Constructive journalism is a response to increasing tabloidization, sensationalism and negativity bias of the news media today and offers an add on to both breaking and investigative journalism – claiming that in order to serve democracy quality reporting must be both critical, inspirational, nuanced and engaging.
The table illustrates how a constructive story typically sets out from a documented problem in society and thus represents an additional step to the news cycle as we know it today. From breaking, to investigative, to constructive.
Constructive Journalism is an additional layer
Constructive journalism is a cultural shift which changes the role of journalists, our goals and our focus.
After fulfilling the role of policeman, documenting evidence; then the role of judge, investigating evidence and pronouncing judgement; the constructive journalist will then act as facilitator, looking for a way beyond the problem. It is a shift which looks to the future and seeks to leave the news audience inspired, hopeful and motivated.
The culture shift impacts every step of the workflow of the newsroom:
- Story selection goes beyond the 5 W’s (What, When, Why and Who) to What Now?
- Interviews shift from accusatory to curious and open minded
- Style of the journalism moves from dramatic and critical to curious
- Relationship between journalists and news audience changes from a disseminators of information to one of a facilitation of conversation with experts and those in power
Journalists Explain Their Interest in Constructive Journalism
Yusuf Omar with a background at the BBC, CNN and Hindustan Times has formed Hashtag Our Stories with Sumaiya Omar. Hear them explain why constructive journalism appeals to a younger audience much more than traditional news.
Anders Agger is a journalist, visual storyteller and TV-documentarist at Danish Broadcasting Corporation.