Monday, 25 October 2010

Measuring Peace in the Media

The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) and Media Tenor released a fact-based report today on ‘Measuring Peace in the Media’. The first study of its kind, the report brings into question the accuracy of how international television networks have been covering peace and conflict over the last four years.

The report is based on 37 TV news and current affairs programmes from 23 networks in 15 countries being cross-referenced with the Global Peace Index.

An overall theme of the report shows that the breadth of the subject matter covered by international media has a significant impact on how well audiences understand the culture of the country being covered. This is particularly interesting in the case of Afghanistan.

The report goes into significant detail on Afghanistan and finds that there is a disproportionate amount of coverage focusing on crime and defence, while crucial factors such as the functioning of government, distribution of resources and the business environment are neglected. Such factors are crucial to help build sustainable peace.

Over-reporting on violence is impeding peace in Afghanistan, as Roland Schatz, CEO of Media Tenor states ‘Informing the public on what will build long term peace and sustainability is vital to the war on terrorism’.

The report goes beyond the case study of Afghanistan and gives a detailed account of who’s reporting on who, focusing on different patterns of coverage from European, Middle Eastern and US broadcasters. The most interesting finding of this section shows that Middle Eastern broadcasters are more positive than European and US outlets.

Here is a snapshot of some other interesting facts that might surprise you…

- US TV networks broadcast more violence than other countries

- The 10 TV programmes reporting the most violence dedicate an average of 48% of their total coverage to violence

- The 10 TV programmes reporting the least violence dedicate an average of 24% of their coverage to violence

- Positive peace stories are just 1.6% of the total number of stories examined in this report

- Middle Eastern broadcasters are more positive than European and US outlets

The report beings to light the difference found between media networks, and lets just say the BBC deserves its good reputation. In terms of breadth and coverage, the BBC reports on almost twice as many countries as the average level of coverage.

You can find the full report here along with interviews on the subject with Amre Moussa, the Secretary General of the League of Arab States and the World Bank’s Nick van Praag. I strongly suggest taking time out and having a read. I look forward to many discussions to come on measuring peace in the media.


- See wikiprogress article on the Global Peace Index and find the data on Wikiprogress.Stat

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