Drs. Becker and Valdez after the meeting at Ateneo.

Collaborative Project Funded by U.S. Institute of Peace Launched with Meeting of Three Partners in Manila

Representatives of the three organizations collaborating on a program to improve media coverage of conflict agreed at a meeting in Manila in late December on a timetable for the first year of the two-year project.

The group decided to hold the first workshop for journalists April 15-17, 2005, in Cebu City. Content analysis of media coverage of the conflict in the Philippines will begin February 7. A second planning session will be held in late January.

The project is being funded by a grant from the United States Institute of Peace to the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

Partners in the project are Konrad Adenauer Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University and the Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute. The Konrad Adenauer Center is a unit of the Department of Communication at Ateneo.

The goal of the project is to develop new models for coverage of conflict. The models will be assessed through an analysis of media coverage before and after training in the new approaches to coverage of conflict.

In addition to the workshop planned for April for working journalists, a second will be held for editors. Analysis of media coverage will be ongoing during the periods between the two workshops and after the second.

The USIP announced the $83, 570 competitive grant in September of 2004. The Cox Center will contribute additional funding.

Karen Tanada, executive director, and Alfredo Lubang, program director, represented the GZO Peace Institute at the meeting in December, held on the campus of the Ateneo de Manila University. GZO was created in January of 1991 to support peaceful settlement and transformation of conflicts in the Philippines and serves as a resource on peace and conflict resolution.

Representing the Adenauer Center for Journalists were Dr. Violet Valdez, director, Chay Hofilena, director for training, and Mark Escaler, a member of the faculty of the Department of Communication. Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the Cox Center, represented the University of Georgia.

The workshop in April will include journalists from Mindanao, in the south of the Philippines. Conflict between the ruling authorities in the north of the island country and those living in the southern islands is at least four centuries old. Today, the conflict involves government forces and at least two groups, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MIFL) and Abu Sayyaf, a group some say is linked to al-Quaeda.

The government and MILF agreed to a ceasefire in July of 2003.

The April workshop also will include a small number of journalists from outside the Philippines and will focus on the social and religious components of the conflict.

Cebu City, the venue of the April workshop, is a regional transportation hub linking the north and south of the country. Journalists from Cebu City also will be invited to participate in the workshop.

The proposal to USIP from the Cox Center grew out of a collaboration between the Adenauer Center for Journalism and the Cox Center in February of 2003. The two organizations jointly organized and presented a workshop in Manila on the coverage of the victims of crime and violence, including the victims of war.

The Crimes of War Project, located in Washington, D.C., in the United States, also was a partner in that workshop and will serve as a resource for the new collaborative project. Other organizations from throughout the Philippines and the region are expected to be called upon to provide expertise as the project evolves.

“The meeting in Manila was a great success,” Dr. Becker said after returning to the U.S. “I think we have a very strong partnership and a commitment to collaborate on this important project, which meshes with the goals of our three organizations.”

Dr. Becker said he indicated to others at the meeting in Manila that he hoped the project was just a first step in building up a partnership for collaboration on future activities focused on journalism and conflict resolution.