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Where can you learn about the future of peace building?

Peace Conference 2016
Our report on media coverage of extremism is up! Photo: AFSC

Why #PeaceCon2016 of course! Woot!

Today we're at the Alliance for Peacebuilding's annual conference! Not in DC to join us IRL? Follow the conversation online at #PeaceCon2016 - which should win some kind of prize for best hashtag ever!

Here's one of the findings from our recent report that we'll be breaking down during our panel: Media outlets frame so-called extremist groups as both rational and irrational.

Percentage of articles using "rational" frame, by outlet

What does that mean?

It means that when we conducted our content analysis of over 600 articles sampled from 2015, we found that nearly all outlets used adjectives, adverbs, and so forth to describe extremist groups as either coldly calculating as well as language to describe these groups as psychopathic or subhuman. Some articles - about a third - use both frames at the same time.

So what?

When the public is constantly reading about these groups in such stark terms, it paints a picture in which violence becomes the only answer. If an extremist group is framed in terms of a highly-organized, statelike actor, then it 'makes sense' in this narrative to counter them with military intervention. If a group is framed as less-than-human, then it 'makes sense' in this narrative that they don't 'deserve' to live. What's more, both frames erase complex histories and root causes of this violence, which must be addressed in order for us to build peace.


Percentage of articles using "irrational" frame, by outlet

That sounds like pie-in-the-sky.

We know peace gets a bad wrap. We're working on that too. But we know peace works. We have nearly 100 years of experience plus hard independent data to show that peace is more effective than war in the long run. We think that the media actually has a really important role to play in bringing the facts of peacebuilding to light, so that voters and policymakers can see that grassroots peace building works.

Ok maybe that's not so pie-in-the-sky.

It's really not! In fact if you want to learn more, you can follow the conversation live on Twitter using the #PeaceCon2016 and read our report on how to change this narrative. Have a question? Ask us in the comments!

About the Author

AREAS OF EXPERTISE: Communications research | Analytics | Social inequality. Beth leads AFSC’s messaging and opinion research, which she uses to develop evidence-based communications guidance for advocates and citizens to ‘change the narrative’ on war and violence. Prior to AFSC, Beth’s research and professional work focused on health inequality in the Americas.

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