01/19/2012 01:17 pm ET Updated Mar 20, 2012

Peace Journalism: Journalism On Steroids

What if journalism was biased towards supporting world peace? That would be a radical shift from the current situation, in which journalism is focused on covering war and conflict. The concept of peace journalism emphasizes journalism as a constructive power towards a better world. The notion of peace journalism was introduced in in the 70's by Johan Galtung, a Norwegian sociologist.

Along with the developments in technology, social media and network access, journalism has entered a new era, which also holds the potential for more powerful peace journalism. In this era, citizens are brought aboard as actors of change, and they can push peace journalism to function 'on steroids.'

As spectated by the whole world during the Arab Spring, the professional reporters played a side role in reporting those events. It was the "audience", the Egyptian activists and citizens, who stole the show and reported the developments on their cell phones and cameras, tweets and Facebook status updates, thus drawing the world's attention to the societal transformations in the Middle East. These "citizen reporters" had a stronger impact than the incumbent journalistic actors.

These developments provoke a question: How about redesigning journalism to contribute to world peace? What would that kind of journalism look like? What role would the citizens play in this redesigned peace journalism?

In order to find out answers to those questions, we initiated Peace Innovation Journalism Challenge at the Stanford Peace Innovation Lab. Our goal is to run an open innovation challenge with a design challenge: How can journalism contribute to world peace? The challenge will be run online, and to harness collective brainpower around this task, everybody is invited to participate in the challenge.

We have conducted preliminary data gathering rounds to create a good design brief for the challenge. As my colleague Soren Petersen reports on his blog post, we discovered that the public lacks trust in traditional journalism. We also found out that rather than expecting professional journalism to produce content about peace and conflicts, people consider journalism as a facilitator for conversations.

With these fascinating insights, we are contuining the process of setting up the challenge. Stay tuned and let us know, if you want to come on board!