Constructive Journalism: Solutions-oriented in times of crisis | Europe/Central Asia | DW | 17.04.2023
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Europe/Central Asia

Constructive Journalism: Solutions-oriented in times of crisis

For media workers in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Ukraine, DW Akademie organized a study trip to German newsrooms. One topic: the role of constructive journalism in a polarized society.

Negative headlines, news of catastrophe, reports of human suffering: even before Russia invaded Ukraine, people have been turning away from conventional journalism. They feel overwhelmed and powerless amid a flood of negative news.  

Media organizations around the world are increasingly in search of new storytelling models that convey solutions. The goal is to go beyond the blaring and negative headlines and to present reliable, factual and solutions-oriented news. The constructive approach puts the public on focus, presents diverse perspectives and shows realistic options that can help and advance society. 

But how does this work in practice? What topics lend themselves to the constructive approach? And what roles does constructive journalism play in society, particularly in light of war and intense crises? 

Thirteen participants in the “Constructive Journalism” study trip recently considered these questions while touring prestigious German news organizations. One highlight was an exchange with Ellen Heinrichs of the Bonn Institute, which has as its goal to help new organizations bring constructive journalism into its reportage. The group also visited the offices of Zeit Online, Perspective Daily and Correctiv, as well as discussed with editors at RTL, Room of Solutions and Deutsche Welle in Bonn and Berlin. 

Four participants report on the significance and the future of constructive journalism in their own countries and regions.  


Viktor Pichuhin, Nakipelo, Ukraine 

I’m a journalist and research and development director at the regional media outlet Nakipelo in Ukraine. 

As my editor-in-chief says, opportunities for constructive journalism are lying in and walking in the streets. Whenever you see a problem, something that makes you angry, a hole in the road, a leaking pipe, you can always make an article or video about what people or the government or local authorities can do to solve it. 

So, there is an endless amount of topics to cover here in Ukraine, but talking about main things, I would say it is rebuilding and reconstructing Ukrainian cities that were heavily shelled by Russian rockets. There are also the problems of mental health among Ukrainians, many of whom are traumatized, and it's getting worse and worse as the war continues. 

Also environmental problems, starting with air pollution and ending with many mines in our grain fields. We need to understand how to take these mines out so that our farmers can work there safely. Probably there are some not so obvious topics like corruption in times of war, but a lot of people are really concerned about this. 

The audiences and target groups can be very different, it depends on the topic. It’s an obvious thing to write an article on how Western countries could help us rebuild our cities, a Marshall plan etc, but the other part is to show people here what they can do themselves. 

We have very good stories, like people in big condos which were shelled, and they asked the city authorities to rebuild them. They refused, as the war is still going on. So, people themselves gathered and started rebuilding houses. When the city council became aware of this, they helped too. There are a bunch of such stories where we can show people that they don’t need to wait for help, but they can do it themselves. It’s hard, but possible.  

We also debunk some myths. A lot of Ukrainian people, when they hear the buzz sound of drones, they go and get their rifles and go outside to shoot the drones. We spoke to the military, and they said don’t do it, it’s actually dangerous to other civilians. We also explained what people can do themselves. There are a bunch of apps where, when they hear or see a drone, they can record the sound and send it to the military and they track it. This is quite useful. We gathered all of this information, and people responded in the commentary sections, asked questions and then asked experts and shared the answers and it was a big success. 

To be honest, I think that journalists themselves are often the biggest obstacles to constructive journalism. Since the beginning of the war, unfortunately, journalists are being used to bring "fast food news" to the audience. Something is on fire, there is a rocket shelling, we have 100,000 million views and move on to the next headline. There is a lot of fear spread by the media.  

Unfortunately, from what I see with a lot of colleagues, they are not going to stop and be constructive because they don’t see value in it, as long as they get views and money.  

What does constructive journalism mean to you (in three words)? 

Nerve (because the journalists have to hit a nerve), reach (successful stories create a lot of reach), Failure (because you can learn from it). 


Anghelina Chirciu,Nokta, Republic of Moldova 

I work for Nokta, a small media house in Gagauzia, an autonomous region in the Republic of Moldova. And a big part of our population supports Putin and Russian aggression. Our local government tries to justify Putins aggression, and they don’t have any strong opposition. We work in opposition to this government and it's very difficult. 

We had a training last autumn in Moldova with DW Akademie and had the possibility to produce constructive stories. I wrote about homeless animals in Moldova and we searched for solutions. It was really interesting because we have animal protectors, activists, and they really know how we can resolve this problem. For our government, it’s not a priority. But the activists have solutions. That was my first time doing constructive stories. 

Constructive journalism is becoming more important in Moldova. People read our site because they are really tired and they don’t want to read just negative news. So, my text about animals was very popular, people commented and shared it. We see in our comments that people need something that gives them hope. 

In today’s workshop, we were told to look at existing problems in Moldova and we found a lot, for example, ecological ones. Moldova has problems with waste, recycling, and so many problems can be addressed in a constructive way. 

In Moldova, we’re only starting with constructive journalism, and so far, there is only one mass medium that uses this approach. But the biggest part of the mass media do not. This is why we need more trainings, explanations, and talks with journalists (who have experience in constructive journalism.) 

I used to think that investigative journalism was my preferred method, working with documents, and trying to find something there. But when I received training in constructive journalism, I found out I like it more. It gives hope, inspiration, and it is what our people need right now. We have a lot of crises, problems connected with the war, refugees, and high prices. These stories can help people to protect their mental health. To understand and feel that hope is there, that everything can be, not normal, but that we can live and try and be happy at least. 

What does constructive journalism mean to you (in three words)? 

Depth (digging and understanding), hope, perspective. 


Aziza Berdibaeva,, Kyrgyzstan 

I work as editor-in-chief for, which is one of the country’s local specific media and our niche is economics and business mostly. We are considered a young medium, as this year will be our fifth anniversary.  

First we were mainly focused on economics but now we are also about companies, banking, we are supporting women in business and financial education. We are trying to explain public finance and economics as simply as possible, because in our country, people are not interested as much in economics. We are trying to show how economics is connected to regular life.  

This trip and training are my first experiences with constructive journalism. But I realize now that we’ve occasionally used constructive journalism methods, such as when we explained why loans are not as good as you think or when we’ve talked about green economics. Now, after the trainings, I am much more aware of how constructive journalism works.  

In Kyrgyzstan, there are more and more people who read And one of the reasons is that they say they are fed up with sad news, negative news, criticism and gossip. But we, and specifically the founder of our company, decided to only focus on the field of economics, not politics. 

Our target group is small but specialized, like top management, government workers, businessmen, etc. My job is to widen the audience, to make people learn more about finance, economics, offer some solutions and inform them.  

In our society, there is no real middle class, there are either rich and educated or poor and less educated people. I think this is the reason why we have to understand constructive journalism better and find ways to address everyone.  

One insight I had during this training is that as constructive journalists, we have to become better experts in order to be able to prove if the solutions we present are really good and sustainable, or whether there are dark sides to them as well.  

What does constructive journalism mean to you (in three words)? 

Positivity, solutions, future. 


Nino Orjonikidze, Chaikhana, Georgia 

I work as a commissioning editor for documentaries and video content for the media platform Chaikhana, which covers the South Caucasus, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. 

We were trained by DW Akademie in constructive journalism earlier this year and we now have a project to implement constructive journalism methods. We do films, articles, photo collages, and we try to be constructive. Yet I think it's quite difficult at the moment to be constructive because Georgian media, especially TV, is very polarized. One side is pro-government and the other pro-opposition and there is no space for dialogue, really. It’s a little bit better with online media platforms because there is more space for dialogue and different perspectives. But even our society in general is very polarized. And as we are constantly in this breaking news mode, it is very difficult to work long-term and sustainably and to find solutions.  

In my opinion, there are no topics that are specifically suitable for constructive journalism. But it is rather a holistic approach to journalism, it is balanced, in-depth journalism rather than sensational and concentrated on negativity.  

Unfortunately, in my country, constructive journalism is often interpreted as activism where journalists themselves try and solve an issue e.g. by fundraising or reporting positively for one side. But in my opinion, it is not that. Constructive journalism means trying to see the whole picture, while being solutions-oriented, trying to find sources, work with sources, have a better understanding of what solutions can be. I really like this concept of a flipping mechanism, where you don’t depict a victim as a victim but give a voice to the experience. 

There is not much space in Georgia for constructive journalism yet because you can easily be labeled as a pro-governmental person. Whereas, in fact, we want the opposite, to cover topics without bias, without this predisposed attitude, and ask what can be next, rather than making sensational headlines. I like the idea of developing stories at a grassroots level, to include communities, provide the space for dialogue, and to give them access to editorial processes, because this is where solutions can be found. 

It's difficult but more possible with the new generation of media. I think the new generation is much smarter, they have access and are more flexible in finding information, while the older generation is more rigid and attached to traditional media. We saw this during recent events when new generations, teenagers went into the streets to protest against the proposed law which wanted to label all media that get more than 20% funding from foreign funds as "foreign agents". This showed that younger generations are very well-informed and quite vocal.  

However, I still think that we must find a way to address all parties involved with constructive journalism, young and old.  

What does constructive journalism mean to you (in three words)? 

Unbiased, inclusive, different perspectives.