Media for Peace (M4P)

Peacebuilding Journalism in the (Post-)Conflict Regions of Lebanon and Afghanistan

Media for Peace (M4P) is a research and development project based at the University of the Bundeswehr Munich with the participation of researchers of the Freie Universität Berlin. The practical partner is the Media Lab Bayern.

M4P studies the conditions affecting conflict-sensitive/peace journalism and media in conflict and post-conflict societies. The project is particularly interested in factors that have a positive and negative impact on conditions under which journalism and media can contribute to peacebuilding and conflict solution. Special focus lies on digitization and its impact. With a team of researchers from communication science, International Relations, and computer science, M4P follows a multidisciplinary approach. The project hopes to contribute to an innovative, sustainable, and ethical use of digital technologies in journalism as a tool for conflict-sensitive, de-escalating and peace-fostering work in conflict and post-conflict regions.  

Empirically, our research focuses on two diverse countries as cases, Lebanon and Afghanistan. The very diverse historical, cultural, social, and political situation in these countries allow to identify dynamics of conflict-sensitive/peace journalism and media across a broad spectrum of (post-)conflict contexts. As the two countries represent opposite poles on a spectrum of (post-)conflict societies and practices of conflict-sensitive/peace journalism and media therein, studying them will enable us to link empirical and conceptual insights with scholarship on conflict-sensitive/peace journalism and the role of media in manifold other conflict-settings, both in the Global North and Global South. On this basis, we aim to discuss the role of media and information and communications technology (ICT) in (post-)conflict regions and to use their peace-building potential in practice.

In a first step, the media systems of our focus countries will be described and analysed in detail. This will provide a theoretical basis for understanding the media systems of Lebanon and Afghanistan and the role they play in peacebuilding for further analytical steps in the project. Since the scientific focus has been predominantly on the analysis of Western media systems, studying the relevant aspects of media systems in the Global South will be another major aim of this project.

Based on these findings, structured guided interviews of experts and relevant individuals from fields such as journalism or NGOs present in these two countries shall be carried out to identify examples of best practices as well as challenges, threats, and potentials for improvement. In parallel, a social media analysis (especially of Twitter content) will be used to identify key topics and to understand the presence and spread of disinformation in the online sphere related to Afghanistan and Lebanon. In addition, key stakeholders from media development cooperation will be identified and their previous practices in these regions evaluated.

Based on these research results, transfer processes from journalistic research into innovative journalistic practice will be analysed. M4P aims to contribute through peer-reviewed publications to scholarly debates on these topics in journalism studies and communication science, as well as in international relations/peace and conflict studies. Moreover, a journalistic platform for the practice of conflict-sensitive, de-escalating and peacebuilding journalism will be developed in cooperation with Media Lab Bayern and with the active involvement of local stakeholders. The prototype will be evaluated and can serve as a blueprint for conflict-sensitive and peace journalism in various (post-)conflict contexts, both in the Global North and Global South.

Overall, the project aims to generate novel academic knowledge on conflict-sensitive/peace journalism and the role of media in the context of peacebuilding and to use the potential of digitization for peacebuilding in (post-)conflict regions through innovative concepts and practices for both media research and practice. In this respect, M4P strives not only for a practical impact but also for international visibility of its research in academia, e.g., at international conferences and publications in leading international journals and other publication outlets.

Project start/run time: 01.01.2021 to 31.12.2024

Project lead

Prof. Dr. Sonja Kretzschmar
Universität der Bundeswehr München
Department of Business Administration
Management and Media
Phone: +49 89 6004-4701

Project participants