Scholarly article on topic 'The Mass-media Role in Conflict Resolution (A Case Study of Kompas Daily Coverage on Aceh Conflict 2003 – 2005)'

The Mass-media Role in Conflict Resolution (A Case Study of Kompas Daily Coverage on Aceh Conflict 2003 – 2005) Academic research paper on "Media and communications"

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{"Media's role" / "conflict resolution" / violence / "peace dialogue" / reconciliation}

Abstract of research paper on Media and communications, author of scientific article — Najih Imtihani

Abstract This research discusses on the media coverage of separatist conflict in Aceh, involving Independent Aceh Movement and Indonesian Government/Army. The conflict in the western of Indonesia had occurred for 29 years (1979-2005) and killed a lot of victims and destroyed many properties. The main questions in this research are How did the mass media give coverage on this conflict and construct the image of both conflicting parties?, How do mass media deliver the information leading to the peace process or increasing the violence along the conflict? This research set the coverage of Kompas Daily Newspaper as the data source. Content analysis method was applied in this research; i.e. by comprehensively reading every single word, phrase, sentence and paragraph in the news item covering the update of Aceh conflict. Article reading would be focused on the covering and news source statement of violence and anti-violence, peace negotiation (dialog) and anti-dialog, as well as reconciliation and anti- reconciliation. The data showed that the events and facts in the field mostly affected the conflict coverage, such as the violence and peace dialog coverage. When a lot of violence happened in the field, the coverage was generally about violence. In the contrary, when both conflicting parties decided to have peace dialog, the mass media coverage was dominated with this issue. In other words, the role of mass-media in conflict resolution was mostly affected by the situations and facts happened in the field. The higher the violence happened, the lesser the mass media played the role in the conflict resolution processes. In the contrary, the more peace dialogs conducted, the bigger the mass media played the role in the conflict resolution processes.

Academic research paper on topic "The Mass-media Role in Conflict Resolution (A Case Study of Kompas Daily Coverage on Aceh Conflict 2003 – 2005)"

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Procedia Environmental Sciences 20 (2014) 451 - 458

The 4th International Conference on Sustainable Future for Human Security, SustaiN 2013

The Mass-Media Role in Conflict Resolution

(A Case Study of Kompas Daily Coverage on Aceh Conflict 20032005)

Najih Imtihani *

Department of Media Studies, Graduate School of Social Studies, Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan

Abstract

This research discusses on the media coverage of separatist conflict in Aceh, involving Independent Aceh Movement and Indonesian Government/Army. The conflict in the western of Indonesia had occurred for 29 years (1979-2005) and killed a lot of victims and destroyed many properties. The main questions in this research are How did the mass media give coverage on this conflict and construct the image of both conflicting parties?, How do mass media deliver the information leading to the peace process or increasing the violence along the conflict? This research set the coverage of Kompas Daily Newspaper as the data source.

Content analysis method was applied in this research; i.e. by comprehensively reading every single word, phrase, sentence and paragraph in the news item covering the update of Aceh conflict. Article reading would be focused on the covering and news source statement of violence and anti-violence, peace negotiation (dialog) and anti-dialog, as well as reconciliation and anti-reconciliation.

The data showed that the events and facts in the field mostly affected the conflict coverage, such as the violence and peace dialog coverage. When a lot of violence happened in the field, the coverage was generally about violence. In the contrary, when both conflicting parties decided to have peace dialog, the mass media coverage was dominated with this issue. In other words, the role of mass-media in conflict resolution was mostly affected by the situations and facts happened in the field. The higher the violence happened, the lesser the mass media played the role in the conflict resolution processes. In the contrary, the more peace dialogs conducted, the bigger the mass media played the role in the conflict resolution processes.

© 2014 NajihImtihani.Publishedby ElsevierB.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Selectionandpeer-reviewunder responsibility of the SustaiN conference committee and supported by Kyoto University; (RISH), (OPIR), (GCOE-ARS)and(GSS)asco-hosts

Keywords: Media's role; conflict resolution; violence; peace dialogue; reconciliation

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +62-812-4329-9965. E-mail address: najih_iim@yahoo.com

1878-0296 © 2014 Najih Imtihani. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the SustaiN conference committee and supported by Kyoto University; (RISH), (OPIR),

(GCOE-ARS) and (GSS) as co-hosts

doi:10.1016/j.proenv.2014.03.057

1. Introduction

Separatist movements in different parts of the world often create dynamics of conflict and violence among various actors, including government, separatist groups and civil society. One of the forces that shapes and influences the dynamics of conflict is the role of mass media. The information delivered by the mass media is capable of constructing the reality of various actors and society in the context of conflict. Reality is considered as true knowledge so that it is expressed through social action and discourse. The discourse and action affect the conflict escalation and de-escalation. As in the case of separatism in Aceh Indonesia in the period from 1976-2006, the mass media contributed in constructing knowledge of conflicting actors in Aceh because the mass media determined the flow and choice of information influencing the public knowledge.

In the case of separatist conflict in Aceh, the important role of mass media encouraged the Indonesian Army to control the content of information in the conflict in Aceh. Journalists were forced to follow the military rules and supervision. In the beginning of 2003, the Indonesian Army put journalists reporting in Aceh in a news reporting training in war situation (embedded journalism). The training was held at the military training center of Indonesian Army at Sanggabuwana, Bogor (Sinar Harapan, 30 Mei 2003).

The role of mass media in disseminating information, as a matter of knowledge in human awareness, can actually be constructive for peace as well as deconstructive. The constructive role of mass media is located on the formation of reality on a peace process in conflict resolution (peace process). The peace process in conflict resolution can simply be defined as the multidimensional methods, including economy, politics and security, in order the conflict can be resolved without any violence. Otherwise, the deconstructive role of mass media can be indicated by the news content causing a probability of violence reaction among the conflicting actors.

This study was basically an effort to discover the role of Indonesian mass media in the peace process in Aceh. How did the mass media deliver any information constructing the knowledge of peace process or any information constructing the violence? Next, reviewing the position of journalists in peace process related to the disseminated information - how did journalists become a part of the role construction of mass media in peace process in Aceh? This study took the case of Kompas Daily Newspaper's role as a national media during Indonesian democratization actively involving in reporting the separatist conflict in Aceh during the period of 2003-2005.

1.1. Data

This study took the case of Kompas Daily Newspaper's role as a national media during Indonesian democratization which was actively involving in reporting the separatist conflict in Aceh during the period from 2003-2005.

The data for this study had been the news published from January 2003 to September 2005. The year of 2003 was the climax of violence in Aceh conflict characterized by the cancellation of CoHA (Cessation of Hostilities Agreement) and the implementation of Integrated Military Operation 2003. The greatest military operation after the new-order era initially would be conducted for 6 months since 19 May 2003, but finally it was extended into one year. However, until the completion of this military operation, the situation in Aceh could not be considered as safe and Independent Aceh Movement still resisted. The occurrence of earthquake and tsunami on 26 December 2004 encouraged the government and Independent Aceh Movement to perform an armistice and created a peace discussion to end the conflict that has made the people of Aceh suffer for a long time. After passing some negotiations, the Indonesian government and the Independent Aceh Movement finally agreed to sign peace deal in Helsinki on 15 August 2005.

1.2. Data Analysis Method

The primary data were sorted into two, i.e. the primary data of news content and interview with journalists. The primary data of news content were tabulated with a concept of peace process of resolution including non-violence effort, negotiation and reconciliation. The deconstruction of peace process of conflict resolution contained violence, anti-dialogue, and anti-reconciliation.

According to the Oxford dictionaries, violence is defined as behaviour involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something. The term of violence used in analysis refers to every behavior of conflicting parties to their rival or not rival that intends to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something. The action that is

included as violence is killing, torture, kidnapping, shooting, firing, gun firing, robbery, and rape. While, peace dialogue is defined as a dialogue practice of mutual accommodation applied in different dialogue procedures to achieve social transformation. The term of peace dialogue in this paper refers to every statement, recommendation, or action to make conflicting parties to meet and discuss how to end hostilities. According to Lederach1, reconciliation is a meeting ground where trust and mercy have met, and where justice and peace have kissed. The term of reconciliation in this paper refers to every action and policy to brings people and conflicting parties to live together in a normalized, peaceful, and trusting relationship in the present.

The data were analyzed by including the news intensity and news discourse. Next, to review the relation of journalists as the actors actively constructing news, the whole results of interview were transcribed and analyzed by the social construction approach. The next step was the analysis of primary data to investigate how media played its role in the peace process of conflict resolution in Aceh Indonesia.

2. Finding

Media play a role on conveying news on conflict reality happened in Aceh to people. Kompas Daily, as a national media, also had concerns on reporting Aceh conflict. During 2003, Kompas Daily wrote 992 pieces of news on Aceh conflict, but the news decreased into 280 pieces of news in 2004. While in 2005 (January-August), the number of the news increased to 431 articles.

The news orientation in supporting peace process can be divided into news of violence, nonviolence ones, dialogue/negotiation, anti-dialogue and reconciliation. In the beginning of establishment of Aceh as Emergency Military Operation area, the news on the conflict in Aceh was increasing sharply. Moreover, after the issue of Presidential Decree No. 28 year 2008 regarding Enactment of Emergency Military Status in Nangroe Aceh Darussalam Province, which was effective since 19 May 2003. On May 2003, Kompas wrote 207 pieces of news on Aceh conflict, and most of the news was oriented in conflict violence in form of firing contact between both conflicting parties.

Table 1 shows that in January 2003, there were only 2 pieces of news on Aceh conflict, while in March, there were only 5 pieces of the news. A month before Emergency Military Operation establishment, the news of Aceh conflict directly increased into 20 pieces of news. In the month of Presidential Decree issuance that established the Emergency Military Operation, news on the conflict sharply increased into 48 pieces of news. News on the violence continuously was all over the news of Aceh conflict until the end of 2003. Otherwise, the news of Aceh conflict without any violence elements were far fewer. Only in January 2003 and February 2003, nonviolence-oriented news was more than violence-oriented news.

During 2003, there were 230 pieces of violence-oriented news while there were only 37 pieces of nonviolence news. The increase of conflict escalation in Aceh seemed supporting the news on violence in Aceh; otherwise, the news on the peace process was less published. The most pieces of news on the peace effort during 2003 were on the months during the Emergency Military Operation establishment because during the period, there were also some debates on how to end the conflict in Aceh. In the following months, the news covering peace effort arose although in a very few pieces. Besides the news on the dialogue, there was also anti-dialogue-nuanced news although they came in a fewer quantity. In August and November 2003, the reconciliation-nuanced news started to be published.

The peace effort-oriented news covering Aceh conflict in Kompas Daily had been actually published since January 2003 or several months before the Emergency Military Operation establishment, i.e. 8 pieces of news. However, the Kompas Daily newspaper still published a piece of anti-reconciliation-oriented news. The news covering Aceh conflict was decreasing at the end of 2003 to only 5 pieces of violence-oriented news.

The number of news covering Aceh conflict in Kompas Daily during 2004 was sharply decreasing, i.e. only 280 pieces. Similarly, the number of violence-oriented news (Table 2), i.e. only 38 pieces during 2004. Although it was decreasing, the coverage of violence-oriented news was more than the pieces of nonviolence news, which were only 14 pieces. The number of peace process and negotiation-oriented news was only 3 pieces, i.e. 1 coverage in October and 2 coverage in November. In the mean time, there was no news on anti-dialogue and anti-reconciliation acts.

Table 1. Kompas News Orientation on Aceh Conflict in 2003

Violence Non Peace Anti- Reconci- Anti

Month violence dialogue dialogue liation Reconciliation

January 2 6 1 0 0 0

February 0 4 1 0 0 1

March 5 2 3 0 0 0

April 20 6 3 0 0 0

May 48 6 9 0 0 0

June 19 3 1 0 0 0

July 49 1 4 0 3 0

August 33 2 1 1 1 0

September 20 2 3 1 0 0

October 10 3 0 0 0 0

November 19 2 3 0 1 0

December 5 0 0 0 0 0

Total 230 37 29 2 5 1

Table 2. Kompas News Orientation on Aceh Conflict in 2004

Violence Non Peace Anti- Reconci- Anti

Month violence dialogue dialogue liation Reconciliation

January 3 0 0 0 0 0

February 5 0 0 0 0 0

March 1 0 0 0 0 0

April 2 1 0 0 0 0

May 1 5 0 0 0 0

June 4 1 0 0 0 0

July 2 0 0 0 0 0

August 5 0 0 0 0 0

September 6 0 0 0 0 0

October 2 0 1 0 0 0

November 3 5 2 0 0 0

December 4 2 0 0 0 0

Total 38 14 3 0 0 0

The decrease of violence oriented news in 2004 can be interpreted as the decrease of violence in Aceh so that the number of violence oriented news was decreasing. But it can also be interpreted as the change of mass media orientation in reporting the conflict. In other words, media started to be bored to report violence and started to focus the news coverage on other topic related to the conflict, such as the case of release of journalist who was held captive by Independent Aceh Movement and the implementation of general election in Aceh under emergency military condition.

In the beginning of 2005, it seemed that there was a turning point of news orientation. Kompas Daily reported more regarding the dialogue process between Independent Aceh Movement and Indonesian government, i.e. there were 151 pieces of news and 28 pieces of reconciliation oriented news. The number of violence oriented news was quite many, i.e. there were 25 pieces of news, but the number of nonviolence oriented news was almost not decreasing, i.e. there were 13 pieces of news. The domination of peace oriented news in Aceh during 2005 still showed less anti-dialogue oriented news that occurred on January, March, and April 2005.

Table 3. Kompas News Orientation on Aceh Conflict in 2005

Violence Non Peace Anti- Reconci- Anti

Month violence dialogue dialogue liation Reconciliation

January 9 9 8 1 2 0

February 4 3 8 0 0 0

March 3 1 4 1 0 0

April 1 0 9 1 0 0

May 1 0 9 0 0 0

June 1 0 21 0 0 0

July 1 0 41 0 9 0

August 5 0 51 0 17 0

Total 25 13 151 3 28 0

The news on dialogue/negotiation process was sharply increasing; there were 21 pieces in June, 41 pieces in July and 51 pieces in August 2005. This increase was in line with the increase of reconciliation-oriented news: there were 9 pieces in July and 9 pieces in August 2005. Therefore, during 2005, the news in Kompas Daily was more oriented in peace-making process in Aceh.

2.1. News Orientation and Peace Process

The news on Emergency Military Operation published in Kompas Daily newspaper from 2003 until 2005 showed that there was a dynamic of news orientation. It can be observed from the news content, either on violence or nonviolence, oriented in dialogue or anti-dialogue, and oriented in reconciliation or anti-reconciliation ones.

2.1.1. Violence Orientated News

The number of news on violence showed an active dynamics. At a time, the news was more contained of conflict violence; at another time, there was more nonviolence news. However, overall, the frequency of news on conflict violence was more than the frequency of nonviolence news. The highest frequency of conflict violence news was in 2003, i.e. there were 204 titles, and then it decreased in 2004 to 38 titles and decreased again in 2005 to 25 titles. The frequency decrease was shown on Chart 1.

Figure 1. Violence oriented news of Kompas coverage on Aceh conflict during 2003 -2005

The establishment of Emergency Military Operation was equalized to violence because the government tried to end Aceh conflict by gun power and military operation. Therefore, after the emergency military operation was established, Indonesian Army massively attacked the bases of Independent Aceh Movement that caused casualties both from the conflicting parties and civilians caught up in the conflict. The media and journalist coverage in the beginning of 2003 was also more profit-oriented, so that there were reports of more news that could boost newspaper sale. It was confirmed in the interview with a journalist of Elshinta.

"I saw that many media were more profit-oriented by using the conflict as a business of marketable news. Therefore, the news of gun shooting, gunshot contact, murder, and similar news were more expected". (Interview with Iswandi Syahputra, a journalist of Elshinta radio of Jakarta)

The illustration of violence in Aceh was sharply increasing in line with the increase of Aceh status as an Emergency Military Operation area. The highest frequency was on July 2003 when 49 titles found. The frequency of violence news was continuously decreasing at the end of 2003 and continued to show decreasing trend until 2005. The decrease of violence news became a positive sign of peace, but it could not illustrate the peace process. The reality can be interpreted as the decrease in number of violence happened in the field. Or, otherwise, that violence still frequently happened in the field but no mass media reported it as news because people were already tired of violence news. Therefore, mass media changed the point of view of news coverage on Aceh conflict and emphasized more on humanity aspect.

Any news containing violence or violence-oriented also frequently led to the news of winning party and losing party. It made journalists to be the target of the parties that felt to be harmed, either Independent Aceh Movement or Indonesian Army. Safety measure taken by journalists was by reducing the news on conflict violence in Aceh. As a result, the frequency of violence oriented news was continuously decreasing.

2.1.2. Dialogue vs. Anti-Dialogue Orientation

The role of media in peace process in Aceh can be observed from the news coverage that contained all matters supporting the peace process; one of them was news on peace dialogue. The more news on peace dialogue, the easier peace process could be conducted. Dialogue or negotiation was a form of conflict resolution in peaceful methods.

The dialogue process was less held when the conflict escalation was sharply increasing; otherwise, when the escalation was decreasing, more peace dialogue or negotiation would be held. It can also be observed from the data in 2003 (Chart 2), i.e. when the conflict escalation was at the top, the news of peace dialogue/negotiation was less reported.

The frequency of news oriented in dialogue and negotiation between the government/Indonesian Army and Independent Aceh Movement during 2003 and 2004 was very low, i.e. less than 10 titles each month. The frequency of news in dialogue and negotiation had been increasing since the beginning of 2005. It happened because there were high frequency of dialogue and negotiation processes held between the central government party and the representatives of Independent Aceh Movement - both in Aceh and in Helsinki, Finland.

Meanwhile, the frequency of anti-dialogue and anti-negotiation news was very low, i.e. only 5 times in August and September 2003 and in January, March and April 2005. It showed the existence of Kompas' support for the peaceful conflict resolution effort.

2.1.3. Reconciliation and Anti-Reconciliation Orientation

Reconciliation is a step of peace process happening after the existence of peace agreement between the conflicting parties. In December 2002, RI government and Independent Aceh Movement signed an agreement of hostility termination, referred to as CoHA; but, the reality in the field showed that both parties still suspected each other and did not trust each other, so that finally the agreement was revoked.

Figure 3. Reconciliation oriented news of Kompas coverage on Aceh conflict during 2003 -2005

The role of media in the peace process can be observed from the number of news reports, which were more reconciliation-oriented than anti-reconciliation-oriented ones. In the beginning of Emergency Military Operation

establishment in 2003, there was reconciliation-oriented news already although only there was only 1 coverage in August and November 2003. But, during 2004, there was no reconciliation-oriented news.

The reconciliation-oriented news on Aceh conflict reoccurred in January 2005 after Aceh was stricken by tsunami in December 2004. The frequency of reconciliation oriented news was sharply increasing in August 2005, when there were 17 titles found as shown on Chart 3.

3. CONCLUSION

For mass media, any events and facts in the field are the main material underlying the news writing. Similarly, in the case of news coverage of Aceh conflict. The result of analysis of news coverage on some factors supporting the peace process, i.e. violence, peace dialogue and reconciliation, showed that the news coverage dynamic are greatly affected by the events and facts in the field. For example, when more violence happened in the field, the news occurring in newspapers would be more violence-nuanced. Otherwise, when the conflicting parties started the peace dialogue, many newspapers would compete to report it.

Therefore, the result of this study strengthens one of theses by Gadi Wolsfeld2 on the relation between media and news coverage in conflict that states that when level of violence is higher, the role of media in conflict resolution process will be decreasing. Otherwise, when there is more peace dialogue/reconciliation held, the role of media in conflict resolution process will be more significant.

References

Lederach, John Paul. 1995. Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation across Cultures. New York: Syracuse University Press.

Wolfsfeld, Gadi. 2004. Media and the Path to Peace. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.