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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. Here staffers share failures and successes as they strive to make their community better through constructive journalism.

Kristina Lund Jørgensen

Editor of Constructive Journalism at TV 2 Fyn and Constructive Journalism Alumnus at Constructive Institute. Previously Kristina worked as head of the project “Fyens.dk at University of Southern Denmark”, and as Editor of the pop-up media “STEM’RNE”.


Blog: Can Public-Powered Journalism Boost Trust From Audiences? Here’s What We Learned During COVID


In the weeks of the government’s lockdown of Denmark we made it possible for our audience to ask questions, and the journalists on TV 2 Fyn searched for answers. It generated large amounts of user-driven journalism, especially on TV2Fyn.dk. Now we have asked the audience who asked us questions what it impact it had on their relation to our media house. The responses from the survey sends me off on holiday with a big smile on my face.

Written by Kristina Lund Jørgensen,
Editor of Constructive Journalism, TV 2 Fyn

In my most recent blog, I wrote about how the readers largely accepted TV 2 Fyn’s attempt with public-powered journalism, called “The public gets answers”. We got close to 800 questions from March 12 through June 1, when we invited the public to engage and ask us their unanswered COVID questions.

In the initial stage (first 3 weeks) we found that these user-driven articles were able to reach the same high average of pageviews as the rest of our stories. However, the reading time stood out: It was 32 pct higher than average – and even 109 pct. above reading time in average pre-COVID).

But what does the public actually think about the opportunity to ask questions and let us investigate the matter? We’ve now asked them in a survey about what impact it had on their relation with our media house. The answers we received are encouraging and great feedback on how to improve the user experience going forward.

Photo: After eleven weeks with ”The public gets answers” the team of journalists had produced 172 articles – 64 of them with video and 22 features for tv.

I will start with the feedback that draws my smile all the way up to my ears. 280 of the 782 who asked questions filled out the survey and 66 percent of respondents agree that “The public gets answers” has improved their perception of TV 2 Fyn as a positive factor in the local community.

64 percent agree or strongly agree that it ​​has made our overall news coverage more relevant to them. 61 pct now find us more accessible and 43 pct believe that they’ll be watching or reading more of our journalism as a result of the dialogue.

 

“64 percent agree or strongly agree that it ​​has made our overall news coverage more relevant to them.”

– Kristina Lund Jørgensen, Editor of Constructive Journalism, TV 2 Fyn

 

These are answers we were hoping to get when we planned for this. Our goal was to invite our audience onto our platforms so they could participate and shape the journalism and we could learn from their information needs. We want to understand their everyday problems and wonderings and to improve relevance by letting this initiate more stories on our platforms.

I also see the survey responses as markers that we have succeeded in strengthening our relationship with our audience as well as their confidence in us caring for the community’s interests.

And as a public service broadcaster it is a big part of our task and obligation to be there for the public and to push the development of the society in the right direction by researching, uncovering and pointing out solutions to the actual problems they are facing. Problems that we don’t automatically see from the newsroom if we don’t ask them consistently.

What feedback should we learn from? Well, first of all to acknowledge all contributions. When the public ask their questions they automatically receive a message stating we read all the questions but cannot answer all of them. While we tried to respond to as many questions as possible, one out of three didn’t experience that. The survey showed that one out of four is disappointed with that decision, compared to one out of two finding it perfectly ok.

 

“Public-powered journalism is part of our ambition to become Denmark’s most constructive media house – and it’s here to stay.”

– Kristina Lund Jørgensen, Editor of Constructive Journalism, TV 2 Fyn

 

I do not think we should devote journalistic power to investigate each and every one of the many questions – we should always choose the best. But we’ll consider giving the people who ask us those questions we do not prioritise, a more personal response, because our main goal still is to establish a close relationships with the public, and it seems like the automatic answers is not enough.

It is certainly food for thought as we continue to keep TV 2 Fyn open to questions from the public.

Our COVID-specific call-out is now replaced with another call-out, “Funen gets answers”, where the audience is encouraged to ask about anything regarding our region.

In the fall we will use our new tool several times to connect with the public and strengthen the trust that is paramount to a public service provider. Public-powered journalism is part of our ambition to become Denmark’s most constructive media house – and it’s here to stay.

TV 2 Fyn Gets Answers

“The Public Gets Answers” has improved the perception of TV 2 Fyn as a positive factor in the local community:

66 pct agree
22 pct don’t know
12 pct disagree

It has made our overall news coverage more relevant to them:

64 pct agree
26 pct don’t know
8 pct  disagree

Now find us more accessible:

61 pct agree
24 pct don’t know
15 pct disagree

Believe that they’ll be watching or reading more of our journalism as a result of the dialogue:

43 pct agree
43 pct don’t know
14 pct disagree

280 of the 782 participants filled out the survey


About the Project

Constructive Journalism Tested at TV 2 Fyn.
In 2019 TV 2 Fyn gave themselves a challenge. They set out to become most constructive media as well as the largest test center for constructive journalism in Denmark. To trace the change they decided to log their experiences in a blog format offering important insights on how to become constructive.

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