Stephanie West Allen sent me a link to a wikipedia page the other day to alert me to a new “thing” called “Constructive Journalism.” At the top of the wiki page, it read, “This article has multiple issues.” That was an understatement.
This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay that states the Wikipedia editor’s particular feelings about a topic, rather than the opinions of experts.
Why? Because it was front loaded with malarky.
Constructive Journalism is an emerging domain within journalism that is slowly getting grounded within academia and involves the field of communication that is based around reporting positive and solution-focused news, instead of revolving around negative and conflict-based stories. It aims to avoid a negativity bias and incorporates findings from positive psychology research to produce novel frameworks for journalism.
Therefore, instead of solely reporting on conflicts and problems, constructive journalism aims to gain a more comprehensive portrayal of the issues at hand. It aims to expose core causes of problems but also to report on emerging ideas and developments to shift society towards more impartial and sustainable paths. Constructive journalism aims express how change is possible and highlights the role each member of society may play to foster it. Additionally, it strives to strengthen the ethics code of journalism by avoiding the distortion of information in order to provide a more real portrayal of the world. Constructive Journalism attempts to create an engaging narrative that is factually correct without exaggerating numbers or realities.
Or, to put it in TL;dr terms, “constructive journalism” wants to spin information to manipulate readers into believing it’s substantively legitimate while promoting an agenda. It’s part Happysphere, part bullshit, all rationalization for lying while calling it truth.
And, of course, there’s a group propounding the new wave of journalism, where Eurasia has always been at war with Eastasia. It’s led by these folks.
SEÁN DAGAN WOOD Co-Founder, Constructive Journalism Project
Seán Dagan Wood is a media innovator with a passion for personal and social transformation. As the editor-in-chief of Positive News and co-founder of the Constructive Journalism Project, his vision is for a media that informs, inspires and empowers.
DANIELLE BATIST Co-Founder, Constructive Journalism Project
Danielle Batist is a journalist who writes about social change and highlights solutions. She witnessed the birth of the nation of South Sudan and interviewed the Dalai Lama. As co-founder of the Constructive Journalism Project, she aims to redress the current news balance by bringing more positive elements into conventional reporting. She is also the founder of Journopreneur, a training platform to help freelancers adapt to the changing media landscape.
Media innovator with a passion for personal and social transformation? Seems legit. Especially Sean, with the cool diacritical acute mark over the “a” which is certainly not an affectation. But what is it they’re selling, exactly?
WHAT IS CONSTRUCTIVE JOURNALISM?
We define constructive journalism as rigorous, compelling reporting that includes positive and solution-focused elements in order to empower audiences and present a fuller picture of truth, while upholding journalism’s core functions and ethics.
A “fuller picture of truth”? Well that’s certainly a wonderful thing, because who doesn’t want a fuller picture of truth? But how do we know your “truth” is the real “truth”? They are kind enough to explain.
WHAT IS IT NOT?
• Fluff / ‘Good news’
• Advocacy journalism
• Government influenced ‘development journalism’
It’s not the Happysphere. It’s not agenda drive advocacy. It’s not government propaganda. How do we know? They say so. Are you not paying attention? So it’s the real truth and not lies at all, because that’s what they say it is.
Putting aside the [ableist slur] of claiming to be the voice of “truth,” there might seem to be an upside to the notion as its “characteristics” would have journalists end their negativity.
Focuses on a wellbeing model of the world rather than a disease model – for example, seeing people as having strengths, not just as victims.
Isn’t that great, the idea of ending this culture of victimhood? Except that’s not really what they’re saying. It’s “not just as victims,” not about people not being victims. It would appear that this is the next step in victimhood culture, turning victims into heroes because they’re victims. So much more constructive. How cool is that?
Then again, there remains the problem of there not always being a solution to all problems, and there is almost invariably no solution that doesn’t have unintended consequences. But these are the issues raised in commentary, advocacy, editorialization of news. And yet, constructive journalism claims it’s none of these things. It’s truth!
And if you wrap your passionate truth up as if it was actually journalism, doesn’t that make it so? It’s not like we’re awash in dim-witted advocates spewing nonsense to manipulate the thinking challenged to believe in stupid ideas now. But at least they don’t pretend it’s part of some movement to claim it’s legitimate journalism that speaks truth to haters.
They just don’t call it “constructive journalism.” Yet. But it’s catching on in academia, so don’t be surprised when “scholars” and “experts” teach it to your children and inform you of their absolutely true feelings, which will definitely be the truth because they say so.
But then, the only change here is that they are trying to lie their way into transforming editorial commentary into truthful journalism to test how gullible we are. It’s nothing new, but when academics who are passionate for social change have a name to attach, anticipate that it will become a “thing.” I just thought you should know.