Our Fifth Cojo Newsletter is out: "Leaving the CoJo Cult Behind"

Dear friends in the worldwide CoJo Community,

This week I - CoJo teacher and practitioner Karel Smouter, writer-in-charge for this issue of the newsletter - got approached by a student:
‘Hey, I know you. You are part of the CoJo Cult!’

He was only half joking. As it turns out, many students and fellow journalists look at our work promoting future-, solutions- and perspective-oriented journalism with suspicion.

Let me be clear: this student shows an attitude I welcome and encourage. Skepticism is a journalistic virtue and I expect students to look critically at what the generations before them hold to be true about what will soon be their profession too.

But this student’s remark does not stand on its own.

First of all: the attempts of many of you to promote Constructive Journalism in the past 7 to 8 years have been hugely successful.

CoJo travelled from the margins to the centre of the conversation on the future of journalism by shifting the focus from chasing one technological innovation to another to the conversations that really matter. Like what are journalists for?

CoJo has been embraced and explored by classrooms and newsrooms around the globe, as the CoJo 
map clearly shows. 

…Continue to read the newsletter in full, here:




Our AMBITION: To make a change in the daily news agenda by giving in depth room for more constructive stories.
Basically constructive journalism as a journalistic discipline is by now established in Denmark.
But it needs to be grounded more in the daily news flow.
Normally in the newsroom constructive journalism is a discipline that you can exercise as one out of many, and it is not a priority. But with Public Service, for the first time, we have a daily radio show that everyday exercises constructive journalism nationwide as its main focus and main priority.

What is constructive journalism?
To keep it very short – in our understanding it’s:
One or more constructive follow-ups on a well-described concrete problem.
Plus: To enable citizens to engage in concrete solutions to problems.  

Every show we have three stories, that we describe as thoroughly as possible, preferably with the reporter, who’ve made the story, contributing in a Q&A.
Our main source is stories from the nine regional stations of DR around Denmark. We focus on stories that are about concrete problems close to people's everyday life and which you can identify yourself with all over Denmark.  
We have a panel of solution-oriented conversation starters. Their task is to develop ideas and solutions - and show the listeners that we are talking about problems in a different way than they are used to in the media.
Our listeners then engage in the solving of the problems we describe with ideas and initiatives.

The importance of progression
We hold on to the stories, ideally until the problems they are about have been solved. We keep track of our stories and follow up the ideas and solutions suggested in the program and follow the stories as they develop.


The listeners responded positively much quicker and they’re generally participating much more than we expected. They understand the purpose of the show completely. And quite quickly they learn the difference between this program and other more debate-like shows. Even though we haven’t asked for it listeners are now beginning to propose subjects and angles we should focus on.

Our follow-ups has already lead to initiatives.
For example: Company owners buying defibrillators to serve the local community.
Retired doctors offering their help to examine the elderly in remote areas with lack of doctors.
A story about a local group from in the outskirts of one part of the country, where there is no public transport that got their own shared van and take turns on driving it inspired a listener from another remote part of the country to also campaign for a bus in his community.
Volunteers that arrange town festivals and marketplaces all over Denmark spend a huge amount of time on bureaucracy to grant permissions for different things such as food, secure tents, playgrounds, music, secure stages and son on. After our focus different parties are now working on solving the problem by developing easier ways to grant permissions.   

The concept is unmistakably clear. We do constructive journalism, nothing else.
The focus of everything we do is to let journalism contribute to solve problems in the community.
This is why we ask for ideas and propositions from the listeners. Not opinions.
This is the focus of our follow-ups and the main task for our panel. And this is our guideline when we choose which stories to run.  

A new Community of Participatory democracy

Public Service is a community where ideas for solutions are shared between panelists, our listeners, experts and politicians – and from one part of the country to another. A good example of this was when we broadcast a story about a local group from Jungshoved in Zealand, where there is no public transport. They got their own shared van and take turns on driving it. This inspired a listener from Djursland in Jutland to also campaign for a bus in his community.
In Public Service we try to report on democracy as a participatory democracy (how can citizens, communities, society be involved in solving this problem) instead of a competitive democracy (which party has the best solution). We believe the best solutions are found when the people are in power and help develop solutions. In Public Service we give a voice to our listeners, who can phone, email og text in. We invite them to participate not just with their stories or opinions, but their dreams, ideas, proposals and solutions as well.

/Jesper Borup

Public Service is:  
Editor Tine Rud,
Journalist Anna Hjortdal,
Host Jesper Borup
Editorial manager Morten Rønnelund

Norwegian Book on Constructive Journalism underway

Vigdis Holmaas, Editorial Director from Norway's National TV and Radio, NRK was visiting Copenhagen, Denmark today. Vigdis Holmaas is currently authoring the first book on constructive journalism for the Norwegian market. In Copenhagen she interviewed Cathrine Gyldensted and Jesper Borup, who is the anchor and active force behind the successful constructive journalistic format "Public Service" every weekday between 10.00  - 11.00 on Denmarks National Radio Channel, P1. We look forward to your book, Vigdis. Please share news about it  - and the #cojo discussion with us! 


The Danish Journalism Trade Magazine for professional journalists, JOURNALISTEN, have assigned Cathrine Gyldensted to write about constructive journalism developments, as seen from her work in the Netherlands since 2015. Follow the blog here.  

Examples of recent topics:  

  1. Political coverage and depolarization principles
  2. How to facilitate visionary debates
  3. What is Constructive Journalism, exactly?
  4. Why Constructive Journalism attracts younger audiences. 



Constructive Institute in Aarhus, Denmark has selected their new batch of constructive journalistic fellows. Everyone picked are professional reporters or editors, who have an interest in educating themselves on constructive journalistic methods - and work on a project of their choosing. More on the fellows and the fellowship below:

(IN DANISH. We suggest using Google Translate): 

2018 / 2019 Fellows: https://journalisten.dk/8-journalister-udvalgt-til-luksus-efteruddannelse

About: https://constructiveinstitute.org/Fellowship-program/About-the-Fellowship-Program


Many of you have asked, - what are the hashtags currently used in the constructive journalism community? We have spotted three:




So, make sure you check them all if you want to keep updated on posts from your colleagues in the CoJo community.

#solutionsjournalism and #thewholestory are the hashtags used by our colleagues in Solutions Journalism Network