A lot of organisations, communities, and institutions around the world are the front runners on different aspects of this field, and the following have been sources for inspirations for our teaching. So if you want to dive deeper into some of the areas of constructive journalism, dialogue and audience engagement, these are some of the best places to go that we know of:
Where can I learn more?
Spaceship Media launched in 2016 with the mission “to reduce polarisation, build communities, and restore trust in journalism”. In co-operation with news organisations they go to the heart of conflicts in communities and try to facilitate in a journalism-supported dialogue a de-polarising conversation between people in conflict, or communities that aren’t communicating anymore. For this purpose they have developed seven steps and a tool kit for others to copy.
The Solutions Journalism Network is an American based journalistic network, that for the last nine years has been in the front seat of defining and developing the framework and methods of solution-oriented journalism. Besides collaborating with many newsrooms to do more stories on how people are trying to solve social problems, they have developed high quality and easy to use teaching material, which both journalists and journalism educators can access in the hub on the website. A brilliant go to, if you’re are looking for down to earth dos and don’ts of rigorous solution-oriented journalism.
Solutions Story Tracker is a curated database developed and hosted by The Solutions Journalism Network containing what is probably the largest collection of solution-oriented journalism from all over the world. The database claims that to this moment it has curated 13.000 stories produced by 6.000 journalists and 1.600 news outlets, from 187 countries – all examples being what the Solutions Journalism Network defines as ‘rigorous reporting on responses to social problems’. It definitely works best when looking for journalism in English, because even though it comes with the possibility to search for stories in 14 different languages, more than 12.600 of the 13.000 stories are in English.
Gather defines itself as a project+platform to support community-minded journalists and other engagement professionals. The project, launched in 2017, is led by the Agora Journalism Center at the University of Oregon. Its mission is to “make journalism more responsive to the public’s needs and more inclusive of the public’s voices and diversity, by helping journalists, educators, and students who share these values, find each other, find resources and best practices, and find support and mentorship”. The website offers resources, case studies, guides for community engagement, and access to online talks called Lightning Chats with inspiring people from the Gather community. But Gather also offers a vibrant and active Slack channel, where the real time conversations of the community happens in channels for brainstorming, job, events, tools, audience development, etc.,
Constructive Institute is an independent Center for Constructive Journalism based in Aarhus, Denmark that helps journalists and news organisations worldwide to apply constructive reporting to their daily work. They set out in 2017 with the bold ambition to change the global news culture in five years and has since tried to do so by hosting an international constructive fellowship programme. But they also keep an eye on best practices within the global movement of constructive journalism, as well as provide research, education materials, engage in projects with media outlets, and develop new journalistic concepts, such as new debate formats, to avoid polarisation.
Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York (CUNY) offers the first ever M.A. in Engagement Journalism, and has done so for the last six years. It is among others taught by the journalistic thinker Jeff Jarvis, who played a role in defining service journalism and social journalism, and up until 2020 this programme was called M.A. in Social Journalism. The programme defines engagement journalism as a way to “recast journalism as a service that helps communities meet their goals and solve problems, using a wide range of tools and skills involving listening, data, social media, crowd sourcing, and new product development”. The programme is quite open about how and what they teach, and the website offers free access to a variety of great resources, among them small webinars from inspirational journalists working in this field.
Hearken is an American company that helps newsrooms and other organisations engage their audience and community by providing technology, training and consulting. The founder, Jennifer Brandel, started Hearken in the wake of her own very successful radio programme Curious City, in Chicago, where questions from the community were the starting point of each story. Media from all over the world came to her to learn how she succeeded in getting the audience that engaged. Hearken is an archaic word meaning ‘to listen’, and today the company is a huge resource on both workflows and strategies when it comes to engaging the audience – not only after publication, but in the making of journalism.
Listening Post Collective is an American organisation that works to engage, listen to and empower communities that historically have been excluded from news and information systems – and they have developed methods and frameworks on how to do so. Their Listening Post Collective Playbook is designed to help journalists, newsroom leaders, and community groups listen to and engage with their communities, to better understand the needs and questions of those hard to reach and often overlooked. It is a step by step guide, which can also serve as inspiration for how to teach setting up ways of listing to a community both online and IRL. The guide can be accessed for free.
Krautreporter is an independent, membership-financed, digital magazine based in Germany, which specialises in collaborative journalism. They are on this list mainly because they have had success in engaging their audience through an extensive use of surveys, and documented their findings and how to-knowledge in The Engaged Journalism Playbook. It focuses on how to build members’ trust, and part of that is a step by step guide on how to engage with surveys. These a not quantitative surveys for understanding the members, but qualitative surveys collecting their knowledge, resources, questions, experiences, and interests in specific topics that the journalists wants to cover.
ProPublica is an American, nonprofit newsroom that does crowdsourced investigative journalism. They engaged their audience or more specific communities in some of their reporting by laying the cards out early in the process and asking people to get involved by asking for input, knowledge, or documentation from the people directly affected by or involved in the issues they are covering. They use questionnaires, have engagement reporters, and allow the audience to sign up to help with an investigation – but are also aware of the potential pitfalls and possible misassumptions when working this closely with the audience. So they wrote a piece on their website explaining “What Engagement Reporting Does — and Doesn’t — Mean at ProPublica” , which clearly draws the ethical line between engagement reporting and advocacy, choosing sides, and being uncritical.
On this website you can find information on developments in the world that al lot of people are not aware of. You can find videos with explanations, statistical information on world developments, questionnaires to test the accuracy of your world view and teaching materials (https://www.gapminder.org/resources/). The website is an extension of the book Factfulness by Hans Rosling.
Inside polarisation explains the dynamics behind every process of polarisation. This theory is developed by Dutch philosopher Bart Brandsma, who has been working as a consultant on dealing with polarisation for groups of policemen, journalists, companies and government organisations. The front page of the website holds a short (5 min) video explaining the dynamics of polarisation in a nutshell. In depth information can be found in the book: ‘Understanding the dynamics of us versus them’ by Bart Brandsma.
Do we click is a series of podcasts about the research that Dr. Mijke Slot is doing into the digital relations between journalists and their audience. She explains that just looking at clicks is bad advice for journalists. In the podcasts she shares results of her interviews with journalists, researchers and audience members and she explains basic concepts that are used in her research, using a lot of practical examples.
The Bonn Institute is a networking organisation which tries to facilitate exchange on solutions-oriented and dialogue-based journalism. It aims at analysing the impacts of constructive approaches and disseminating the results by publications, conferences and professional training. It was founded in 2022 by Ellen Heinrichs, a fellow of the Constructive Institute and a journalist at Deutsche Welle. The work of the Institute is also supported by the RTL Group and the newspaper “Rheinische Post”.