Orla: Constructive Journalism adds value to traditional journalism


LONG time investigative journalist who now a leading trainer at Aarhus Institute of Constructive in Denmark says constructive journalism is a new journalism concept that adds value to traditional journalism.

Orla Borg says Constructive Journalism focus on two questions “now what and to give readers the best obtainable version of the truth”.

Fellows listening to Orla’s presentation

He explains that Constructive journalism is not to replace traditional journalism.

“Journalists must still go on doing straight forward news stories that tell what has happened and how something has went wrong. They must also continuously go on doing investigative stories exposing why something has gone wrong and who holds the responsibility.

“But instead of stopping there and leaving the problems to somebody else – and go hunting for new problems – constructive journalism takes the matter one step further and ask the question, “now what?”.

“In other words, now that people know about the problem, what can we do as a society to address the problem? Has anybody got any suggestion to find a solution? If so, is there any documentation at all that the proposed solution would work?” Borg says.

“Constructive Journalism aims to play an active role in societal debate led by journalists on issues that matters to citizens,” he adds.

Fellows at one of their morning meetings

Borg highlights that Constructive Journalism strives to give nuanced picture of reality without overdoing the focus on all the things that don’t work, the conflict, the negativity and stuffs that create unnecessary fear in society.

“It balanced journalism exposing problems and wrongdoings but also reporting on progress, possibilities and hope when opportunities are there.

“It is not activism and certainly not politics. It is rigorous journalism aimed to be critical, fair, balanced and striving to be objective.

“Constructive Journalism takes the role of journalism in democracy seriously and is based on the idea that journalism is a feedback mechanism to help society self-correct,” he says.

Borg says Constructive Journalism operates under three important pillars and they are the angle, the view and the role.

“The angle focuses on exposing problems but also look for possible solution. The view is strive for the best obtainable version of the truth or see the world in both eyes. The role focuses on the role of journalists to engage and facilitate debates, including people in the communities.

“Constructive Journalism is all about tomorrow, inspiration, curious, facilitator, solutions oriented and best practices on “what now and how”, he says.

Founder and CEO of the Constructive Institute, Ulrik Haagerup shares similar sentiment saying that Constructive journalism is a response to increasing tabloidization, sensationalism and negativity bias of the news media today.

Ulrik Haagerup speaking at the symposium

He says constructive journalism takes journalism’s democratic function seriously, building on the idea that journalism is a feedback mechanism that helps society self-correct.

“Constructive journalism is balanced reporting on both good and the bad in society.

“It is not activism or advocacy and will never attempt to define the best solution to a problem

“It is an approach that aims to provide audiences with a fair, accurate and contextualized picture of the world, without overemphasizing the negative and what is going wrong.

“In other words, Constructive journalism tries to build a platform for better dialog between citizens and the media industry,” Haagerup explains.

Mr Ulrik speaking to business houses and stakeholders on the importance of Constructive Journalism

Constructive Journalism Institute provides fellowship program to interested journalists in Europe and are now expanding its reach to other parts of the world including Africa.

The fellows spend time at the institute researching potential solutions on numbers of issues.

One of the fellow, Jesper Himmelstrup says constructive journalism is a stepping stone to develop ideas that help journalists realized their purpose and role in society.

Himmelstrup made a huge achievement during Denmark’s 2022 election establishing a strategy that enable youths to interact with politician.

Himmelstrup is a veteran journalist and is teaching journalism in one of the institution in Aarhus, Denmark.

Another fellow, Kati Laukkanen says constructive journalism is a new journalism concept with absolute power to change how people looks at news.

She adds that constructive journalism helps her to pursue in-depth understanding when approaching issues.

Laukkanen is a winning documentary journalist from Finland. 

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