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Covering Conflict Role Play

Posted by jbrynsvold on September 11, 2008

Early Thursday morning, Michael Grinfield and Richard Reuben led a intriguing discussion on the media and how it covers conflict throughout the world. The two specifically spoke about what journalists should do to truly help solve conflict, not just cause more through their words.

The highlight of the meeting was a role play involving 2 volunteer students from the crowd. The students came forward and helped depict a story based in Pristine, Nevada. They played the roles of a journalist and his editor discussing how to cover a conflict over a gay and lesbian group trying to form in the local high school.

Grinfield clearly stated that journalists should be focusing on the conflict substance rather than the conflict process. As it applied to the role play, journalists should focus more on the students involved rather than the school board meetings that decide the fate of the group.

The importance of covering conflict the right way is indescribable. When journalists cover conflict, they sometimes actually cause more conflict. In the role play, there was a twist. It came to the reporter’s attention that the principal of the high school in question had been in a secret gay relationship for 15 years. Although this story is very interesting and may have an effect on the big story, there was really no reason for the reporter to bring it up. It would only cause more conflict in the community.

After the role play was over, Grinfield and Reuben opened the floor for comments and discussion on the topic. They, along with the audience, collectively decided that the reporter should not bring the principal’s personal life into the story. It would take away from the main part of the conflict, the feelings of the community about the topic and how the community came together to solve the issue.

Overall, the role play was a very appropriate visual aid to show the importance of covering conflict. Journalists have a responsiblity to tell the public about controversial issues, but they should be helping the situation, not hurting it.

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