Lahore seminar on Peace Journalism

From left: Tabina Sirhindi, lecturer at University of Central Punjab (UCP), Dr. and Rector Jonathan S. Addleton at Forman Christian College (FCCU), Yakhshi Saleem, lecturer at UCP, Olga Stokke, journalist at Aftenposten newspaper, Dr. Altaf Ullah Khan (FCC) – in front of him stands Madhia Maqsood, lecturer at UCP –  Atta Ansari, journalist at Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) and Umer Farooqi, lecturer at University of Management and Technology (UMT).

Shukriya, Lahore! After three inspiring days with great people in Pakistan’s second largest city, I am excited about new knowledge, new colleagues and friends. 

Atta Ansari from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) and I, Olga Stokke from Aftenposten national newspaper, had the opportunity to attend a three day seminar in Lahore Nov 9-11 2021. 

The topic: “Journalism for Peace, Counter Violent Extremism among Youth, and International Reporting”, organized by Journalism & Media International Center (JMIC) at Oslo Metropolitan University in collaboration with Forman Christian College University (FCCU). 

The seminar was opened and hosted by Dr Altaf Ullah Khan, Professor and Dean of Humanities at FCC. He opened the ball by talking about populist politics and media in Pakistan. He then gave the microphone to a range of powerful speakers who delivered insightful and refreshing presentations on vital and relevant topics such as: 

Freedom of expression under authoritarian regimes, Journalism in Pakistan and the digital media evolution. The gap between theory and practice when it comes to legal structure for free expression. The audience was given a perspective from the Pakistani Constitution. 

The concept of Peace Journalism was highlighted by several: How to perceive Johan Galtung’s “theory” on covering wars and conflicts? Also Atta and Olga had a joint presentation on theory and practice of Peace Journalism within the context of Johan Galtung. 

We introduced the participants to Norwegian press laws and ethics. Quite a few were taken by surprise that Norwegian journalists can write almost “everything” without being censored, or without censoring themselves. Norwegian journalists certainly enjoy freedom of press to a larger extent than the majority of press people in the world. 

We stressed that though Galtung’s “theory” is not very present in our approach, his parameters are nonetheless implemented in our reporting. Our notion of sincere journalism is that war and conflict reporting on a global level do not differ from reporting on a local level. The same demands to ethical reporting applies: Try to disclose and understand the underlying reasons of the conflict. Report respectfully about “the other” even though you cannot see the face of the other. Be concerned about the context, the terms for talking to people – and who to interview. Professors Elisabeth Eide and Rune Ottosen have also written a lot about Peace Journalism and about «how to report the other».

Not least important is the new generation of journalists. How to empower them – through critical spaces? This topic was not least addressed by Dr. Altaf Khan. 

There are challenges ahead, but the good news is that there are so many young talented, dedicated, serious and curious aspiring journalists. They can make a big difference in our societies. Stay curious and brave! And safe.

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