Training suggestions

Learning outcomes

At the end of this chapter, trainees… 

  • … can discuss the basic philosophy of constructive journalism.
  • … can differentiate between a problem-centered and a constructive approach.
  • … can describe the ideas behind the three constructive journalism pillars.
  • … can describe the four elements of a solutions story.
  • … can critically discuss the goals of constructive journalism and its potential for the trainees’ region


Face-to-face: laptop, speakers, beamer, printer / video screen (trainer), laptop, smartphones (trainees)
Online: laptops and smartphones (trainer + trainees), headsets

Materials (face-to-face)
Board/whiteboard, flipchart stand and paper, cards (if available), markers

Tools (online)
Video conference: Zoom (Back up: WhatsApp)
Visualization: Miroboard, JamBoard (Zoom offers digital whiteboards as well)
Quizzes: Slido, Mentimeter
Communication: WhatsApp, Email
Documentation, shared documents: Google Drive folder 

Training schedule

Stories that moved you
Think-pair-share / 20 minutes
Trainees remember stories they have read/watched/listened to and think of one that had a positive impact on them. Reflect on the impact of positive emotion on mental health.

Reflect on what stories remain memorable and how they affect people’s mental states. Consider how these kinds of stories can be a positive force in society.

Reflection and sharing with partner: 10 minutes
Sharing with group/discussion: 10 minutes

Trainers should think of a story which moved or inspired them to use as an example.

Think-pair-share, 20 min.
Ask trainees: “Think about a news story you really loved, one that really inspired you or was very memorable. What was it about? Why did it move you?”

After the participants reflect for about 5 minutes, they should turn to a neighbor and take turns sharing their best news stories and the reasons they liked them. Then in the whole group, the presenter will ask volunteers to share their memorable news stories with the whole group.

After a few have been shared, the trainer will ask the group

  • How do people feel now?
  • Did thinking about, sharing and hearing these kinds of news stories change how you feel?”

If attendees feel more positive emotion after the think-pair-share activity, explain that experiencing positive emotion has benefits for physical and mental health as well as overall well-being. Ask how this relates to most of the stories which dominate the news media.

Feel the difference (fundamental)
Video presentation, guided discussion / 30 minutes
Trainees are exposed to two stories about the same topic: one constructive and one not. They discuss what makes the difference and identify criteria for constructive reporting. 

Trainees understand how differently a topic can be treated when approached constructively compared to a traditional piece. They identify criteria for constructive reporting.

Presentation of 2 stories: 5-10 minutes
Guided discussion: 20-25 minutes

Search for 2 stories – a constructive one and a non constructive one – on a related topic (video, print, audio – depending on your trainees’ professional background)

Story presentation / Discussion, 30 min. 
In case you have journalists as trainees, you could for instance show them the two following stories both dealing with the challenges of reconstruction in Gaza: 

  1. (traditionel)
  2. (solutions-focused)

Show the two stories to the participants, then let them brainstorm and collect distinguishing criteria on a (digital) whiteboard or flipchart. 

  • Which story offers them more information, what kind of information?
  • What are the characteristics of the people involved in the stories? 
  • What images or quotes stick in their mind from each story?
  • How do they feel after having seen the stories?
  • What about each of the stories did they like or dislike?

What is constructive journalism / The three pillars of constructive journalism (fundamental)
Presentation and discussion / 30 min.
Trainees are introduced to the three pillars of constructive journalism as conceptualized by the Constructive Institute.

Trainees are introduced to the general concept of constructive journalism, see examples, and then go through the three pillars of DW Akademie’s constructive model. 

Presentation and discussion: 35 minutes

Trainers familiarize themselves with the presentation beforehand.

Input / Discussion, 30 min.
What is constructive journalism? / Elements and goals of constructive journalism  
Presentation: PPT Constructive concept and foundations, slides 2-19

Make it constructive!
Group work, presentation and discussion / 1 hour
Trainees analyze a traditional, problem-centered story in the media and try to find ways to take a more constructive approach to the topic.

Analysis of a traditional, problem-centered story and brainstorming about how it could be re-reported and rewritten to create a more constructive piece. Participants compare examples of constructive and traditional stories.  

Group work: 20 min.
Presentation/discussion: 25 min.

Find and print or save on a computer several examples of traditional, problem-centered stories that you think could be done more constructively. One story per group.

Group work / Brainstorming, 45 min.
Divide trainees into groups. Give each group a print-out of a traditional, problem-centered story. If online, direct them to the website where the story is. Ask each group to read the story together and brainstorm ideas on how to approach it constructively. Ask them to consider the following:

  • What different aspects would you focus on in a constructive approach? Can you bring in an approach in one of the pillars: solution, context and nuance, dialogue?
  • Are there other positive angles such as stories of resilience, cooperation, solutions-oriented responses that could be highlighted for a future follow-up story?
  • Who else should be interviewed for a constructive story?
  • What additional information would you add?

 Ask groups to pick a spokesperson to present in plenary. Discuss each group’s findings and get feedback from the other trainees.  

Presentation Input / Discussion, 15 min.
Which of these stories is constructive? Why?

 Presentation: PPT Constructive concept and foundations, slides 20-23
(If trainees need reinforcement on the CJ concepts, this presentation can be shown before the group work.)

A closer look at solutions journalism, the 4 elements (fundamental)
Video presentation and analysis/ 35 min.
Trainees get a more in-depth look at the solutions pillar and are introduced to the four elements that are necessary to create a rigorous solutions piece.

Trainees understand more clearly the first pillar – solutions – and can list the elements necessary for the creation of a good solutions story.

Video: 10 minutes
Input: 20 minutes

Find video at

Video presentation, 10 min.
Watch video “Solutions Journalism Whiteboard Video” from the Solutions Journalism Network. Afterwards ask trainees if they understood the content and what they thought about it in general. Ask them if they think the solutions approach is relevant for their regions and if they can think of any specific examples where it could be used.  

Input / Discussion, 25 min.
The four pillars of a solutions story
 Presentation: PPT Constructive concept and foundations, slides 24-32

Identify the four solutions elements
Group work, presentation and discussion / 1 hour
Trainees are shown several more or less constructive solutions-focused stories. In groups they try to identify the solutions elements in each story and evaluate the quality.

Trainees get practice on identifying the 4 solutions elements (or lack thereof) in a story and reflect on what might be the challenges to include them. They can describe the constructive quality of reports. 

Analysis of story examples: 30 minutes
Group work/brainstorming: 30 minutes

Find 3-4 solution stories where, ideally, the four elements are presented quite differently or are missing in some cases. 
Prepare task on (virtual) board 

3-4 stories 

    (covers challenges but not limitations, so may be a good cue to start a discussion about the difference between limitations and challenges and how limitations could have been covered.)  Tip: They should have asked the residents about the limitations.

You could include one poor-quality example: 

Video presentation / Analysis, 30 min.

Option 1: Divide trainees in 2 groups but without separating them physically or virtually (online: suggestion for group split up: Group A = first letter of fellow’s name A-M, Group B: N-Z). Give one group the task to look at the elements “response” and “evidence”, the other to look at “limitations” and “insight” in the presented stories. Show trainees 3-4 solutions stories. After each story presentation, invite members of the 2 groups to share their observations. Were they able to identify the four elements? Often, the problem also needs to be clearly identified. And how did the trainees evaluate the quality of these four elements, their potential weaknesses? Did they miss anything? After one or two story presentations you can switch the roles so that in the end every trainee has reflected on all four solutions elements. 

Ideally, the (video) examples shown will have used different ways of demonstrating the evidence, so fellows are exposed to the idea that evidence can be reflected via data, testimonies from the community that the response serves, visual demonstration (before and after pics/footage), etc.

Option 2: Divide trainees into groups and put them into breakout rooms or separate areas of the training room. Give each group a story and ask them to analyze and discuss their stories, looking for the four elements. A spokesperson for each group presents the group’s findings and discusses the overall quality of the solutions story.  

Homework option:
This session could be given as homework if time is limited  (individual work).  

Challenges in solutions reporting
Buzz Groups / 30 minutes
Trainees in groups discuss challenges they face or expect to face in reporting solutions stories. Each group should brainstorm possible solutions to the identified challenges.

Trainees reflect on challenges they have faced or could face in reporting a solutions story.

Discussion in groups: 20 minutes
Discussion in plenary: 10 minutes

Group work, 30 min. 
Form two groups and ask group A to name five major challenges they have faced or expect to face when reporting on a response and the evidence of its impact in their own communities. Group B should brainstorm and come up with five major challenges when reporting on insights and limitations. Both groups are also asked to suggest a possible solution to each of the identified challenges.

Then the groups select a spokesperson who presents their challenges-solutions collection to the others and they all discuss them together. During the discussion trainees are also encouraged to share tips and their own experiences of how to navigate such challenges like absence of data for example. 

You could add the following aspect to the discussion: How can we be critical but at the same time constructive?

Potentials and pitfalls in the region (fundamental)
Group work, discussion / 40 minutes
Trainees reflect on and discuss how constructive journalism can benefit their regions but also where the potential challenges or even dangers lie in implementing a constructive approach.

Trainees reflect on and discuss on how constructive journalism can benefit their region but also what the potential challenges or even dangers of implementing a constructive approach are.

Group work: 20 minutes 
Group discussion: 20 minutes

Flipchart or (digital) whiteboard

Group work / Discussion, 40 min.
Divide trainees into groups. Ask them to discuss how they see the potential for constructive journalism in their country or region. In addition, they should look at the challenges that constructive journalism might face. They should pay special attention to the local context, the political and socio-economic situation and the media landscape.

Some questions: How could CJ help? What positive effects could it have on audiences, society? Would people respond to it? Is it realistic for media houses, journalists? Would it be accepted by media organizations? How would it be seen by the government?

Ask them to write key words on cards, a flipchart paper or digital whiteboard. After 20 minutes, bring the larger group together and have one person from each group present. Then compare and discuss. See if there are many overlaps or strong differences. 

If the participants are made up of people from different countries, try to group them according to country or region.