“You need to have a strong critical, professional journalism and then you can add the constructive element. If that foundation is missing I think people get confused and the quality of the stories will be low.”
Esben Seerup, Editor in Chief, TV2 Fyn
In 2019, TV2 Fyn decided to develop the world’s first constructive newsroom. With journalist and former Constructive Institute Fellow Kristina Lund Jørgensen leading the project, they had the goal of changing the news culture across their different departments by 2020.
How They Did It
A cooperation with the regional newspaper on the island of Funen, Fyns Stiftstidende, sparked a campaign to engage young voters for the local election in 2017. The aim was to increase the percentage young voters on the island but it also led enthusiastic interaction with young news audiences. The Editor in Chief of TV2 Fyn Esben Seerup immediately spotted the potential for constructive journalism at his regional station.
“We were thrilled to see the impact. Both in terms of voter turnout and increased traffic from readers and viewers but also the public feedback in general. It was very popular,” the Editor in Chief concludes.
The campaign as well as number of other positive experiments with constructive journalism sparked the vision among a lot of staffers at TV2 Fyn to expand their ambitions. “There was a big will to take the next step and because we had already tried it [constructive journalism] the journalists knew what it could achieve,” Esben says about the favorable mindset that led to the development of a new editorial strategy for 2020.
The end goal for this strategy is that “the station will have the world’s first full constructive newsroom by 2020” ensuring that constructive journalism approaches become a “completely integrated part of TV2 Fyn’s news coverage.”
In September 2019 the station launched a 15 month plan including extensive teaching, training and a variety of experiments that will be structured by experts in the field. This includes monitoring of the results by a research team from the University of Southern Denmark as well as a monthly review process of their news stories led by the Constructive Institute.
“There was a big will to take the next step and because we had already tried it [constructive journalism] the journalists knew what it could achieve,”.
Esben Seerup, Editor in Chief TV2 Fyn
Together we Make Funen Better
Under the station’s renewed slogan “Together we make Funen better” a team of 4 editors began a ‘sprint process’, the structure used by software developers to innovate around technology. Within TV2’s newsroom the sprints are being harnessed to develop behaviors which help editors implement constructive journalism implicitly in day to day routines.
The aim is a cultural shift for the station’s editorial output which incorporates both critical investigative journalism as well nuanced constructive approaches to society’s problems. For this purpose, the Constructive Compass has been developed which guides editorial decisions so that they embody a “constructive mindset”.
TV2’s constructive newsroom is a work in progress. Read their blog to stay updated and get insights from their journalists working in a range of capacities across the organization.
The Constructive Compass
The compass points to four directions:
1. Keep senior management committed. According to the Editor in Chief Esben Seerup, it is the initial positive experiences that made the difference, keeping the senior management committed to the project because they have seen their audiences leaving traditional media and they attribute this in large part to the “studied media quarrels” and presentation of problems without hope.
2. Culture change takes time. The process of changing an entire newsroom culture takes time. After the trainings the biggest challenge for the station is to keep up the momentum of constructive news stories whilst developing new constructive formats and programs.
3. Adopt a new mindset. In order for a newsroom to become constructive, journalists must both adopt a constructive mindset toward editorial selection as well as develop new news approaches and formats.