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M'hamed Krichen

Journalist of Al-Jazeera, Tunisia

Is it easy for any media to set the news according to its points of view and ignore the facts on the ground? This is the big question which is still in the heart of many debates.

Propaganda for war? Is it always accurate to say that? When any new media covers a war between 2 countries or more, or a civil war in any country, can we blame it for propaganda for war? Do we have a strict criteria to make the difference between "Reporting" and "promoting"?

The war against terrorism (since 9/11) has amplified this issue: did "Aljazeera" for example make a mistake when airing Ben Laden tapes (even after editing each speech)?

Is it easy to deal fairly between two versions, of any event or developing story, when one is official (US Government or UK Government for example) and the other is Al-Qaida's or ISIS' (ISIL or Daech) point of view?

The right to know is it applicable even in such cases? And how to do it without being blamed for propaganda? The case becomes worse when the accusation becomes propaganda for terrorism ( in the past, a real campaign against "Aljazeera" about airing Ben Laden tapes and now about talking of Isis statements or even about refusing the use of "Daech").

The problem has recently become more complicated with the use of Social Media: Facebook, Twitter and Google are not doing enough to prevent their social networks from being used by extremists for a recruitment drive, a panel of British MPs said last month. A spokesman for YouTube, which is owned by Google, said it would keep working with Britain's government to see what more can be done. In August Twitter said that it had cut off 235,000 accounts in the last six months, raising the overall figure it had suspended to 360,000 since mid-2015.

For journalists, The propaganda for war or the propaganda for terror is too linked to the political and cultural background of its users. Example: Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter in San Francisco said after Twitter's actions "The big question is what happens next. Terrorists will carry on making more accounts, as well as migrating to other platforms. And questions will be raised about the removal process. Who decides? Who's keeping watch? The definition and perpetrators of terrorism can change depending on your geography and political views. Twitter will now be asked: why not fascist tweets? Or anti-Israel? Anti-Palestine? Anti-women? Anti-[insert cause here]?"

On the other hand, how can we promote Peace in Media without failing in a very simple and naïve way of moral Propaganda?? It is a real challenge but I think that this goal could be achieved gradually by giving, as much as possible, the priority for commenting and analyzing to moderate figures rather than radical or extremist commentators, from different sides. 

Maybe the news agenda can help a little bit by trying very carefully to encourage any Peace Process or Peace Agreements in many current military conflicts (in Syria, Yemen, Libya etc.) lead by United Nations, despite any remarks regarding their way of processing.

The profile of journalists can help too. Many Unions or associations can help in training journalists on this issue: as the journalists need training in War Reporting and First Aid, we can also try to train them about negotiating and Peace Processes and the Art of Negotiating and compromise etc.

We can try to create some occasions of meeting between journalists covering war from opposite sides, in order to change information and points of view and in order to find if there is any way to encourage any peace changes that could appear.