Fellow Since 2008
This profile was prepared when Michael Gleich was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Michael shows journalists and the world, that peace, social change, and diversity represent good news fit to print. He does not believe in the paradigm that only catastrophes, death, and war stories attract readers, but rather encourages media to run stories about solutions, and trains journalists in conflict areas in the developing world, like Sri Lanka or Colombia, but also in Germany, to shift from sensationalist to what he calls “constructive” journalism with a focus on solutions. By building networks between journalists, universities, and local organizations, Michael collects stories about social transformation and overcoming “otherness” from around the globe, especially from war-torn regions, that illustrate how individuals and citizen organizations (COs) initiate change. Skillfully incentivizing radio, TV stations, and newspapers, he distributes this news through mainstream media outlets, both in Germany and areas of conflict in the developing world, allowing editors to learn from experience that positive, solution oriented news attracts an audience. Building the only international media project for peace journalism, he works with a network of partners to train journalists in conflict areas with investigative research skills and the know-how to locate and understand positive social change. Journalists build their own networks and learn to successfully cover peace and reconciliation processes in their surroundings—making these stories tangible, interesting, and empowering for readers. To increase leverage, Michael works on several levels: He is expanding his organization, Peace Counts, to shape and change curricula in journalism schools, both abroad and in Germany. He also organizes exhibitions, round tables, and seminars with opinion makers to make his stories palpable. Finally, he “feeds” his materials and teaching modules into national schools, presents young people with positive role models, showcases the power of citizens as social change agents, and trains them to scrutinize the media. Michael ultimately changes how media works by making journalists understand their own power as agents of change, and also influences societal opinion by featuring positive news. He has another project, Culture Counts, in Germany, that is similar to Peace Counts but the focus is closer to home—reporting on successful solutions to race, class, and gender conflicts.