This nine weeks online course discusses the complex role and functions played by the media, both traditional and new – and the problems they face in conflict situations, whether before, during or after the actual conflict. It also addresses the conflicting agendas and relationships that often occur among media and governments, the military, other armed players and NGOs, international agencies and humanitarian organizations in these circumstances. The course provides a broad understanding of the history of media in conflict and war situations, and draws the distinction between information and propaganda, while explaining the ways in which media work and produce information and discusses the different roles and functions they actually play – and the possible ones they could play.
The course is intended as a general introduction to these topics. It draws lessons from contemporary experience, with an emphasis on new media, social networks and the role they have played in revolutions and contentious politics against authoritarian regimes in recent years. How do new media and the concept of Web 2.0 affect the relationships between traditional media, audiences and various State and non-state actors? Do social media reinforce narratives of war, conflict and extremism or are they a force for peaceful conflict transformation?