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Constructive Journalism Tested. This is an exclusive peek into the Danish test center for constructive journalism at the regional tv-station TV 2/FYN based in Funen, Denmark. The next year we give the mic to the staff of TV 2/FYN who has agreed to share failures and successes as they strive for the ambition to make their community better through constructive journalism. 


Blog: A New Model for Constructive Storytelling in the Making



WRITTEN BY: KAMILLA GAMBORG ISAKSEN, JOURNALIST, TV 2/FYN
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Kamilla Gamborg_BIO

Every story has a beginning and an ending. These two elements are always on my mind when I work on a story for the news. 


I will not leave the station to film anything before I’ve written down a proposal for the host so he or she knows how to introduce and end my feature. I will not leave the car to start filming before I’ve imagined a frame that will suit my story. “Maybe my first shot should be the door opening and the last one should be the door closing”, I will think to myself.


"It turned out to be an eye-opening experience."

– Kamilla Gamborg Isaksen, Journalist, TV 2/FYN



The other day I changed my focus a bit. I still kept my angle in the back of my mind, but I wrote down a new word on my list. Bumps. 


A word that may form many more stories in the future once it has become an essential part of our work with developing a model for constructive storytelling. Which is still work in progress.


To explain to you what bumps can do to your story I need you to imagine your story as if it is a road. You still have a beginning and an ending, but the road is bumpy – as every story told from the real world will be.  


The KUP-model

I changed my focus because I together with a handful of colleagues was developing and testing our new model to create constructive journalism. It turned out to be a pretty eye-opening process.


Screenshot 2020-03-27 at 09.22.33Photo: The K-U-P-model is visualised as a road with a starting point (K) 'the core' of the storyline, the bumps along the road illustrating (U) 'development' in the story and and a finish line with (P) for 'perspective'.


Using the new model, it will soon be your main focus to report about the bumps instead of only sticking to a sharp angle and getting people to say what you need them to say, so they will fit into that same angle.


The model is based on three words; K-U-P.

K = Kerne which means ‘Core’ in English

U = Udvikling which means ‘Development’ in English

P = Perspektiv which means ‘Perspective’ in English


Screenshot 2020-03-27 at 09.15.11

Model: The K-U-P-model which emphasises 'the bumps' in a traditional storytelling structure was developed at TV2/Fyn.


The KUP-model is created to always lie on top of a well-explained problem. The core will make sure you’ve explained the problem well so people understand it.  Then you are ready to begin your bumpy road trip. When you start a journey like this you as a storyteller or the main character in your story will always need to set a goal for your story. This is your angle. You will stick to the goal during the trip but the bumps might make the goal look different in the end. Let me give you an example.


Did you notice the bump? 

I tested the KUP-model on a new series about young people at Funen who are religious. So, what’s the problem in being very religious as a young person in Denmark I asked myself? I couldn’t really define my answer to this question, so I researched more. I needed facts and not only prejudices. 


I found out that we are the second least religious country in Europe, so you are part of the majority if you do not believe in anything in Denmark. Especially being a part of the Danish youth. 


When I met my main character Mathias, a 22-year old Mormon, he said that in many ways he was not that different from other young Danes. Funny, I thought. My goal is to explain the opposite, but let’s stick to the bumps and see what happens. 


I asked him; ‘Why is it difficult to believe and be a part of a society where the majority doesn’t believe in anything?’. Mathias gave me many good answers such as the difficulties in not drinking alcohol or having sex before marriage in a society where both is a part of the culture.

 

Normally, I might have cut the story here. I would have had an expert confirm the problem as well and say something clever about Danish youth-culture or religious groups isolating themselves from the society. But this time I looked at my paper and realized that I hadn’t even moved from the core-area in my new model. 


'Notice the bumps,' my notes reminded me.



"Some of these questions did not directly feed my goal but they revealed important reflections."

– Kamilla Gamborg Isaksen, Journalist, TV 2/FYN



So, I continued to ask about the difficulties and forgot about my ending for a little while. I asked questions like: “What made you stick to your religion?” and “How did you overcome the difficulties that religion caused you?”. Some of these questions did not directly feed my goal but they revealed important reflections.


Mathias explained to me all the benefits he gets from not drinking and the good things that comes with believing in something. He took me to meet his friends in the church and I realized they of cause worry and talk about the same stuff that most young people do. He told me about how lost he sometimes get when it comes to faith, because even as a very religious person you doubt sometimes. But most days he was sure this life was right for him and he was happy.


Grey will not ruin your story

I stuck to my goal because it’s true that it’s not easy to stand out from the majority like Mathias does. But I also took my time to explain why overcoming these difficulties can be worthwhile for some people. The process using the KUP-techniques both made me demand more of my main character and it made the story seem more nuanced.


For some of you these conclusions might seem obvious. I must admit that I too used to see myself as a journalist who didn’t only see things in black and white, one who also noticed the grey. The nuances. Truth is, when you have a deadline you often choose to stick with your routines and for a lot of journalists this means ‘sticking with your one sharp angle’. The consequences are that you forget important details and sometimes you don’t even notice because you asked the wrong questions.



"Despite what I expected it didn't ruin my endings or my angles to tell stories like this."

– Kamilla Gamborg Isaksen, Journalist, TV 2/FYN



The KUP-model have forced me to invite a bit more grey into my stories, and I still ask critical questions along the way.


So, for a change try to really notice the bumps in your stories. Dwell on them and learn from them so your audience can do the same. Ask a question that’s not directly in line with your angle and see if it offers you a new perspective or if it reveals relevant details. 


Despite what I expected it didn’t ruin my endings or my angles to tell stories like this. So far it has only made them more complete and my way of working more trustworthy. And that’s exactly how I would like my journalism to be seen.

Wed 26 March 2020 15:05




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Blog: We are Ready with TV2 Funen's Recipe for Constructive Journalism



WRITTEN BY: KRISTINA LUND JØRGENSEN, CONSTRUCTIVE EDITOR, TV 2/FYN & FORMER FELLOW, CONSTRUCTIVE INSTITUTE
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- One milestone down - and several more to go before we become a constructive media house


They have all been sitting there over the past few months. 72 colleagues. In the first-floor classroom, on the black chairs, at the tables in the horseshoe-shaped formation. Ready to listen to theory behind constructive journalism. All of it based on learnings from Constructive Institute in Aarhus. They have studied examples of constructive journalism from our own and from other media houses and they have worked on new prototypes for developing constructive stories for TV 2 Funen. 



"It has been months with intense discussions among colleagues on the courses."

– Kristina Lund Jørgensen, Constructive Editor, TV 2/FYN



They have discussed constructive journalism intensely, both based on best practice and with a dilemma game based on other journalists' thoughts. And finally each team has created their own definition of constructive journalism at TV 2 Funen. This has resulted in TV 2 Fyn now having our own definition, written on the basis of input from all employees.


Screen Shot 2020-03-11 at 3.19.44 PMPhoto: The practical work of constructive journalism on our workshops has been a decisive factor in the fact that we can now start experimenting with it for real in our daily work.



It has been months with intense discussions among colleagues on the courses about why this is the future for us.


Why the intense focus on constructive journalism?

Questions to which the answers still are that research shows that viewers are tired of negative news that makes them turn their back on news media. The answer is also that we hope that with solution-oriented, nuanced journalism and a focus on engaging our audience to a greater extent we can help increase the audience’ trust in our journalism.


There have also been questions about whether the audience on the other side of the screen will spend the precious time they spend on news media on those kinds of stories?

We have no clear answer to that question right now. Time and university studies will later on show. 



"We have been given a language for constructive journalism on TV2."

– Kristina Lund Jørgensen, Constructive Editor, TV 2/FYN



The 72 participants in the workshops have been a diverse group. There have been journalists, producers, photographers, editors, graphic artists and trainees on the nine different teams. Some of them had never really heard about constructive journalism before, others had been interested in it for a while and knew a lot. Some therefore thought the teaching was trivial, others thought it was exciting. Some thought the idea of constructive journalism is crazy and others again just wanted to know more and were looking forward to getting practical experiences with it.


Screen Shot 2020-03-11 at 3.19.18 PMPhoto: These are my wise colleagues who have all been on a course in constructive journalism - photographed on the last day of the course. Now they are all ready to practice it in their daily work on TV 2 Funen


All this has been difficult, but also a strength, because the arguments for and against it has rippled back and forth in the classroom. And they all went seriously and laboriously into the practical work of our workshops, where they developed 18 prototypes and formats for constructive journalism.


These workshops were our first step on the path towards the ambitious end goal of becoming Denmarks most constructive media house. And with the jointly formulated definition we now stand together on a common foundation. We have been given a language for constructive journalism on TV 2 Funen. And it translates like this:


 


Definition of Constructive Journalism:

On TV 2 Funen, constructive journalism is critical, nuanced, 

solution-oriented and involving.


We build upon concrete, documented problems and we test solutions.


We have the courage to grasp the grey everyday life, to portray nuances and provide an overview of complicated stories.


We inspire, engage, activate and listen to our audience so that we can develop our community in a better direction. 


Funen is colorful and viewers must be able to recognize themselves and the reality they experience. We don't want to see Funen in black and white.


 



We are now ready to take the next step when moving from the theoretical phase happening in the 1.st floor classroom into the practical phase taking place in our newsroom and all over Funen. Now everyone has to start experimenting with constructive journalism. And that is what I have been looking forward to for some time now. 

This is exiciting. 

It’s time to broadcast! And bear with us – we are still learning.

Wed 11 March 2020 14:51




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Blog: Past and Future in Silicon Valley



WRITTEN BY: JAKOB RISBRO, EDITOR, TV 2/FYN & FELLOW, CONSTRUCTIVE INSTITUTE
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bio_Jakob Risbro

On a trip to Silicon Valley, you could see the past and future by visiting traditional media and tech giants. Maybe we can learn something from each other.


"It sometimes felt like we had travelled in a time machine."

– Jakob Risbro, Editor, TV 2/FYN



Along with other fellows of CI I went on a study trip to San Francisco and Silicon Valley. We went by plane, but it sometimes felt like we had travelled in a time machine as we saw the future but also looked back into the past.


Sitting in the heart of Facebook’s headquarters is impressive. Everywhere you can spot the white f’s on a blue background. And it's true; there are even stalls with everything from mints to toothbrushes that's up for grabs. The tech giant which has spun over a third of the world's population into its fine-meshed web, is one of the most successful companies in the world. Facebook has changed people's everyday lives. Social media has played a role in the development of the world in many ways. Facebook was used in the context of the Arab Spring when democracy advocates wanted to spread their messages and engage people. But Facebook has also been used when mad men or terrorists to spread disgusting propaganda. And yes, there was also the scandal with Cambridge Analytica, where users' personal data from Facebook was abused.


In addition to changing people's behavior Facebook and other tech companies have also changed the reality of media houses around the world. Due to Facebook, Google and the other digital media giants the ad market has virtually disappeared for traditional media challenging the business model many newspapers, radio and TV broadcasters relied on financially to produce independent journalism. And that is just the beginning. Or at least, so it seems. 



"A social news-driven media with that kind of global reach has not been seen before."

– Jakob Risbro, Editor, TV 2/FYN



As Facebook tests its new news service on about three million US users another media landscape has yet to show itself. The plan is to launch it globally in 2020 to its nearly 3bn users. A social news-driven media with that kind of global reach has not been seen before and neither thus the consequences of its reign. 


At the very least a global news service requires a very skilled editor when selecting which stories to publish. One could even assume that the role as gate keeper in this scenario will shift hands placing the editorial power at Facebook HQ. Thus, a suitable set of ethics similar to those woven into the practice of journalism including the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, impartiality, fairness, and public accountability is needed. And that is a set of ethics that the social media industry hasn't been governing too seriously until now. 


During our study trip, we also visited the San Francisco Chronicle. Despite their position as the absolute dominant newspaper in the area they too have experienced a dramatic decline in circulation and ad sales as well as having to lay off hundreds of employees. Yet another shift in the news business triggered by global media institutions as Google and Facebook taking over the ad market.


The visit to San Francisco Chronicle was like stepping into a scene of the '70s movie "All the President's Men." The editorial room was a traditional open office space divided by partitions where each reporter had their own little square of journalistic territory. Despite the scene reminding you of a movie set, the visit also showed that in the brown rooms and the deep, soft leather chairs for the editorial meetings, journalistic ideals were at the forefront with a clever editor-in-chief who understands the code of ethics for journalism and knows how to edit the newspaper from those standards. It is exactly what a new news media needs in an editor-in-chief. 



"If the new news media learn from the old there is hope."

– Jakob Risbro, Editor, TV 2/FYN



In traditional media, we can undoubtedly learn something from the tech giants and small agile start-ups that are developing and offering new services and with great precision see gaps in the market where there is money and willingness to pay. Facebook and Google are constantly innovating services that make us dependent. They connect people and are indispensable when we need to navigate from A to B or find the contacts of the local plumber. As traditional media we have to be much better at knowing what "users" demand and how to stay relevant by connecting the citizens.


When the first edition of Facebook's news service launches to its nearly 3bn users, I hope the editors have learned from the old medias' stadards. The old media that in spite of financial challenges know good storytelling and have been practicing journalism for centuries. I hope that Facebook's news service will embrace the old medias' ideals of being independent of political and commercial interests. I hope the service will meet the highest standards of ethics and code of conduct for good journalism. And that when they do journalistic stories, they do it with both eyes open. Not driven by clicks but by quality as all good journalism should be.


If the new news media learn from the old there is hope that users of these new media will be able to take part in democracy. And as one begins to learn the virtues of journalism, the editors should also look to the values of constructive journalism that take responsibility for the development of society and point to solutions. It is now time for Facebook to learn from us.

Wed 27 February 2020 16:51




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Blog: If we don't act in a constructive way, we don't have an audience - or do we?



WRITTEN BY: SOFIE DAMBÆK RASMUSSEN, EDITOR, TV 2/FYN
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bio_sofie dambaek

First of all. Let me make it clear, that I am not the editor of a constructive news media for young people. Or at least that was not the intention. But maybe our approach has nuances of constructive journalism. We just didn’t know it when we started.



"Their responses didn't surprise us. They didn't like the news."

– Sofie Dambæk Rasmussen, Editor, TV 2/FYN



But let me start at the beginning. 18 months ago TV 2/Fyn launched Bemærk. A new digital media targeting young people on Funen with stories from their everyday lives. 


Our mission is to communicate journalistic stories that set the agenda, and the main purpose is to enable the target group to participate in the society and community of which they are a part of. 


But how do we do that? 


To answer that we asked the youth themselves in focus group interviews over the course of two weeks. It wasn’t a representative survey, but it did consist of around 100 people.Their responses didn’t surprise us. They didn’t like the news. 


They didn’t like how journalism was told in tv or in the newspaper. The reason: News often focus on or show accidents, problems and a lack of hope. They also didn’t care at all and had no interest in what happens specific on Funen. 


But they also told us that they missed a news media dedicated to telling stories for them and not their parents. They also wanted stories they could see themselves in and get inspired by. 


With that in mind we knew just about what to do. We had to reach them in a different way than we were used to reaching our audience at TV 2/Fyn. We had to focus more on explanatory journalism, on solutions and on perspective.This means that we are often constructive in our coverage of a problem that young people are struggling with. We do that because otherwise we will not be useful to the young people of Funen according to themselves. 



"We had to focus more on explanatory journalism, on solutions and on perspective."

– Sofie Dambæk Rasmussen, Editor, TV 2/FYN



After the two weeks of focus groups we started the actual journalistic work and over the last 18 months many ideas, formats and platforms have been tested - and in that spirit we will continue in the future.


But these three points are a part of the process with every story in our attempt to reach our audience: 


No. 1: We must have a main character who represent a problem or a tendency - and also comes across that challenge every problem is causing. To get an idea of this principle check out our story about Nanna who has been off drugs for 105 days.


Projekt clean 1


No. 2: We interact with our followers on Instagram. We always ask a question they can easily answer. That adds value to the story or theme we are covering. Our format “Project Clean” below is an example of that.


Bem 1bem 2bem 3bem 4


In the context of a quiz we provide a lot of information about young people doing more drugs than ever. We also ask the followers if they will share an experience with drugs with us. They often do and then we share their story which can be an inspiration to others. 


No. 3: We always explain the complexity of a story if it’s needed. We aim to bring nuances that makes the story easier to understand. 


Projekt Clean 2


How does cocaine effect your body? Some knows. But a lot do not know what happens when they use cocaine. 


Projekt clean 3


And who can tell the story about being a drug addict best? And who can relate to the challenges it brings? I think it’s the ones who are doing drugs. Not the journalist who ask the questions. That’s why we brought two people who once did drugs together to talk. 


Well, the young people of Funen told us to be a news media they could relate to and get inspired by. That is what we are. I know that sounds uncritical. 


But if we did exactly what they think they want us to do, we would bring them positive stories to entertain and that’s not the point of journalism. 



"What I can conclude is that we constantly gain more followers, more views and interaction."

– Sofie Dambæk Rasmussen, Editor, TV 2/FYN



As you can see from all the examples we work in a constructive way - and we also do critical and investigative journalism. Being constructive is not a substitute for that. Doing it all is being a good journalist and that’s what we at 'Bemærk' aim to be. 


I am not able to conclude whether it pays off or not that we have a constructive approach to our stories. We haven’t tried the opposite - and we won’t. We believe in this way of doing journalism. What I can conclude is that we constantly gain more followers, more views and have a lot more interaction with the audience than ever. That’s important in trying to set the agenda and enable the target group to participate in the community of which they are a part of. 

Wed 05 February 2020 15:14




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Blog: Is the road to a rotten society laid with bricks of constructive journalism?



WRITTEN BY: LASSE HØRBYE NIELSEN, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, TV 2/FYN
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bio_seerup_s

We are almost six months into our 18 months long development project, where we try to implement constructive journalism full scale in our newsroom.  


So far it has been smooth sailing with a few bumps. For most part people like the initiative both inside and outside of our news room walls. We are now doing pretty good constructive stories from time to time but the focus remains on critical and investigative journalism. That is, I think, still considered to be the most genuine journalism within TV2. 


Skærmbillede 2020-01-29 kl. 10.29.16 Picture: One of this week's constructive stories is about vandalism. Over the past year, TV 2 / Funen has written about vandalism in various places on the island. This week, we provide an overview showing that the number of vandalism reviews has dropped dramatically in recent years.


We want to change that but at the same time we don’t want to stop doing critical journalism. 

What we are looking for is to combine critical with constructive journalism. All of our stories should be approached using tools from both the constructive and critical toolbox. And this is where the going gets really tough. Because one of the myths we’ve encountered is that "the road to a rotten society is laid with bricks of constructive journalism."


This quote recently came from the well esteemed radio host, Asger Juhl in a Danish debate in the program "Mediemøllen". He is alarmed by the thought that all newsrooms in Denmark will do only constructive journalism and then stop doing insightful journalism which acts as the fourth pillar, holding power to account. The government hires more and more communications-people to tell the positive stories about themselves and if we, as Asger Juhl obviously does, interpret constructive journalism as happy news, then there will be no journalists left to tackle to dig up abuses of power and challenge those who are implicated. 


"We will be curious and critical at the same time."

– Lasse Hørbye Nielsen, Editorial Director, TV 2/FYN



On those grounds I can understand why a radio host is so afraid of constructive journalism, because a democracy needs critical and investigative journalism. But my answer to Asger Juhl is: We will be curious and critical at the same time.


And now we are moving from theory to practice. This spring TV 2/Funen will go from the occasional constructive story to more systematic constructive framework overall. Basically, we want to develop constructive stories every day. This will cause problems, it will make journalists and editors angry. We have this year won several prizes for our critical journalism, and some people will have to change their view of themselves professionally. 


We now stand on solid ground, because we have spent six months educating the whole newsroom. If we can’t do it, I think no one can. Because we are so well prepared, focused and ready. 



"But if we do only happy news in one year, then shoot me at the break of dawn."

– Lasse Hørbye Nielsen, Editorial Director, TV 2/FYN



We have now worked with the mindset within the reporters and photographers on weekly courses and many of them have changed their view on things, for the first time, since they left journalism school. 


Ask me in one year’s time if we have managed to achieve our goal – to become the most constructive news organization in Denmark? Maybe I will answer you differently then, than I am now. Maybe it was too tough a job to do. But if we do only happy news in one year, then shoot me at the break of dawn. 
We will also do excellent, critical journalism next year and the year after that. But we will keep mixing it up with constructive journalism – and keep making a better news product for audiences.

Wed 29 January 2020 15:01 








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Blog: How We Made the People of Funen Unite Against Food Shaming



WRITTEN BY: PERNILLE REDDER, EVENT EDITOR, TV2 FYN
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bio_pernille redder

It may just be a matter of eating eggplant or eggs but, for some reason dietary choices have become a controversial topic among Danes. This is the story of how journalists at TV 2/Fyn constructively tried to de-tabooize the relationship between vegans, carnivores and everybody else who eats food.


"We have decided that 'live events' is a journalistic platform."

– Pernille Redder, Event Editor, TV2 Fyn



Have you noticed how many labels have come into use in recent years to describe our elected diets? A few years ago I had never heard about a flexitarian. Let alone a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. (This is a person who doesn’t eat meat but will happily gulp down milk and enjoy eggs). Maybe it happened around the same time as we all started using hashtags on Instagram? 


Who knows, but at TV 2/Fyn the journalists in our newly founded editorial team dedicated to arrange journalistic events decided that this was not just a topic worth exploring. It was a topic that was just perfect for bringing constructive journalism out in “the real world” as we aim to do once a week. We have decided that even though we still run a TV station (with a website, a Facebook Account, Instagram, YouTube and a newly setup podcast studio mind you), we also want to bring IRL into a play. We have decided that “live events” is a journalistic platform. One that requires our users and viewers to leave their homes and turn off their phones in order to experience it. 


So, this is what the team did:

We contacted the local streetfood market in Odense, “Storms Pakhus”, and asked if they wanted to partner up with us. Our dogma is: We want to play with those who want to play with us. We don’t pay them they don’t pay us, and the participants don’t pay to participate. Luckily, Storms Pakhus were game. They reserved a few tables for us and helped take care of the practicalities.




"The video was released on Facebook and it exploded. 776 comments and more than 45.000 views"

– Pernille Redder, Event Editor, TV2 Fyn



The team then contacted a celebrity chef from our island who is known for speaking his mind. He subscribes to the mantra that food is meant to be eaten and enjoyed. Not used as a mean of judgement and hostility. Perfect. He was more than happy to participate.


Next phonecall was to a futurist. Maybe she could talk about what all this judging and foodshaming is actually about? And maybe, she has an idea where it might all end up. Once again, the team was lucky. The futurist accepted the invitation.


Madevent3Picture: People from Funen attends the live journalism event about dietary choices. 


We were two for two and the event was happening. Next up was the small matter of actually getting people to attend. The team set up the Facebook event and edited a short video which was meant to be shown in our TV newscasts. It simply stated the topic, the location, date and time. But we also wanted to ignite the debate and prove that foodshaming is a very real thing. 


Many ideas were tried and tested but we ended up with a very simple solution. We asked the members of TV 2/Fyn Event’s Facebook group “Den Fynske Redaktion” (845 members) what they thought about vegans and what they would ask a vegan, if they could. And then we created a video with a young, vegan woman, as she answered the questions from the Facebook group. The headline was a stroke of brilliance: “I like meat, but that’s not a reason to eat it”. The video was released on Facebook and it exploded. 776 comments and more than 45.000 views. That’s way above average.




"Did we end food shaming that day? Of course not."

– Pernille Redder, Event Editor, TV2 Fyn



So, how did it all go then? Pretty well actually. When the day of the event came we welcomed participants in all ages. There were vegans, flexitarians, vegetarians and even the CEO of a chain of steakhouses. The chef was great, so was the futurist. The participants met and spoke with each other and they told us in their evaluations that they had a good time and enjoyed being there. And the TV viewers at home also got a piece of the action when we showed them live footage from the event.


Mad-eventPicture: The events desk from TV2 Fyn aims to host 40 live journalism events in 2020.


Did we end food shaming that day? Of course not. We don’t even know if we actually made a real difference to the participants or the viewers and users at home. But we are setting up at least 40 journalistic events all through out 2020. And 2021. And all of them are meant to unite the people of our island, make them think and spread the word afterwards that something new is happening. And we believe in even the very small changes. So maybe we’ll see you IRL? You’re more than welcome. 


Do you want to check out and maybe even join our Facebook group “Den Fynske Redaktion”? 


Do you want to watch the video with Kimm the vegan?


Do you want the get in touch with the journalists at TV 2/Fyn Event? Send us an email – we’ll all be happy to talk with you.


Wed 22 January 2020 14:34 




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Blog: You might (not) be surprised by these three problems facing constructive journalism



WRITTEN BY: MORTEN SKOVSGAARD, PROFESSOR WSR, CENTRE FOR JOURNALISM, SDU
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BIO_morten skovsgaard

Admitted, the clickbait headline with a negative focus is clearly at odds with the spirit of constructive journalism. In fact, the proponents of constructive journalism highlight a one-sided emphasis on the negative aspects and problems in the world as the main problem of current mainstream news journalism because it leaves people with a general impression of a bad world getting worse. 


"The constructive project at TV 2 Funen will teach us valuable lessons on three challenging questions."

– Morten Skovsgaard, Professor WSR, Centre for Journalism, SDU



However, making fundamental changes to the existing approach to journalism comes with some, let us—in the spirit of being constructive—call them, hard questions rather than problems. Many news rooms are embarking on implementing constructive journalism in some form, and the project at TV 2 Funen is particularly interesting. Unlike many of the other projects, the constructive approach at TV 2 Funen is not confined to special sections or programs within the news organization. 


Instead, the aim is to change the mindset of the whole organization at the same time. Thus, the constructive project at TV 2 Funen will teach us valuable lessons on the three challenging questions that I list below. In other words, what started out with a negative, problem-focused headline actually takes a constructive perspective.


1. What defines constructive journalism?

The starting point of constructive journalism is that current news media excessively focus on failures over successes, on problems over solutions, on conflicts over agreement, and on sudden setbacks over stable progress, which creates a negatively biased picture of the world. But how does constructive journalism counter this negativity bias? One possible way is to also include possible solutions to the problems reported on. 


Another way is to include news stories about successes or people who can inspire other people to act on societal challenges. Others again would stress that constructive journalism more actively should engage people in solving specific problems, while other would think this is violating journalism’s longstanding objectivity norm. Constructive journalism is currently defined in multiple ways, and while it might not be possible to arrive at a uniform definition of constructive journalism, the work that TV 2 Funen and others are doing will give us a clearer idea of how constructive journalism can be defined and implemented in daily news work.


2. How can a constructive and a critical approach to journalism be reconciled? 


“News is what somebody does not want you to print. All the rest is advertising.” 


This quote about what news is—and what it is not—is more than 100 years old, and it has been ascribed to so many renowned journalists over time that the original source is left in a haze. However, the popularity of the quote tells a clear enough story of the professional culture that developed among journalists throughout the 20th century. The critical watchdog role with its emphasis on exposing malfunctions of society and wrongdoings of the powerful became a strong component of the professional DNA of most journalists. Constructive journalism has been criticised for abandoning this ideal in favour of painting a bright and overly positive picture of the world.



"Ultimately, the goal of implementing constructive journalism is the effects it can generate among the members of the audience."

– Morten Skovsgaard, Professor WSR, Centre for Journalism, SDU



The question is whether it is possible to integrate constructive journalism without discarding the democratically important critical watchdog ideal, and whether journalists adhering strongly to the watchdog ideal can be moved to embrace constructive journalism. This is exactly what TV 2 Funen is working on with the management stressing that critical and investigative journalism is still at the heart of their journalism but supplemented with news stories that deals with potential solutions to the problems reported, news stories on something that succeeds as well as stories that engage citizens more directly. 


3. Which effects should constructive journalism produce?

Ultimately, the goal of implementing constructive journalism is the effects it can generate among the members of the audience. However, many of the potential effects that the proponents hope for are difficult to establish, such as increased trust in the news, increased feeling of empowerment among the audience, and increased commitment to the news organization. 


These effects cannot be expected to occur from day to day. They will change over the long haul, and even if we see increases in for instance trust or commitment to the news organization, it can be hard to isolate and pinpoint the constructive news stories as the definite cause. However, the project at TV 2 Funen provides an opportunity for studying which effects constructive journalism can produce over a long period of time which will help create a better foundation for understanding how and to which extent constructive journalism is the right answer to some of the challenges that contemporary journalism faces. This will be a considerable step forward in our research-based knowledge of constructive journalism.


These three questions touching on both the production and effects of constructive journalism are all hard and challenging, but that makes the quest for answers all the more interesting. Regardless of the outcome everyone will end up wiser on the problems as well as the potentials of constructive journalism.

Wed 15 January 2020 14:34 




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Blog: Oh No! A Bump in the Road



WRITTEN BY: KRISTINA LUND JØRGENSEN, CONSTRUCTIVE EDITOR, TV 2/FYN
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Imagine what it feels like to open that Christmas present with the pretty dress you really wanted but when you peel of the paper it is a dishtowel!


That is pretty much the story of my last week. But with an ok twist in the end.



"The audience tell us we focus too much on problems and on negative stories."

– Kristina Lund Jørgensen, Constructive Editor, TV 2/FYN



It’s about four months ago TV 2/Fun and I took the first steps towards the goal of making the tv-station the most constructive one in Denmark. We launched the process at blistering speed with a SPRINT that I wrote about in my last blog post. This is where we developed ways to change our mindset into one where we use our constructive compass as a guide when choosing stories and the angles. We are still working with that task every day. We do it with a week-long course for everyone at the station in smaller groups and with weekly meetings for all editors at the station.


But we also wanted to know what about our audience? Do they even want constructive news? When we ask them in quantitative and in qualitative studies, the audience tell us that we focus too much on problems and on negative stories. They want more uplifting stories that bring hope.



Skærmbillede 2019-12-18 kl. 08.39.14

Figure: When TV2/Fyn ask their audience whether they think the news' focus is too negative results show they do. 62.7 percent says to great extent, high extent and some extent while 37.3 percent says to some extent, low extent or not at all.



And when we give it to them, will they read it? We decided to use a so-called A/B test on our website www.tv2fyn.dk.We wrote a constructive story on how a municipality solved a problem with leaky buildings where the heat seeps out of all the cracks. Afterwards, we wrote another story about how a municipality still uses a lot of money on heating up their buildings because they do not have the money to invest in better insulation and cheaper and more climate-friendly energy.


The test is designed so that the audience is random presented with one of the two stories when they visit our website. The trick is to see how many people click on one or the other story they get when the go to www.tv2fyn.dk as well as the time spent reading the story and the time spent on the webpage.


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Video: The station also went to the streets to understand what the people from Funen thinks of the news from TV2/Fyn.



My expectations were sky high because we had done our homework and made preparations with another story. That test showed that more people clicked on the constructive story and spent more time reading it. The problem with the first test was, that we didn’t have the technique to randomize so the two stories were on the page at the same time. Everyone who came to our website got both stories.


We finally had the technique to randomize up and running two weeks ago. We have now posted the stories with the municipalities and the problem of heating buildings.“Insulation and solar cells: Svendborg saves millions on electricity, water and heat”.The other one was:“Can’t keep up with the heat: Kerteminde can’t afford to insulate buildings”I waited for the result in excitement.It came.


And it was disheartening.Three times more people clicked on the non-constructive story. They even spent more time reading it.That was discouraging.I was pretty sad.What if people don’t really want to read constructive stories?


Skærmbillede 2019-12-16 kl. 13.48.31

Picture: The A/B test on the front of tv2fyn.dk.


A talk with professor Morten Skovsgaard from the University of Southern Denmark, who is going to analyze the numbers and draw conclusions when we have completed more A/B tests, helped me.Because, luckily there are many things to take into consideration.Firstly, there is the headlines that we can work with so they become more alike – and more appealing on the constructive stories too so we don’t give everything away right there with the statement: “Problem solved”. We found out that we also have to use more similar pictures for the two stories. Maybe then not all subjects work equally well with the constructive approach.


Finally, according to research, there is something in the psychology of the audience that makes most of them give in to more sensational and negative headlines. Most of us instinctively click on those things. When media went digital, we could measure it with the clicks and give the audience more of what they wanted - or at least clicked on.



"So, not to get my hopes up too high - I still think we are on the right track."

– Kristina Lund Jørgensen, Constructive Editor, TV 2/FYN



Now it is time for reflection. Perhaps we should not give audiences more about police matters, sensations, conflicts and the absurd. Maybe we should offer them content that tells news viewers about progress, about perspective and stories that empower them to go out and change things for the better. Stories that also gives them a more accurate picture of the world. Not everything out there is bad. Since we also hear people saying that they do not want all that negative coverage in the media, the momentum is there.


So - not to get my hopes up too high - I still think we are on the right track. Perhaps these new strategies won’t give us a payoff in clicks but hopefully in other aspects such as building up trust and a sense of responsibility to the world from the media. I will be waiting more patiently for that dress. This will take us some time and patience to investigate. 

Wed 18 December 2019 14:58 




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Blog: Hope as the Driver



WRITTEN BY: MADS BOEL, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, TV 2/FYN
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I like driving. I like it a lot. In fact I’m what you might call a driving enthusiast. However. I hate driving on the highway. It’s all the same. It’s crowded. It gives me no pleasure what so ever – mainly because it’s all about going in a straight line at a constant speed. Most of the time it’s necessary to stay on this relentless stretch of road, if I want to get somewhere fast. But why am I always in such a hurry?


That’s why I always take the smaller b-roads. Here the car comes alive. I can feel the mechanics, the weight and the sensation of driving. I have to be involved to get the most of it. And you know what? On the b-roads I can take a break and contemplate about life, nature and maybe also hope. And while driving I have a view that I do not get on the highway.


And what does this have to do with journalism, TV 2/Fyn or constructive journalism, you might ask?




"Our publications (...) was for quite some time comparable to the highway. Full speed ahead."

– Mads Boel, Editorial Director, TV 2/FYN



Well, recently we at TV 2/Fyn have taken a pause and looked at our publications on mainly the digital platforms. It was, for a time quite comparable to the highway. Full speed ahead, crowded and always in a hurry.


So we decided to take the off-ramp and spend some time in a slower pace and focus on the immersive experience of the genre known as web docs. Granted, this is not a new format. But it is new for us to dedicate resources, manpower and time to the endeavor.


We cover a lot of topics in these web docs, but our main focus is on hope, adventure and people. Always people!


The stories always has a starting point in classic journalism, but we do not linger on this. We focus on the individual with an interesting story. We did one on a group of volunteers called “the yellow helpers”. They drive around in their old van and pick up surplus food from the local supermarkets and then sell it to people in need. For very little money they get a shopping basket full of groceries.


And then there was the story about a special lottery concept in a small town. The event happens every Sunday and is completely run by volunteers. The money from attendance go to local development in new sports facilities and in return the participants get an entertaining Sunday evening. And mind you. This has been going on for 50 years.




"The outcome is so much better than your ordinary treadmill-journalism."

– Mads Boel, Editorial Director, TV 2/FYN




Another story is about gaming but with the approach that gaming is for everyone. And by reading and watching the doc you may get a bit more insight into the mindset of your child or grandchild.


These products take a good amount of time to produce. But the outcome is so much better than your ordinary treadmill-journalism. But do we get the payoff we hope? Not always. Some of them only have 1500 views while others have more than 30.000 views. But the number of people visiting is not the only factor. The one about gaming has an engagement time of over 6 minutes. And the one about the lottery keeps the readers hooked for about 3 minutes.


So, we will continue exploring the possibility of producing journalism with hope and inspiration as a driver. Maybe we will give people an experience. But I know that we are shedding light on all the fascinating angles you can put on classic journalism. 


We produce one web doc a week. Maybe you should take the b-roads on the way to work once a week. Because out there the journey and the car comes to life. Just like journalism comes to life when you put an effort into the storytelling and production. 

Wed 11 December 2019 15:10 




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Blog: We Must Take Responsibility for the Problems we Uncover



WRITTEN BY: JAKOB RISBRO, EDITOR, TV 2/FYN & FELLOW, CONSTRUCTIVE INSTITUTE
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bio_Jakob Risbro

I enjoy being a journalist and I love my field very much. I became a journalist because I wanted to make a (positive) difference to society. I wanted to make the world a better place by telling stories. 

But my hope of doing something good for society is challenged. 



"The credibility of journalists is at its lowest."

– Jakob Risbro, Editor, TV 2/FYN


The people we write, make television and radio for, do not trust me and my journalist colleagues.


The credibility of journalists is at its lowest. The annual trust barometer year after year that the public's confidence in journalists is at the same level as it is for car dealers and politicians who come in on the last place as number 26 out of 26 measured professional groups. 


And even though I know both honest and trustworthy politicians and car dealers, this rank should not be considered an honor. At least, I do not perceive it as one. Every year when the barometer is published, I hope to see my profession moving up the list.


But over the past many years, there have been no changes in the rankings; the politicians are at the bottom while car dealers and journalists are just above. Every year, my disappointment and annoyance is the same.


That is frustrating. Not only for the journalists who have to suffer the pain it is, that people do not have much trust in us. It is even worse when I think of it in the context of our democracy and society.


As journalists, we shape readers', listeners' and viewers' perceptions of the world. If there is no trust in the way we as journalists tell stories about the world, then it is a bigger problem than one journalists' pride. Then it is about questioning the stories and facts that would otherwise tie the population together and help create a common foundation for the debate in society about how we prioritize and how we shape our society. It is the social cohesiveness that is at stake.



"We have to make an effort to regain people's trust."

– Jakob Risbro, Editor, TV 2/FYN



We need to do something about it. As journalists and as an industry, we must make an effort to (re)gain the trust of the people. We could start by having a look at the professional groups that top the list of professions that people trust. At the top of the list are midwives, nurses, doctors, librarians and police officers. My claim is, that they are top notch because they are perceived as professionals who are doing good things for the community. 


The midwives bring infants to the world and help parturient women having a good experience in one of life's most vulnerable situations. Nurses and doctors help with the care and healing of the sick, and police officers maintain order and help the population in emergencies. All at the top of the list are the professionals who are creating something, helping the weak and taking responsibility for order in the community. These are perhaps the virtues that we as journalists need to look for to get higher on the credibility barometer, and here the way we do journalism can be one of the answers.


The claim often goes that we as journalists are too critical, one-eyed and rigid when telling stories. Instead of taking responsibility for finding solutions, we look for problems and point our fingers when we find the "villain". It is a journalistic virtue to be critical of people in power and uncover problems, and of course we must continue to do so. But I think we need to do more than that, and that's what we're working on at Constructive Institute.




"We should also help find the 'medicine' once we have found the problem."


Once we have found the problem and the presumptive cause of the problem, we must go ahead and take responsibility for the problem not recurring. We have to ask the question "what now?" We can do that by opening both eyes and also look for solutions and nuance things as we tell our stories. As a physician who finds the medical problem and then looks for a way to cure, we should also help find the "medicine" once we have found the problem. 


I hope and believe that me and my fellow fellows at Constructive Institute can help change the culture of the news media so that we as a profession in the future will be regarded as someone who take responsibility for the community and points to problems. My hope is not only because of the frustration of messing around at the bottom of the credibility barometer, but also because it can help boost our credibility and help make the world a better place.


 

Wed 4 December 2019 15:14 




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Blog: Tough on Crime



WRITTEN BY: MADS BOEL, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, TV 2/FYN
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Every single day I experience people making Italian Bolognese the “Danish way”. And I quite frankly find it appalling. Actually it’s an outright crime. To make great Bolognese you only need carrots, celery, onion, garlic, chicken stock, tomato puré, red wine and of course minced meat. In other words: simplicity and thoroughness in the process. Otherwise you get one out of two results: either it’s wrong or it is irrelevant.


The same could be said about journalism. In particular the digital verity of journalism known as websites. And especially when it comes to the genre of crime. 



"You could find yourself in the belief that the people of Funen live in an action movie."

– Mads Boel, Editorial Director, TV 2/FYN


For too many years the Danish press – and also TV 2/Fyn – has been guilty in chasing ambulances, police cars, fires and petty crime.


I swear that when you take a look at tv2fyn.dk on any given weekend you could find yourself in the belief, that the people of Funen live in an action movie. There are assaults, car chases, drive-by-shootings, burglaries, accidents and the occasional murder. 


But is that the correct image of the island of Funen? Absolutely not. The crime statistics have only headed one way over the past years; down. Violence is down. Burglaries are down. Hell even traffic violations are down. But do the users of TV 2/Fyn get that? The answer – in my opinion – is a resounding NO. 


"We have an obligation to reflect upon, investigate and report the truth. Otherwise we become irrelevant."

– Mads Boel, Editorial Director, TV 2/FYN


When consuming the news you as a user should be able to put together the right version of events and the right view of society and the state of it. We normally say, that the first casualty of war is the truth. Just like the first casualty of “Danish Bolognese” is the taste, the casualty in the war of clickbait and user-numbers have become the real image of society. We are guilty of the crime of sensation over truth.


As public service broadcasters we have an obligation to reflect upon, investigate and report the truth. Otherwise we become irrelevant.


That’s why we have implemented new standards for the editorial guideline of the online department of TV 2/Fyn. “Less is more” is the philosophy. That also means, that we are cutting down on the crime stories. We want relevant stories with perspective and relevance. And we want to make sure, that we paint the right picture, so we don’t make people believe, that everything is going down the drain. We will still do crime stories but they have to represent a general and current problem for society. We will report it when a 19-year old man drowns in the river because he was drunk and walked home alone from a night out on the town with his friends? But we have to take it further than that. We are obligated to ask the question “why don’t young people take care of each other”?



"So far the engagement time has increased and the users are still with us."

– Mads Boel, Editorial Director, TV 2/FYN


But what about the users and the KPIs you ask? Don’t worry. While cutting away irrelevant stories about crime we focus our energy on thoroughness, better stories, more video and more relevance. The results you ask? Well so far the engagement time has increased and the users are still with us. And the reporters find more joy in their profession. After all they are journalists in hunt for the truth. Not students with pimples and a part time job as clickbait hunters.


In other words. We are tough on crime. Just like more people should be tough on “Danish Bolognese”. 

Wed 27 November 2019 15:10 




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Blog: Truly a Sprint



WRITTEN BY: KRISTINA LUND JØRGENSEN, CONSTRUCTIVE EDITOR, TV 2/FYN
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Colored pieces of cardboard with black writing covers the walls in the small conference room and steals the attention from the dominant meeting table. SPRINT is on. And a group of four reporters and editors is focused on working on how to solve our challenge: 


How can we create a behavior where we work naturally according to TV 2/Fyn's constructive compass?


The Constructive Compass offers four directions we can work with in order to adopt the constructive mindset – the directions being: critical, focused on solutions, nuanced and active in engaging our audience. 


Gruppe-SPRINT

Picture: Members of the SPRINT-group is working with their projects.


The SPRINT process was originally developed for engineering projects but now we’re implementing it in the news world. We are focusing on the abstract task of changing mindsets. It’s all about cardboard, pencils and an open mind. About seeking knowledge, defining challenges and turning them into possibilities We then make decisions and test our assumptions.


Screen Shot 2019-11-20 at 6.23.54 PM

Video: The constructive “KJ lab” will operate as space for the education of every member of staff in the newsroom.


On the first day of our SPRINT the team picked the brains of people who had knowledge of how to change culture in a workspace and the challenges in that process. Morten Skovsgaard, Professor at SDU came by along with Henrik Gruve, Human Ressource and Business Manager at the local IT company House of Code and Morten Roo from Hearken who also works with changing culture in news organizations.


Gruppearbejde2-SPRING

Picture: The group is working with their constructive journalism project.


From them we learnt it is essential to fuel such a process with resources – both knowledge and manpower. And most important – create room for failure. We also asked colleagues about what had made previously developed projects work efficiently. With that insight we moved onto turning our ideas into possibilities. 


More cardboard decorated the empty spaces of wallpaper with written opportunities we can work within TV 2/Fyn to change the culture into one that works naturally with constructive journalism. 



"It is essential to fuel such a process with resources – both knowledge and manpower."

– Kristina Lund Jørgensen, Constructive Editor, TV 2/FYN



A bunch of ideas qualified and two of them were built into solutions. “The Bible” and “A Constructive Lab”.


These 2 solutions contain the essence of what we will be working with the coming months. A document containing the “Why?” we do this, and “How” to do it at TV2/Fyn. The “KJ lab” will operate as space for the education of every member of staff in the newsroom. In the future it may be the place in which we develop new narrative models for constructive journalism. And much more!


Validering2-SPRINT[1]

Picture: The group is in the 'validation' step of the SPRINT process.


All these plans and projects are steps towards realizing our goal of becoming a media house that presents a constructive approach to our stories whenever it is possible and inspire, suggest solutions and paint a more nuanced picture of our world to our audience. Soo tune in on TV 2/Fyn and follow the making of a media house with a constructive mindset.

 

Wed 20 November 2019 15:46 




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Blog: People will start to like us, when we stop being such an old and grumpy uncle



WRITTEN BY: LASSE HØRBYE NIELSEN, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, TV 2/FYN
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Two years ago I attended a summer garden party. I started talking with the person sitting next to me. A young local business woman. She used to be a local politician so she actually watched our daily news-broadcast, even though she was only 29 years old, and therefore - according to statistics - too young to be watching TV. She also followed TV 2/FYN news on web and social media. 



"She asked: Why are you so sad and grumpy at TV 2/FYN?"

– Lasse Hørbye Nielsen, Editorial Director, TV 2/FYN



When I found out that I was talking to a hardcore news fan, (and I thought, a hardcore TV 2/FYN fan), I looked forward to getting some excellent feedback from her. You know it’s always nice to be applauded for the excellent and critical journalism, that you do in the interest of the public. But she surprised me. 


She asked: “Why are you so sad and grumpy at TV 2/FYN?” and continued: 


“Why don’t you tell about the good things happening on our island. Why do you always cherry pick the really small issues, that don’t work? It is not representative of the state of things here!” 


I found it hard to give her an answer. Especially because she also had some very concrete examples. I was left almost speechless. 


We learn in journalism schools all around the world that the most important thing for a journalist is to be critical. About society. About the people who hold power. We are the ones who stop the bad guys, and maybe that is why, a journalist so often is the main character in the big Hollywood productions. We are the local hero fighting for the good by pointing out the bad. 



"Maybe people would actually pay for journalism that brought them hope"

– Lasse Hørbye Nielsen, Editorial Director, TV 2/FYN



That is all right. I still think that is important for journalism. But maybe we could do both. Be both critical and constructive? Maybe. Just maybe we could tell about the good guys doing good things for society and communities? Maybe we could be the young and fresh cousin at the family party? The one who has hope for the future. The one everyone wants to talk to, because she brings joy in everybody's eyes. Maybe we could stop being such a sad and grumpy uncle? 


Maybe that could be the solution to and savior of our troubled news business. Maybe people would actually pay for journalism that also brought them hope while still being critical and doing breaking news. 


It is difficult to convince journalists to have a new mission with their work. You have to train them all over and start at the beginning. You have to look at the big “why are we here”-question. That is the journey, we have departed on here in Funen. To do some good for the island we live on, with the people that live here. But with the clear message to the bad guys out there; “ we will still be watching you”.



 

Wed 13 November 2019 15:01 








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Blog: Together we make Funen better: Why “TV 2/Fyn” will become Denmark’s most constructive media house



WRITTEN BY: ESBEN SEERUP, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, TV2/FYN
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TV 2/Fyn will be Denmark's most constructive media house next year. As in as simple as that.


We defined that target in our 2020 Strategy last year. And now, this fall of 2019, we are moving towards it. In 12 months our core of free, independent, power-critical and society-controlling journalism will be complemented by a whole new type of content.


It will not be easy. Getting there demands that we develop and find our own way of how to handle “constructive journalism”. We want it to become a new and completely integrated part of TV 2/Fyns's total news coverage. 


It will not stand alone. 


It will go hand-in-hand with critical journalism on a daily basis which – at least from my point of view - always will be, must be, the core and the whole premise of constructive journalism. This pillar is the foundation of all we do at our public service tv-station with a clear and responsible mission of serving our region in the middle of Denmark with trustworthy (and interesting) news.


Our constructive journalism ambition is a pledge to the 500.000 people in the region of Funen. 


It sounds like an easy path to take. After more than 30 years work in media business I know it’s not. But I know it’s necessary.


For also we at TV 2/Fyn can see that people all throughout the world – and in Denmark and in our region of Funen - are leaving traditional media like our regional public service station. Why? Because they are tired of studied media quarrels. Of the stream of problems presented without hope. Of the weighting and angling of the sensational and bizarre.



"This is exactly why we want to be Denmark's most constructive media house."

– Esben Seerup, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, TV2 Fyn



Instead, good folks settle for glimpses from social media, television entertainment and unreliable sources. Like chips instead carrots. Feeling excluded important community discussions. Losing trust in our politicians. Giving up on democracy, the conversation and the understanding of opinions other than its own.


We will try to do something about this at TV 2/Fyn. Turn the tide. Try something else. This is exactly why we want to be Denmark's most constructive media house. 


We are ready to do exactly that. Even though we know it is not as easy as it may sound.


The explanation is that we journalists are trained to be the opposite of constructive. We learn excactly that already in our first week at any journalism school or university.


Here, the important role of the media is presented as The Fourth Estate in a democratic society. Here we hear about the need for complete independence from any political or economic interest. We learn about the social responsibility that a professional editor - and reporter – must take, so that our journalism will focus on the unreasonable, the greedy and the unscrupulous where we see them. 


We thrive to become journalists that always must remember a critical approach as the most important starting point when choosing stories and prioritizing them. This is the whole pillar of fact-based news journalism. It sits in the walls of any editorial newsroom. It is embedded in both young and old reporters and editors. 


 TV2 Fyn_news room 1Picture: CEO & Editor-in-Chief Esben Seerup explains how a common ambition across management and reporters will be the key to the succesful implementation of constructive journalism.


That our journalism must inform citizens to be independent individuals. So they make their own decisions. Form their own opinions and attitudes. And thereafter: Get engaged in our democracy – local, regional, national, global – like most Danes love and feel part of.


This is how most newspapers, radio and television stations work with news in Denmark. We believe in that core and pillar. I know it. That feeling have been in my blood, bones and body since I attended journalism school more than 30 years ago.


We also do have that feeling today at TV 2/Fyn. We're even good at it. It's not something I write to boast about. 


This is what the people of Funen respond when asked about it. This 2019 summer in our annual brand analysis well over 1000 people stated that TV 2/Fyn clearly is the media house that most people point to as the most important for influencing the news agenda and opinion in our region. 


It is also TV 2/Fyn, which is perceived as the most credible media house. Even ahead of other credible media outlets such as the national news cast from “DR”, “TV 2” or our excellent, local and regional competitors here in our region.


Obviously, I am pleased with that position. Proud of it.


Because I know how hard TV 2/Fyn's ambitious staff have worked in the last seven years to reach this point, where I had the pleasure of being the boss. This has not come of its own accord. Therefore I know we will not become Denmark's most constructive media house if we do not continue to develop. And work hard to get there.


We do though, not start from scratch here. In recent years we have already experimented extensively with constructive journalism.



"I noticed firsthand how otherwise well-trained, critical, cool reporters gained new motivation."

– Esben Seerup, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, TV2 Fyn




For example, in the fall of 2017, when we together with a number of the other media houses in Funen made the largest campaign in Denmark to date to increase voter turnout among young people in the municipal elections. “Stem’rne” (“The Voices/Votes” in English)-campaign succeeded with creative, engaging, fun, innovative and engaging journalism in six wild weeks two years ago. 


The result in the region of Funen? The voter turnout in Funen increased twice as much as elsewhere in Denmark!


During the campaign I noticed firsthand how otherwise well-trained, critical, cool reporters gained new motivation and got energy by opening up to the idealistic flow of their hearts, usually packed away of professional, independent reasons. And the journalism did not become less relevant or indifferent because of this. 


On the contrary.


Since then, we have continued with a series of smaller, but equally constructive, engaging and genuinely idealistic projects and stories. This is why we dare to take the step fully with this ambition: To be Denmark's leader in this field.


We are quite prepared. We started a year ago by developing our overall 2020 Strategy in 2018. Started the preparations in the spring of 2019 – and were ready to start this fall. 


With a 15 month long plan starting with extensive teaching, training and a variety of experiments this fall – and planning to peak a year from now.


Here we get help from the best in the industry: Ulrik Haagerup and Orla Borg from the Constructive Institute in Aarhus University. Morten Skovsgaard from the Center for Journalism at the University of Southern Denmark. Morten Ro from the public powered journalism-tool, Hearken. Just to mention some of the many clever minds that we talk to all the time to figure out how to do this the right way.


However, the most important - and bravest - people are in our own house in the city of Odense, Fyn, Denmark. Namely TV 2/Fyn’s own almost 90 insightful and creative employees. They are the ones who took the plunge into unchartered territory. Those who develop both themselves and thus the TV 2/Fyn-journalism. The true heroes.


We have set aside a whole year+ for this first phase.


Here we must try out ideas. Practice. Train. Talk. Discuss. Find the boundaries of constructive journalism against our core of critical. Try again. And also dare to fail, because otherwise we have not tried enough. And remember that it is not until 2020 that we have to be in place.



"I am afraid that we can no longer be stopped in our ambition."

– Esben Seerup, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, TV2 Fyn




We have formulated our constructive ambition in our renewed slogan for the whole tv-station. It now states on our cars, adds, promos, lingo: "Together we make Funen better".


I hope you who read this will follow us in our work. Maybe even help us and even make your contribution to what you think about our direction.


However, a word of warning here: I am afraid that we can no longer be stopped in our ambition. Because all of us at TV 2/Fyn actually want this to happen: The board of directors. The management. The editorial managers. The editors. The journalists. The photographers. The graphic artists. The producers.

First of all, because we can. And then: Because we all want this to succeed. 


Perhaps this is why I actually believe that we will be Denmark's most constructive media house. 


But remember: Not until 2020. 


Esben Seerup

CEO and Editor-in-Chief

TV 2/Fyn

Wed 6 November 2019 15:09 








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Constructive Institute

C/O Aarhus University
Bartholins Allé 16
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+45 601 38 600
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Constructive Institute

C/O Aarhus University
Bartholins Allé 16
Bygning 1328, 1. sal
8000 Aarhus C
Denmark

+45 601 38 600
info@constructiveinstitute.org


Constructive Institute is situated at:
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