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 overemphasizing the negative and what is going wrong.
“Are you Trying to Replace
Other Types of Journalism?”
In the drop-down below we have collected some of the most frequently asked questions for you to learn more about the constructive journalism genre.
No. Constructive journalism is not about reporting on positive or happy news. Positive journalism is an approach that publishes happy, light and upbeat stories, with an aim to entertain or create a positive mood among its audiences. Constructive journalism, on the contrary, focusses on issues important to society, without giving in to the excess of negativity, nor positivity. When relevant, constructive journalism may report on responses to well-documented problems, to start a debate on what can be done to alleviate social ills. The aim of constructive journalism is not to entertain or engage in “feel good” stories.
No. Constructive journalism is rigorous and critical in its approach, both when it comes to reporting on problems and progress. It is not naive, nor unduly cheerful and it does not look at the world through rose-coloured glasses. It actively questions itself and others, seeking out critical viewpoints to ensure that the story paints a fair and accurate picture of the world. However, it holds that criticism is not the main goal, but a tool, of good journalism. Criticism does not need to equal cynicism.
No, constructive journalism does not turn a blind eye to problems facing society. It will report on both problems and progress in a calm and contextualised manner so that the general public can form an accurate picture of the world they live in.
Once public awareness about a particular problem has been risen, constructive journalism may – when relevant and appropriate – spark debate about what can be done about this issue now? Who has tried to solve it? Who has done this better? The aim is not to aggravate problems or spark conflict, but to facilitate critical debate about possible solutions so that the issue can be moved forward.
No. Constructive journalism does not stand in opposition to other types of reporting. It suggests that journalists review their mindset from exclusively focussing on what is going wrong, to seeing both the good and the bad.
Reporting on responses to social ills is an additional tool in a journalist’s toolbox, an add-on that can be used when a problem has been hashed over several times. It changes the focal point of the conversation from the problem itself to responses to it. Constructive journalism can take on from where investigative reporting left off. The two are inherently complementary.
Yes. In fact, constructive journalism attempts to be more objective than traditional journalism. We find that traditional news reporting is often biased on the side of the negativity and cynicism, forgetting to contextualise it with relevant facts and research. This over-representation of the negative has resulted in people grossly over-estimating the negative and under-estimating whatever progress has been made. To quote investigative journalist, Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post Watergate team: “Journalism is the best obtainable version of the truth”. The aim of constructive journalism is to provide its audiences with the best obtainable version of the truth, whether positive or negative.
No. We believe that journalists should never buy into a certain political ideology, call citizens to action, or advocate one solution over another. Constructive journalism is not political activism. It believes in keeping a distance between journalism and politics.
The main difference between constructive journalism and other types of reporting is that its overall aim is not to call citizens to action or take a stance on political views. It is an approach that aims to bring balance back to reporting and steer journalism away from excessive sensationalism, negativity and focus on problems. It also seeks to facilitate public debate around possible solutions to important problems.
Yes, constructive journalism adheres to core principles of ethical journalism – independence, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality and accountability. Therefore, constructive journalism will never promote or elevate a specific individual or organisation, regardless of their standing. Constructive journalism remains critical and impartial, even when reporting on solutions.
Yes. In many ways, constructive journalism takes reporting back to its core values where it is balanced, fair, and non-sensational. Where it differs from traditional news reporting is that it doesn’t only cover problems, but also possible solutions to important issues facing society.