Building Peace Through Media
By Emily Study, SOC Website Reporter
Although journalists are objective reporters and observers of news, they can still help bring awareness to specific issues, build community and foster conversations through the media.
“Journalism is fundamental to bringing … issues to public attention,” said School of Communication (SoC) Associate Professor Gilda Parrella. “[Journalists] are doing what they can to focus on the facts of the story and trying to get those right in a way that does not necessarily promote a particular point of view. At the same time, any time you focus the spotlight on anything, you call attention to it.”
Bringing attention to issues will be one of the key topics at a panel discussion called Building Peace Through Media at the “Pacem in Terris: Building Peace in Chicago and Beyond” conference on Saturday, March 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The event, held at the Richard J. Klarchek Information Commons, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in Terris, or “Peace on Earth.”
“We’re trying to commemorate that document, and also to look at circumstances that we see in Chicago – the increasing amount of violence everywhere,” Parrella said. “We’re trying to show what faculty at the university are doing to meet the challenge of reducing violence.”
In addition to the Building Peace Through Media panel, three other panels – Building Peace in and with Schools, Building Peaceful Communities and Neighborhoods, and Building International Peace in Chicago: Local is Global – will discuss ways Loyola students, faculty and staff can create and promote peace.
Parrella will moderate the Building Peace Through Media panel discussion, which will take place from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
With her 2011 publications of “Consensus-building Journalism: An Immodest Proposal” and “What Mediation Looks Like for Journalists” in Harvard’s Nieman Reports, Parrella is initiating a national project attempting to combine mediation and journalism.
“What I’m focusing on is trying to create a new form of journalism … that focuses on how disputes can be resolved around immigration, gun control or any of these issues,” Parrella said. “How we can have a more mediated conversation, rather than just a win-lose debate, where the outcome of the coverage may in fact lead to much more dissension than it might to more understanding and resolution.”
The media panel will also feature three SoC faculty members: Assistant Professor of Specialized Journalism Julia Lieblich, Associate Professor of Film Production Jeffrey Harder and Distinguished Journalist in Residence Don Wycliff, who is also the former public editor and ombudsman of The Chicago Tribune.
Each of these faculty members will bring to the panel a unique experience or point of view about building peace through media.
“[Journalists] can choose important stories to write and interview people whose voices are rarely heard,” Lieblich said. “Our stories may result in social change, but we cannot advocate.”
Last year, Lieblich published a book, Wounded I Am More Awake: Finding Meaning After Terror, which tells the story of a Bosnian concentration camp survivor who becomes a psychiatrist so he can help other survivors of trauma heal and find meaning.
“When you bear witness to some event that needs to be looked at by the public, you are making a choice that this event needs to be examined more fully,” Parrella said. “Anytime you bear witness to something, you are raising the level of consciousness and being hopeful that people who have this information will do something about it.”
Lieblich teaches several courses, including Human Rights Reporting, Historical and Critical Issues in Journalism, Social Justice Communication and Critical Ethnography.
“I teach Human Rights Reporting because I want students to be educated in social, legal and political issues so they can be smart and thoughtful reporters, but they are not advocates,” she said. “By choosing to write about human rights, they are choosing to shed light on important subjects.”
In addition to objectively reporting on specific issues, Lieblich emphasized that opinion writing is a fundamental way journalists can promote peace, justice and community building. “Only in opinion pieces do we express a point of view,” she said.
Harder, another SoC faculty member who will speak at the Building Peace Through Media panel, uses films and film production to help promote peace and will highlight some of his work at the event.
He has shot, edited and directed more than 18 films and videos, and has worked several years in Jajce, Bosnia-Herzegovina, to help found the Jajce Youth Media Project. The project, Harder said, helped to bring together youth in various ethnic communities in the post-conflict area by using film workshops.
“[Media] is an activity that brings people together. By offering the workshops, people come together and work – that’s the primary beneficial element,” Harder said. “On the next level, when you’re doing videos like documentaries, then you have to go out [and] engage the community. In a little way, you bring a small segment of the population together and they realize they can work together. It’s one of those small things in peace building.”
By using media – film and film production – Harder has been able to bring people together and emphasize their differences in a positive light.
At Loyola, Harder teaches Topics in Film History and Film Genre, Introduction to Cinema, Film Production, Directing for the Screen and Digital Cinema Production.
Finally, Wycliff, the third SoC faculty member speaking at the Building Peace Through Media panel, will bring his experience from The Chicago Tribune to enlighten students, faculty and staff on the interactions between the media and its audience.
As the former public editor and ombudsman of The Chicago Tribune, Wycliff spent much of his time working as a kind of mediator at the newspaper.
“The whole idea is to instill trust in the news media and the newspaper, and, presumably, instilling trust by explaining how we do what we do,” Wycliff said. “It helps to foster good relations – peace, if you will – on particular topics.”
Wycliff also spent a lot of time responding to questions, complaints and comments from readers. He said people often sent “intemperate emails” under the assumption that no one would actually read them. However, Wycliff responded to these emails.
“All effort was to give a face to the institution and an ear to the public,” he said. “When you do those things, people kind of automatically become a little more civil and peaceful in their modes of expression and their attitudes.”
Wycliff teaches Reporting and Writing, Historical and Critical Issues in Journalism, Ethics & Communication, Feature and Opinion Writing and Journalism in Race.
By listening to the SoC faculty members or attending other panel discussions at the conference, Parrella said she hopes students will be motivated to help build peace in Chicago.
“Loyola students have a particular commitment to making a difference in the world and trying to contribute something that goes beyond just making a living,” she said. “I would hope that the audience will be inspired to become connected with any of the projects that faculty are working on in the university.”
More Featured Stories
School of LawClinical Professor of Law Anita Weinberg (JD ’86), director of Loyola’s ChildLaw Policy Institute, was awarded the first Ignatius Loyola Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Faculty Convocation last fall.
School of CommunicationThis year’s Career Week runs from Jan. 27–29 and is a great way for School of Communication students to prepare for their job search. The annual Job & Internship Fair, featuring more than 50 companies, is Feb. 3.
ServiceLoyola recently received two national honors for its commitment to social justice—and it only took about 5,700 students and 593,000 hours of community service in a single year to get there.
School of LawLoyola University Chicago School of Law Dean David N. Yellen ranks No. 5 on the National Jurist’s list of the “25 most influential people in legal education.” Last year, Yellen was ranked 17th on the list.
QuinlanQuinlan’s annual Whiteboard Competition gives students three minutes with a whiteboard and felt pen to pitch their ideas and inventions. And in April, Quinlan will launch a new challenge for budding entrepreneurs.
NursingAs a biomedical engineer, Lynn Anne Gantt longed to work on the frontlines of patient care. After having four boys, she took a break from engineering before discovering an outlet that would allow her to pursue her dream—the accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (ABSN) program at Loyola.
ResearchLoyola psychology professor Grayson Holmbeck has been studying children with spina bifida for more than 20 years. In that time, he says: “We’ve learned a lot about what their problems and issues are, what we can do to help them, and more importantly, what they’re capable of.”
QuinlanSee how Quinlan students turned a tragedy into a learning opportunity—and a chance to save lives.
Professor profileQuinlan Professor Nenad Jukić was named Loyola’s Faculty Member of the Year on September 14 as part of the University’s Faculty Convocation. This latest award caps off a string of impressive accolades for Jukić, who also was named Quinlan’s Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher of the Year.
Helping othersFour Loyola graduate students were recently selected for the prestigious Albert Schweitzer Fellowship program and will spend the next year working on healthcare-related projects to help underserved communities in Chicago.
AcademicsLoyola is one of just 283 universities to have a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, a claim that only about 10 percent of the nation’s colleges can make.
SustainabilityLoyola is ranked No. 4 on the Sierra Club’s 2014 list of the greenest colleges in America. The annual rankings are designed to spotlight universities that are deeply committed to environmental responsibility.
In the newsLoyola’s Information Commons joins an elite group of peers on Business Insider’s list of the “coolest” college libraries in the country.
ExploreThe Institute of Environmental Sustainability combines academics and research with agriculture and community living—all in one facility.
Damen CenterThe Damen Center was designed from top to bottom with students in mind, making it the center of social life on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus.