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Analysis of Philippine Newspaper Coverage on Conflict Reporting: Basis for Journalistic Intervention

Genelin Ruth Pamplona-James

CHAPTER 1
THE PROBLEM AND ITS SETTING

Background of the Study
In today's increasingly connected world there are thousands of resources available to obtain news and analysis about conflict and peace related issues. Within the field of conflict resolution there has also been a rapid growth in the field of peace journalism or peace media. The basic concept is that instead of media reporting passively on conflict related issues or doing a superficial analysis, or possibly serving as a tool to inflame and escalate conflict, media practitioners can play a critical role in getting at the roots of conflict, looking at underlying issues, reporting in peace initiatives, etc.(Craig, 2009).

In the study of Lee and Maslog on “Asian Regional Conflicts and the War in Iraq: A comparative Framing analysis”, the results show that the Asian newspapers used a war journalism frame in covering regional conflicts but deployed a peace journalism frame in covering the War on Iraq. Hard news stories were dominated by war journalism framing, while features and opinion pieces were dominated by peace journalism framing. Foreign-sourced stories from wire services contained more war journalism frames and fewer peace journalism frames than locally-produced stories written by the newspapers’ own correspondents. This is the gap that needs to be analyzed and studied.

In the Philippines, "ethnic conflicts", particularly in Mindanao, don't stand a chance of being reported thoroughly, sensitively and fairly by the mainstream media. Why? Because the mainstream media is, wittingly or not, a participant in the ethnic dispossession. (Henry , 2005) By depicting them as an aberration, by ridiculing them and, most important of all, by not lending them a voice, the mainstream media does not only strip these peoples of their identities - it sets them up for persecution and dispossession. The conflicts involving ethnic groups in Mindanao are almost always instigated by government forces or entities with ties to the State, such as multinational mining corporations and the like. The pattern has always been this: the company or the government targets an area for "development," sends in the military to quell any resistance by the natives, divides the ethnic group into factions for easier manipulation, the company or government has its way, the ethnic group continues to resist, the violence continues, with the military's increasing ferocity matched only by the tribe's determination to fight. This is true in Mindanao, from the time huge logging companies and multinational plantations encroached into Lumad and Moro territories to the time the Lumads in Southern Mindanao resisted the Mount Apo geothermal project and, more recently, the Moro people's horrifying nightmare in Central Mindanao during the all-out war declared by Joseph Estrada.(Henry, 2005). Hence, a study of the content of newspaper coverage is designed to evaluate what these publications run too much and what they don’t.        

In Mindanao, determining the salient themes and the extent of peace journalism manifesting in the news coverage of conflict is an urgent call for action. With this study it may create an active journalistic intervention, a story about war, conflict or violence that can be framed in an interpretive and constructive manner to foster peace and conflict resolution. (War or Peace Journalism? Asian Newspaper Coverage of Regional Conflicts, 2008)

The researcher chose to study this problem as conflict oriented stories nowadays dominates front pages of both local and national dailies. The fact that the country is struggling to promote peace and progress for economic development, it is hope that in the process of the research, the gap between peace and war journalism approach will be established and the need for a journalistic intervention will be...
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