Fellow journalists tend to react with confusion when Nisrine Ajab (SPI ’09 & ’10) talks about “peace journalism.” It is not a widely understood or accepted term in Lebanese media circles, where newspapers and broadcast media traditionally align themselves with specific political parties.
Ajab, however, believes that peacebuilding tools are an essential part of good journalism – and that good journalism is an essential part of peacebuilding.
“The messages that are sent through media play a big role in influencing how people behave,” says Ajab, who works as an investigative journalist and news writer at Future News TV in Beirut.
Because of this, she says, media can and should play an important role in peacebuilding work.
Ajab also writes for Elaph, the first Arabic e-newspaper, as well as several other media outlets in the region.
The principles of peace journalism, she says, include eliminating bias, seeking out multiple sides to every story, and using words and language carefully, mindful of their impact on readers and society.
“I think a peace journalist is someone who has to dig for the truth before judging what’s going on,” says Ajab. “And when we are covering a story, we should give all parties the chance to talk about their point of view.”
While attending SPI, Ajab began work on a documentary film about the peacebuilding work her fellow students and instructors were involved in. While she has yet to finish editing the video, she hopes that it will become the first of many such projects. Eventually, she envisions traveling the world to film documentaries on peacebuilding themes.
Now working on her master’s degree in media and communication studies (her thesis is on the role of social media in the Arab Spring), Ajab aspires to teach peace journalism at a Lebanese university. By doing so, she hopes to bring about a time when peace journalism will no longer be the strange, unfamiliar concept it is today. — AKJ