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What is Constructive Journalism?

Constructive journalism is a response to increasing tabloidization, sensationalism and negativity bias of the news media today. It is an approach that aims to provide audiences with a fair, accurate and contextualised picture of the world, without overemphasising the negative and what is going wrong. While a healthy dose of negativity in the press is undoubtedly necessary, the chronic overexposure of negative constitutes a hidden media bias that has an erosive effect on the societies we live in.


The aim of constructive journalism is to combat the trivialisation and degradation of journalism by media that often is more interested in entertaining and creating controversies than informing the citizenship. Constructive journalism is calm in tone, being less focused on scandals, conflicts and outrage. It reports on important societal issues, setting them in the bigger picture and in their relevant context.


Constructive journalism takes journalism’s democratic function seriously, building on the idea that journalism is a feedback mechanism that helps society self-correct. It holds, however, that awareness about a problem alone is unlikely to bring about corrective action. 

Constructive journalism, therefore, seeks to facilitate public debate not only around important problems, but also around possible solutions to improve the quality and the tone of public discussions.


Constructive journalism is not about the “nice and cute”, nor is it positive or soft news that ignores problems. It is “two-eyed journalism”, balanced reporting on both good and the bad in society. Constructive journalism is not activism or advocacy and will never attempt to define the best solution to a problem.


In short, constructive journalism can be thought about in two layers. The first one is the editorial aspect of picking a calmer tone and not giving into the excess of negativity and sensationalism. The other layer focusses on reporting on responses to social ills.

Constructive Journalism IS:


  • critical, objective, and balanced
  • tackling important issues facing society, not trivial
  • unbiased 
  • calm in its tone and does not give in to scandals and outrage
  • bridging, not polarising
  • forward-looking and future-oriented
  • nuanced and contextualised
  • based on facts
  • facilitating well-informed debate around solutions to well documented problems
Constructive Journalism IS NOT:


  • promoting a specific agenda, crossing the line between journalism and politics
  • uncritical or naive
  • promoting heroes, governments or civil society organisations
  • obscuring critical viewpoints
  • activism in any shape or form
  • dumbed-down, trivial or happy news
  • giving in to false equivalence / balance
  • proposing solutions to problems or advocating one solution over another
  • over-simplifying complex problems or solutions to complex problems

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Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) now uses constructive journalism as a natural and successful tool in DR’s news programs. At the world’s biggest news conference, NewsXchange, which took place at DR Concert Hall in December 2016, Executive Director of DR News, Ulrik Haagerup and his two collages, foreign editor Ida Ebbensgaard and national editor Casper Walbum Høst, explained why news media paint a too negative picture of the world and how to change.

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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

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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