Media Across Divides

Defend the role of media in strengthening communication across divides

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News stories can have impact. They can help lead a community and mobilize people to take action. They can act as a calming influence as well as exacerbate hatreds. The media can intentionally perpetuate rumors and racial or other kinds of stereotypes. And the media can help the public understand cultural, political, religious and other kinds of diversity. The media have tremendous responsibility in supporting civil society–locally, nationally and internationally.

  • Small-group project: Pick a controversial subject in your community—it might relate to politics, to the role of women, or to cultural questions such as music or clothing choices. Conduct three interviews with people who hold differing opinions on that topic.
  1. Did you ask the same questions of each of them?
  2. How honest do you think your sources were? How could you better ensure that those you talk to were completely candid?
  3. Now that you’ve interviewed three people who have differing opinions on a subject, in the future when writing about controversial topics if you interview someone who has strong opinions, do you think you need to interview someone who has a differing or opposing opinion? Why or why not?
  4. If those you interview have opposing opinions how can your story help to resolve conflicts, rather than exacerbate them?
  • Class discussion: In times of conflict, media must report, but must also recognize the impact reporting on sensitive issues may have. How can journalists serve their communities without being partners to one side or the other in a conflict?

➢ What happens if there is the potential for violence as the result of a story? Do you report? Do you not? How do you proceed to tell the story without exacerbating a fragile situation, or is this not of concern?