Constructed|Constructive Journalism

Registration deadline
Pleinlaan 5, 1050 Brussels

Second call
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.
Inspirational literature:
Bull, Peter, Ralph Negrine & Katie Hawn (2014). Telling it like it is or just telling a good story? Editing techniques in news coverage of the British parliamentary expenses scandal. Language and Dialogue 4:2, 213-233.
Gyldensted, Cathrine (2015). From Mirrors to Movers. Five Elements of Positive Psychology in Constructive Journalism. s.l., GGroup Publishing.
Although our institute is part of a linguistics department, we welcome submissions from all relevant disciplinary backgrounds approaching topics including but certainly not limited to:
• the construction of news in broadcast journalism as well as in the written and online press
• the borderlines between constructive journalism, solution-oriented journalism and activism
• (linguistic aspects of) the representation of minority groups and the underprivileged
• psychological effects of good/bad news and of specific types of framing
• social media and journalism from a constructivist/constructive perspective
• alternative vs. mainstream media from a constructivist/constructive perspective
We welcome both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, and analyses at process, product/text, and/or audience level
Possible linguistic approaches to these topics are the exploration of journalistic practices or processes of representation, applying pragmatics, conversation analysis, discourse analysis, linguistic ethnography or text/corpus linguistics.
All papers will be published (after the authors’ consent) in the electronic proceedings of the conference and we are planning to publish a selection of the papers in a volume and/or a special issue.
As there will be separate panel sessions for PhD students, junior researchers are warmly invited to participate.
The venue for the conference will be the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts, Academy Palace – Hertogsstraat/ Rue Ducale 1 - 1000 Brussels, Belgium (next to the Royal Palace, in the heart of Brussels). (

Conference fee (including pre-conference reception, lunch, coffee):
€ 150 (regular participants), € 75 (PhD students).
Dinner will be organized on Friday 9 December and charged separately.

Please send a proposal of no more than 300 words (excluding selected references) together with your affiliation and a short biography (c. 100 words) to by 30 June 2016. Decisions will be announced by 15 August. Questions about any aspect of the conference should be addressed to

Brussels Institute for Journalism Studies (BIJU)
Department of Applied Linguistics
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Belgium
Contact person
Martina Temmerman