Conflict-sensitive Journalism 2021

An indispensable tool for everyday peacebuilding

Fietzek Libanon
© Fietzek/forumZFD


Societies in conflict are pervaded by widely differing discourses created and advanced by diverse groups of societal actors representing their respective interests. These discourses overlap, compete and spread, both horizontally and vertically, forging fragmented landscapes within which the media construct and journalistically shape conflict narratives. The news, articles, information and models of interpretation they produce colour the perceptions of listeners, viewers, readers and internet audiences. These perceptions in turn influence the course of conflicts, escalating or, in an ideal scenario, de-escalating them and steering them towards peacebuilding. That this is so creates challenges.

To meet these, conflict-sensitive journalism, which is one component in the communication for peace (C4P) toolbox, is seen as a promising instrument of conflict transformation. It aims to trace the causes of violent conflicts, enable previously unheard voices to be heard, and examine previously unnamed or overlooked options for approaching conflict transformation, introducing these to the debate.

In the seven-week course, the attributes of conflict-sensitive journalism (CSJ) will be mapped out, and students will see how these interweave with the characteristics of conflicts, their transformation processes, and concepts of peace. Participants will also learn how CSJ can be put into practice in processes of media-related peacebuilding.


Students will:

  • develop an understanding of processes, configurations of actors, and transformation processes in conflict scenarios, based on conflict theories;
  • strengthen their critical self-perception as actors in the practice of peacebuilding;
  • comprehend the indispensible role of communication in conflict transformation;
  • be introduced to the concepts of Communication for Peace (C4P) and media-related peacebuilding;
  • become familiar with conflict-sensitive viewpoints and the criteria for constructive journalism;
  • apply the concepts and criteria of CSJ in peacebuilding contexts.

Key concepts

  • Peace
  • Conflict transformation
  • Bottom-up peacebuilding
  • Media-related peacebuilding
  • Communication for Peace (C4P)
  • Quality journalism
  • Conflict-sensitive journalism (CSJ)


Participants in the course will be practitioners in the field, journalists and communications specialists, and anyone generally interested in the topic. This means they will come with differing motivations for learning. Some may be interested in finding out how to use the CSJ tool in peace programs. Others will want to use elements of the approach in their own work. Some students may wish to learn how to discern and assess the difference between conflict-escalating and conflict-sensitive journalism in media coverage in general.

Students will be given inputs that introduce them to basics and contextual factors that need to be considered when these concepts are implemented in practice. At the same time, participants will be motivated to develop CSJ elements in practice, with the aim of using them to create a simulated media product.

Participants actively, alone or in group work, examine questions such as “What is a conflict?” and “To what extent can it be transformed?”; “What role do the media generally play in these situations?”; “What does it mean in these scenarios to work journalistically?”; “What exactly is ‘journalistic quality’?” and “How can we deal with conflicts more sensitively in journalism?”. In the interests of making the exercises as practice-oriented as possible, participants will be prompted to think about the challenges and working conditions of journalists in conflict countries, and, where relevant, integrate these considerations into the concepts developed in their own work beyond the online course.


Online Live Sessions: every Tuesday from 20 April to 8 June, 4.00–5.30pm CET/CEST.


  1. active participation in the weekly live online sessions, requiring regular preparation in the form of working through the materials and texts;
  2. brief written explorations of the contents of material provided before or in the live online sessions, as preparation for, or follow-up of, some of the sessions;
  3. group development of students‘ own ideas in the field of CSJ and media-related peacebuilding, based on concepts presented;
  4. Powerpoint presentation (online) of the results of final assignments, and discussion of these in the plenary.

Total expected workload: 4–6 hours per week.


Information about the seminar

Time frame
Seminar type
Online Seminar
Seminar language
Early bird price