April 15 2020

Recommendations for reporting on  the coronavirus with the elements of constructive journalism in mind.

Words matter. With journalism acting as a filter between reality and the public perception of reality journalists must ask themselves if they want to angle their coverage solely on the drama of news stories or instead address nuance, context and hope.

The time is now to show why journalism is essential to audiences, society and democracy. The coronavirus pandemic is a global call for responsible media. Constructive journalism is a mindset which places the focus of journalism and public attention to out beyond the glare of global problems and looks to address potential solutions to the challenges facing us all.

Constructive journalism is an add on to the two major modes of news reporting; breaking news and investigative journalism.

Constructive journalism is an add on to the two major modes of news reporting; breaking news and Investigative journalism. It goes without saying that both breaking news and investigative reporting are essential for covering the pandemic of the coronavirus. In this grave international crisis they are absolutely necessary. These two modes of reporting use critical journalism in order to inform news audiences around the world and hold the people in power responsible for their actions, or lack of action.

In what way could the principles of constructive journalism offer additional elements to reporting on the coronavirus? Constructive journalism is based on three pillars and here are some recommendations on how these principles could be used in covering the evolving pandemic.Some of the recommendations may seem to be simply good, thorough, critical and balanced journalism but that is essentially what constructive journalism is all about.

Summing up
Constructive journalism is an add on to breaking news and investigative news. We need to remember the purpose of journalism: To contribute to society through critical and constructive journalism.

Critical questions are necessary, but our angling and reporting is essential.

– Lars Igum Rasmussen, Politiken

In the words of one of the leading Danish health reporters, Lars Igum Rasmussen, of Denmark’s largest newspaper, Politiken, in a mail to all of his colleagues on the 11th of March: “Critical questions are necessary, but our angling and reporting is essential. We should inform, clarify, explain – and yes, be critical – if there is a real reason for it.

We shall not exaggerate or downplay a potential epidemic. We should report neutrally, but we are in a quite unique situation that also demands other approaches than we are used to.”