We Are Connected by an Intellectual Eective Affinity
How journalism and intercultural dialogue can work for peace and what role a partnership with ifa can play. A conversation with Michael Gleich, the initiator of the Peace Counts project
Mr Gleich, how can peace be made?
I founded Peace Counts fourteen years ago with precisely this question in mind. It is a project in journalism and peace education, and there is nothing else quite like it. It began as a media project with reports about successful peacemakers around the world. We quickly realized that school students can use journalistic formats in class to learn about how peace projects work. Today we also use texts and photos from our reports for exhibitions and workshops, and in crisis regions and in Germany we present solutions that are found for conflicts around the world. The spectrum includes reconciliation and peace commissions, victim-offender mediation, inter-religious dialogue, trauma therapy or the re-integration of child soldiers into society. We hold peace-education seminars and train journalists on these themes.
Can you describe your work more precisely?
We engage in and teach ‘constructive journalism’. We report on conflicts and social issues and we concentrate on solutions and success stories. Reports by Peace Counts have now come from more than fifty different conflict regions and have appeared in the major German media. Our partners, the peace educators of the Berghof Foundation, organise school learning groups and provide teaching materials.
ifa has been working with Peace Counts since it was founded. How does this cooperation work?
We have an intellectual elective affinity – we both want intercultural dialogue. In our reports, we document the social innovations that peace processes generate. The experience gained is then used in training for journalists in conflict regions. In countries like Sri Lanka, Ivory Coast and Colombia, we have already promoted the concept of constructive journalism in seminars, focusing on solutions for social problems. The ifa support programme zivik (civil conflict resolution) Resolution gives us financial assistance in this. Peace Counts and ifa share the same goal of working together on this tough project called peace. Recently, this was shown at Studio Mozaik, a radio school for peace journalists in Ivory Coast.
Why is this project special?
In Ivory Coast there is not much quality journalism, and certainly no ‘constructive journalism’. Together with the European Union, ifa supported the establishment of Studio Mozaik. There, we are training forty journalists each year and are making programmes that support reconciliation processes in the country. In the long term, we want to create the first politically independent radio station in Ivory Coast.
What do you expect of the cooperation with ifa in the future?
Links between us and ifa are not only based on financial support. When I was planning the Global Peacebuilder Summit recently, at which peacemakers from the whole world met in Berlin in September 2016, I of course spoke with zivik, and asked them who were the best people to invite. We will keep close contact for the next peace summits in 2017 and 2018. I am sure that we will always find projects that can enable us to promote peace processes together.
Michael Gleich is a journalist and author of books and the initiator of numerous media projects. His reports have been published in magazines like GEO, Stern and ZEIT-Magazin. In 2002, he founded Peace Counts, a multimedia project about successful peacemakers around the world. Since 2016, he has been organising the Global Peacebuilder Summit, bringing representatives of civil society together.
Rosa Gosch is a journalist and lives in Berlin.
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