Filling the Void: Information Seeking and Processing in the Context of Violent Conflicts




fragile statehood, fragmentation, public sphere, media use, violent conflict


This article explores the ways in which violent intergroup conflict affects how people acquire, use, and perceive information. Based on previous studies and empirical findings from field research in four fragile countries (Libya, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Iraq), including qualitative focus group discussions and standardized quantitative surveys, we show that the polarization and instrumentalization of media in these countries produce media skepticism, leading to increased fact-checking and cross-media use among the general public. Uncertainty leads to discussions in the community about what the media presents, indicating that media users try to establish agency through advanced information processing and validation strategies. We posit that this type of media environment facilitates critical media literacy among media-savvy individuals. Moreover, the present study develops a research agenda for analyzing communication and information processing in conflict contexts.

Author Biographies

Anke Fiedler, Ludwig Maximilian Universität München

Anke Fiedler (Dr. phil.) is a researcher and lecturer at the Department of Media and Communication at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. She has worked on projects at UNESCO in Paris and Amman. She was also a visiting professor at Freie Universität Berlin. From 2014–2016, she was a researcher in the EU-funded project INFOCORE, which investigated the role(s) that media play in the emergence or prevention, escalation or de-escalation, management, resolution, and reconciliation of violent conflict.

Anja Wollenberg, Media in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT)

Anja Wollenberg (Dr. phil.) is head of research at MiCT, a Berlin-based media assistance organization with activities mostly in the Middle East and North Africa. Her research interests are focused on media pluralism, media structures, and the role of media in conflict and conflict prevention. She has published numerous studies on media development in Iraq and Libya pertaining to conflict issues such as polarization, hate speech, and media partisanship in these countries. Anja Wollenberg is a co-founder and shareholder of MiCT. She also teaches in the department of media studies at the University of Erfurt.




How to Cite

Fiedler, A., & Wollenberg, A. (2023). Filling the Void: Information Seeking and Processing in the Context of Violent Conflicts. Global Media Journal - German Edition, 12(2).