|South Africa 2001|
• Lusaka Declaration (pdf)
• Lusaka Youth Declaration (pdf)
• Tanzania Action Plan (pdf)
• Thessaloniki Declaration
Copyright © 1999-2007
|Home||About Us||Conferences||Get Involved||Initiatives||eNewsletter||Resources|
Role of the Media in Promoting a Culture of Peace through Tourism
Editor in Chief, Travel Weekly
In the press conference on the Wednesday that proceeded this summit, some of the people who were on the panel facing the press complained that the media sometimes behaves in ways that do not promote peace through tourism, and in fact, sensationalizes the news in ways that seemed to work contrary to interests of this organization. At the press conference, the example was given that, in early coverage of the recent tragic disaster involving the space shuttle, reporters asked officials whether they thought terrorism was involved.
Was that sensationalist? In this day and age, it strikes me as quite a natural question. Who here did not wonder the same thing within minutes of first hearing of the tragedy?
The role of the media in promoting peace through tourism cannot be defined in any way that would seem to limit what is and isn't an appropriate line of inquiry for a journalist. This Is not because media coverage is perfect, but because as I mentioned in the plenary session earlier today, the traditional news media in countries with a free press are fiercely independent and competitive, and on their news pages, at least, would not agree to consciously advocate for any specific goal, no matter how noble that goal may be.
The title of this session is" The Role of the media in promoting peace through tourism." Yet the nature of how media operates suggests that an editorial team is unlikely to sit in a news meeting and say, "Peace through tourism is our priority. Make sure that, as you write your stories, you keep that in mind."
Does that mean that the press cannot be influenced? No. It happens every day by public relations firms. Most reporters were attracted to the profession of journalism because they are interested in people, policy, or both. In other words, most journalists and editors are likely to look somewhat sympathetically upon inspirational projects that are brought to their attention, as long as projects are credible.
And that credibility is important. If you speak with a reporter, have statistics to back up your claims. While the inspirational part of your work may get the attention, facts will get you the coverage.
Sometimes a reporter stumbles onto a story. But the way many soft news end up on a page or on the air is because someone has a story they would like to see get in the newspaper or broadcast on television or radio, and they pitch the story to a reporter.
For instance, that's why I am here today. Karen Hoffman called me up and told me about IIPT. It piqued my curiosity, which led to an interview with Lou. Karen also asked if I would commit to being a media sponsor of the organization, and I was more than happy to.
I was co-opted in the best sense of the word. I wrote a column about Lou. I later found myself sitting next to him at a lunch at the World Travel Market, and it was there that we discussed my moderating this panel.
And, because of this connection Lou and Karen made with me, this conference, frankly, is getting far more coverage in Travel Weekly than previous ones did.
How do you go about making these press connections for the project or business you're working on? The first step is to identify the reporter who you think may be sympathetic because of what he or she has previously reported.
A reporter is more likely to listen to your pitch if you have first established a relationship with him or her. Call and introduce yourself and suggest that perhaps you can be a source to them on your topics of expertise. Be prepared to list your credentials. That done, you have a much better chance to receive the type of coverage that will promote peace through tourism.
There are additional things you can do. Most newspapers have opinion and editorial pages. Get the guidelines for submissions, and see if you can write a guest column and, if not. Perhaps some letters to the editors when appropriate that promote peace through tourism.
Most of my remarks have been about straightforward news organizations, but there are certainly many publications which have an editorial slant which would make coverage more or less likely. Identify those that are likely to be receptive to coverage, and start there.
And of course, there's more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to the media. If you have trouble getting the attention of editors and reporters, you may want to give a call to the publisher. In many publications, such as mine, the publisher, who is primarily responsible for the sale of advertising, has no influence over editorial content, but is in charge of promotions and partnerships. It's possible that he or she will take a special interest in what you're promoting, and want to get involved. It's the publishers who typically initiate public service programs, and may want to feature your message in house ads or provide some other kind of support.
In conclusion, the role of the media is promoting peace through tourism is not as relevant as your role in trying to influence the media to get your story told.
International Institute for Peace Through Tourism