By Adina Schneeweis
Over coffee with my new friend Kate Roff one Tuesday morning, I learned about Peace News, “the other side” to the conflict driven reporting from war zones.
Roff has worked for several news agencies as a writer, reviewer, editor, and researcher. She is from Australia.
Our stories are about people taking risks for peace. We highlight the opinions of ordinary people who want non-violent solutions to their political differences. Our stories aren’t always about shootings and explosions, but they do tell you stories from war zones that hopefully go some way towards building trust and reconciliation.
Adina Schneeweis: Tell me how the project started.
Kate Roff: The idea came from observation, from seeing news that was coming out of conflict zones mainly focused on violence, from the perspective of governments, as opposed to from that of peace builders… looking towards reconciliation.
Peace news are written by local journalists, not foreign correspondents flown in when a conflict arises. They don’t do it for the money, but because there are stories to be told.
It’s not always happy news, we’re not a good news platform. But we are about peace news… what’s actually working.
AS: What is an object that is meaningful to you?
KR: Aside from coffee? I’m very rarely without a notepad and pen.
AS: What is an aspect of your identity that has changed the least?
KR: My optimism maybe? I’m not sure, because staying on top of news in order to give context to peace news is very difficult, it’s heartbreaking. I’d say my faith in storytelling [has changed the least]. the idea that we can learn from other people, from other people’s personal experiences. It’s probably why I went into journalism in the first place.
AS: How has it been for you as an Australian living in Michigan?
KR: I’m very lucky that the U.S. takes a very rosy view of Australians. We’re like the flavor of the month… People are very welcoming and very friendly. I find that interesting because I’m an immigrant, and many other immigrants don’t get that same treatment.
Roff teaches journalism and news writing in the Department of Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations.