TANJA AITAMURTO & ANITA VARMA
The Constructive Role of Journalism
Contentious metadiscourse on constructive journalism and solutions journalism
This paper examines the normative role of constructive journalism—also called “solutions journalism”—by analyzing metajournalistic discourse about solutions-focused journalism. The findings show that constructive and solutions journalism are defined similarly: they profess traditional Anglo-Saxon journalistic norms and practices, even as they shift focus from problems to solutions. The metajournalistic discourse indicates a tension over the normative roles of journalism. Constructive journalism justifies its existence by the intensified need to solve vexing social issues. At the same time, proponents of constructive journalism regularly distance themselves from advocating for social good and claim to objectively cover solutions without endorsing them. This strategic rhetoric signals an attempt to draw a sharp line between constructive journalism and advocacy, and to situate constructive journalism within the boundaries of a traditional monitorial role of journalism. Metadiscourse about constructive journalism reveals reluctance to acknowledge and articulate its normative constructive role that seeks to help society.