Media is the channels of information by which we communicate through newspapers, television or social media. The purpose of this communication is to provide information to public and to create awareness regarding a particular issue. Through this media, journalist can convey their messages or news to a layman and it has also the capability to change the perceptions of viewers as well.
social media and digital tools have become a powerful force in conflict prevention, on a national and international level. Many present and recent past events can be seen as an example of the successful impact social media can have.
People who didn’t use to have access to internet, including those who can’t afford computers or laptops, nowadays are able to connect through devices such as cell phones. Taking all these factors into account, it becomes imperative that we realise the hidden power of social media and how it can be used to transform societies, individuals and even governments.
Social media can help spread peace, encouraging dialogue among people from different ethnic backgrounds and nationalities. It can affect perception on ethnicity, change attitudes, and promote tolerance and mutual understanding. Thus it can bridge the divide between ethnic groups that wouldn’t otherwise communicate with one another.
We also have to realize the admirable effect that the internet is having in gravely weakening the control of authoritarian regimes over information content. This change has provided a much more fertile environment for radio and TV to exploit. Promoting peace and tolerance is not incompatible with providing objective and balanced information to listeners. One can encourage universal values such as security of the person, political participation, human rights including women’s rights, and uncorrupt free economies without professing a bias toward the specific policies of any outside national ideology.
The media per se are not necessarily a force for peace. It is rather the content that provides the message, whether of tolerance and peace or intolerance and war. It is thus our responsibility as media users to support those media elements which promote the values which make a better world and discourage those elements which take the easier and often more profitable route of pandering to our darker side objectives;
To evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of social media as a tool for conflict prevention and peace building; to analyze the contribution of regulatory mechanism of social media in promoting peace building; to examine the potential role of social media in generating social and political tensions that might result into violence; and to identify the early warning social and political signals through social media and conflict prevention.
Freedom of expression is not only the core of a healthy media but also a fundamental human right and vital for a democratic structure. It stands for freedom of speech, the right to information and the representation of different opinions in a heterogeneous society. In any culture of prevention, effective and democratic media are an essential part and indispensable for societies trying to make a transition towards peace and democracy.
Not giving people the possibility of political participation and not allowing them to express themselves freely is a significant cause of conflict.
Independent and pluralistic media provide a platform for debate and different opinions. On the other hand, media can be misused for propaganda purposes, to incite hatred and spread rumours and therefore artificially create tensions.
The transmission of ideas is also not limited to conventional media such as newspapers, TV or radio. Arguably, the traditional media takes primacy in this, however, new technologies, the internet and digital content should also be considered in this.
If democracy is to work properly, society needs access to news and information; analysis of the status quo, debate, practical information and exchange as well as entertainment are needed and provided by the media. The definition of conflict and defining conflict areas is not easy and no two places are alike. Journalists need to know what they can expect on sight in order to define the objectives of their project.
In case of a crisis or a conflict, the international media can attract worldwide attention. The mass media is a pervasive part of daily life especially in industrialised countries and thus able to shine a light on conflicts anywhere in the world. Since most armed conflicts these days have governmental and not territorial reasons; the parties are often concerned with making sure that the majority of people are on “their” side, which bears a lot of potential for misrepresenting facts and trying to seize control over the distribution of information.
Broadcasting news by using community radios can help reach people in different areas, even with different languages more easily. This way people can be addressed directly and their own personal experiences and lives can be incorporated much better, than with foreign media.
The danger of manipulation and inflammation of ethnic tensions, however, cannot be ignored. Another advantage of local media, especially radio is that in border areas it is possible to convey peace messages to passing fighters and refugees alike.
Democratic media structures need more than this; it is vital that the use of information within a society is not solemnly passive but that the population gets actively involved in creating content and broadcasting it.