A study of the way the media handled the 1995 Manningham riots has praised the unbiased approach of the Telegraph & Argus.

The paper's refusal to sensationalise and its commitment to informing the public by publishing extensive extracts from the subsequent 200-page report by the Bradford Commission is contrasted approvingly with the style of the reportage of other parts of the Yorkshire media.

Peacemaking Journalism at a Time of Community Conflict: The Bradford Telegraph & Argus and the Bradford Riots, by former Danish journalist Kirsten Sparre for Bradford University's Department of Peace Studies, asks pertinent questions about the media's role at times of civil strife.

It asks whether journalists are passive observers of events or if their reporting plays an active role in making matters worse or resolving them.

The author believes the media should do what it can to move a conflict towards resolution preferably by peaceful means, but acknowledges the potential conflict of interests between the journalist as mediator and the journalist as impartial chronicler.

Allowing for the paper's fundamental commercial concerns, Kirsten Sparre said the T&A's coverage made an excellent starting point for discussing such matters.

"From the very beginning the editorial line at the T&A focused on preventing further violence through an understanding of the underlying causes of the riots. Soon the newspaper put its full weight behind the efforts of Bradford Council and Labour MP Max Madden to get Home Secretary Michael Howard to set up a judicial inquiry into the two nights of violence...

"The newspaper then switched its support to the efforts of Bradford Congress to set up a local hearing... On the day of the report's publication, the T&A published a ten page news special... The next day the newspaper went one step further and on its own initiative published a 12-page supplement which summarised the main sections of the report."

The T&A's overall reporting of the rioting was recognised in April 1996 when the newspaper won the Commission for Racial Equality's Race in the Media award.

Kirsten Sparre's report is available from the Department of Peace Studies, Bradford University, Bradford BD7 1DP at a cost of £4 which includes postage.

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