Windesheim’s School of Journalism in the Netherlands is the first international School of Journalism in the world to integrate Constructive Journalism into its curriculum, research and international partnerships.
As part of this initiative, Cathrine Gyldensted, a leading Danish journalist and originator of this new form of journalism, has accepted the position of Director of Constructive Journalism at Windesheim.
The appointment of Gyldensted is in line with the degree programme’s explicit choice to make constructive, problem-solving journalism one of Windesheim’s top priorities. Gyldensted´s focus will be threefold: education, research and international cooperation.
Gyldensted will be integrating constructive journalism elements and techniques into the existing curriculum and develop an international Constructive Journalism minor. Secondly, Gyldensted will organize training courses for newsrooms and initiate interdisciplinary research with researchers at Windesheim and external partners. Thirdly, Gyldensted will establish partnerships around constructive journalism with interested schools of Journalism, universities and media organizations worldwide.
“I’ve taught constructive journalism to newsrooms and journalism students all over the world, but nowhere is this subject taken as seriously as at Windesheim”, says Gyldensted. “I’m really looking forward to taking it to the next level in cooperation with my colleagues at Windesheim. I believe Journalism needs to portray the world more accurately, innovate how news is covered, be more trustworthy and engage more powerfully with the audiences we serve.”
Bas Mesters, Director of Windesheim’s School of Journalism, points out: “We’re very proud that Gyldensted, who also received offers from the US, UK and Scandinavia, has chosen Windesheim. She is an internationally renowned expert in constructive journalism and brings superior value to our curriculum and to the research conducted here.”
Journalism’s legitimacy crisis
According to Bas Mesters, journalism should not be focused only on developing business models and technological platforms, but also on adjusting the journalistic attitude: “Journalism is facing a legitimacy crisis. Research shows that public confidence in our profession is low. I believe this will change if journalism alters its habitual focus on solely covering problems and conflicts. This means expanding its coverage to facilitate a future-oriented debate and embrace solution-focused coverage. We are just adding missing elements to journalism in order to strengthen its accuracy, its engagement with citizens and its legitimacy. We’ve already received requests from numerous media organizations that want to incorporate constructive elements to their journalism.”
Still the Watchdog
Cathrine Gyldensted emphasizes that this work respect the watchdog function of journalism, it´s just reinvented: “Smart politicians and their spin doctors get away with prefabricated answers and throwing mud at their opponents, and journalism uncritically tends to let this happen because we think of it as a good conflict, i.e. a good story. However, if we investigate more critically how these decision-makers solve issues like the refugee crisis, radicalization or climate change, it will be much more demanding for them. Moreover, the public feels disconnected and frustrated if we only expose one abuse after another, without offering any way out of the problems in today’s world. When we ad constructive elements to journalism, we portray the world more accurately and have the potential to generate news. Both important core values in journalism.”
Windesheim School of Journalism
Windesheim School of Journalism has 700 students. The research centre currently focuses on how journalism can best contribute to the quality of democratic society. Focus areas besides constructive journalism include the Youth Monitor (news preferences and participation of the digital generation), the Journalism Culture Monitor (changing values, beliefs and objectives of professionals) and the Community Monitor (changing public quality of local/regional coverage. Windesheim University of Applied Sciences has 20,300 students and is ranked as one of the best universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands.
Cathrine Gyldensted is the originator of the concept of applying behavioural sciences to innovate journalism. She has pioneered constructive journalism methodologies since 2011 and works with media companies and journalism schools globally. She previously worked for 15 years as an investigative reporter and foreign news correspondent and holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, US.
She recently published the book From Mirrors to Movers. Five Elements of Positive Psychology in Constructive Journalism.
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