x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Violent TV news 'impedes peace efforts'

The 'over-reporting' of violence by international television news broadcasters is impeding the peace effort in Afghanistan, according a new study.

ABU DHABI // The "over-reporting" of violence by international television news broadcasters is impeding the peace effort in Afghanistan, according a study published by the Australian-based Institute for Economics and Peace. Almost 80 per cent of television media reports about Afghanistan are about violence and conflict, according to the study, which analysed more than 197,000 television reports.

While this coverage accurately reflects the high level of violence in Afghanistan, the lack of coverage of issues such as education and business hampers the development of "peacetime" activities, said Steve Killelea, the founder of the institute.

"If you want to build peace in a society, it's very, very difficult to do if there's no focus on the institutions and structures that help create peace. How can you create a business environment if there isn't any focus on it?" said Mr Killelea.

"It doesn't actually matter whether the coverage is positive or negative. The key thing is that we actually focus on the things that count," he added.

The report, entitled Measuring Peace in the Media, was created in partnership with the media analyst group Media Tenor, which analyses and monitors the world's media on behalf of clients. It analysed 37 TV news shows in 15 countries, including by Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, the BBC and Fox News.

Many key US broadcasters devote more than 50 per cent of their worldwide news and current affairs coverage to topics of violence, the report found.

"When too much media attention is placed on violence, security is seen as the only way for establishing peace and this runs contrary to our current knowledge of what creates peace," said Mr Killelea.

Mazen Nahawi, the president of News Group International, a news management company based in Dubai, said he was not convinced by the conclusions of the report. It failed to prove a link between the influence of the media and the balance between violence and peace, he said.

"In my view, it's unsubstantiated."

The Institute for Economics and Peace is described as "not-for-profit research institute dedicated to developing the inter-relationships between business, peace and economic development".

 

bflanagan@thenational.ae