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.
SO HOW DOES IT WORK?
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.
Public Service is:
Editor Tine Rud,
Journalist Anna Hjortdal,
Host Jesper Borup
Editorial manager Morten Rønnelund