Constructive Journalism

Context

The last two decades have witnessed a decrease in the audience of the traditional media and journalism. With the upcome of social media, citizens obtained access to alternative flows of news and information – and in addition, the possibility of becoming not only receivers, but also contributors to it. Furthermore, social media platforms provide the possibility of direct dialogue with sources and news providers. Thus stories become evolving – they get their own life and develop without the necessity of contributions from journalists.

New tasks for journalists

One side of this development is the disappearance of the quality control provided by the professional journalists and the editorial rooms. Citizens are bombarded with news, information, facts – often being at a loss when it comes to distinguishing genuine news and information from false. Traditional media face the challenge of becoming part of these new platforms and the flow of information, news and unfolding of stories which can be found there. As professional providers of news and information, journalists can and must contribute to raising the quality of the news, information and stories on social media.

Social media have thus established themselves as an important platform for citizens seeking and exchanging information, news, likemindeds, opinions and discourse. The exchanges on social media often have their origin in and relate to problems in the communities people identify themselves with. Also, the exchanges may evolve into communities of interested/concerned citizens on social media. Social media enables and enhances dialogue as a modality of citizens engagement in the public sphere.

Constructive Journalism (CoJo) is an emerging and growing trend in journalism – based on traditional critical and investigative journalism – engaging citizens in finding solutions to problems in society. To unfold these potentials, it must engage on social media as journalism does in general. Dialogue as a key modality of social media thus calls for developing Dialogue-Based Journalism to enhance both the connection between journalists and their audience and the solution oriented components in Constructive Journalism.

Needs

  1. Editorial rooms need new tools to analyse the communication on social media in order to identify where to enter the flows of information, emerging dialogues and communication communities with journalistic skills.
  2. Editors and journalists need new knowledge and understanding of the modalities of the communities on social media (Audience Development).
  3. Journalists need new knowledge and skills in order to provide quality journalism in the communication flows and communities on social media: Audience Development, Dialogue-Based Journalism, Constructive Journalism. This calls for new curricula and didactic methods in Higher Education Institutions in journalism and communication as well as in professional training for working journalists.