This paper examines the strategies, tactics and tasks of a media moderator during television debates regarding deep-rooted conflicts, as well as the overall intended and unintended roles and effects of these broadcasts. Two case studies—the Nightline (ABC-TV) broadcasts from South Africa (1985) and Israel (1988)—are examined by comparing the actions of a public affairs television moderator to conventional third party intervenors, as defined in conflict resolution literature. In the process the paper presents research regarding the manifest tactics and latent roles demonstrated by a television moderator and the manner in which these activities can be compared to the tasks of conventional third parties such as mediators. The paper finally also reflects on how television debates can become problem-solving dialogues that assist in transforming deep-rooted conflicts.

Author Bio(s)

Johannes (Jannie) Botes is an Assistant Professor in the Negotiation and Conflict Management Masters Program at the University of Baltimore (UB). His main areas of academic interest are communication and conflict, conflict transformation, informal third party roles, and conflict resolution in Africa. Before joining UB he was a visiting professor at Bryn Mawr College (1997-1998) and at the George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (1998-1999), from which he holds a Ph.D. He obtained his Masters’ degree in Communication from the American University. He was formerly a radio and television journalist in South Africa where he received various awards for his work.


conflict resolution, Israel, media moderator, news anchors, moderators, Nightline (ABC-TV), public affairs news programming (TV), South Africa, television debates

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