By Elissa J. Tivona
Welcome readers and cautious optimists,
I am humbled and honored to put the finishing touches on the premier edition of the Peace Correspondent, an enduring journalistic dream of mine. My first encounter with the pioneers of peace journalism was a fortunate accident. In 2010 I submitted my research on the 1000 PeaceWomen Across the Globe for presentation at the International Peace Research Association conference. The paper was accepted and then assigned to the Peace Journalism Convention chair, Jake Lynch, acknowledged leader of the emerging peace journalism movement. My first reaction was, “The what?”
Years before, I had walked away from an established media production career. Following the Columbine High School shooting 20 miles from my home, I became deeply troubled by media’s incessant and sensational coverage. I yearned for stories to enlighten, to provide context for this incomprehensible tragedy. Instead of light I found noise: hyped up stories, produced by journalists competing for breaking news of another horrific incident. I banged hard against an inescapable conclusion: news media stoke the fires of fear; we are complicit in creating the cultures of violence and hopelessness that saturate communities.
But what I can’t walk away from are the hundreds of peace narratives that pour into my life from every direction on a regular basis. Every time I feel compelled to distribute another news bulletin, whether covering a project by Combatants for Peace in Israel and Palestine, or BloodBonds, a collaborative blood drive among Christians, Jews and Muslims in Fort Collins, I get the same response from readers. “How do you know about this? Why doesn’t the media write these stories?” Well, I’m here to say that NOW it does!
The Peace Correspondent stands at the intersection between reporting and narrative. This intentional mash-up is to provide readers with context. Peace Correspondents understand that social unrest is never a simple matter of good guys vanquishing evil-doers, not in the shocking and polarizing ways currently depicted in conventional media. We will attempt to listen deeply to voices of people at the margins and people who live at the heart of conflict and struggle, the people who are trying their best to effect more peaceful outcomes for themselves, for all their relations and for all of us.
We also commit to fact-finding and fact checking around the issues we report on. When we bump up against bias in ourselves or in others we will do our best to disclose it. We will eschew the simplistic and the outlandish. What we’re reaching for is to elevate solutions and creativity above controversy for its own sake. When we research and report these stories, multitudes come into focus—the ordinary and the extraordinary people who stand at the nexus of struggle but forsake violence. We also discover that there are no limits to creativity and to potential ways forward, the optimistic signposts for cultures of peace.
I want to acknowledge my deep gratitude to Carmel Mawle, director of Writing For Peace, who is generously providing a platform for the Peace Correspondent, and to Melody Rautenstraus, student intern, and Andrea Doray, Board Member for W4P. When we came together as an editorial board, we set a modest calendar for the first year. But our lead theme was anything but modest. We boldly put forward the theme of Racial and Social Justice. What you find in these pages are people reporting and reflecting in new ways on critical issues. Peace Correspondents stepped forward to talk about Black Lives Matter and how public schools can address a racialized America; the Water Protectors at Standing Rock North Dakota and a gathering of Christian, Jewish and Muslim youngsters from Jerusalem and the U.S, who refuse to succumb to hopelessness. But enough from me, read and be inspired by the peace journalists themselves.
The Peace Correspondent, context and creativity to make peace possible
October, 2016, Vol.I, No. 1 on racial and social justice
Copyright © 2016 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.