The Fig Tree Models Solution-Oriented, Peace Journalism
The Fig Tree is a form of community journalism that provides an alternative for faiths and nonprofits. Through our journalism model, The Fig Tree seeks to help people become media literate, challenge media to be responsible, use new media and model solutions journalism. The Fig Tree model uses what is now called in academic circles, “peace journalism,” communicating among diverse people about the ways they live their faith and values to make a difference. It’s about choosing what and how to report to create opportunities for people to value non-violent, solution-oriented responses to conflict.
Too often media of faith and nonprofit communities chase after mass media, shifting their message and values to win media attention to reach people not in churches. Similarly churches and nonprofits have adopted the business models of secular corporations seeking to be “successful” and win more people into the pews. Numbers continue to decline, yet spirituality flourishes.
Peace/solutions journalism offers a different, viable model of journalism, an approach to writing and reporting with a clear consciousness of mainstream media approaches and a desire to be faithful. The Fig Tree is not just a newspaper, a website or videos. It’s the people we have interviewed, the people whose stories we have shared, the people who read or view them and the people who connect with people to do something to make a difference, inspired and empowered by those stories.
The Fig Tree model of communication emphasizes the importance of considering the variety of perspectives along the continuum between the over-covered extremes, the poles that are often covered in an attempt to provide “balance.” Peace journalism keeps readers aware of the diversity around them in culture, gender, race, religion, identities, approaches and solutions. Fig Tree stories help readers to see each person as an asset or gift, honoring what each has to offer. Fig Tree stories help readers know that they are not alone.
Today, we live in a global reality, exposed to incredible diversity – potentially – through mass media, but often it’s through “info-tainment” news and scintillating dramas that escalate assumptions of what sells – conflict, violence, sex, sensation, media and celebrity. What is presented gives us a skewed view of the world, because news report what is unusual, often blown out of proportion to win our saturated attention. We are overwhelmed with information, stimulation, titillation and escalating violence.
In an effort to be balanced and objective, mainline media stories often cover extreme opinions – one on one side and another on the opposite side, the poles - leaving readers and viewers feeling frustrated about the possibility of there being any solutions and fearful of anyone with a tinge of a differing opinion.
In contrast, the Fig Tree’s editorial approach is:
- to connect diverse people to encourage listening, understanding, and respect,
- to share stories of people putting their faith and values into action to create solutions,
- to explore issues of justice, ethics and faith to find common ground,
- to offer reflection and dialogue that fosters understanding, caring and action,
- to network groups and individuals to pool ideas and resources,
- to inspire people to join in common action locally and globally.
Media have a responsibility to build community, as well as to dissect it and be watchdogs. In the midst of the negative focus on problems, there are solutions and our communities need to hear about them. The world needs hope. The Fig Tree starts where mainstream media leaves off. There are conflicts. There are also resolutions and reconciliations. People of faith, despite differences, are working together throughout the region to feed the hungry, here and abroad, to help the homeless, and to educate on racism, sexism and issues that divide the community.
The Fig Tree approach offers hope.