Media In War And Peace: The Case Of Sudan On An African Context (2005 -2007)

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The main objective of the study is to investigate how media have covered the conflicts in Sudan. The study also tried to assess war campaigns and examined the likely barriers posed to durable peace. It also envisages the possibility of an alternative media which is neither owned by the government nor by the opposition parties to sustain peace. It also assesses the coverage of certain newspapers of both war and peace issues to depict differences or similarities in the way they cover conflicts and peace processes. The study employs media and politics theories of Agenda Setting and Media Framing as well as media effects theories. The study implemented content analysis tool for studying the content of 261 issues representing the government opinion (Al Ray Al Aam) and independent newspaper (Alayaam) representing the public. Audience content research is also implemented to compare what media actually offers to what key politicians and members of academia as well as editors-in-chief expect from the media. The interviews were conducted with 27 key figures representing the leaders of major political parties in the scene today in Sudan as well as professors of communication who write regularly for newspapers and editors in chief of major daily political newspapers. The target group represents the views of the ruling political parties as well as the opposition views on media performance during conflicts and the expected role of media to consolidate peace. The period selected is that of the Government of National Unity rather than that of Salvation to see whether singing three peace agreements does change media coverage. The Major findings of the study are; the Sudanese media being a state owned media was used as amouthpiece of the government (NCP) during Sudan’s three major conflicts; in the South where the longest war in the modern history took place between the SPLA fighters and the successive Governments in the North from 1955 to 2001 except for a ten years relapse from 1972-1983 and ended by signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The government used the media as war mongers and seized any attempt at freedom of expression by issuing press regulatory laws and National Security Laws. In Darfur conflict in the West, which has been agitated by non-signatories of Darfur Peace Agreement, signed in 2005. The East conflict is also settled by signing peace agreement with conflicting parties. Media campaigns negatively affected peace processes and helped to agitate the war. Media coverage was perceived as shallow and did not reflect or address the root causes of the conflicts so as help the public understanding the nature of conflicts. Among the major findings is the way media covered conflicts through news articles rather than in depth analysis. Sourcing is another problem since the news was obtained from government sources or spokespersons while real field coverage was absent due to security and economic factors Lack of training, media education for conflict coverage did hinder journalists from providing first-hand reporting that caters for the different conflicting parties. The coverage lacks conflict-sensitive coverage skills and knowledge of IHL. Media campaigns were shaped by the prevailing political and ideological context of the regime. Newspapers examined showed major differences in the coverage where Alayaam newspaper coverage is statistically significant for war news while Al Ray Al Aam newspaper is statistically significant for peace coverage in 2005 and 2006. The study utilized SPSS and Scheffe test.