The 5 minute Guide to doing #Cojo 

  Panel Discussion: "Digging Deeper", Constructive Journalism Conference, Windesheim, Netherlands, December 2016.

Panel Discussion: "Digging Deeper", Constructive Journalism Conference, Windesheim, Netherlands, December 2016.

 

So, what is this Constructive Journalism I have been hearing?

Constructive Journalism is the name for a worldwide conversation among news consumers and journalists on what the news should be like, when it also covers solutions and progress, asks constructive questions to power, seeks to co-create and engage with citizens - and add more nuances. All in an effort to portray the world more accurately. 

As happens in an emerging conversations there are several definitions floating around. There are even different names to use aspect of the same thing, like Solutions Journalism, for example. 

Constructive Journalism is larger umbrella domain covering more than solely the solutions focus. It also seeks to: 

  1. expand journalistic interviewing
  2. investigate common ground, progress, resilience, learning and resources
  3. use data to create a larger overview: Are we looking at progress or setback?
  4. eliminate polarizing, simplistic news coverage by adding more nuances and complexity
  5. facilitate a future-oriented, constructive conversation
  6. strengthen co-creation with readers, viewers and listeners 

Our colleagues at Windesheim University of Applied Science has developed a concise Dutch model of how they teach Constructive Journalism principles. It´s called the HOUVAST - model, and share aim and goal with the principles outlined above, but with an easy to remember acronym which translates to "GRIP". If you are curious about the HOUVAST model, read more here. 

If you want to dive into the historical foundations of constructive journalism and its pioneers, we recommend these resources: 

If you are looking for the academic definition, it exists. Coined in 2017 by Cathrine Gyldensted and Karen McIntyre: 

“We propose to expand the boundaries of the news process by introducing and defining the interdisciplinary concept of constructive journalism — an emerging form of journalism that involves applying positive psychology techniques to news processes and production in an effort to create productive and engaging coverage, while holding true to journalism’s core functions.” 
— McIntyre, Karen, and Cathrine Gyldensted. "Constructive journalism: An introduction and practical guide for applying positive psychology techniques to news production." The Journal of Media Innovations 4.2 (2017): 20-34.

Here are some working definitions offered by trusted practitioners in constructive journalism: 

 

So, it’s basically good news about the world. Or?

No. It´s a more comprehensive coverage of the world, adding missing pieces to conventional journalism. It´s a method securing coverage of societal progress, rigorous solutions and interviewing allowing less stereotyping and polarization. It´s not fluff or uncritical reporting - and holds true to journalism’s core functions being critical, investigative and factual. 

Examples of Constructive Journalism: 

De Correspondent, "Kunnen We Praten", NL

De Correspondent, "In vijf stappen naar de Dienst Toekomst & Vertrouwen", NL

The Guardian, "Keep It In the Ground", UK

The Guardian, The Upside, UK 

New York Times, "I Voted Clinton, You Voted Trump. Let´s Talk", USA

Perspective Daily, DE

YLE, "Better Nursing Homes", FI

Erika Bjergstrom, "Det Nya Afrika" (The New Africa), SE

Swedens Radio, "Tio Miljoner", SE

Danish Broadcasting, "Public Service", DK

Orthos Logos, GR

We are currently working on an interactive map, showcasing Constructive Journalism Networks members, who they are - and the work they do. If you want to keep updated on news from the network, check back regularly, or follow our hashtags

#constructivejournalism

#cojo

#constructivenews

 

But how do you know audiences actually like something like this?

A growing body of research is pointing to the finding, that constructive journalistic coverage engages audiences more. For the most exhaustive list of current research, please check the resources compiled by Kyser Lough, University of Texas/Austin, USA.

 

And who should I look to for who’s doing #CoJo well?

We recommend you check out the list of examples above, all quality examples of different dimensions within constructive journalism. 

 

Where can I learn more?

First of all, read this book. Its free on Issuu: 

"From Mirrors to Movers. Five Elements of Constructive Journalism" - 

There are also other great resources available

If you want to get in contact with the founders of Constructive Journalism Network, you can reach us here. 

 

Can I study #CoJo somewhere?

Yes, there is a growing number of J-Schools, Continued Education for Journalists and Institutes who offer a semester in constructive journalism, masterclasses or fellowships. Our most comprehensive list is this one.