The Impact of Media on Conflict

Jannie Botes

Assistant Professor, Program on Negotiations and Conflict Management, University of Baltimore

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

What was very interesting, though, is that the programs in South Africa had a real impact on the conflict itself. Where I really couldn't show the same in terms of Israel, I could show that

in terms of South Africa and the reason that I could show that in terms of South Africa is that I studied three levels of impact.

One was the actual shows themselves, the transcripts, what was said on those shows and how do people react to that. Then I did a series of interviews of people with the people who were on the shows and then I looked at all the media coverage on the shows themselves. So media on the media and so having triangulated my research in that way, one of the things that I was very interested was that you could show from all three of those how Nightline, because the one thing that was so important in both of these cases is that in the absence of real third parties, media organizations and journalists become third parties and there was no official ongoing process of negotiation or mediation or facilitation between the parties with a third party at the time. So when people saw this, they said, "My god! If the media can do this, why can't we do this? If somebody can sit here and look like he's mediating this case on television," they didn't use exactly those words. But if the parties can talk to each other on television why can't they do that in real life? Why can't that be arranged? So it became in a sense a model of what should be in South Africa. From that point of view, I think it shows a huge impact, and you could see that in what people said to me in their interviews. You could see that in one or two references that was made on the show itself. And you could see that a lot in what the print journalist wrote about this which became really a television event.