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The express guide to constructive journalism

the Constructive Journalism Network

by Giselle Green, head of Constructive Voices

What is constructive journalism?

Constructive journalism is rigorous reporting about responses to problems focusing on how those problems might be solved. Rather than merely investigating what's going wrong, constructive journalism explores what's going right too, offering a fuller picture of our world. Journalists look for evidence of why responses are working – and also not working. This approach aims to spark constructive dialogue and collaboration, it is forward-looking and shows change is possible. Constructive journalism isn't about ignoring negative news or covering fluffy, feel-good stories. On the contrary, it covers stories with importance to society.

Why do we need it?

  • Evidence shows that the public are turned off by negative news and increasingly avoiding it.The 2019 Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism revealed nearly a third of people globally say they actively avoid the news, up 3% in two years. The main reason people give for avoiding the news is that it has a negative effect on their mood (58%). They also cite feeling powerless to change events.
  • Studies on the impact of news on ur mental health ave shown negative views leaves people feeling disengaged, demotivated and depressed and can leave audiences with a skewed view of the world.
  • Other studies have indicated that audiences feel better informed, more optimistic and more empowered after reading solutions stories, and are far more likely to share stories that stir positive feelings.
  • A survey by the BBC World Service showed that young people are particularly keen on solutions-focused news.
  • One study has even claimed that readers are more likely to purchase a product if its ad is juxtaposed with a positive news story than a negative one.
  • Advocates also argue that constructive journalism presents a more accurate reflection of the world by telling the whole story, that it can increase trust in journalism because people see themselves more honestly reflected in the news, and that it makes it more likely that people will get involved in responses to problems. They also say it increases accountability of those in power and has more impact in bringing about change.

Who’s doing it?

A growing number of major news organisations across the world practise constructive journalism, including the BBC, Guardian, New York TimesEconomist and Time magazine guest edited by Bill Gates. Many other US and European media such as the Seattle Times, Boston Globe, TV2 and DR News in Denmark, SVT in Sweden and Tages-Anzeiger in Switzerland, do so too as does the international Christian Science Monitor. Among online media, the Huffington Post led the way inspired by its founder Arianna Huffington and was followed by outlets such as UpworthyATTNde Correspondent and Spiegel Online.

The first publication dedicated to constructive journalism was Positive News. It’s been joined by, amongst others, Spark NewsPerspective Daily, Inkline, South Africa: The Good News, Reporters d’EspoirsYes! and Noticias Positivas and Orthos Logos.

Some of the main players driving constructive/solutions journalism are:

Academics/researchers interested in constructive journalism include:

Constructive or solutions journalism, positive or transformative – what’s in a name?

Constructive journalism is an umbrella term for journalism that takes a solution-focused approach rather than the traditional negative approach and empowers audiences to respond constructively.

This could be range from: full-fat solutions journalism, which explores one or more solutions to a problem in an in-depth way; incorporating constructive elements into a report; or solutions-lite stories that look at a particular solution less exhaustively. Solutions-focused journalism is the term used by the BBC.

Positive journalism is not the same as constructive journalism. It is less serious or rigorous and often tells stories of heroes and individual events which don’t have high significance to society – but that’s not to say these stories don’t have a useful role. Transformative journalism provides actionable solutions to the issues covered.


There’s a wealth of videos and articles behind the clickable links included in this guide, but we would like to highlight the following resources:


More about Constructive Voices

Constructive Voices is a media project launched in 2016 by NCVO to encourage more constructive stories in the media, primarily but not exclusively about charities and social enterprises.

Constructive Voices:

  • champions constructive journalism amongst editors, journalists and journalism students
  • collects, and shares with journalists, contacts and case studies of how charities, social enterprises and innovating organisations are tackling problems and coming up with solutions
  • acts as a hub for journalists interested in constructive journalism and in finding constructive case studies
  • tweets @ConstructiveVox.

Former BBC and ITN news reader Sir Martyn Lewis started the ball rolling on challenging the negative bias of news back in the 1990s while anchoring the BBC’s main evening news. He renewed those calls in 2012 and 2015 when chairman of NCVO and was instrumental in the creation of Constructive Voices. The project was developed, and is now run, by former BBC journalist Giselle Green.

For more information about constructive journalism or Constructive Voices, get in touch with Giselle Green - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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