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Framing the Colombian Peace Process: Between
Peace and War Journalism
Víctor García-Perdomo, Summer Harlow & Danielle K. Brown
To cite this article: Víctor García-Perdomo, Summer Harlow & Danielle K. Brown (2022): Framing
the Colombian Peace Process: Between Peace and War Journalism, Journalism Practice, DOI:
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2022.2062428
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa
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Published online: 22 Apr 2022.
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Framing the Colombian Peace Process: Between Peace and
, Summer Harlow
and Danielle K. Brown
School of Communication, Universidad de La Sabana, Bogotá, Colombia;
Jack J. Valenti School of
Communication, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA;
Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass
Communication, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
This bilingual, cross-national study analyzes stories about the
Colombian peace process that were engaged with on social media
to understand the use of peace and war framing in news reporting.
Using content analysis as a method, this paper operationalized
Galtung’s classiﬁcation of peace journalism and follows framing
methodological adjustments and improvements suggested by
previous peace journalism scholars. Results show that, even during
peace talks, media use war narratives more often than peace
frames, and social media users amplify more war than peace-
oriented content. Proximity to conﬂict also was shown to be an
important factor, as Colombian media used more war frames than
foreign media. These ﬁndings are relevant for their implications
about how national media consistently emphasized a war frame
that social media users ampliﬁed, which we argue has implications
for how citizens viewed the Colombian peace process, ultimately
potentially inﬂuencing the decision to vote down the referendum.
Conﬂict reporting; framing;
peace journalism; proximity;
social media; peace
negotiation; news sharing
After 50 years of conﬂict with more than 220,000 deaths and more than 5 million dis-
placed citizens (Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica 2013), the Colombian government
of former president Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC) guerrillas signed a peace agreement on Sept. 26, 2016 (Ríos 2017). While the ﬁnal
agreement addressed fundamental political, social, economic, and legal issues (OACP
2016; Summers 2012), the four-year negotiation process and the ﬁnal agreement faced
strong opposition (Semana 2016). On Oct. 2, 2016, in a referendum election, the agree-
ment was rejected, with 50.2% of Colombian voters opposing the deal (El Espectador
2016). Following the referendum’s failure, the Colombian government and the FARC
signed a revised agreement on Nov. 24, 2016, which included some demands from the
opposition (The Economist 2016). Congress approved the modiﬁed document on Nov.
29, 2016, bringing the world’s longest continuous war to an end (Casey 2016).
Working as a journalist in Colombia, in the middle of this conﬂict, has been considered
a risky activity. From 2016 to 2020, eight journalists were murdered, and 618 threats were
reported; statistics that rank Colombia the second deadliest country on the continent
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
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medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
CONTACT Víctor García-Perdomo email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org @victorgap
after Mexico (FLIP 2020). As a result, Colombian journalists have tended to adopt self-cen-
sorship as a defense mechanism to face risks and potential threats even in the post-
conﬂict era (Barrios and Miller 2020). Factors such as dependency on oﬃcial sources
and direct advertising, judicial harassment and editorial pressures trigger self-censorship,
particularly in small cities and rural areas (Barrios and Miller 2020). Garcés and Arroyave
(2017), who surveyed 751 Colombian journalists, found a positive correlation between
violence against news professionals and their autonomy to publish information on gov-
ernment, armed forces, criminal gangs, and structural social problems. Likewise,
Hughes et al. (2017) concluded that diﬃcult conditions associated with insecure democ-
racies like the one in Colombia shape journalists’perceptions about their work environ-
ments. However, after the peace agreement was signed, in-depth interviews show that
Colombian media and journalists are making eﬀorts to change their practices, and there-
fore consciously giving more space to peace building, conﬂict resolution and victims’
voices (Prager and Hameleers 2021).
In this context of violence, opposition and negotiation, media played a crucial role in
framing the Colombian peace talks. Drawing on scholarship on peace/war journalism
framing, this study explores the news coverage of the Colombia peace process in news
articles that were shared, liked, and commented on via social media. One of the main pur-
poses of this paper is to ﬁll three gaps in the peace journalism research tradition and
expand scholarship in this ﬁeld by analyzing media representations of the historical
peace negotiation in Colombia. The ﬁrst gap has to do with the limited amount of
works that analyze the relationship between peace journalism and social media. Most
research in this area focuses on traditional media content or journalistic practices, but
few articles have examined how this theory operates on social media, and how audiences
react to it on these networked systems. Moreover, this research aims to understand the
relationship between the use of peace or war journalism frames and the number of
social media recommendations on Facebook and Twitter, showing to what extent
social media audiences ampliﬁed or suppressed messages from the press. Second, the
current research takes a quantitative content analysis approach to peace journalism rein-
terpreting Lee and Maslog’s(2005) classiﬁcation of this theory. The methodological
approach not only does support this kind of systematic research but also complements
the limited number of quantitative studies in this area. Third, this paper aims to
analyze whether peace journalism’s frames and devices, which often ﬁt journalism prac-
tices in times of confrontation and war, prevail during peace negotiations.
Origin and Deﬁnition of Peace Journalism
Galtung and Ruge proposed the original idea of peace journalism in their seminal essay The
Structure of Foreign News (1965), in which they criticized the war reporting style of Norwe-
gian newspapers covering conﬂicts in Congo, Cuba, and Cyprus. Peace journalism promotes
conﬂict resolution when editors and reporters concentrate on areas of agreement that
“tone down political and ideological disparities,”focus on historical context, unveil
causes and consequences, include common people sources, and describe the invisible con-
sequences of combat (Knightley 2000, xxii). Conversely, war journalism often uses military
language, overemphasizes the visible eﬀects of war (such as human casualties, bloodshed,
and material damage), focuses on elite sources, and adopts a superﬁcial narrative with little
2V. GARCÍA-PERDOMO ET AL.
context or historical assessment (Knightley 2000; Hachten and Scotton 2006;Lynch2007).
As Lynch and McGoldrick (2006)deﬁned it, peace journalism occurs “when editors and
reporters make choices —of what to report and how to report it —that create opportu-
nities for society at large to consider and value nonviolent responses to conﬂict”(5).
From Practice to Theory Under the Umbrella of Framing
News framing —one of the most used theories in communication (D’Angelo and Kuypers
2010)—is a process of selection, exclusion, elaboration, and emphasis that organizes
information according to some salient principles that convey a speciﬁc story angle to
create meaning and convey a speciﬁc version of reality (Entman 1993). For example,
Gitlin (1980) showed how framing of anti-Vietnam war protests highlighted protesters’
appearances to trivialize them and emphasized the presence of Communists among pro-
testers in order to marginalize and delegitimize protests. By highlighting elements
through cultural symbols, language choice, and repetition, news frames can inﬂuence citi-
zens’perceptions and social judgments (Cappella and Jamieson 1997; Chong and Druck-
man 2007; Iyengar 1991; Reese 2001), shaping how readers understand a news event
(Scheufele and Tewksbury 2007), and even their attitudes and behaviors (Bortree et al.
2013; Davis 1995; Hipolito 2011). For example, framing contributes to who readers
blame for social problems (Iyengar 1991). Frames’eﬀectiveness can vary according to cul-
tural resonance and emotional appeals (Ryan 1991; Gamson 1992).
Frames can be issue-speciﬁc (focused on a particular episode or individual case) or more
generic (thematic, focused on broader trends), such as those focused on human rights, or
values (Elliott, Fitzgerald, and Hayward 2009; Iyengar 1991). Generally, previous research has
identiﬁed ﬁve generic media frames: attribution of responsibility, conﬂict, economic conse-
quences, human interest, and morality (e.g., Matthes 2009;Scheufele1999). How journalists
frame a story depends on individual-level factors (Tuchman 1978), as well as organizational-
and social-structural level factors (Shoemaker and Reese 2014).
Scholars recognize that peace journalism, developed as a global training and edu-
cational program to inﬂuence journalistic practices in times of war (Nohrstedt and
Ottosen 2015), relies on framing as fundamental to theorizing conﬂict
reporting (Neumann and Fahmy 2012). The link between framing and peace journalism
was evident since the foundation of peace journalism when Galtung (1986) presented
key concepts, akin to frames, that help professionals and scholars to diﬀerentiate peace
from war coverage in international news. McGoldrick and Lynch (2000) extended Gal-
tung’s ideas theoretically when they described peace journalism as a way of framing
stories using “conﬂict analysis”(5). Then, Lee and Maslog (2005)oﬀered an empirical
approach to these ideas when they operationalized the “peace journalism model”into
a set of evaluative criteria to content analyze the conﬂict coverage of 10 Asian newspa-
pers. Lee and Maslog (2005) divided their variables into two categories: peace/war jour-
nalism approach, and peace/war journalism language.
The Prevalence of War Framing
With some exceptions, most research based on the dichotomy of peace and war framing
has found that media and journalists rely on war principles and language to report
JOURNALISM PRACTICE 3
conﬂict. For instance, an analysis about the Turkish press showed that journalists reported
on the conﬂict with Syria in terms of “us vs. them,”with loaded language and blame
placed on the other side (Ersoy 2016). Similarly, a comparison between the news coverage
of local Asian conﬂicts and the international Iraq war revealed that eight Asian newspa-
pers “relied on war journalism framing to report their local conﬂicts but used peace jour-
nalism frame to cover the Iraq war”(Lee, Maslog, and Kim 2006, 511), showing a
relationship between local proximity to the conﬂict and war framing. An examination
of the old territorial dispute in Kashmir showed that newspapers from Pakistan and
India continue to adopt a “knee-jerk coverage of conﬂict, with little consideration for
long-term peaceful solutions”(Lee and Maslog 2005, 322). A content analysis of the
New York Times and The Washington Post’s coverage of the Kashmir conﬂict concluded
that geopolitical implications were also important when framing stories in terms of war
and peace, as these US newspapers often portrayed Pakistan as the enemy (Siraj 2008).
A study about the 2010 Israeli-Palestinian related incident of Mavi Marmara concluded
that an Israeli newspaper (Haaretz) used signiﬁcantly more war journalism narratives
than the two non-Israeli papers (The Guardian and The New York Times) (Fahmy and
Eakin 2014). Exceptions to the dominance of the war frame have been found in media
coverage of the Sri Lanka and Philippines internal conﬂicts, which oﬀered some encour-
agement to peace journalism during the 2001 ceaseﬁre agreement (Lee and Maslog 2005,
Researchers have also tested the eﬀects of war and peace frames on news users. They
have found that people who watched peace journalism frames on TV were “less angry and
fearful”and more “hopeful and empathetic”than those who watched war-framed stories
as well as less inclined to blame one side of the conﬂict (Lynch and McGoldrick 2012,
1052). With this in mind, understanding the framing of the Colombian peace process
and how audiences engaged with this content becomes even more important for its
potential to sway voters to vote for —or against —the peace referendum. The
inﬂuence of digital technology and social media on the production and distribution of
news is “rapidly rewriting the principles and protocols of war and conﬂict reporting”
(Matheson and Allan 2010, 187) and making imperative a new model of peace journalism
outside the mainstream media (Aslam 2016).
Even during the coverage of a peace process, news focuses on the ongoing conﬂict
between the two sides, in part because of the media’s constant need for drama (Wolfsfeld
2003). Wolfsfeld (2003) argues that negotiations are “boring events”and as such are rarely
seen as newsworthy by media (7). When negotiations break down or violence between
the parties erupts on the ground, journalists return to traditional models of reporting, pro-
viding “strategic advantages”to those who oppose peace (Wolfsfeld 2003, 7). Therefore,
media and journalists could play an important role in intensifying violence, showing an
inability to contribute to peace building during periods of calm (Wolfsfeld 2003). Given
that previous research has shown consistently the prevalence of the war frame, the fol-
lowing hypothesis and question are presented:
H1: News media will rely more on war frames and language than on peace frames to report
the Colombia peace process.
RQ1: What are the most salient indicators of the war/peace journalism frames manifest in the
news coverage of the Colombian peace process?
4V. GARCÍA-PERDOMO ET AL.
In the competition over media frames, a central idea is that political powers (authorities)
have important advantages in inﬂuencing news media (Wolfsfeld 1997). However, challen-
gers or antagonists of those in power can also employ the news media to achieve their pol-
itical goals. Wolfsfeld’s political contest model (1997) theorizes that diﬀerent forces,
including antagonists, compete for news media attention to achieve political inﬂuence,
and promote their own frames of the conﬂict to mobilize political support for their
cause. This model is useful to understand how news articles that reﬂect supporters of or
antagonists to a peace process interact with the peace and war frames. According to Wolfs-
feld, understanding the role that news media play in reporting conﬂicts could shed light on
factors that lead to the success and failure of peace negotiations. Given the peace nego-
tiations context of Colombia, this study formulates the following hypothesis:
H2: News articles that privilege antagonists to the peace process will promote more war
frames than peace frames whereas those articles that privilege supporters to the peace
process will promote more peace frames than war frames.
Peace Journalism in the Colombian Context
In Colombia, journalists and scholars have adopted peace journalism both as an active
tool for reporting and as a theoretical framework to analyze media coverage of conﬂict.
Projects like Medios para la Paz (Media for peace, MPP), created by a group of 80 journal-
ists in 1998 to increase accountable journalism when reporting on the armed conﬂict, and
online media projects like Colombia 2020, from El Espectador newspaper, Paciﬁsta and
Verdad Abierta have been relevant to peace building. Studies on peace journalism have
also increased. Recently, after the peace agreement, scholars have found that Colombian
journalists understand their role as a set of practices that can contribute to peace building
and to mobilize audiences towards conﬂict resolution (Prager and Hameleers 2021). In-
depth interviews with reporters have shown that news professionals want to focus on
contextualizing the conﬂict, oﬀering solutions, and giving voice to common people
(Prager and Hameleers 2021).
To counter common reporting practices that silence the voices of the victims and rely
heavily on oﬃcial sources (Serrano 2014,2015; Cortés-Martínez and Thomas 2020), some
scholars have proposed immersive journalistic models that use collaborative narratives
and storytelling to document lives and experiences of ex-combats, victims and margina-
lized communities in Colombia (Jukes, Charles, and Fowler-Watt 2020). Moreover, Charles
(2021) has argued that a better understanding of trauma could support journalism that
aims to build peace in Colombia. Given the large social, cultural, and economic challenges
of Colombia due to the long-armed conﬂict, the journalistic tradition in that country has
developed “a special style of advocacy reporting”that “tend to take part in solving com-
munity problems”; a practice that does not necessarily ﬁt with normative Western journal-
ism (Arroyave and Barrios 2012, 400).
Proximity and the Peace/War Frames
Proximity, the notion that readers will care more about news that is close to home, can be
cultural or geographic (Johnson 1997). Galtung and Ruge (1965), who originated the
JOURNALISM PRACTICE 5
concept of cultural proximity, suggested that proximity inﬂuences whether something
will be considered news. Shoemaker et al. (2007) noted that proximity is a multi-dimen-
sional concept. For example, localization refers to the extent to which a foreign event has
meaning for a local or domestic audience (Morton and Warren 1992; Shoemaker et al.
2007). While studies diﬀer on the extent to how important proximity is in determining
whether something will be covered, research in general posits that proximity inﬂuences
the quantity and type of coverage, especially when it comes to conﬂict (Shapiro and Wil-
Scholarship is divided on whether proximity prompts more positive or negative atti-
tudes between diﬀerent groups. On the one hand, some studies indicate that exposure
to and contact between diﬀerent groups generates positive attitudes toward the other
group and can even diminish prejudice (Kinder and Mendelberg 1995; Pettigrew and
Tropp 2006). On the other hand, Sherif and Sherif (1953) pointed to proximity causing
negative attitudes as groups competed for resources. Likewise, Esses and colleagues
(2002) found negative attitudes arise when groups see competition as a zero-sum
game. Stein, Post, and Rinden (2000) explained the seemingly contradictory ﬁndings by
suggesting that casual contact between diﬀerent groups could prompt more negative
inter-group attitudes, while extended contact more positive ones.
Within the peace journalism literature, proximity is an important factor inﬂuencing
how news is framed. In their study of how U.S. media cover the drug war in Mexico,
Lacasse and Forster (2012) found newspapers closer to the conﬂict used more peace
than war-oriented frames, while coverage in those outlets further away from the
border was a balance between peace- and war-framed stories. Further, the study
showed the more distant newspapers used more demonizing language than the closer
outlets, indicating that proximity could perhaps have a positive eﬀect on inter-group atti-
tudes. Still, the study also showed that more proximate newspapers oversimpliﬁed the
conﬂict in comparison with more distant newspapers, indicating that peace and war
frames are somewhat ﬂuid. As such, more research is needed to understand the interplay
between proximity and peace and war framing so we posit the following questions:
RQ2: Are there signiﬁcant associations between proximity of the country/region of the media
outlet and the peace/war frames?
RQ2a: Are there signiﬁcant mean diﬀerences between the salient indicators of the war frame
and proximity to the conﬂict, given the country/region of the media outlet?
RQ2b: Are there signiﬁcant mean diﬀerences between the salient indicators of the peace
frame and proximity to the conﬂict, given the country/region of the media outlet?
Sharing Frames via Social Media
The sophisticated relationship between news media outlets and social media platforms
has become a principal component of journalism and communication studies. Social
media behavioral research has often examined metrics to better understand this relation-
ship, including assessing the number of page views or “clicks”(Cherubini and Nielsen
2016; Tenenboim and Cohen 2015); sharing (e.g., Kilgo et al. 2016; García-Perdomo
et al. 2017; Trilling, Tolochko, and Burscher 2016), commenting (Ksiazek, Peer, and
Lessard 2016), and direct reporting of user engagement (Kormelink and Meijer 2017). In
6V. GARCÍA-PERDOMO ET AL.
this study, we focus speciﬁcally on measurable social media interactions (liking, comment-
ing, sharing, retweeting) with news content posted on Facebook and Twitter.
Predictors of these behaviors can be inconsistent, and given the volatility of the digital
sphere, continuous changes might be anticipated. In non-experimental examinations of
news content and social media interactions, scholars have explored multiple features
such as presentation style and framing (e.g., Kilgo et al. 2016; Tenenboim 2017; Valenzuela,
Piña, and Ramírez 2017), and news values (e.g., García-Perdomo et al. 2017; Trilling,
Tolochko, and Burscher 2016; Weber 2014), though results from one study do not necess-
arily correlate with the next. Bright’s(2016) analysis shows that conﬂict and politics are
cast aside by Facebook audiences, and instead, aﬀect is a key predictor of sharing.
Kilgo, Lough, and Riedl (2017) also discovered emotional aspects of news coverage
were linked with increased sharing on Facebook, but not on Twitter. Positive and negative
valence of an article can increase audience engagement (Hornik et al. 2015). Kim and
Yang’s(2017) assessment of organizational communication showed that likes, shares,
and comments were correlated with speciﬁc media characteristics. In their analysis of
Facebook content, they found liking and sharing were linked more closely with
aﬀective characteristics, while commenting was more closely associated with rational fea-
tures. Speciﬁcally, within the context of Latin American countries, researchers have ident-
iﬁed several patterns of sharing and press coverage (García-Perdomo et al. 2017; Harlow
et al. 2017; Kilgo et al. 2016; Valenzuela, Piña, and Ramírez 2017). Among those, conﬂict is
a consistent characteristic that shifts engagement patterns. However, no article to date
has speciﬁcally looked at the relationships among the international news coverage of
war resolution, and social media audiences. As such, this research explores this relation-
ship in the following way:
RQ3: Do social media audiences interact with and recommend frames of peace and war in
diﬀerent ways on social media?
H3: Negative and positive emotive language will increase social media recommendations of
news articles about the Colombian peace process.
To understand how news media integrated the peace and war frames in their coverage
about the Colombian peace process, this study relied on a content analysis of articles
about the peace talks published in both English and Spanish by online news media
outlets around the world from June 1 to October 15, 2016.
NewsWhip, a media tracking
and data collection company, was utilized to collect the articles. NewsWhip tracks more
than 100,000 publications and media providers around the world and collects all
unique URLs from articles hosted and generated by those media outlets’websites. News-
Whip also associates URLs with public analytic data on Facebook, Twitter and other social
media platforms, based on shares, likes, and comments (NewsWhip 2016).
Keywords were collected using English and Spanish terms such as “FARC,”“Colombian
peace process,”“Colombian peace talks,”“peace negotiation,”“proceso de paz en
JOURNALISM PRACTICE 7
Colombia,”“negociación de paz”, and “proceso de paz colombiano”were utilized to
collect the data, resulting in an archive of links that exceeded download capacity. The
database prioritized the top 10,000 articles shared at least once on Facebook —the
largest social media platform in the world. From this list, an initial random sample of
1200 articles was selected for analysis: 600 for in English and 600 in Spanish. Using a prob-
ability sampling method allows researchers to know in advance how likely it is that any
element of a database will be selected as part of the sample and to generalize the
results (Schutt 2012). During the coding process, irrelevant links were located removed
from the sample without replacement (n= 359), resulting in a total of 841 articles (416
in English, 49.5%; and 425 in Spanish 50.5%).
Coding Procedures and Operationalizations
The codebook was initially constructed using Galtung’s(1986,1998,2010) classiﬁcation of
peace journalism to determine the presence of peace and war frames in articles about the
Colombian peace process that were shared on social media, and reﬂect enhancements
made in more recent journalism studies (Fahmy and Eakin 2014; Lacasse and Forster
2012; Lee and Maslog 2005, 2006). The coding was completed by three coders, all
authors in this study. Coders went through extensive training to create and reﬁne the vari-
ables of interest in this study. Prior to coding, intercoder reliability testing was conducted
using Krippendorﬀ’s as the reliability measure. Final levels of reliability ranged from .78 to
1 and the average pairwise percent agreement ranged from 86% to 98.1%. Each operatio-
nalization and alpha level are provided for variables in the ﬁnal codebook.
Region of Media Outlet
Coders identiﬁed the region of the outlet as one of the following: Colombia, Latin
America/Caribbean, Europe, United States/Canada, all the rest (Average pairwise
percent agreement = 97.1%; α= .91).
Antagonists and Supporters
Coders were asked to read the ﬁrst three paragraphs of the article to determine what
group’s perspective —antagonists or supporters to the peace process —was privileged
in the beginning of the story. If the article did not present the view of antagonists or sup-
porters, coders selected neither/other. If the article contained equal points of view from
people in favor of and against the peace process, coders marked “both.”(Agreement =
89.6%; α= .80).
Peace and War Frame Approach
Two computed indexes of 9 indicators each were created: One for the war frame
another one for the peace frame.
The frequency of the two indexes was compared to
determine whether articles contained more war or peace elements. Stories with higher
peace than war indicators were considered part of the peace frame whereas articles
with higher war indicators than peace scores were classiﬁed as part of the war frame.
8V. GARCÍA-PERDOMO ET AL.
Causes and Consequences
Coders identiﬁed whether (1) or not (0) the article focused on causes and consequences of
the peace process and conﬂict (Agreement: 93.3%; α= .85).
Here and Now
Coders identiﬁed whether (1) or not (0) the article focused on the most recent develop-
ments of the peace negotiations without providing a broad picture of the conﬂict
(Lynch and McGoldrick 2006) (Agreement = 91.9%; α= .84)
Solutions and Similarities/Problems and Diﬀerences
Coders decided if the article provided solutions and similarities, ﬁnding common ground
between parties that facilitates solutions (1) or, conversely, it focused on diﬀerences/pro-
blems between the parties that intensiﬁed the conﬂict (2). If both problems and solutions
were present, coders selected (3) “equal,”or if not present (4) for neither (Agreement =
93.3%; α= .88).
Invisible Eﬀects of Violence
Coders decided whether (1) or not (0) the article included violence that was less notice-
able, such as cultural violence (e.g., hate speech), structural violence (e.g., economic injus-
tice), invisible eﬀects of war (e.g., emotional trauma, mental health) that can damage
society (Agreement = 90.8%; α= .82).
Visible Eﬀects of Violence
Whether (1) or not (0) the article focused on visible aspects of violence, such as casualties,
displaced people, kidnaped or injured civil populations, mutilated or injured ﬁghters,
guerrillas’attacks or drug traﬃcking, property damage, or military occupation
(Agreement = 5.4%; α= .87).
Common People’s Sources and Voices
Does the article include (yes 1–no 0) the voices of common people when reporting about
conﬂict or the Colombian peace process? (Agreement = 90.5%; α= .76).
Elite Sources and Voices
Does the article present the peace negotiation through elite voices and oﬃcials as if they
were the sole actors? (yes 1–no 0). (Agreement = 86.2%; α= .75).
Multi-party Conﬂict Reporting vs. Two-Party Conﬂict Reporting
The peace frame includes many actors, multiple voices, and parties (Galtung 1998). Coders
were asked to count the parties reported in the story. If multiple parties were mentioned
in the story, coders selected (1). On the contrary, the war frame reduces the news report-
ing to two sides in confrontation. Coders were asked to select 0 if the article only pre-
sented one or two parties in the conﬂict (Agreement = 90.7%; α= .78).
JOURNALISM PRACTICE 9
Labeling Parties as Good or Bad
Does the article focus on one group or actor to portray it as the evil guys? Or does the
article focus on one group or actor to portray it as good? The war frame often divides
people in the good and bad, blaming one side of the peace negotiation or conﬂict
(Galtung 1998) (Agreement = 90.8%; α= .81).
Coders identiﬁed the presence (1) or the absence (0) of victimizing language in the article
by portraying citizens, communities and civilians as defenseless, exploited, devastated or
demoralized victims and people (Agreement = 90.4%; α= .80).
Coders identiﬁed whether (1) or not (0) the article used unifying language to describe the
events and parties involved in the peace process. Articles that reported on how people
were coping with conﬂict or provided an empowering view of those aﬀected by
conﬂict were considered part of the unifying language (Agreement = 92.5%; α= .85).
Coders decided whether (1) or not (0) the article used demean language to describe
parties involved in conﬂict, portraying some as evildoers
(Lynch and McGroldrick
2005) (Agreement: 93.1%; α= .86).
Positive Emotive Language
Coders identiﬁed the presence (1) or non-presence (0) of positive emotive words in the
article (e.g., hope, joy, happiness, optimism, euphoric, amusement, or trust) (Agreement:
98.1% α= .95).
Negative Emotive Language
Coders identiﬁed the presence (1) or the absence (0) of negative emotive words when
describing actions, situations, and actors (e.g., fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, disgust,
rage, disappointment, or hate). In the war frame, strong emotional language is used fre-
quently so that it has the potential to intensifying polarization, violence and hate (Wolfs-
feld 2003) (Agreement: 94.4%; α= .86).
From the ﬁnal sample of 841 stories related to the peace process, 413 belonged to Colom-
bian media (49.1%), 276 news articles were from US/Canadian media (32.8%), 126 came
from Europe (15%), 16 from other countries in Latin America (1.9%), and ten from other
regions (1.2%). Given the low frequency of Latin American media, that category was col-
lapsed into “other”regions. A descriptive analysis of the data shows that 75% (N= 630) of
articles from the sample were from traditional media (e.g., El Espectador, El Tiempo, The
New York Times, LA Times, CNN, etc.); 12.7% (N= 107) proved to be well-recognized
digital native media (e.g., Huﬃngton Post, Lasillavacía.com, eldiario.es, etc.); 11.7% (N=
10 V. GARCÍA-PERDOMO ET AL.
98) of articles were published by alternative media (e.g., icrc.org, cfr.org, breitbart.com,
etc.), and 0.7% (N= 6) belonged to videostreaming platforms such as YouTube. The
sample was also categorized by groups privileged in the news reporting. Frequencies
showed that 423 stories favored supporters to the peace process (50.3%), 265 stories
favored antagonists (31.5%), and 153 articles (18.2%) did not favor supporters nor
The ﬁrst hypothesis states that news coverage of the Colombian peace process would
reﬂect more war than peace journalism frames. Results supported this hypothesis and
showed that, even during the coverage of a peace process, news media more often
used the war frame than the peace frame in their coverage [X
= 162.1006, df = 2, p
< .001]. From the total sample of 841 stories, 468 (55.6%) contained the war frame com-
pared to 273 stories (32.5%) framed as peace, and 100 news stories (11.93%) were
classiﬁed as neutral.
The ﬁrst research question aimed to ﬁnd signiﬁcant mean diﬀerences between the
most salient indicators of the war frame and the peace frame manifest in the news cover-
age of the Colombian peace process. To answer this question, two samples t-tests were
conducted; one for the war frame indicators and another for the peace frame elements.
Results showed that the most salient indicators of the war frame were the inclusion of
elite sources in the stories (M= .76, SD = .425) [t(840) = 52.229, p< .001], an emphasis
on a two-conﬂict-party reporting (M= .74, SD = .439) [t(840) = 48.844, p< .001], and a
focus on the here and now (M= .65, SD = .476) [t(840) = 39.845, p< .001]. Meanwhile,
the most salient indicators of the peace frame were not-labeling parties as good or
bad (M= .68, SD = .467) [t(839) = 42.139, p< .001], avoidance of victimizing language (M
= .61, SD = .489) [t(839) = 35.919, p< .001], and avoidance of emotive language (M= .49
SD = .5) [t(840) = 28.568, p< .001]. Therefore, news articles shared on social media
about the Colombian peace process tend to privilege elite-oﬃcial perspectives and a
two-party style reporting while voices of common people and other parties involved
are barely heard. Given that independent statistical tests were performed simultaneously,
an additional Bonferroni correction test was run to adjust the Pvalue by dividing it by the
number of comparisons made (Tables 1 and 2).
The second hypothesis posited that news articles that privileged antagonists to the
Colombian peace process would promote more war frames than peace frames whereas
those articles that privileged supporters to the peace process would promote more
peace frames than war frames (see Table 3). A crosstab test to analyze associations
between variables showed that H2 was supported. Results showed that news articles
Table 1. Mean diﬀerences between war frame indicators.
Tdf Mean diﬀerence SD
Elite sources and voices 52,229 840 .76 *** .424
Two party conﬂict reporting 48,844 840 .74 *** .439
Here and now 39,845 840 .65 *** .476
Visible eﬀects of violence 36,065 840 .61 *** .488
Emotive language 29,716 840 .51 *** .5
Problems & diﬀerences 25,218 838 .43 *** .496
Victimizing language 23,465 840 .40 *** .489
Labeling as good or bad 19,941 838 .32 *** .467
Demonizing language 14,321 839 .20 *** .397
JOURNALISM PRACTICE 11
that gave predominance to antagonists incorporated more war frames (45.7%, n= 214)
than articles that favored supporters (37.4%, n= 175). Conversely, articles that privileged
supporters integrated more peace frames (68.6%, n= 190) than those articles that favored
antagonists (12.1%, n= 33) [X
= 107.682, df = 4, p< .001].
Answering RQ2, which examined the relationship between proximity and use of peace
and war frames, a Chi-square test showed signiﬁcant diﬀerences among regions (see
Table 4). Results showed that Colombian media used the war frame (66.6% n= 275)
more than North American (47.1% n= 130) and European media (43.7% n= 55) [X
46.025; df = 6, p< .001]. Conversely, the peace frame was used signiﬁcantly less in Colom-
bia (24.2%) than in European (44.4%) and North American media (37.8%) [X
= 46.025, df
=6, p< .001].
RQ2a aimed to ﬁnd signiﬁcant mean diﬀerences between the indicators of the war
frame and proximity to the conﬂict given the country/region of the media outlet (see
Table 5). Results of ANOVA tests showed that there were signiﬁcant mean diﬀerences
in proximity of the country/region scores for the following war frame indicators: focusing
on here and now [F(3, 837) =11.538, p<.001], visible eﬀects of violence [F(3, 837) =
Table 2. Mean diﬀerences between peace frame indicators.
parties as good or bad
42,138 838 .68 *** 0.467
Non-Victimizing language 35,919 839 .61 *** .489
Non-Emotive language 28,268 840 .49 *** .5
Unifying language 25,207 839 .43 *** .495
Causes and consequences 23,355 840 .41 *** .497
Solutions & similarities 21,262 838 .35 *** .477
Multiparty conﬂict reporting 17,201 839 .27 *** .439
Common people’s sources 16,614 840 .25 *** .431
Invisible eﬀects of violence 13,174 840 .17 *** .377
Table 3. Comparing group privileged by peace/war frames.
Group privileged Peace (%, n) War (%, n) Neutral (%, n) Total (%, n)
Antagonists 12.1 (33) 45.7 (214) 18 (18) 31.5 (265)
Supporters 69.6 (190) 37.4 (175) 58 (58) 50.3 (423)
Neither/Other 18.3 (50) 16.9 (79) 24 (24) 18.2 (153)
Total (%, n) 100 (273) 100 (428) 100 (100) 100 (841)
= 107.682, df = 4, p< .001.
Table 4. Comparing country/region of the media outlet by peace/war frames.
Country/Region of the media outlet Peace (%, n) War (%, n) Neutral (%, n) Total (%, n)
Colombia 24.2 (100) 66.6 (275) 9.2 (38) 100 (413)
Europe 44.4 (56) 43.7 (55) 15 (11.9) 100 (126)
US/Canada 37 (102) 47.1 (130) 15.9 (44) 100 (276)
Other 57.7 (15) 30.8 (8) 11.5 (3) 100 (28)
Total 32.5 (273) 55.6 (468) 11.9 (100) 100 (841)
= 46.025, df = 6, p< .001.
12 V. GARCÍA-PERDOMO ET AL.
36.114, p<.001], labeling parties as good or bad [F(3, 835) =22.891, p<.001], two-party
conﬂict reporting [F(3, 837) =3.935, p<.01], stressing problems and diﬀerences [F(3,
835) =59.343, p<.001], and using demonizing [F(3, 836) =6.038, p<.01] and emotive
language [F(3, 837) =5.566, p<.001].
Post-hoc Tukey HSD tests revealed that Colombian media used signiﬁcantly more here
and now reporting in their peace process coverage (M= .71, SD = .451) than the US/Cana-
dian media (M= .52, SD = .51). Likewise, European media implemented more here and
now reporting in their coverage (M= .75, SD = .437) than the US/Canadian media (M
= .52, SD = .51). In other words, the US/Canadian media used signiﬁcantly less here and
now reporting than their Colombian and European counterparts. Signiﬁcant mean diﬀer-
ences were also found among the regions when reporting on visible eﬀects of violence
such as casualties, destruction, and mutilations. European media (M= .78, SD = .17)
focused more on the visible consequences of violence than the Colombian media (M
= .44, SD = .497). Conversely, Colombian media focused more on problems and diﬀer-
ences (M= .64, SD = .480) and two-party conﬂict reporting (M= .79, SD = .408) than the
US/Canadian media (M= .25, SD = .434) (M= .67, SD = .469). Colombia also labeled more
frequently parties as good and bad (M= .45, SD = .499) than the US/Canadian (M= .2,
SD = .427) and European media (M=.13, SD = .334). Finally, speciﬁc language also
showed signiﬁcant mean diﬀerences with European media using less demonizing
language (M= .06, SD = .245) than Colombian (M= .24, SD = .429) and US/Canadian
media (M= .20, SD = .403), whereas the US/Canadian media (M= .60, SD = .491) incorpor-
ated emotive language more than Colombian outlets (M= .46 SD = .499).
RQ2b asked whether there were signiﬁcant mean diﬀerences between the peace frame
indicators and proximity to the conﬂict given the country/region of the media outlet (see
Table 6). Results of ANOVA tests showed signiﬁcant mean diﬀerences in proximity for the
following peace frame indicators: focusing on causes and consequences [F(3, 837) =
7.120, p<.001], not-labeling parties as a good or bad [F(3, 835) =22.982, p<.001],
multi-party conﬂict reporting [F(3, 836) =4.001, p<.01], focusing on solutions and simi-
larities [F(3, 835) =30.792, p<.001], unifying language [F(3, 836) =45.259, p<.001], and
avoiding emotive language [F(3, 837) =4.685, p<.01].
Table 5. Comparison of mean diﬀerences of war frame indicators by country/region of the media
Country of the media outlet
War frame indicators Colombia M(SD) Europe M(SD) US/Canada M(SD) Other M(SD) Fvalue
Here and now .71 (.451)
Elite Sources .73 (.446) .81 (.41) .81 (.394) .73 (.452) 2.462
as good or bad
Two party conﬂict reporting .79 (.408)
Problems & diﬀerences .64 (.480)
Victimizing language .41 (.491) .37 (.485) .41 (.492) .31 (.471) .431
Demonizing language .24 (.429)
Emotive language .46 (.499)
Notes: Higher means represent the presence of higher war frame indicators. Standard deviations are noted in parenth-
eses. Diﬀerent superscripts (a, b, c, or d) indicate statistically signiﬁcant diﬀerences in Tukey’s post-hoc tests. Diﬀerences
in means with the same superscript are not statistically signiﬁcant. N= 841. **p< .01; ***p< .001.
JOURNALISM PRACTICE 13
Post-hoc Tukey HSD tests showed that the US/Canadian media (M= 0.51, SD = .522)
reported signiﬁcantly more causes and consequences of the peace talks than their Colom-
bian (M= .34, SD = .474) and European (M= .36, SD = .481) counterparts. The post-hoc test
also revealed that European media incorporated signiﬁcantly more solutions and simi-
larities (M= .62, SD = .488) than the US/Canadian media (M= .41, SD = .493) and the
Colombian news media outlets (M= .21, SD = .411), whereas the Colombian media incor-
porated less unifying language in their news reporting (M= .24, SD = .430) than European
(M= .67, SD = .473) and US/Canadian media (M= .9, SD = .493). The US/Canadian media
used more multi-party conﬂict reporting (M= .33, SD = .470) than Colombian news pro-
viders (M= .21 SD = .408). Finally, results showed that European (M= .84, SD = .364) and
the US/Canadian media (M= .72, SD = .452) did not label parties as good or bad more
than the Colombian news outlets (M= .48, SD = .501).
The third research question aimed to ﬁnd how audiences interact with and rec-
ommend diﬀerent frames of peace and war on social media (see Table 7). Results of
ANOVA tests showed signiﬁcant diﬀerences when it came to Facebook shares [F(2,
838) =.11.147, p<.001] and Twitter shares [F(2, 838) =10.402, p<.001]. Post-hoc Tukey
HSD tests indicated that stories with the war frame received signiﬁcantly more Facebook
shares and Twitter shares than those stories that contained the peace frame.
Hypothesis 3 posited that negative and positive emotive language will increase social
media sharing of news articles about the Colombian peace process. Results of indepen-
dent sample T-tests partially supported this hypothesis. In fact, negative emotive
language signiﬁcantly increased Facebook shares (M= 1009.29 SD = 1410.587) [t(839) =
Table 6. Comparison of mean diﬀerences of peace frame indicators by country/region of the media
Country of the media outlet
Peace frame indicators Colombia M(SD) Europe M(SD) US/Canada M(SD) Other M(SD) Fvalue
Causes and consequences .34 (.474)
.19 (.390) .13 (.343) .18 (.386) .0 (.0) 2.479
Common people’s sources .28 (.451) .24 (.428) .20 (.4) .23 (.430) 2.136
Non-Labeling parties as good/bad .55 (.498)
Multi-party conﬂict reporting .21 (.408)
Solutions & similarities .21 (.411)
Non-Victimizing language .60 (.491) .63 (.486) .60 (.491) .69 (.471) .396
Unifying Language .24 (.430)
Non-Emotive language .54 (.499)
Notes: Higher means represent the presence of higher peace frame indicators. Standard deviations are noted in parenth-
eses. Diﬀerent superscripts (a, b, c, or d) indicate statistically signiﬁcant diﬀerences in Tukey’s post-hoc tests. Diﬀerences
in means with the same superscript are not statistically signiﬁcant. N= 841. **p< .001, ***p< .0001.
Table 7. Comparison of mean number of social media recommendations by peace/war frames.
Peace M(SD) War M(SD) Neutral M(SD) Fvalue
FB shares 603.53 (1233.76)
FB likes 1268.22 (2965.18) 1823.03(7393.52) 1046,68 (1915.82) 1.213
FB comments 402.60 (779.04) 524.32 (908.19) 457.08 (836.73) 1.757
TW shares 234.56 (495.76)
Notes: Higher means represent more social recommendations. Standard deviations are noted in parentheses. Diﬀerent
superscripts (a, b, c, or d) indicate statistically signiﬁcant diﬀerences in Tukey’s post-hoc tests. Diﬀerences in means
with the same superscript are not statistically signiﬁcant. N= 841. ***p< .001.
14 V. GARCÍA-PERDOMO ET AL.
1.978, p< .05], and Twitter shares (M= 522.28 SD = 806.088) [t(839) = 4.846, p< .001].
However, news articles with positive emotive language resulted in less Facebook
shares (M= 418.70, SD = 1269,640) [t(839) = 5.176, p< .001], Facebook comments (M=
271.19 SD = 691.065) [t(839) = 4,007, p< .001], and Twitter shares (M= 194.99 SD =
396.342) [t(839) = 4,005, p< .001] than news articles that did not contain positive
emotive language (Tables 8 and 9).
One of the main takeaways from this bilingual, cross-national study is that —in general
terms —news media continue to use war frames more often than peace frames, even
during the coverage of a peace negotiation. Almost 6 stories in 10 from our sample con-
tained the war frame over the peace frame in stories that were shared, liked, and com-
mented on via social media. Findings from this research suggest news media continue
focusing on the ongoing conﬂict between two sides during peace process coverage in
their need to use traditional models of reporting that incorporate drama and oversimplify
complex events, as Wolfsfeld (2003) previously noticed during the Oslo negotiations
between Israel and Palestine. The most salient indicators of the war frame in the coverage
of the Colombian peace process were the tendency of privileging elite sources in the
stories and emphasizing on two-party conﬂict reporting. War framing not only creates
favorable conditions for opponents to the peace process but also privileges oﬃcial
voices and places actors on two opposing and irreconcilable sides, often contributing
to the breakup of negotiations or escalation of the conﬂict (Cozma 2015). These salient
war framing indicators are opposed to key peace reporting elements, such as including
common people’s voices in stories, incorporating the point-of-view of multiple parties
involved in the conﬂict, and providing context and historical background to understand
the roots of the struggle (Galtung 1986,1998; Lee and Maslog 2005; Lynch and
Table 8. Comparison of mean number of social media recommendations by negative emotive
Negative emotive language
Social media recommendations No —M(SD) Yes —M(SD) t-value
FB shares 796.825 (1469.77) 1009.291 (1410.58) 1.978*
FB likes 1596.457 (6896.742) 1452.62 (2078.922) .334
FB comments 482.124 (910.81) 465.46 (743.53) .261
TWT shares 280.937 (600.90) 522.28 (806.08) 4.845***
*p< .05; ***p< .001.
Table 9. Comparison of mean number of social media recommendations by positive emotive
Positive emotive language
Social media recommendations No —M(SD) Yes —M(SD) t-value
FB shares 1011.03 (1481.19) 418.70 (1269.64) 5.176***
FB likes 1751.69 (6573.17) 938.71 (2147.78) 1.753
FB comments 544.38 (899.74) 271.19 (691.06) 4.007***
TWT shares 411.36 (745.04) 194.99 (396.34) 4.005***
JOURNALISM PRACTICE 15
McGoldrick 2006; Lynch 2007). Further, the current research found social media audiences
ampliﬁed stories with war frames over peace frames, indicating that users, and not just
journalists, seemed to think about the peace process in terms of conﬂict more than nego-
tiation. These results are in accordance with previous research that shows violence and
conﬂict often have been identiﬁed and used as a news frame or journalistic news value
because those elements facilitate storytelling and help both journalists and audiences
to make sense of complex social events (Bartholomé, Lecheler, and de Vreese 2017;
García-Perdomo 2017). Such ﬁndings have implications for all proponents of peace jour-
nalism, as in this era of social media, it might not be enough to simply teach journalists
how to use peace rather than war frames, as audiences have taken on the role of gate-
keepers in diﬀusing conﬂict-oriented stories.
Building upon previous scholarship that suggests geographic and cultural proximity of
a news event inﬂuences how that event will be covered (Galtung and Ruge 1965; Steven-
son 1984), especially when it comes to conﬂict (Shapiro and Williams 1984), the present
study advances peace journalism research by explaining the interplay between proximity
and peace and war framing in times of negotiations. Like previous peace journalism
studies, our paper showed that proximity is an important factor in whether reporters
rely on more war or peace frames. This study found that more war frames were used in
Colombian media than in the more distant outlets (i.e., Europe and US/Canada), which
used more peace frames than the local national media where the conﬂict originated.
Therefore, despite valuable Colombian media’s editorial initiatives such as Colombia
2020, Paciﬁsta and Verdad Abierta, and previous ﬁndings of journalists’noble intentions
to contribute to peace building (Prager and Hameleers 2021), this content analysis shows
that Colombian media news articles shared on social media contained more elements of
war framing than articles shared from foreign media during the coverage of the peace
process. These ﬁndings contradict Lacasse and Forster’s(2012) work on the Mexico
drug war that found newspapers closer to the conﬂict used more peace than war
frames. This perhaps can be explained by the fact that, unlike the Mexico drug war, the
case of Colombia is about the end of a conﬂict and the negotiation of peace. It is also
possible that the Colombian case is more directly attached to partisan politics than the
Mexican case, and that the armed violence in Colombia has an important political com-
ponent that the Mexican drug case lacks. It also is worth considering whether the
conﬂict is so ingrained as a news value and as inherent in reporting practices in Colom-
bian media, especially after more than 50 years of reporting on war, that national media
approached the peace process in the same way they approached conﬂict coverage for a
long time. In other words, Colombian journalists, unlike the foreign media, reported on
the peace process with war frames because that is how they are accustomed to covering
the relationship between the government, political opposition, and the FARC.
Looking in-depth at the individual peace- or war frame indicators also helps explain the
role of proximity. This study showed that Colombian media focused on problems and
diﬀerences, adopted two-party conﬂict reporting, labeled parties as good or bad, and
used demonizing language more than media from the US/Canada or Europe. In contrast,
the US/Canadian media used less here and now reporting, and European media focused
more on visible eﬀects of violence than Colombian news outlets. It follows that national
media more than foreign media would be focused on the ins and outs of the obstacles of
achieving peace, thus covering the problems and diﬀerences, while foreign media
16 V. GARCÍA-PERDOMO ET AL.
perhaps were more interested in a higher-level, more abstract view that would appeal
more to a non-Colombian audience.
The Colombian media’s tendency of labeling of parties as good or bad and use of
demonizing language also somewhat conﬂicts with previous research that suggests
demonizing language is more common in distant-foreign than in close-national-local
media (Galtung and Vincent 1992; Lacasse and Forster 2012). We argue that because
this study was focused on a peace process —something foreign media would usually
see as positive —it follows that non-Colombian media would use less labeling and demo-
nizing language. Similarly, the foreign media used less here and now reporting than the
Colombian media, again pointing to diﬀerences in audiences: non-Colombian audiences
most likely would want overviews and explanations of the peace process, rather than the
breaking news and details of every step of the process that would be more relevant to
Colombian readers. More mentions of visible violence in European media also can be
attributed to audiences, as non-Colombian readers need basic information about the
conﬂict, including number of dead and displaced people, to understand the peace
process, whereas Colombian audiences do not need to be reminded of the historical
casualties in every story.
These same patterns are reﬂected in the ﬁndings when it comes to foreign versus
Colombian media’s use of peace frame indicators. In other words, generally, the foreign
media incorporated more elements of peace frames than did Colombian media, and
Colombian media more than foreign media relied on war framing. While previous
research suggests that foreign media would take a more negative approach to conﬂict
than national media, this study’sﬁndings indicate that when it comes to the end of a
long conﬂict, there is a role reversal and foreign media more than national media prior-
itized peace framing.
These ﬁndings highlight the role of proximity as a news value and underscore the com-
plexity of proximity when it comes to peace journalism. Further, these ﬁndings are useful
for helping explain why the world outside of Colombia was surprised when Colombians
voted against the peace referendum: the use of peace framing in foreign news coverage
perhaps gave the impression than peace was on the horizon, while in Colombia, the pre-
ponderance of war framing in news coverage perhaps contributed the no vote. Finding
about proximity, however, need some nuance in the Colombian case because there is pre-
vious evidence that shows that hyper-local and community media in that country have
more context and cultural proximity to the conﬂict than commercial and urban media,
and that community media like radio stations have had an active role in peace building
Additionally, for social media recommendations, our results show that social media
users on Facebook and Twitter were more likely to amplify the war frame. Our research
shows the war frame was shared almost twice as much on these platforms, indicating
that social media audiences may have an aﬃnity, even if just by mere attraction, for
war narratives. On the one hand, the functions of the war frame are highly susceptible
to emotional and sensational aspects of conﬂict and propaganda. It is possible that the
latent emotional appeals of components like victimization and demonization are key
factors for sharing. On the other hand, if the war frame is indicative of partisan presen-
tation, and the peace frame removes the powerful emotions and consequences of victi-
mization that are aﬃliated with war, then it is possible that social media audiences would
JOURNALISM PRACTICE 17
advance narratives that are more oriented toward war than peace, given the emotional
characteristics that conversations in those platforms have. Our results show that positive
emotive language was suppressed by social media audiences, and articles without
language of hope and reconciliation were ampliﬁed. We contend that the longevity of
a 50-year war may have created skepticism toward positive narratives, despite advance-
ments in the peace process. Previous research on the eﬀects of war framing has shown
audiences who are exposed to the war journalism frames are angrier and more fearful
than media consumers exposed to peace frames and who are more inclined to seek sol-
utions and reconciliation (Lynch and McGrodrick 2012). With this in mind, even though it
is diﬃcult to draw conclusions about causality from this study, we argue that the war
frame reporting and the social media sharing of conﬂict news could have contributed
to the failure of the peace referendum on Oct 2, 2016, and the current diﬃculties the
country is facing to implement peace agreements. Ultimately, our work extends the
research on emotions and shareworthiness (e.g., Berger and Milkman 2012; Bright
2016; Kilgo, Lough, and Riedl 2017) by showing that in the context of war, valence of
emotional content is important. Negative emotional frames and devices are likely to
prompt more sharing on Facebook and Twitter than positive or neutral coverage.
Finally, the current research applies Wolfsfeld’s political contest model (1997)—
which theorizes that authorities and antagonists compete for media attention to
achieve political inﬂuence and promote their frames in times of conﬂict —to the
speciﬁc case of the Colombian peace negotiations. The main purpose of adopting
this model was to understand the relationship between articles that privilege suppor-
ters/contradictors to peace negotiations and the adoption of peace and war frames.
As a result, this paper showed that articles that privilege the point of view of antagon-
ists to the Colombia peace process adopted more devices of war journalism reporting
than news pieces that favored perspectives that supported the peace talks. Therefore,
antagonists’attempts to promote their frames of the conﬂict to the news media and
mobilize political support for their cause (Wolfsfeld 1997) can be reﬂected in the use
of war journalism reporting while news articles that privileged supporters’viewpoints
of the talks were predisposed to adopt peace journalism elements. Looking at the
Colombian context, the Santos’government and the FARC guerrillas were in favor of
the peace process (although with several disagreements about the negotiations)
whereas other political forces of the country, like the right-wing Democratic Center
Party, were openly against the negotiations and the agreement. These ﬁndings could
help future peace journalism scholars to understand the role that the news media
play framing stories with peaceful or conﬂicting devices during peace negotiations, pro-
moting the visions of antagonists and supporters, and contributing to maintain or
undermine peace talks.
This research is limited in that it analyzes only a sample of news stories shared on social
media, so that any conclusions made are restricted to articles that have produced inter-
actions on social networks. Therefore, conclusions are restricted to content shared both in
English and Spanish on social media. If the study sample had been extended to other
articles and languages, the manuscript would have oﬀered diﬀerent results. Another
important limitation of this study is that it compares articles produced by diverse
media organizations from diﬀerent countries and regions without considering diﬀerences
in journalistic cultures, professional values, and practices. Although context and culture
18 V. GARCÍA-PERDOMO ET AL.
could aﬀect the frames analyzed and interactions of diﬀerent audiences, the current
research is valuable because it shows key patterns that make results generalizable and
valuable in a global digital environment. It also is important to note that peace journalism
needs further conceptualization and theorization to make some of its war and peace
frames more appropriate to the context of peace negotiations (Shinar 2009). Future
research should examine how peace journalism operates in relation to other dimensions
of the Colombian conﬂict such as the current implementation of the peace accord, local
vs. national media treatment of victims and ex-combats reincorporation to civil life.
Finally, it will be relevant for future researchers in this area to measure the eﬀect of
social media frames on voters’decisions against and in favor of the peace referendum.
Despite these limitations, this study is important because it contributes to the peace
journalism scholarship in three main ways. First, by showing that not only is war
framing prevalent in conﬂict reporting, as prior studies have noted, but it also prevails
in coverage of peace negotiations. Future research should explicate this further, explor-
ing the journalistic norms and practices that might inﬂuence this ﬁnding. Second, our
research also points to proximity as a key factor in whether coverage will employ a
war or peace frame. Unlike previous studies that showed distance as contributing to
war-oriented reporting, our study’sﬁndings were more complex, suggesting that
local media approached peace negotiations with a war frame more than foreign
media, perhaps because for them, the stakes were higher during the long conﬂict.
Lastly, this study advances sharing research by showing that social media audiences
engaged with war-oriented stories more than peace-oriented stories. Combined,
these ﬁndings are noteworthy for their implications about how national media, unlike
foreign media, consistently emphasized a war frame that social media users
ampliﬁed, which we argue has implications for how citizens viewed the Colombian
peace process, ultimately potentially inﬂuencing the decision to vote down the
1. Signiﬁcant events occurred during the timespan selected to collect the news articles. First, the
Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla announced a permanent cease-ﬁre on June
22nd, 2016. Second, on August 24th both parties reached a ﬁnal peace agreement in
Havana after four years of talks. Third, on September 26, the peace accord was sealed in
an oﬃcial ceremony in Cartagena. Finally, on October 2, 2016, citizens narrowly rejected
the peace agreement in a plebiscite convened by the government.
2. The war frame indicators are: Here and now, visible eﬀects of violence, elite sources and
voices, two-party conﬂict reporting, problems and diﬀerences, labeling parties as good or
bad, victimizing language, demonizing language, and emotive language.
3. The peace frame indicators are: Causes and consequences, invisible eﬀects of violence,
common people as sources, multi-party conﬂict reporting, solutions and similarities, not-
labeling parties as good or bad, non-victimizing language, unifying language, and non-
4. Coders were trained to identify demonizing words or devices when describing actors, the
peace process, and the ongoing conﬂict between political parties (e.g., backward, uncivilized,
threatening, vicious, cruel, brutal, barbaric savage, ruthless, villains, irrational, cruel, despotic,
untrusted, heartless, narco-terrorists, criminals, mockers, despotic, traitor, liar, unpatriotic,
JOURNALISM PRACTICE 19
No potential conﬂict of interest was reported by the author(s).
Víctor García-Perdomo http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7187-1618
Summer Harlow http://orcid.org/0000-0001-6079-1439
Danielle K. Brown http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7637-8964
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