GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR THE PREVENTION OF ARMED CONFLICT 02/11
By Michael Shank
Welcome to the GPPAC’s Media Training Manual
The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) is a world-wide civil society-led network which aims to build a new international consensus on peacebuilding and the prevention of violent conflict. GPPAC strengthens civil society networks for peace and security by linking local, national, regional, and global levels of action and provides an effective vehicle for engagement with governments, the UN system and regional organizations. The Global Partnership is structured through fifteen regional networks, each of which has developed an action agenda to reflect regional principles and priorities.
This manual was borne out of the recognition that GPPAC has a unique global capacity and global mandate to impact how conflict is represented in the media. While many GPPAC organizations and practitioners are already heavily engaged in using media in all formats, this manual recognizes that media opportunities remain underutilized in almost every environment and that more can be done. Consequently, this manual represents the beginning of a GPPAC initiated global capacity building process wherein member organizations and individuals will participate in media trainings in both workshop and online formats, in addition to having this manual serve as an ongoing and ever-evolving resource.
As a starting point, this manual assumes that the practitioner comes with limited media experience and trusts that practitioners will build upon their existing knowledge as they work through the manual’s activities and exercises.
If you’re reading this manual, it likely means three things: you’re a member of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, you represent an organization working globally to reduce and prevent violent conflict, and you believe that media is a powerful medium for effecting social change. This last point is of particular importance as the peacebuilding and conflict prevention community, historically speaking, has not placed great emphasis or importance on engaging with the traditional media.
In response, this manual places primary focus on how to interact and work with mainstream media – be it radio, television or print media. This manual is not intended to look at media of the variety employed by Search for Common Ground – e.g. self-produced soap operas. While this media work is undoubtedly an important and effective form of peacebuilding, the focus of this manual is oriented toward empowering peacebuilding and conflict prevention practitioners in the mainstream media spotlight.
In coordinating with GPPAC, the following sections were selected because they represent the full range of topics from assessment to prescription – in other words, how do we first analyze the causes and conditions of conflict, understand the stage or phase in which a conflict emerges, identify the most appropriate conflict response, and construct the most effective media campaign to leverage the analysis and conflict response. The manual will be very hands-on and instructional, and encourages you to begin practicing immediately by writing draft op-eds and press releases, rehearsing television and radio interviews, and practicing conflict analysis.
The fastest way to learn how to interact with the media is through experimentation and trial and error. You learn how to write an op-ed through practice by actually writing an op-ed, and no amount of reading and intellectual preparation can teach you the skills of op-ed writing.
One additional word of advice: to be successful in producing and garnering media attention, you’ll need to be persistent, patient, and persevering on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Some peacebuilders imagine that we can quickly garner a media hit without having established the media relationships and foundation necessary to bear fruit in the ways we want it to – a process which takes time.
If you want to be successful in working with the media, you’ll need to be ready to invest a substantial amount of time in the process. This is necessary for two reasons: media may not trust you or know of you until they see you time and time again, and you’ll need time to really rehearse and harness your skill set. There is a tendency among some peacebuilders to give up on the media after a few tries or to completely distrust them, so much so that they’ve shut their mind off to all potential. Resist this tendency. You can develop a good relationship with the media and use it effectively if you’re willing to devote the necessary time to build relations and build your skill set.
A Final Note
The first few sections may be of less interest to some of you, as they deal more with the analytical and theoretical aspects of conflict and media discourse. However, we decided to include these sections in the manual as they provide a good overview and foundation for those who are interested in reviewing or learning techniques in conflict analysis, conflict response and media discourse.
Please approach this manual as the beginning of a conversation between and among GPPAC and its members. We recognize the need, for example, to add new sections that highlight the innumerous international stories vis-à-vis working with the media, opportunities and challenges. We encourage GPPAC members to engage in dialogue with us about additional components that could be included and we certainly seek examples of media ‘best practices’ throughout our member countries and regions. Thus, this manual is a work in progress with an explicit goal of becoming enhanced and strengthened over time. We look forward to working with you to ensure that happens.
With that, we begin. The table of contents will guide you through the training manual. Good luck with the read and, more importantly, good luck with your efforts to reduce and prevent violent conflict by effectively using the media to communicate your message.