detail - Regional Programme Gulf States
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In addition to providing information, media reporting also shapes the public’s perception of conflicts.
The way local, regional, and international media portray a conflict often sets the tone as to what image of the conflict is being conveyed to the conflicting parties and the public at large. Good journalists reflect on the manipulative power of words and images as well as their influence on the dynamic of ongoing conflicts. Hence, media also appear as a relevant actor in every major conflict.
In the context of the civil war in Yemen, media also play a destructive role. Ever since the transformation process under the National Dialogue fell apart in the fall of 2014, media are being utilised as a weapon in the fight for political power and fuel the escalation of violence in the country. The Houthi rebels were able to seize control of state media and are now employing them as a means to legitimise their position. At the same time, the government in exile under President Hadi uses a large number of satellite TV channels as well as the website of the official news agency to delegitimise the insurgents and to strengthen its own position.
Journalists often follow one of the two contrary discourses. In doing so, they disregard fundamental principles of journalism dedicated to non-partisanship and the prevention of violence, which – using neutral communication channels – could contribute to de-escalation and overcoming the conflict peacefully.
Against this background, the Regional Office Gulf States will host its first inter-regional conference on the role of media in the Yemen conflict. From May 17-19, Yemeni, Arab, and international journalists will address the nexus of journalism and the narratives of local and regional conflict parties. The event aims at discussing and deconstructing the impact of journalism and the specific use of language in the context of polarisation and competing narratives of conflict.
Additionally, a collection of papers that examine this nexus between media language and conflict in Yemen will be published in cooperation with the online magazine “Muftah”.