The news coverage of conflicts invariably focuses on violence and details of violent events. Such coverage potentially aggravates conflict by failing to highlight peaceful alternatives and by anticipating further violence. Several researchers have suggested diverse roles for media in preventing and resolving a conflict. Johan Galtung, a peace researcher with more than four decades of experience in conflict resolution, has put forward the concept of 'Peace journalism' -preventing and resolving conflict through media. With the current developments in media coverage, triggered by conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kashmir, the Middle East and other parts, the concept of peace journalism is raising a critical debate on the way media is reporting these conflicts and its impact on conflict prevention and resolution.
In view of the pattern of contemporary news coverage of conflicts, researchers argue that news coverage can be a frightful weapon of violence when it propagates messages of intolerance or disinformation that shape public sentiment. Galtung argues that the world is divided into nation-states where citizens and media are supposed to identify themselves with their state. In such a situation, the reporting of conflicts is based on the communiques from the top military command that would reflect their worldviews. Galtung, while criticizing contemporary news coverage of conflicts, claims that the media generally follow the 'low road' in reporting conflict - chasing wars, the elites that run them, and a 'win-lose' outcome. He says that in the present scenario, media legitimize violence by constantly giving coverage to it and mostly ignore peaceful outcomes of conflict.
This thesis tests Galtung's claims regarding news coverage of conflict. The India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir was chosen as a case study. The findings of the study confirm that news coverage of conflict invariably focuses on violence and details of violent events. Such coverage potentially aggravates already volatile conflict by failing to highlight peaceful alternatives and anticipating further violence. My study also identifies -in the case of Indian English language newspaper coverage of the India-Pakistan conflict and Kashmir - factors which explain why conflict is reported in the manner Galtung suggests. I conclude by recommending certain measures drawn out from my personal interaction with journalists reporting on India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir.