8-9 December 2016
Brussels Institute for Journalism Studies (BIJU)
Department of Applied Linguistics
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Belgium
Deadline for proposals: 30 June 2016
Cathrine Gyldensted (Windesheimhogeschool Zwolle, The Netherlands)
Peter Bull (University of York, UK)
This conference aims at bringing together researchers from different backgrounds investigating construction in journalism. We define construction in a twofold way. On the one hand, there is the perspective of journalism as an interpretive and discursive construction of social reality which goes back to postmodern and poststructuralist approaches. In this view, news is the product of linguistic and journalistic choices with possible ideological implications. A recent interpretation of this approach focuses on the deconstruction of the idea of the journalist as an ‘objective’ gatekeeper by pointing out new and hybrid roles like that of storyteller, activist or opinion leader. Likewise, the discursive construction of ‘reality’ has evolved along with the development of grassroots and participatory types of journalism afforded by new media technologies. Contemporary analyses have responded to, and moved beyond postmodern and poststructuralist thinking by initiating a ‘both/neither’ dialogue between notions of deconstruction and reconstruction.
On the other hand, there is the perspective of journalism as a constructive activity. Whereas journalistic practice traditionally was defined as impartial and detached, many practitioners and scholars nowadays adhere to the vision that journalists should not only point out problems, but should also play an active role in proposing solutions. Also, in the constructive view, journalists should not ruminate the negative aspects of the news, but they should try to bring untold and affirmative stories. Constructive journalism draws on insights from positive psychology and reception studies and purports to frame news by involving and connecting audiences. Inclusion is an important topic within this perspective, not only as covered in political news but also in all other beats (sports, culture, lifestyle, etc.). Constructive journalism can be related to other approaches of journalism, such as slow journalism, hyperlocal, activist, citizen and peace journalism.
We want to encourage participants to engage in a critical discussion of constructed and/or constructive forms of journalism and to also consider possible overlap and tensions or interactions between both forms. Is constructiveness a construction just like objectivity, adversarialness, neutrality or neutralism? Does construction sometimes occur with constructive purposes? What are the boundaries between constructive journalism and biased forms of communication or even activism? The role of social media and alternative media in this process will be a special point of interest. Continue reading