War Stories Peace Stories

Peace Conflict & The Media

The Stories We Tell

For those of us who do not live in areas of violent conflict, our experience of war is via the media—in stark newspaper headlines and conflict reporting, in Twitter timelines and blogs, in magazines and television images and in the sounds of voices and gunfire on the radio.

We consume media accounts of refugees desperate to escape bombs and special forces on the trail or terrorists. On Sunday mornings, we listen to experts explain the finer points of military strategy in between ads for defense contractors. Bombs dropped, targets destroyed, civilian casualties, body count—we know what to listen for. We read magazine stories and the details and pictures haunt us all day. And we worry about the reporters who put themselves in danger to share what they see with us.

Reporting shapes our perceptions. We know war isn’t the only ways to resolve conflict, but the drama of peacebuilding does not have the same visceral impact as the drama of war.

Every story is different. Every reporter sees and tells the story in a different way. Every witness comes with preconceptions and sometimes an agenda.

But still the coverage we consume shapes our collective understanding of what can be done—what should be done. Stories can influence peace processes, sway the escalation or reduction of conflict, and undermine—or enhance—the confidence, trust and expectations of the parties involved.

How should we tell war stories and peace stories? What are the responsibilities of storytellers?

What are the questions we should be asking? What is the role of the reporter? How do we balance the desire for peace with a news marketplace hungry for drama?

Through films, a day-long symposium and ongoing conversations, War Stories Peace Stories challenges journalists peace-builders and others to explore the ways in which we communicate the world’s stories of violent and nonviolent conflict resolution. We’ll discuss the unique challenges and dangers of conflict reporting, and examine how and if the stories of the diplomat, peacebuilder or local activist can be told in ways that are as compelling as those of the bravest soldiers.

Stories have real power. War Stories Peace Stories asks us all to think about how we deploy it.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

New York, New York. April 9–13, 2018
FILM SERIES
Recent films on the subject of peace and conflict will be screened at venues throughout the city. Filmmakers and experts will be invited to participate in question and answer sessions following most of these screenings.
SYMPOSIUM
By invitation only. Journalists, peacebuilders and others involved in conflict reporting and nonviolent conflict resolution will be invited to attend a one-day Symposium featuring leading media professionals, peacebuilders and others. A complete list of speakers will be published here in the coming months.
CONVERSATIONS
Following the symposium, this website will become a resource for ongoing conversations on media coverage of conflict and peacebuilding initiatives. We’ll also be hosting a series of public webinars and online conversations on topics such as telling the stories of child soldiers, the reporters’ experience of violence and trauma, negotiation strategies and more.

ABOUT SPECTRUM MEDIA

War Stories Peace Stories is a special project of Spectrum Media.

Spectrum Media works at the intersection of media, education and global development.

Our work—creating documentary films, public awareness campaigns, and multi-media communication programs—promotes innovation and change in radically different environments from post-earthquake Haiti and rural Malawi to top universities and the US State Department.

Visit Spectrum for more information.