Radio and Peace
In a radio broadcast on 8 May 1945, Winston Churchill announced that the Second World War had ended. The same day, the US President, Harry S. Truman, broke the news via radio to Americans. Like these, other events like the world cup, Miss World, results of elections or other competitions have been aired on the radio.
For many years, the radio has been a powerful tool for disseminating diverse information and celebrating humanity’s feats. It has also been a tool for fostering inclusion, equity and unity as many radio stations create programs to showcase as many cultures as possible and give their audience a sense of belonging.
Till today, radio is still the most accessible and most trusted media as acknowledged by different experts because it reaches places beyond the internet and cellular network. With its unparalleled coverage and potential, it presents a unique opportunity to shape societal experiences, educate and serve communities.
For these reasons, UNESCO created world radio day – February 13th – as a day to highlight and celebrate radio’s contribution to our history and to also encourage stakeholders (governments, advocates and well-meaning people) to take advantage of this platform and spread positive ideas to more people, especially, those living in rural and undeserved areas. Every year, since 2011, events put together to mark the day have all been geared towards inspiring social change in communities through radio broadcasts.
This year is not any different as the theme focuses on “radio and peace”. Radio and Peace is a call for the broadcasters to encourage factual reporting and representation to help reduce conflicts around the world. It seeks to encourage transparency in broadcasts without escalating already terrible situations. Instead, radio stations should create programs to facilitate reconciliation in times of war.
War, the opposite of peace, is defined as an armed conflict between groups or countries. But it may also be seen as a clash of media stories. Some stories, or their presentation, may result in increased tensions or help a community or country remain at peace. This is important in weighty matters like elections and can affect the state of the political climate in a country and influence all levels of decision-making.
Radio can douse or fuel conflict by regulating tension through announcements and programs. They can also bring an end to wars by fostering talks about peacekeeping and reconciliation. These can promote good governance and nation-building. Rather than spark insecurity and fear among the populace.
No wonder UNESCO believes in independent radio – the kind of radio broadcasting not influenced by third-party. Instead, radio is based on factual reporting (without fear or favour), and explaining what the aggrieved party stands to lose when war breaks out or things escalate. These kinds of radio stations should be supported and protected because they are the pillar of democracy and conflict prevention.