The Ethics of Engagement

The Ethics of Engagement

By Herman Wasserman

In Africa, the media plays a significant role in conflict management and resolution. Which conflicts the media report, which are ignored, and how conflicts are represented can have a profound impact on the outcomes. While the media can in some cases ensure the stability of African democracy, critics have pointed out that in other cases, the media actually increases tensions in areas of conflict. The media tends to privilege only elite voices, offering superficial coverage of marginalized groups in a way that increases polarization.

In The Ethics of Engagement, Herman Wasserman explores the ethics of the media in conflicts that arise during transitions to democracy in Africa. He examines the roles, responsibilities, and obligations of media in contexts of high socioeconomic inequality. In doing so, he looks at ethnic and racial polarization in the histories of colonialism, post-colonial authoritarianism, and hybrid regimes. Taking a critical view of the normative guidelines and professional identities of journalism inherited from contexts outside of Africa, he argues that a more reciprocal and collaborative approach is needed. He develops a new ethics of engagement that would require the media to facilitate the resolution of conflicts across differences of ethnicity, citizenship, and class. A central point of this theory is the development of an "ethics of listening" which would enable the media to conceive of their role as facilitators in democratic deliberation and community-building. Wasserman applies his ethics of listening to case studies across the African continent. He finds that by following this new model of conduct, the media may actually deepen democracy and help de-escalate conflict. This original study provides a useful framework for reimaging the media's role in transitional democracies in Africa--and across the globe.


Chapter 1: Introduction and Overview
Chapter 2: Characterizing Conflict, Defining the Media
Chapter 3: Media, Conflict, and Democratization
Chapter 4: Media Ethics, Professionalism, Codes, and Accountability
Chapter 5: Listening for Peace: Towards Alternative Ethics of Engagement
Chapter 6: Conclusion

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Herman Wasserman is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and member of IAMCR.

The above text is from the seller’s description of the book:

Title: The Ethics of Engagement
Author: Herman Wasserman
Published: 2020
Pages: 216
Publisher: Oxford University Press

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