Scientific Papers

Equity, diversity, and inclusion in the construction of journalistic and training agendas for peace in Colombia


1. Introduction

According to the National Center for Historical Memory in Colombia (CNMH, 2013), between 1958 and 2012, the armed conflict in Colombia caused the death of 218,094 people. Nineteen percent of the dead are combatants while 81% are civilians (CNMH, 2013). According to the same figures, 27,023 people were kidnapped, 11,751 were victims of massacres, 25,007 were reported missing, and 5,712,506 people were displaced from their territories. These striking figures show the extent of the Colombian conflict, classified as the oldest in Latin America and one of the deadliest in the world. In this context, the most recent generations of Colombian journalists have been trained. Many of these journalists began their reporting exercises in the hundreds of university media that exist in the country, reporting this armed conflict situation. However, very rarely has university journalism been studied as a social agent of impact in the construction of a stable and lasting peace in Colombia. It is for this reason that this article has studied the role of university peace journalism, the peaceful transition in Colombia, and equity, diversity, and inclusion, as constituent elements of a social development agenda in the country, and as an element of vital importance for the coexistence of citizens in a peace society.

For some years now, the world as we know it has been caught up in a frenetic evolution that increasingly compromises human beings and their coexistence with the environment, other species, and even themselves. The premonitory phrase—also the title of the book by Lebanese author Maalouf (2009)—“Disordered World” has become more relevant at this time, as the symptoms of a world going through various crises have been revealed, among them, the crises associated with wars and armed conflicts. Intellectuality and disenchantment with forms of identity, economic aspects, and the financial world are only a few of the elements that have drawn attention to the potential forms of coexistence that must be discussed and created to manage the imbalance. In 2015, UNESCO dared to think and propose a utopian view, a more welcoming and new concept of “development” that could articulate human elements motivated by the remarkable exhaustion endured through the current social and cultural models, which can hardly respond in the near future perspective to the needs of a world in transition. Incidentally, these models engage in an old debate on the existence of the self and its evolution in a world that has not welcomed the preservation of its various forms of life. It is in this context that the vision of the media is relevant and, above all, the vision of young university students who are just starting out in this exercise of contributing to sustainable development and peace in their territories. This promotes new ways of relating, challenging the journalistic practice to do it from a proactive vision. This leads, in this case, to the concept of journalism for peace, which positions universities as an articulating axis (Hussain, 2020).

This proposal is important because it allowed the countries belonging to the United Nations (UN) to consider a possible rethinking of the limits and conditions of each of the communities in light of the UN’s 2030 “Sustainable Development” goals. These goals enable countries to design social actions aimed at improving quality of life, through concrete plans in a vast epistemological framework, and question whether the world can still resist the development known so far, thus disregarding inclusion, diversity, and equity as ways of restoring human dignity, to solve the problems that each country faces based on their particular needs. UNESCO’s commitment was translated into 17 major sustainable development goals, serving as a navigation path for various government plans and setting the political agenda. For this reason, this article contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 16 which focuses on the consolidation of peace, justice, and strong institutions. This study faces the challenge of expanding on the problematic issues of the complexity of government policies related to the armed conflict in Colombia. It covers sociopolitical, economic, territorial, state, and academic issues and discussions that have permeated the media’s agenda by placing, at the center of the possible causes of the armed conflict, the absence of social, economic, cultural, and educational tools used to overcome the difficulties of a conflict by means other than armed confrontation. As Hanitzsch states, “journalism is a socially responsible discipline and a vital force for the welfare of society” (Hanitzsch, 2011, p. 2), which is why it is necessary to have a broad education that allows understanding of the etiology of confrontation in all its dimensions.

The very expression “armed conflict” wears out when the armed confrontation that Colombia has suffered since the existence of the National Front in the 1950s reveals an asymmetrical war with different types of violence, forced displacement, recruitment by illegal groups, territorial struggle, disappearances, drug trafficking, massacres, attacks, kidnappings, criminal activities, and violation of human rights. All these are nothing more than symptoms of a “disordered world,” the non-acceptance of diverse ideas, the lack of consideration for equity, and the denial of the inclusion of others and other perspectives, as well as the impossibility of processing the conflict by means other than confrontation with excessive violence. It is noteworthy that one of the contributions of this work is to show how the traditional media silenced this type of violence, which is rescued by university students in their fieldwork, expanding the voices, and providing different nuances to know this conflict in depth (Hanitzsch, 2011).

These ways of telling have allowed for a transition that allows for resonance and a greater presence in communication media of some notable state efforts. The most notable case so far is the “General Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace” Gobierno de Colombia, FARC-EP (2016), signed in 2016 between the Colombian State and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP). With this, the actors of the conflict came together around the impacts of the damage caused, and the new collective identified goals that must be reached as a country, while opening the possibility of reflecting on the various forms of the conflict to seek the end of an international crisis. This makes us think about the importance of “media ethics is not only a matter of principles, but also of practice. Ethics is put into practice when difficult decisions are made in complex situations” (Hamelink, 2014).

This historic event, known as the “Peace Agreement,” sought to close a chapter of horror in Colombia’s history through four key points in the negotiations: (1) comprehensive agricultural development, (2) political participation and democratization, (3) illicit drugs, and (4) the truth related to victims’ human rights. Additionally, overcoming gaps in human capital, recognizing peace initiatives, along with individual and collective political empowerment processes, and strengthening the political capacities of individuals and communities were emphasized.

At least 5 years have passed since the agreement was signed, implying that the implementation is still ongoing. Although the intersection of different state ideologies has delayed the processes and the assurance of a stable peace, it has not impeded the continued reflection and thinking on peace; in fact, what it denotes for many citizens, politicians, and thinkers is precisely “the absence of a state peace policy” (Zubiría, 2015, p. 44). In the particular case of this study, it opens a window of reflection from the Analytical Center of University Productions in the Context of the Conflict (Centro Analítico de Producciones Culturales Universitarias en el marco del Conflicto, CAPAZ) research project. This presents an opportunity to reflect on the interference of the media and how the communication process becomes a political act. This is why the way in which messages are communicated and the choice of what is communicated are political decisions that impact society (Hamelink, 2014, p. 28) and access to broad information must be guaranteed to build a new way of coexisting among all.

The project analyzed narratives produced by communication and journalism students in Colombia over 20 years; however, for the purposes of this study, the project focused on the findings of the corpus of information collected from the period from the beginning of the 2012 agreements until its subsequent signing in 2016. Under the current President Gustavo Petro Urrego, the aim was to observe the transition of the media narratives from the expectation of “stable and lasting peace” to the achievement of Juan Manuel Santos’ government of “imperfect peace,” including the new commitment expressed by the new government as “total peace”.

Based on the above, the project explores the meaning of the narratives offered by university journalists when covering the historical fact of the signing of the Colombian Peace Agreement from different aspects and approaches, generating discourses that are associated, or not, with the culture of peace proposed by the agreement. According to Hanitzsch and Berganza (2016), journalists have the task of reporting accurately and objectively but they must also consider cultural diversity and differences in journalistic norms and values in different regions and countries. In this order of ideas, this academic exercise allows the recognition of how young people construct their reality, taking into account the voices of the different actors of the conflict without a marked ideological bias, which evidences the need to collect these voices in order to move on to a new chapter of understanding.

In the words of journalists Olga Behar and Kevin García, “For five decades the mass media provided biased—when not manipulative—decontextualized and often sensationalist coverage” of the war in Colombia, including the peace process (Behar and García, 2018, p. 95). Hence, the importance of this exercise, established from an analytical review of the commitment, is to find possible points of understanding for teaching a “culture of peace” and how communication and journalism students have constructed their own narratives regarding the peace process, signing of the agreement, and transitions involved in the implementation, among other factors.

This study proposes the following question: How did the stories of university journalism contribute to the construction of a communication agenda for peace, from the perspective of inclusion, diversity, and equity?

Peace journalism is an approach that emerged at the end of the 20th century in response to the need to cover conflicts and peace around the world in a more accurate and contextualized way. This type of journalism seeks to offer a deeper and contextualized perspective of conflicts, focusing on peacebuilding and understanding the factors that lead to violence. Peace journalism is the opposite of violence journalism and focuses on identifying positive factors, which often generate little journalistic interest. Arroyave and Garcés-Prettel affirm that “[o]f great interest for the non-existent field of the PP was the last factor,” which stated: “The more negative consequences an event has, the more likely it is to become news” (Galtung and Ruge, 1965, p. 68). When analyzing this factor in detail, the authors found that negative news satisfied the criterion of frequency, because they were more common, as well as more consensual and less ambiguous in their interpretation. Finally, “they were more consonant with some pre-images of our time” (Galtung and Ruge, 1965, p. 69) and “were more unexpected than positive news in the sense that they were less predictable” (Arroyave and Garcés-Prettel, 2022).

Peace journalism has been criticized by some for its alleged lack of objectivity and its focus on peacebuilding rather than coverage of news events. Despite criticism, peace journalism has proven to be a useful approach to understanding and covering conflict and has been embraced by journalists and media outlets around the world. “The volitional approach suggests that the PP is an option deliberately taken by journalists, editors, and even media outlets to report facts from a particular position (McGoldrick, 2000).” Indeed, Hackett and Zhao (1998) had already warned that the PP rejects the “regime of objectivity.” In addition, it allows journalists to “be part of the solution and not the problem” (McGoldrick, 2000). Implicit in this idea is that just as the media can contribute to exacerbating conflict (Taylor and Kent, 2000), they can also contribute to its resolution and give an opportunity for peace (Kempf, 2012; Arroyave and Garcés-Prettel, 2022).

This journalism practice has led to a greater understanding of the factors that contribute to violence and instability and has promoted greater collaboration between journalists and conflict resolution experts. The evolution of peace journalism has been influenced by technological advances and increasing global interconnectedness, which has allowed journalists to cover conflict and peace-related issues more accurately and broadly. “Other conceptualizations emphasize the procedural aspect, without losing sight of the role of contributing to conflict resolution. In this way, for Kempf (2003), in a first moment, efforts are concentrated on de-escalating the conflict. In a second moment, the news coverage should focus on seeking alternative solutions, leaving aside dualistic constructions” (Arroyave and Garcés-Prettel, 2022).

Equity, diversity, and equality are core values in peace journalism practices. Equity refers to fairness and impartiality in news coverage, framing, and agenda, ensuring that all persons, voices, organizations, and perspectives are heard and represented. Diversity is related to the inclusion of different cultures, genders, sexual orientations, ages, and religions, among other aspects, in journalistic information, allowing a broader and more complete understanding of reality. Equality seeks to guarantee that all people, organizations, and victims have the same opportunities to access information and that their voice is heard, regardless of their origin or social position.

In the context of peace journalism, these values are especially important as they contribute to a more just and peaceful society. By promoting fairness, diversity, and equality in journalistic reporting, polarization and conflict can be avoided, and empathy, understanding, and tolerance between people can be fostered. In addition, peace journalism must be inclusive and representative, so that all parties involved in a conflict or complex situation have a voice and dialog and negotiation are promoted as tools for the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

This scenario is interesting to the extent that it can establish elements to consider when training future communicators and journalists. This emphasizes an ethical lens that allows empathizing with the communicative experiences, allowing tools learned in the classroom to make a transposition that benefits their environment. In this way, we can approach the vision that Nussbaum (2013) has of journalism, that it should be diverse and represent a wide range of perspectives and voices. If we only hear one version of the facts, we will never have a complete understanding of the truth. The level of ethical and professional independence can be built from students’ criteria; furthermore, the geographical location offers a specific panorama as it influences students’ perception and life experience in relation to the conflict and how they live their youth, as expressed by Behar:

… we did not even have the opportunity for communication students to speak in these terms, or to go to the scene of the events, because they were banned “as journalists” for [sic] many members of Colombian society and also for [sic] the journalists themselves (Behar and García, 2018, p. 91).

The justification for this analysis resonates especially with the publications of the final report of the “Commission for the clarification of the truth,” which is part of the Integral System of Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Non-Repetition, created in point 5 of the Peace Agreement, and includes the “Search Unit for Persons Considered Disappeared, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and Comprehensive Reparation Measures for the Construction of Peace and the Guarantees of Non-Repetition.” This report is in tune with all those theorists who see in this type of coverage a way of framing what we should know from a tone of inclusion, equity, diversity, and truthfulness as a product of the media coverage and the follow-up that is done for this type of technical report, seeking the voices of those who experienced the events firsthand.

Above all, this study is relevant considering the revelations made by the “Truth Commission” after 4 years of investigative work, performing all the necessary inquiries by reviewing documents and actions of government bodies and contrasting this information with testimonies from the victims and perpetrators—the careful observation of historical perspectives that have denoted violence in Colombia. This concluded in a key stage summarized in the “Final Report,” which accounted for the various factors that influence the perpetuation of violence, and also has a special chapter on Findings and Recommendations for the country’s media.

This roadmap could serve as an example to be followed by other journalism training schools and universities with the intention of allowing their students to be agents of change that will allow them to facilitate the flow of communication in an environment of transition, thereby serving as catalysts that create space for new stories that focus on putting an end to violence and the conflict itself. This focus on peace and the positive impact of media news stories allows for contrasting storylines, which are key to understanding the transitional context of the country and further affirms the value of analyzing university journalistic narratives and their characteristics as a discourse in peace mediation.

There are substantial journalistic practices, along with thematic, ethical, and moral approaches expressed by students in training, that are the subject of recommendation in the report itself and that, undoubtedly, go on the same path toward the construction of peace where communication is the key to conflict resolution (Galtung, 2004). Such practices have led to synchronizing academic, investigative, and reflective systems to support the restorative and reparative measures that deal with the needs and dignities of the victims, to satisfy their right to truth, justice, reparation, and represent a new and not redundant narrative from the university media.

Furthermore, this study is notable for integrating innovative procedures such as lexicometric analysis of large volumes of information into the processes of social research in the media where the CAPAZ project undertook the task of analyzing the narration of the armed conflict, from the journalistic productions of 24 university digital media sources affiliated with the Colombian Network of University Journalism.

This study overcomes the traditional limitations in techniques of narrative analysis and implements an applied methodology that, in the first quantitative phase, was carried out through data science, automated lexicometry, and statistical discourse analysis; in the second phase, the 589 productions given in the period of the Peace Agreement signing were given a different interpretation, using a qualitative approach. In this way, this study accounts for the temporal narratives of the agreement that Colombian university students provided between 2012 and 2016 through various media, languages, and channels. The narratives were subjected to a quantitative and qualitative automated lexicometric analysis of publications in digital media to find a possible answer to the following question: How did the narratives of university journalism contribute to building a communication agenda for peace, based on inclusion, diversity, and equity?

It is worth highlighting that the relevance of this study aligns with the implementation of the 2017–2022 agreement and a newly elected government plan for 2022–2026, which also proposed to comply with the “total peace” concept. This study examines and clarifies the new forms of journalism in terms of diversity, inclusion, and equity, which not only validates the recommendations of the “Final Report of the Truth Commission,” but also proposes the importance of the axiological values of social communication and journalism from the perspective of universities.

Undoubtedly, Colombian society is immersed in a state of change, which is why the transition periods are the current horizon of the various research proposals. In this sense, understanding the narratives and approaches being promoted in different regions, as well as knowing and reinterpreting the independent perspectives that young people propose, is crucial, as “… [t]hey will be able to fulfill the role of becoming participants in the construction of memory” (Behar and García, 2018, p. 95).

2. Methodology

The corpus of this study comes from the Catholic University of Pereira and comprises a dataset of journalistic articles written by young university students who belong to the Colombian Network of University Journalism. This corpus is part of the Analytical Center for University Cultural Productions project within the framework of the Colombian Armed Conflict CAPAZ, financed by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (Minciencias) and the National Center for Historical Memory—under the code: 1349-872-76354, agreement 872 of 2020 with resources from the Francisco José de Caldas Autonomous Heritage National Financing Fund for Science, Technology, and Innovation. The present dataset is open access and available at the following website: https://zenodo.org/record/7823504#.ZDb2inZBy00 (Páez-Valdez, 2022). For this exercise, it was accessed on 31 March 2022.

This corpus has also been used to validate the research model proposed in the project: “Lexicodata: Data Sciences and lexicometry in communication and digital marketing. Reference frameworks, methodologies, social representations and performance indicators in Colombia and France” from the School of Management of the Universidad del Rosario, which aims to evaluate the methodological effectiveness of lexicometry in personal, media, and commercial social representations.

The data collected include news produced by students belonging to 24 university media outlets in Colombia from 2012 to 2016, which mirrors the period of negotiation and signing of the peace agreements with FARC-EP. The dataset includes digital news equivalent to 589 pieces of news related to the armed conflict, victims’ memoirs, and the peace process in Colombia. It is equivalent to more than 461,158 words.

The news articles were extracted using a web scraping technique, which used three subject keywords (armed conflict, victims’ memoirs, and peace process) to identify the typical semantic structures that appeared in the textual elements of the HTML structure of the 24 pages of university media. A web crawling technique was also used to explore each URL and extract the text of each piece of selected news. These 589 pieces of news were converted into raw text format (.txt), which were analyzed using specific lexicometry techniques with the Alceste–Reinert method for content clustering by top-down subjects.

2.1. Research focus

The corpus selected for this study is difficult to interpret using traditional techniques. Currently, automated analyses have a high impact and interest; however, automated processing may overlook the real impact of textual discourses. A mixed research approach was used to identify how university journalism narratives contribute to building a communication agenda for peace, based on inclusion, diversity, and equity, by observing the narrative of the peace agreements in Colombia. Methods from digital humanities were used, which recognize the importance of analyzing data from specific approaches of the Internet, along with their qualitative interpretations.

In this scenario, this project’s approach uses automated lexicometry as a quantitative tool, capable of providing lexical data on the texts analyzed, as well as factorial correspondence analysis and textual dendrograms, supported by the Alceste–Reinert method as a tool for quantitative grouping of the discussion. However, a qualitative research method was included by directly analyzing and categorizing the content generated by the quantitative results.

2.2. Lexicometry and Alceste–Reinert method

The Alceste–Reinert method is a lexicometric technique, namely, textual statistics, that focuses on analyzing each word of a text from its individual and group relationship. This method focuses on identifying lexical worlds and grounds its model on the statistical analysis of the appearance of specific forms within the content and discourse of a text.

The main thesis by Reinert (2007) is based on the fact that a discourse expresses a system of lexical worlds, that is, thematic communities of discussion. These communities organize thought and give coherence to the statements expressed within a text. These lexical worlds are identified through top down hierarchical classification exercises, which include a clustering of textual forms using statistical methods such as dendrograms and correspondence factor analysis. These tree or root graphs represent the categorical hierarchy of texts according to their degree of similarity and shared characteristics.

For this study, five dendrograms and five correspondence factor analyses were analyzed, which are equivalent to a figure of meaning for each year analyzed from 2012 to 2016. The 589 news pieces and 461,158 words collected from the dataset were synthesized within these textual statistics visuals. All lexicometric processing was performed using the IRAMUTEQ software, a freely available software, which works through an R and Python interface and enables a multidimensional analysis of texts and questionnaires, through an open GNU-GPL (v2) license.

2.3. Direct observation and qualitative analysis of statistical visuals

The quantitative results yielded 24 lexical worlds, which were categorized according to their percentage of representativeness in each year of analysis. However, it was decided to carry out a direct observation of such material to qualitatively interpret the 24 results and convert such lexical worlds into journalistic subjects covered by students; the analysis process of this data is shown in Figure 1.

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Figure 1. In the project, data processing was performed through an analysis model created by the authors, in accordance with big data techniques and multimodal narrative analysis. Source: CAPAZ project.

For this exercise, the five dendrograms and five correspondence factor analyses were used. The categorized corpus was also accessed through the lexical classes identified in the IRAMUTEQ software. Each lexical community was categorized with a name related to the attribute of its lexical world to generate a narrative temporality of discourse, as described below.

2.4. Results from the lexicometric approach

The mixed methodology enables us to analyze the data on multiple levels. Initially, a general result of news production indicators throughout the period studied is presented. Then, a specific analysis of the textual characteristics is identified in the corpus. Next, an analysis is made of each year analyzed, based on a quantitative and qualitative characterization, and ends with a final analysis of the general temporality of the university narrative of the peace process in Colombia.

The first important result corresponds to the high projection of university news production, which was directly related to the progress of the peace talks. In 2012, only one piece of news on the subject was captured, but in 2016, 323 pieces of news related to the process were produced. The production curve was constant and showed a relative interest in the progress of the Peace Agreement, moving from the implementation of the process in 2012 to the final validation and ratification in 2016, as shown in Figure 2.

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Figure 2. Number of university journalistic texts analyzed 2012–2016. The trend of university journalistic production regarding the peace process showed exponential growth during the period of signing of the Peace Agreement between the National Government and the FARC-EP. Source: CAPAZ project.

These 589 pieces of news produced 461,158 words or occurrences, which had a similar distribution in temporality, going from 7,961 words in 2012 to 289,412 words or occurrences in 2016, as shown in Figure 3. These occurrences refer to active and supplementary forms, that is, words with an interest in the meaning and other words with an interest in the organization of the active forms.

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Figure 3. Number of textual occurrences found in analyzed texts. The textual occurrences allow us to approach the texts, showing trends of shared meaning in the datasets. Source: CAPAZ project.

The occurrences with the greatest impact and the greatest frequency were “peace,” “do,” “more,” “agreement,” “process,” “political,” “media,” “Colombia,” “political,” “government,” “say,” “Utadeo” * (Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano) and “conflict,” as shown in Figure 4. The temporal distribution of these active forms also increased over time, from the use of 1,933 forms in 2012 to 13,309 forms in 2016. The increase in the use of active forms always maintained the same relative weight of the words previously presented.

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Figure 4. Word cloud with identified occurrences. The word cloud is used to identify the active forms with greater frequency and semantic relevance in the analyzed datasets. Source: CAPAZ project.

In general terms, these occurrences present in the 589 texts had a similar distribution according to the lexicometric variables analyzed. The occurrences were aggregated in an average of 12,975 text segments with higher value, resulting in paragraphs with higher discursive value. These text segments became the first level of grouping to identify lexical worlds within the corpus. Based on these results, five journalistic themes were analyzed in 2012, four in 2013, five in 2014, four in 2015, and five in 2016. Table 1 presents the summary of the lexicometric analysis.

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Table 1. Lexicometric variables analyzed.

Table 1 summarizes the specific metrics resulting from the lexicometric analysis, starting from the number of texts analyzed, that is, the number of journalistic works evaluated. The second dimension corresponds to the number of words identified in these texts, while the third dimension corresponds to the forms, that is, the number of unique words. Meanwhile, the analysis describes the number of active forms—single words with meaning within a discourse. The number of text segments is also presented, namely, a major division that generally responds to the logic of paragraphs and finally, the number of lexical worlds or themes represented in the media.

The objective of this textual statistics analysis, as expressed in Table 2, was to identify the most relevant topics of discussion during each year. For this article, 24 lexical worlds or topics of discussion were identified, which were named based on a qualitative analysis conducted by the researchers. In that order of ideas and temporality, the journalistic topics that were addressed during the peace process were as follows (see Table 2).

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Table 2. Number of identified lexical worlds.

These lexical worlds were understood by chronologically analyzing the peace process. To do so, the timeline of the 2012–2016 agreements was used as an analytical element, which is why the temporality of the peace process narrative is discussed, and understood by phases that represent the most important milestones of the production of university journalism. Such journalism involved the challenges and demands generated by the agreement and demonstrated the axiological values of social communication and journalism to overcome the conflict.

2.4.1. Year 1: beginning of the peace dialogs in Havana (2012)

Before the peace agreement in Colombia, journalism in the country was marked by a violent conflict between the government and the guerrilla group, FARC-EP. University peace journalism was a concept that emerged during this time as a way to address the need for peace and reconciliation in the country. This type of journalism involved engaging in a dialog with FARC-EP as an important step toward conflict resolution. During the period when the conversations began in 2012, only one paper was found on the subject. This may be because, at that time, the use of digital platforms was not so widespread in universities, and they were not used for grouping this type of subject matter. However, in the 227 text segments identified for this year and the 7,061 occurrences, 5 large lexical worlds were found, which had 75.33% of classification segments and 345 active forms with a frequency ≥ 3 and an average of 35,070 forms per segment.

The recognition of this situation, as well as its analysis, allowed us to classify this discourse through a dendrogram-type root clustering, as shown in Figure 5.

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Figure 5. Textual dendrogram, 2012. The dendrogram shows the lexical worlds, categories, and groupings for 2012. It is possible to show a grouping of five categories in three cluster levels. Source: CAPAZ project.

In this dendrogram, five lexical worlds can be seen, distributed in three large clusters of meaning. On the one hand, 25.7% focused on the Constitutional Court and 21.6% on the actors involved in the negotiations. This first grouping is equivalent to 47.3% of the discourse, which focused on aspects related to the constitutionality of initiating peace dialogs with the FARC-EP.

On the other hand, 19.3% responded to the process of implementing the peace agreement and 18.7% to historical memory. This subcategory, representing 38% of the discourse, focused on the need to continue with the agreements so long as they had complete reflection processes and social validation.

One of the key theorists who advocated for this approach was Martín-Barbero (1997). He argued that journalists had a crucial role to play in building bridges between different groups and promoting a culture of peace. However, the risks associated with reporting in a conflict zone were high, and many journalists faced intimidation and violence.

In terms of relationships, correspondence factor analyses also helped show the relationship between these lexical worlds or journalistic themes. For example, in this case, 14.6% of the discussion focused on the victims of the conflict without having a central theme but instead a bigger relationship between implementation and historical memory. This showed the relevance of social issues, and although the victims were not related to the other lexical communities in this range of analysis, they were the center of discussion.

Meanwhile, it is clear how the Constitutional Court and the actors of the agreement were regrouped in a lower tier of journalistic focus, but with greater impact in terms of representativeness as shown in Figure 6. Despite these challenges, the concept of Peace University Journalism continued to gain momentum and played an important role in shaping the discourse around the peace process in Colombia during 2012.

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Figure 6. Correspondence factor analysis, 2012. The correspondence factor analyses show the victims of the conflict as a synodal category of the journalistic approach; nonetheless, a deep interaction between the themes of institutionalization of the discourse is clear. Source: CAPAZ project.

2.4.2. Year 2: first results of negotiations: social fabrics (2013)

During the peace agreement in 2013, Peace University Journalism in Colombia continued to play an important role in promoting dialog and understanding between different groups, as well as in contributing to the implementation of the agreements. Thus, for the second year of the talks, students created 39 journalistic texts analyzing the progress of the Peace Agreement. These 39 texts produced 489 text segments and 16,906 occurrences, which included 2,622 active forms, from which only 820 had an occurrence ≥3. The average per segment was 34.57%, achieving a 74.85% classification of segments in active forms.

The year 2013 produced four large lexical worlds, which represented four topics of journalistic discussion: social structure, implementation of the agreements, university aspects, and historical memory, as shown in the dendrogram in Figure 7.

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Figure 7. Textual dendrogram, 2013. The dendrogram shows the lexical worlds, categories, and groupings for 2013, a descending categorization of three levels is seen for the four discursive categories identified. Source: CAPAZ project.

Figure 7 reveals four high-impact journalistic topics. Initially, there is historical memory (18.3%) and university aspects (23.2%). With the first community involved, this 41.6% was equivalent to the identification, made by universities, of their fundamental role in the narration of the conflict. The media emphasized its need to communicate the agreement and do so through press releases that highlighted its importance. Furthermore, this first lexical community was joined, on a second level, by elements related to the implementation of the agreements (28.7%) and on a third level, to the social structure with 29.8% of the narrative. Espinar-Ruiz and Hernández-Sánchez (2012) claim peace journalism is a journalistic approach aimed at promoting peaceful conflict resolution and reconciliation. The authors argue that traditional media often sensationalize conflicts and emphasize violence, which can perpetuate and exacerbate them.

In terms of relationships, it is clear how the narratives were very dispersed: only the community focused on the importance of universities in the construction of historical memory was grouped together, while implementation activities were at a lower level. The social structure was on the central right side, which could be related to the location of the individual–victims in 2012 in Figure 8. Peace journalism seeks to provide a more nuanced and balanced view of conflicts, highlighting nonviolent responses and the perspectives of all parties involved (Espinar-Ruiz and Hernández-Sánchez, 2012).

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Figure 8. Correspondence factor analysis, 2013. The correspondence factor analysis in 2013 shows greater thematic dispersion, only the memory of the conflict generates greater clustering with the university actions.

2.4.3. Year 3: an increase in activities to understand the agreements (2014)

The third year of the agreements saw an exponential increase in university journalistic production: In 2014, 1,475 pieces of news discussing the peace process were created, which included 51,770 occurrences, 7,473 forms, and 4,955 active forms. Of these active forms, only 1,832 had a frequency ≥3. The textual statistical analysis showed an average number of forms per segment of 35.09 and 80.47% of segments were classified according to the forms. Despite the higher number of texts and forms for this year, students concentrated on five lexical worlds or topics of journalistic interest, as shown in Figure 9.

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Figure 9. Textual dendrogram, 2014. The textual dendrogram shows the lexical worlds, categories, and groupings for 2014, representing a categorization in three clusters of five lexical worlds. Source: CAPAZ project.

The year 2014 was characterized by two discussion communities with two lexical worlds each. Initially, we can see the experience of journalists with 25.4% and university meetings with 23.7%. This relationship shows us that 2013 was the time when students held a greater number of events in their institutions, inviting relevant actors, such as journalists, and writing content for information professionals. This lexical community sought to theorize about the process through experts.

In discursive grouping policies, we were able to demonstrate two large discussion communities, with a very precise interrelation between each one and again prioritizing the aspects related to the victims, social structure, and truth, as shown in Figure 10.

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Figure 10. Correspondence factor analysis, 2014. For 2014, the correspondence factor analysis shows an increase in the journalistic production of the universities compared with the Agreements.

2.4.4. Year 4: more consolidated discussion communities focused on the social fabric and the victims (2015)

The year 2015 produced much more information. For this fourth year, we have 2,673 pieces of news, 95,109 occurrences, 11,017 forms, and 7,085 active forms, from which only 2,723 had a frequency ≥3. This higher level of production had a higher percentage of classified segments, reaching 90.01%, indicating more established discussion communities or lexical worlds, which is why there are only four lexical worlds or topics of journalistic interest, three of which allude to the topics of the agreement: victims, social structure, and artistic expressions, as shown in Figure 11.

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Figure 11. Textual dendrogram, 2015. The dendrogram shows the lexical worlds, the four categories, and the three descending hierarchical groupings for 2015. Source: CAPAZ project.

For the year 2015, we can see three topics that monopolize all the university news. Artistic expressions accounted for 28.5%, in a lexical world that reflected the cultural and research projects that were conducted to understand the conflict. Along these lines, we went from a narrative focused on experts (2014) to one that focused on research and cultural and artistic projects. Marshall (2014) stated that art has the potential to create a space for dialog, reconciliation, and healing, allowing individuals and communities to express their experiences and perspectives in a non-violent and creative way.

The second level is the social structure, with 27.7%, where work commenced on issues related to truth, justice, and reparation for all victims of the armed conflict. Additionally, the victims finally appear in 26.5% of the discussion, through accounts that showed their stories and sufferings. Lastly, a distant lexical world was observed with 17.3%, representing the role of the university media in this conflict narrative.

In terms of the relationship and location of these communities, it can be stated that in 2015, the social structure was very well related to the victims, being part of the upper right side of the figure, again reflecting this focal point in all the years. Artistic expressions and projects are in the middle, but lower, similar to other years, as can be seen in the correspondence factor analysis in Figure 12.

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Figure 12. Correspondence factor analysis, 2015. In 2015, the correspondence factor analysis shows the centrality of the discourse of the universities in the editorial approach to the armed conflict, showing a strong relationship between the social structure and the victims of the conflict.

2.4.5. Year 5: final signing of the peace agreements (2016)

Finally, 2016, the fifth year of the agreements and the year of the final signing, was a complete revolution in terms of information production. A high production curve is observed with 8,111 university texts talking about the Peace Agreement in the country. Occurrences reached 280,312, distributed in 21,371 forms, from which 13,309 were active forms and 5,324 had a frequency ≥3.

The increase in university journalistic coverage was also stronger with 93.3% of segments classified according to the forms and an average of 35.6% segment forms. As shown in Figure 13, this production took the form of five lexical worlds or journalistic topics of interest: negotiation process, development projects, actors, individuals-victims, and university aspects.

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Figure 13. Textual dendrogram, 2016. The dendrogram shows the lexical worlds, categories, and groupings for 2016. There are five lexical worlds and four descending discursive groupings. Source: CAPAZ project.

The last year of the agreement focused on a universe of discussion comprising three major points with the Peace Agreement comprising 30% of the discussion, owing to the negotiation, endorsement, and renegotiation processes taking place in this year. In addition, the university’s role through projects, education, and culture had a 26.6% presence in the discussions, and the actors of the discussion comprised 6.9%, centered on the political actors of the agreement: the president at the time, Juan Manuel Santos, and the former president and leader of the opposition, Álvaro Uribe Vélez. Furthermore, and peripherally, there was evidence of victim-centered narration (29.7%) and university aspects (6.9%).

In terms of relationships, in this year we can see how the narrative focused on the three aspects and on a complete cohesion between the agreement, projects, and actors. The projects were the focus of the discussion, highlighting the university’s role in the agreements. The victims are again present, but in this case, they moved away from the narrative and their discourses were much more dispersed, as shown in Figure 14.

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Figure 14. Correspondence factor analysis, 2016. In 2016, the factor analysis presents an insertion of the Peace Agreement as a news event in the university narrative.

3. Discussion

In this context, it is relevant to identify how the logic of production, the framing of the agenda, and the emergence of university narratives focused on equity, diversity, and media inclusion in the framework of the Colombian peace process, were in dialog with the concept of peace journalism itself. This could be understood through Shinar’s (in Arroyave and Garcés-Prettel, 2022) theoretical framework of peace journalism as a normative mode of media coverage characterized by being responsible and conscientious in the face of conflict, fulfilling the objective of contributing to the establishment and maintenance of peace. This involves a transformation of the perspective of managers and audiences toward the concept itself.

3.1. The emergence of social issues related to diversity

As widely recognized, peace journalism emerges as a response to the need to find agendas focused more on peaceful events than on war. Following a claim to find exercises in search and socialization of truth, the needs of civil society, and solutions (Galtung, 2006), journalistic approaches framed in this sense, such as Colombian university journalism, become exercises that strengthen and give coherence to peace, as a necessary media field to present a divergent framework, if you will, compared to traditionally warlike approaches. It presents other events and actors, addressing peace events that have been little addressed for years, or, as shown in the investigation “Disturbing Images: Photography and Armed Conflict in Colombia” (Bonilla, 2015), ignored in the face of a hegemonic vision in favor of the armament cause.

In the Colombian case, under a context marked by armed conflicts, the announcement in 2012 of the beginning of a peace agreement between the FARC-EP guerrillas and the national Government presented a dialectic of conflict that found in university journalism other narrative frameworks with repercussions on framing and, with these, on the prior exposure of facts, the way information was presented, and the influence it had on the peace agenda, promoting new discourse that accounted for a country that needed to be described from within its territory to build processes of memory and reconciliation.

As evidenced by the results of the project shown in Figures 5, 6, the beginning of the peace process in 2012 was marked by journalistic narratives that sought to establish their own editorial voice from the universities. In this way, an agenda focused on highlighting what was being understood by the peace process from technical and constitutional issues of the Peace Agreement was outlined, in which peace journalism began to structure an esthetic sense of mediation in itself.

In this barely volitional stage of discourse, lexical worlds related to the Colombian Constitutional Court, the Peace Agreement, sexual violence, and forced displacement gained strength. These terms coined a particular sense with the emergence of actors such as women victims, displaced persons, community leaders, and their families, who marked a trend in which experiences and actions for peace, with specific names, were in opposition to the statistics to which victims had been relegated in traditional media.

In this way, a more diverse agenda was sought, in which not only did FARC, representatives of the Government, and its opposition appear with particular names, but also other actors in the process such as the Ruta Pacífica de la Mujeres, the Alianza de Organizaciones de Mujeres and the Organización Femenina Popular (OFP), which represent the interests of victims in the conflict.

As can be seen in the coverage of the Pfm magazine platform in its July–September 2012 edition dedicated to “Women and armed conflict in Colombia,” the aim was to frame the agenda toward initiatives by female representatives, whose bet on life was peace, under an editorial premise that recognized women once displaced or victimized, as human rights activists or micro-entrepreneurs, all of them protagonists of a mainly male conflict that took them as victims.

In this way, the framing of peace journalism understood by Hanitzsch (2004) as a framework for journalistic coverage that contributes to the process of making and maintaining peace, was detected in university coverage, as well as in social movements (Espinar and Hernández in Arroyave and Garcés-Prettel, 2022), by revealing the importance of recognizing elements of human dignity related to memory as part of recognizing the conflict, as well as the importance of diverse communities and social equity values that allow victims to access mechanisms with guarantees and equity.

From a global equity reading perspective, the participation of diverse actors such as those outlined here in the peace context, as valid interlocutors and agents of change, coincides with current global sustainable development policies. These policies express, similar to UNESCO’s 2030 Agenda, that regional actors are the protagonists and are called to build, by driving peer learning, sharing experiences and lessons learned, and mobilizing partnerships and policies focused on people, transparency, and responsibility (Galtung, 2006; UNESCO, 2018, p. 11).

3.2. The appearance of issues related to agency, equity, and the political capacities of communities

In 2013, with the establishment of the negotiating teams of the Peace Agreement, the discussion focused on land tenure, a fundamental issue for the country, as a result of the constant postponement of the decision to carry out an agrarian reform, which was urgent for many sectors. This year was marked by widespread discontent and large social mobilizations, including an agricultural strike that lasted more than 3 months, a rare occurrence in the 10 years prior to the negotiations.

The above may indicate that the country was growing in forms of agency from the media discourse; identified in the defense and resistance in the territory, it is an agency that understands the subjects as “active agents of their own development, as a driving force of change capable of transforming their own situation and the society in which they live” (Valencia Hernández and Lugo Agudelo, 2021, p. 21).

This way of assuming discourse presents a particular logic of media production that, in coherence with the construct of peace journalism, understands in a critical way how, in addition to war, peace should generate its own dynamics of newsworthiness, under the understanding that peace processes, as estimated by Wolfsfeld (1997), may take more time and require more inquiry when satisfying the needs of journalists who want to cover impactful news. Wolfsfeld also established the existence of media actions that could obstruct peace, including focusing on events rather than processes, presenting unusual, dramatic, and conflicting aspects, as well as prominently exposing the difficulties of negotiations.

A review of the analyzed texts in 2013, such as headlines from media such as “3 clues for covering the peace process,” “Peace process in Colombia: a very complex phenomenon,” or “An approach to the process from the University” from the Plataforma Universidad Bolivariana de Bucaramanga, as well as “Young people’s opinions about the peace process” and “Oscar Zuluaga is disappointed every day with the peace talks” from Plaza Capital of the Universidad del Rosario, shows how peace journalism from universities had an interest in mediating diverse actors in the construction of peace narratives manifest, as shown in Figures 7, 8 of the results section of this article, choosing different protagonist subjects from those presented by the war journalistic agendas (Galtung, 2006) prevailing in mass media.

An approach in line with this is offered by the journalistic special from Jorge Tadeo Lozano University titled “Tadeo students write and publish special reports and reports on the armed conflict in Colombia” (2013_DigitalTemporal.txt), where five websites are presented that demonstrate different points of view that were, as they themselves express, “little published in traditional media,” about the victims of the conflict, journalists covering the peace process, and women ex-combatants, among others.

Stories of soldiers who ended up disabled due to the armed conflict and who now represent the country in volleyball competitions, as well as the testimonies of women who left the ranks of guerrilla groups and returned to the path of reconciliation, stand out, as well as the report in “Paper Heroes,” winner of a recognition from the CNP in 2014, in which it is presented what things are capable of shaking the interior of journalists like Laura Ardila of “La Silla Vacía” and Ignacio Gómez of Flip when plying their trade, which, when covering the armed conflict, makes them the target of multiple dangers.

As evidenced in the multimedia special, from its beginnings, peace journalism from universities presented a discourse closer to equity as a constituent element of human dignity, contributing to the establishment of a collective historical memory and showing a protagonism of marginalized, victimized, or at-risk social sectors. This is in line with Sen’s (2014) clarification of the ethical commitment of students in analyzing the lives of human beings, highlighting, from the capacity for expression, the possibility of doing something to solve problems through dialog.

3.3. Transitional context of peace and the emergence of truth

Although the armed conflict in Colombia lasted for more than six decades, the negotiation process to achieve the Peace Agreement was considered long, as it extended for 2 more years. This generated strong pressure from different public sectors, who demanded a response to the negotiations. As a result, two fundamental situations arose. First, President Juan Manuel Santos was re-elected in 2014 with a key mandate to seek the end of the conflict through the signing and implementation of the Peace Agreement. Second, the Colombian Senate underwent changes in its configuration, which led to a change in political majorities. Those who had committed to the agreement and considered themselves close to and “friends of peace” became a political opposition force to the executive power and the peace agreement.

Due to the above, this period of ratification and changes in the peace agreements became a time of transition, which, due to the failure of political support, gave rise to the opposition’s media discourse on the thesis of “peace yes, but not like this.” The information that circulated in the media, as if it were a propaganda campaign against the agreements, evidenced what Johan Galtúng pointed out decades ago about “War Journalism”.

Through traditional media production, lies and cover-ups related to the agreements in Havana were disseminated, while university and alternative journalism, alone and silently, gradually approached the voices of conflict actors and victims.

As referenced in the 2013_DigitalTemporal.txt, where students from Universidad Tadeo Lozano published a series of reports on various perspectives and viewpoints different from traditional journalism, it is noteworthy that among the consulted sources were victims, journalists covering the armed conflict in Colombia, women ex-combatants, and the various criticisms raised from academia regarding the Justice and Peace Law of the Santos government.

Based on this, two things can be deduced. First, the traditional media in Colombia have done little to transparently, empathetically, and humanely inform victims. Second, the transitional period has been significant in social, cultural, and political terms, and has led to the emergence of “truth” as a citizen demand. This became evident in the 2014_DigitalTemporal.txt where different media outlets focused on making the issue of truth a key point in the negotiation.

The Universidad del Rosario published in 2014 “Victims of the conflict need the truth to be able to forgive,” where through various sources of human rights experts, hostages, and victimizers, among others, they highlighted that the issues referred to in the negotiations were being handled inappropriately and emphasized the approaches that were being reported between victims and victimizers, as well as generating favorable environments in public opinion. This led to the design of a Truth Commission that has guaranteed the support of guarantee countries and has allowed the emergence of peace journalism (Arroyave and Garcés-Prettel, 2022) through investigations carried out by independent and foreign journalists, international media, and other important strategies that have helped to understand the historical importance of addressing the war as a problem.

In addition to the aforementioned, the debate on land ownership did not stop and progressed into a crucial problem at the negotiation table: illicit drugs. This allowed the understanding that, in some regions of the country, illicit drugs were the only source of income. At the same time, as can be seen in the analysis of the results of university journalism with a peace focus, the concept of “truth” became a crucial issue with citizens demanding it be communicated and explored in the media.

While all this was happening, the participation of young people in the discussion scenarios on conflict, peace, and transitions as a political strategy of citizen sensitization to the conflict increased. Young people used journalism as a tool for transitional meaning, seeking to narrate the nuances of war from everyday experiences (Castellanos, 2016).

This is reflected in the results analysis that shows how in 2014, students narrated the Peace Agreement from all possible perspectives to understand the historical fact, illustrating the issue from the perspective of experts. The analyzed stories highlighted more established communities from the perspective of peace journalism and the importance of highlighting university aspects, including the continuous relationship of victims, social structure, and truth in justice and reparation processes.

The university media agenda presented a coherent discourse with academic sources, reinforcing the voices, leaders, and analyses produced by valid interlocutors in this scenario. The analysis was relevant to the context and claimed a citizen and media space by disseminating the signing of the agreement, including a fundamental aspect: the truth. This demonstrated its forms of agency and political capacities as guarantors of the process. At that time, the dispersion of stories was minimal, around 80.47% of the segment, demonstrating that the peace process was advancing beyond the mere signing of the agreement and becoming a fundamental aspect of the media agenda.

In the face of the scenarios presented, the victims appear as central social actors in the negotiations, through various social, political, and legal arguments to consider the design of a comprehensive system of truth, justice, reparation, and non-repetition as a model that guarantees the implementation of the agreement. This system would include the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence, and Non-Repetition; the Search Unit for Persons Disappeared in the Context and Due to the Armed Conflict; the Special Jurisdiction for Peace; measures of integral reparation for the construction of peace; and finally, guarantees of non-repetition.

It is important to highlight that in 2022, the Truth Commission made public the report with findings and recommendations, where attention was drawn to the main mechanisms that create and recreate culture as a matrix of meanings. These mechanisms have a great daily impact on the formation of subjects and communities, and it is necessary to act on them to carry out essential transformations, as well as to improve the values or imaginaries that help to build a society capable of living together in peace (Comisión de la Verdad, 2022, p. 705).

In this same report, the media and individuals who practice journalism and communication were identified as the main mechanisms that transmit social and cultural values along with the formal education system. They are capable of establishing narratives of power and violence, or a culture of peace. Therefore, the substantive function of the media and universities that train these professionals implies a greater social responsibility in relation to the construction of a culture of peace.

3.4. Pedagogy for peace from the perspective of university media, a re-edition of the media agenda

During each year of the Peace Agreement negotiations, new challenges emerged. In 2015, military harassment by both parties demonstrated the fragility of what was being built at the negotiating table in Havana. However, the most important issues were forgiveness, reparation, non-repetition, and highlighting the role of victims in the process.

To achieve media production that is far removed from this narrative, clarification would be essential to keep citizens close to suffering and avoid doubts about the information presented by the media. The Truth Commission, with its mission of listening to the different actors of the conflict and clarifying multiple facts, would be key in this process.

With new ideas and a community increasingly involved in education processes for peace, it was hoped that the path would finally lead to the signing of the agreement. For this reason, the Congress of the Republic decided to use the plebiscite as a mechanism to endorse the agreements (Consejería Presidencial para la Estabilización y la Consolidación, 2018).

However, polarization increased, and the sectors opposed to the process spoke of the possibility of not accepting the agreement, creating a tense atmosphere that spread through traditional media. This period was characterized by a concentration of the narratives on the issues of victims, social structure, and everything that was done from the perspective of research and culture to understand the conflict. The media increased their production, increasing at the same time the production of material in various media and formats. It is here where university journalism located initiatives and projects that worked to restore the social structure to the center of the discussion.

This recurring topic was reported through the empowerment of grassroots communities and the experiences of resilience and transformation portrayed in various university media. Artistic expressions, collectives, and research focused on community monitoring occupied the headlines of university media. In this study, we found a strengthening of 90.1% of the segment by that date. This scenario not only presents a more stable discourse from journalism but also replicates the recommendations in terms of peace pedagogy considered in the Truth Commission Report, by emphasizing the media as great allies in raising awareness and appropriation of peace initiatives and offering explanatory scenarios that include a diversity of voices, seeking a humanizing narrative, denouncing the persistence of conflict in some territories, and offering dignified treatment to victims (2022, pp. 209–210).

This was a challenge that undoubtedly put the focus on what the Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima called peace journalism. “It is not only the one that reports on peace processes but also the one that engages society in the construction of a culture of peace” Bedoya Lima (2016). In this sense, universities should assume, as part of a segment of opinion, that signing the Agreement implies rating the media and journalists according to academic and contextual criteria that give them validity in the context of the national agenda.

3.5. The agreements and the actors of the peace process signing

The Peace Agreement signing was marked by a range of contradictory events in 2016. While negotiations continued, the agreement faced increasing attacks from a sector of the population opposed to its signing. As previously mentioned, there was a decision to validate peace with the population with a plebiscite held on 2 October 2016, with a direct yes or no question: Do you support the Final Agreement for the termination of the conflict and the construction of a stable and lasting peace? (Congress of the Republic of Colombia, 2016). To the surprise of many, no won with a voting percentage of 50.21%.

Facing this adverse outcome, most members of the Congress of the Republic came together to support the dialogs and allow everything agreed upon to be fulfilled in public policies that would be guaranteed over time through binding decrees. Undoubtedly, the setback caused by the victory of the “NO” in the plebiscite was felt in the media agenda of many university media outlets. For example, in the file 2016_DigitalTemporal.txt, you can find how the reports call for a decision, especially for the victims.

The newspaper “15” from the Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga reported in November 2016 about the importance of a historical event in the face of the promise of peace that was on the brink of collapse due to the rejection of the peace agreements presented to Colombians. In this particular case, university journalism focused on offering an overview of the efforts made by the government to not let this great effort go to waste.

“While President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon’s administration incorporates proposals from the opposition into dialog scenarios, initiatives are being led from the regions seeking approaches between those who support the Yes and the No, including churches, which played a decisive role in the triumph of the No in the plebiscite. On October 31, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, invited Colombians to gather in vigils for peace. Newspaper 15 was in the Mina Nueva hamlet, in the municipality of Segovia, Antioquia, where the preconcentration camp of the Magdalena Medio Block of the FARC (BMM) is located” Periódico 15 (2016).

On 7 October 2016, news arrived in Colombia that was seen as an accolade for the work of these years. The Nobel Peace Prize awarded by the Royal House of Sweden went to President Juan Manuel Santos, who became a standard-bearer for reintegration processes and negotiated outcomes to internal conflicts. Subsequently, on 24 November 2016, in the city of Bogotá, one of the most controversial and analyzed agreements in the world regarding the termination of a national conflict was signed.

The above analysis shows that the narration of the Peace Agreement ended with students being attentive to not only the journalistic fact itself but also the protagonists of the negotiations and the consequences thereof, without forgetting the victim initiatives, to understand the agreement and its scope. They combined the hypotheses regarding peace journalism by Galtung and Ruge (1965) with the importance of the perspective of peace from people outside of the elite, focusing on their positive actions and agency, which undoubtedly were a distinctive feature of the approach of university media in the analyzed peace process.

However, with regard to establishing the journalistic narrative in the 5 years analyzed, a stabilization of the discourse incubated in universities was seen, under its own dynamics, as an alternative to that which interfered in other cultural industries (Cogollo and Durán, 2015; Gómez and Ramos, 2015; Contreras, 2020).

4. Conclusions and recommendations

To respond to the objective of identifying the contribution of university journalism to the construction of a communication agenda for peace, based on inclusion, diversity, and equity, this study presented two innovative proposals. The first was to recognize journalism as produced by universities and the second was to use innovative methodologies for data processing and qualitative interpretation of digital information.

Along these lines, we can conclude that the provided analyses allowed us to identify the temporary narrative frameworks of the Peace Agreement, undergoing an academic vision and professional justification through an alternative agenda, capable of recounting an event of interest from the perspective of training communication professionals who were inserted in a complex context of conflicts and who were committed to overcoming the gaps of inequality and exclusion.

The above was replicated in the call for the Truth Commission Report “There is a future if there is truth” (Comisión de la Verdad, 2022), which recommended including a reminder in the educational system to generate processes that address a history that is rooted a collective imaginary that ignores the notions of a multiethnic and multicultural nation. These recommendations, linked to the assessment of greater equity, have traceability in peace education by the media, where the discourse and journalistic productions show the ability of communication and education to generate stories that help repair and not re-victimize.

The above also underpins the demand for journalists to provide training exercises based on recognizing the country’s cultural and ideological diversity, as well as the ability to deliberate on pedagogies consistent with peace and democracy. This represents an imperative reflection in the context of the needs of the education system made by the Commission (Comisión de la Verdad, 2022, p. 576), but those needs are a priority for the formation of social communicators and journalists with an interest in the historical development of peace, not as an isolated event that belongs to the past, but as a dialectical fact that presents a framework for interpretation and configuration of the economic, political, and social development of the country.

Meanwhile, the mixed approach makes it possible to analyze a large number of journalistic discourses, but, above all, it generates a series of visual representations of data with greater impact, becoming tools that, in the case of the methodology, are easy to interpret qualitatively and could be replicated in multiple studies dealing with discourse analysis. Therefore, this type of study constitutes a finding for social research in media to the extent that it allows an understanding of the narrative elements and the construction of content used by university students to make the conflict visible from non-centralized perspectives. This is easy to see when observing how the figures reflect the number of products that are relocated from their place of production and give voice to Colombia as revealed in terms of polarization.

In the current media landscape, where the most influential media outlets have normalized war as a central theme in their agendas, the peace approaches inherent to university journalism become revolutionary. These approaches advocate for the need to address equity, diversity, and inclusion in news agendas, thereby contributing to conflict resolution. The aim is to socialize relevant information about peace processes, giving voice to diverse actors whose experiences are overlooked by the frequent news that emphasizes war and presents a partial truth based on data or media actors.

This reality becomes even more significant when analyzed from the perspective of the commitments established in the UNESCO 2030 Agenda, which serves as a guide for transformation in Latin America and the Caribbean. Goal 16 reveals, among other aspects, that in the pursuit of more peaceful and inclusive societies, it is essential for governments, society, and communities to work toward promoting public access to information and fostering environments of freedom of expression, both in private and public domains.

It is in this context that university media is a significant field of action, approaching the promise of a transition toward a truth constructed through a more comprehensive representation of facts. By adopting the perspective of universities, these media outlets not only contribute to equitable mediation between different actors and their agendas but also help establish a broad and alternative public opinion based on an educommunicative approach.

This is how university media plays a crucial role in promoting fair and balanced news coverage, providing diverse perspectives, and fostering inclusive dialog around fundamental topics such as peace in territories. Their work aligns with the commitments of the UNESCO 2030 Agenda and contributes to building a more informed society committed to truth and peace.

Finally, it should be noted that this type of study reveals diverse realities that should be analyzed by further research; for instance, the strengthening of the interpretation of realities and, above all, media representations, from the elements of discursive curricula, to understand the relevance of this type of journalistic content and establish a new way of relating to history and its environment.

It must be understood that in this type of scenario, the training of social communication professionals should be given from an educational communication approach. For this, it is necessary to think of “media education” as a way of understanding that language itself is a creator of worlds that materialize in discourses and more empathetic scenarios can be proposed based on equality, diversity, and equity.

In this way, a continuous review of the curricula of communication programs must be carried out in order to implement recommendation number 65 of the Final Report of the Truth Commission (Truth Commission, 2022, p. 726), which recommends “a national dialog to define strategies that strengthen the role of the media and the journalistic profession in the construction of a culture of peace” to open the debate on media and information literacy and thus promote other practices conducive to guaranteeing the right to information and truth from the media.

Further, as part of the methodological conclusions, considering the field of digitalism, where contemporary narratives are constructed or flow from the perspective of media ecology, is important in order to understand cyberspace as an object of research at the same time as it becomes an environment or tool for research.

The above makes sense only if it is understood that the digital field can establish a large archive that can bring to life the memories of those who give account of the journalistic experience, that is, a field of virtualizations in a large hypertext that is capable of not only provoking the creation of a possible future but also establishing dialogs with the past, as has been done in this study, by understanding the present as an expansion on a problem that can determine, or at least highlight, a response to the ideals that are established in a country.

It is urgent to structure a process of dissemination of this type of production, as, despite having such a high amount of university content production, the use of digitization and its subsequent exposure in virtual spaces is either not sufficiently lucid or in the worst cases, very poor. This happens because no entity determines the forms of categorization from the centers of study, what they are producing, and how this helps communities or in this specific case, the construction of total peace from communication and journalism.

This is undoubtedly one of the major findings of this study: the lack of digital file generation that classroom work confronts. Therefore, it is urgent that universities understand the potential they have with their students, organizing projects that allow them to understand the realities of communities, territories, and new generations.

Data availability statement

The datasets presented in this study can be found in online repositories. The names of the repository/repositories and accession number(s) can be found at: https://zenodo.org/record/6384840#.Yj5Av-fMJPZ.

Author contributions

JP, PR, CB, CA, and JG contributed to the conception and design of the study. CB also wrote the introduction of the manuscript. JP conducted the quantitative statistical analysis and constructed the methodology, while CB, PR, CA, and JG completed the theoretical discussions toward the qualitative aspects. Finally, all the authors contributed to the conclusions and JG took care of organizing, reading, and the subsequent review of style and spelling correction. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.

Funding

This article has been funded by the Universidad del Rosario in the frame of the project: “Lexicodata: Data Sciences and lexicometry in communication and digital marketing. Reference frameworks, methodologies, social representations and performance indicators in Colombia and France” of the School of Management (PROY-INT-117-1). The corpus of this article is part of the Analytical Center for University Cultural Productions project within the framework of the Colombian Armed Conflict CAPAZ, financed by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (Minciencias) and the National Center for Historical Memory—under the code: 1349-872-76354, agreement 872 of 2020 with resources from the Francisco José de Caldas Autonomous Heritage National Financing Fund for Science, Technology, and Innovation.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

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