And, by the way, Press people in contact with daily tragedy are today in a position to act in a humanist direction…” Silo. Letters to my friends.
With this significant phrase Nelsy Lizarazo began the presentation of the book “Nonviolent Journalism”, the brand-new production of the news agency with a focus on Peace and Nonviolence Pressenza at the Open World Meeting of New Humanism 2021.
The book is an attempt to systematise the collective work of the hundreds of volunteers who make up the agency and “it is a text halfway between a book and a manual” – said co-author and member of the editorial team Ecuador – “because, although it is aimed at a wide audience, we are thinking especially of the new generations of journalists and communicators, their teachers, and university students. We would like the book to become a permanent reference book in the training of these new generations who are the future of communication and journalism”.
Communication is one of the defining conflicts of the contemporary world, in which powers, forces, interests and, most importantly from our point of view, meanings are at stake, he said. “A field in which we have been working for almost 13 years now, seeking to situate other meanings, from the place of the new humanism, of siloism, of non-violence. Along the way, we have met other, wonderful people who have also been working intensely in the field of communication for a different kind of journalism, a human journalism, a journalism for peace. We have learned a lot from all of them and we imagine that they have also learned a lot from us”.
In a similar vein, another of the co-authors, Javier Tolcachier, emphasised the importance of achieving dialogue with audiences and activists by converging on important issues for the social base, far removed from the self-serving and lying narrative of the press at the service of economic power.
It is of great interest for non-violent journalism – the Argentinean communicator quoted from the text – “to get out of the agenda dictated by the prevailing economicism, to echo the voices coming from the social base, from all those people and communities made invisible or violated by power; from those who leave the official discourses, valuing freedom of thought and beliefs.
Opening the agenda to issues that mobilise positive changes or show exemplary attitudes of non-violence in societies and individuals; new constructions that, although initially small, are seeds of hope to the detriment of a monolithically violent narrative”.
To which he added that “At the same time, the multiple situations of existing violence need to be critically addressed, aiming to reveal what are often their structural rather than conjunctural causes.”
Tony Robinson, Pressenza’s co-editor of the English edition, then highlighted the activist character of non-violent communication, emphasising the principle contained in the second chapter of the book, “Beyond information, to action”.
From his extensive experience promoting the cause of denuclearisation and disarmament, he highlighted how the agency’s coverage and productions contributed to raising awareness and, in turn, gave the agency reliability and recognition by the organisations that achieved the sanction of the Treaty on the Prohibition of nuclear weapons in the United Nations in 2017.
In turn, Pía Figueroa, who also participated in the writing of “Nonviolent Journalism”, emphasised the importance of language and the meanings used, an issue addressed in the book in the chapter on tools.
To give an example, the co-founder of Pressenza pointed to the profuse coverage of the “Chilean awakening”, distinguishing this term, which indicates a greater level of awareness and an openness to a process of profound transformations in that country, from the term “social explosion”, used by the hegemonic media. Explosion implies rupture, alteration, damage, which induces very different meanings.
Finally, another of the co-authors, Juana Pérez Montero, from Pressenza’s editorial office in Spain, commented on a central theme in the book, the positive transformation that is produced in the communicator himself when communicating from the perspective of non-violence and non-discrimination.
She also pointed out that the book dismantles common prejudices about non-violence as a way of looking at communication.
Finally, the journalist valued the formative properties of the book. “We often think that the mainstream media do not publish us in order to silence us, which is only partially true. Sometimes the volume of material we send out or the way we try to make it accessible to the public conspires against the intention to disseminate our thinking. So, as activists for humanisation, hopefully with this book we can improve our communication skills,” he said, adding that he would like to organise open workshops based on the contents of the work presented.