Revamping journalism in the midst of a conflict is a research into the world of conflict local journalists’ praxis and rationale reporting on ‘their’ war. By using Colombia as a case study—the oldest conflict in Latin America, interwoven with drug trafficking, guerrillas and paramilitary groups—this project examines six dimensions of journalism: historical context, censorship as a barrier to providing balanced news, war journalist education, professional ethos, the hierarchy of reporters, and the construction of a concept of ‘responsible’ journalism that answers their informational, societal and professional needs.
Academic discussions of journalism and war have centred on international correspondents—from the ‘West’—and international wars; however, there is little ethnographic research on professional practices of local journalists covering war or conflict, particularly from the Global South. Therein lies one of the challenges of this study: to observe and closely examine these dynamics and to offer a new analysis of unseen reporters from the periphery, helping to decentralise journalism studies.
In a country with political unrest and a violent conflict, such as Colombia, reporting on the conflict is a difficult task, above all for local reporters and journalists. The importance of this case study is that it allows us to analyse a phenomenon with unique characteristics that questions traditional concepts of war reporting, thus allowing us to understand journalists’ professionalism as they work to improve their practise, as agreed upon in their ‘interpretative communities’ and professional conflict-specialised guilds. This understanding sheds light onto the important role they play in society in the midst of war.
The research concludes with a broader discussion of the role of the journalist in conflicts, focusing on the Global South and countries with weak democratic states and particularly on journalists covering conflict in their own countries. By addressing the flaws, limitations and successful constructions of journalism in conflict, we can develop tools to be used in any context of intricate war and weak democracy.