truthout - the best alternate media that I subscribe to.  Click to SUBSCRIBE -> join-three-to@lists.truthout.org
Go direct to Truthout HomePage : http://www.truthout.org

Censored! The 10 big stories the national news media ignore. The mainstream news media have been doing a deplorable job of covering the day's most important stories.    That's no surprise: consolidation of the media in the hands of a few corporate Goliaths has resulted in fewer people creating more of the content we see, hear, and read. One impact has been a narrower range of perspectives. Another is the virtual disappearance of hard-hitting, original, investigative reporting.   "Corporate media has abdicated their responsibility to the First Amendment to keep the American electorate informed about important issues in society and instead serves up a pabulum of junk-food news," says Peter Phillips, head of Sonoma State University's Project Censored.  Every year researchers at Project Censored pick through volumes of print and broadcast news to see which of the past year's most important stories aren't receiving the kind of attention they deserve. Phillips and his team acknowledge that many of these stories weren't "censored" in the traditional sense of the word: No government agency blocked their publication. And some even appeared briefly and without follow-up in mainstream journals.   But every one of this year's picks merited prominent placement on the evening news and the dailies' front pages. Instead they went virtually ignored.  This list speaks directly to the point FCC critics have raised: stories that address fundamental issues of wealth concentration and big-business dominance of the political agenda are almost entirely missing from the national debate. From the dramatic increase in wealth inequality in the United States, to the wholesale giveaway of the nation's natural resources, to the Bush administration's attack on corporate and political accountability, events and trends that ought to be dominating the presidential campaign and the national dialogue are missing from the front pages.  Here are Project Censored's 10 biggest examples of major stories that have been relegated to the most obscure corners of the media world.  http://www.peace.ca/censored.htm 

Keynote Address to the National Conference on Media Reform by Bill Moyers, Founding Director, Public Affairs Television; President, The Schumann Center for Media and Democracy http://www.commondreams.org/views03/1112-10.htm