News media and peace building in asymmetrical conflicts: The flow of news between Jordan and Israel

Gadi Wolfsfeld*, Eitan Y. Alimi, Wasfi Kailani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This study explores the role of the news media in asymmetrical conflicts after countries have signed a peace agreement. While most research has focused on the inherently negative role the press plays in attempts to bring peace, this study attempts to look at this issue using a more dynamic perspective. The theoretical argument focuses on how political factors affect the quantity and quality of the news flow and some of the ways in which leaders can sometimes overcome the obstacles they face in promoting encouraging news about peace. The model considers two political factors that have a major impact on media performance: the relative level of political power of the two sides and the varying amount of hostility. To illustrate the importance of these factors we focus on the flow of news between Jordan and Israel between 1999 and 2002. The major findings from content analyses of news articles (N = 859) appearing in both countries show that while Jordanians are exposed to massive amounts of mostly negative information about Israel, the Israeli public reads almost nothing about Jordan. Despite all this, it was also found that the initiation of diplomatic relations between the former enemies allowed for the creation of important 'news slots' that were previously unavailable. This development created space for less threatening types of news and also allowed leaders from both Jordan and Israel to initiate some positive stories about peace, even during some of the darkest periods.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)374-398
Number of pages25
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008


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