I det fynske folks tjeneste

Together we make Funen better: Why “TV 2/Fyn” will become Denmark’s most constructive media house

TV 2/Fyn will be Denmark's most constructive media house next year. As in as simple as that.

We defined that target in our 2020 Strategy last year. And now, this fall of 2019, we are now moving towards it. In 12 months our core of free, independent, power-critical and society-controlling journalism will be complemented by a whole new type of content.

It will not be easy. Getting there demands that we develop and find our own way of how to handle “constructive journalism”. We want it to become a new and completely integrated part of TV 2/Fyns's total news coverage.

It will not stand alone.

It will not be easy. Getting there demands that we develop and find our own way of how to handle “constructive journalism”.

Esben Seerup

It will walk hand-in-hand with critical journalism on a daily basis which – at least from my point of view - always will be, must be, the core and the whole premise of constructive journalism. This pillar is the foundation of all we do at our public service tv-station with a clear and responsible mission of serving our region in the middle of Denmark with trustworthy (and interesting) news.

Our constructive journalism ambition is a pledge to the 500.000 people in the region of Funen.

Exclusive peek into test center for constructive journalism

In 2019 TV 2/Fyn gave themselves a challenge. They set out to become Denmarks most constructive media and the country’s largest test center for constructive journalism. In this blog you get an exclusive insight in their work to achieve that goal.

 

It sounds like an easy path to take. After more than 30 years work in media business I know it’s not. But I know it’s necessary.

For also we at TV 2/Fyn can see that people all throughout the world – and in Denmark and in our region of Funen - are leaving traditional media like our regional public service station. Why? Because they are tired of studied media quarrels. Of the stream of problems presented without hope. Of the weighting and angling of the sensational and bizarre.

The explanation is that we journalists are trained to be the opposite of constructive. We learn excactly that already in our first week at any journalism college or university.

Esben Seerup

Instead, good folks settle for glimpses from social media, television entertainment and unreliable sources. Like chips instead carrots. Feeling not included in important community discussions. Stopping believing in our politicians. Dropping democracy, the conversation and the understanding of opinions other than its own.

We will try to do something about this on TV 2/Fyn. Turn the tide. Try something else. This is exactly why we want to be Denmark's most constructive media house.

 

We are ready to do exact that. Even though we know it is not as easy as it may sound.

The explanation is that we journalists are trained to be the opposite of constructive. We learn excactly that already in our first week at any journalism college or university.

Here, the important role of the media is presented as The Fourth Estate in a democratic society. Here we hear about the need for complete independence from any political or economic interest. We learn about the social responsibility that a professional editor - and reporter – must take, so that our journalism will focus on the unreasonable, the greedy and the unscrupulous when we see them.

Esben Seerup

Since 2012 I’ve been CEO and editor in chief of “TV 2/Fyn”, one of eight regional tv-stations of Denmark. I am 54 years old. Graduated in 1990 as journalist from Denmark’s School of Journalism and worked from 1990-2012 as reporter, editor and managing editor at the regional newspaper “Fyens Stiftstidende” in Odense.

 

I have worked as editor manager and leader since 1998 and graduated as Master of Editorial Management from University of Southern, Denmark, in 2010. And from “Executive Management Programme” at INSEAD Business School, France, in 2018.

 

The last 10-15 years I have been excited about developing journalism together with audience and people in an engaging, debating, talking, involving way: Constructive Institute’s definition “Constructive journalism” encapsulates that 100 percent.

We thrive to become journalists that always must remember a critical approach as the most important starting point when choosing stories and prioritizing them. This is the whole pillar of fact-based news journalism. It hangs in the walls of any editorial newsroom. It is embedded in both young and old reporters and editors.

That our journalism must inform citizens to be independent individuals. So they make their own decisions. Form their own opinions and attitudes. And thereafter: Get engaged in our democracy – local, regional, national, global – like most Danes love and feel as part of.

This is like most newspapers, radio and television stations work with news in Denmark. We believe in that core and pillar. I know it. That feeling have been in my blood, bones and body since I more than 30 years ago attended journalism college.

 

We also do have feeling today at TV 2/Fyn. We're even good at it. It's not something I write to boast about.

This is what the people of Funen respond when asked about it. This 2019 summer in our annual brand analysis well over 1000 people stated that TV 2/Fyn clearly is the media house that most people point to as the most important for influencing the news agenda and opinion in our region.

It is also TV 2/Fyn, which is perceived as the most credible media house. Even ahead of other credible media such as the national news media from “DR”, “TV 2” or our excellent, local and regional competitors here in our region.

Obviously, I am pleased with that position. Proud of it.

 

Because I know how hard TV 2/Fyn's ambitious staff in the last seven years, where I had the pleasure of being the boss, have worked to reach this point. This has not come of its own accord. Therefore I know we will not become Denmark's most constructive media house if we do not continue to develop. And work hard to get there.

We do, though, not start from scratch here. We have in recent years already experimented extensively with constructive journalism.

For example, in the fall of 2017, when we together with a number of the other media houses in Funen made the largest campaign so far in Denmark to get young people to vote in the municipal elections. The “Stem’rne” (“Voices”/”Votes” in English)-campagn succeeded with creative, engaging, fun, innovative and engaging journalism in six, wild weeks two years ago.

Here we must try some ideas. Practice. Train. Talk. Discuss. Find the boundaries of constructive journalism towards our core of critical. Try again. And also remember to dare to fail, because otherwise we have not tried enough.

Esben Seerup

The result in the region of Funen? The voting turnout in Funen increased twice as much as elsewhere in Denmark!

During the campaign I noticed firsthand how otherwise well-trained, critical, cool reporters gained new motivation and got energy by opening up to the idealistic flow of their hearts, usually packed away of professional, independent reasons. And the journalism did not become less relevant or indifferent because of this.

On the contrary.

Since then, we have continued with a series of smaller, but equally constructive, engaging and genuinely idealistic projects and stories. This is why we dare to take the step fully with this ambition: To be Denmark's leader in this field

 

We are quite prepared. Started a year ago when developing our overall 2020 Strategy in 2018. Started the preparations in the spring in 2019 – and were ready to start this fall.

With a 15 month long plan starting with extensive teaching, training and a variety of experiments this fall – and planning to peak a year from now.

Here we get help from the best in the industry: Ulrik Haagerup and Orla Borg from the Constructive Institute at Aarhus University. Morten Skovsgaard from the Center for Journalism at the University of Southern Denmark. Morten Ro from the public powered journalism-tool, Hearken. Just to mention some of the many smart heads that we talk to all the time to try to figure out to do it the right way.

However, the most important - and bravest - people are in our own house in the city of Odense, Fyn, Denmark. Namely TV 2/Fyn’s own,  85-90 insightful and creative employees. They are the ones who plunge into new ground. Those who develop both themselves and thus TV 2/Fyn-journalism. The true heroes.

We have set aside a whole year+ for this first phase.

Here we must try some ideas. Practice. Train. Talk. Discuss. Find the boundaries of constructive journalism towards our core of critical. Try again. And also remember to dare to fail, because otherwise we have not tried enough. And remember that it is not until 2020 that we have to be in place.

 

We have formulated our constructive ambition in our renewed slogan for the whole tv-station. It now states at our cars, adds, promos, lingo: "Together we make Funen better".

I hope you who read this will follow us in our work. Maybe even help us and even make your contribution to what you think about our direction.

However, I am already warning here: I am afraid that we can’t anymore be stopped in our ambition. Because we all at TV 2/Fyn actually want it this to happen: The board of directors. The management. The editorial managers. The editors. The journalists. The photographers. The graphic artists. The producers.

First of all, because we can. And then: Because we all want this to succeed.

Perhaps this is why I actually believe that we be Denmark's most constructive media house.

But remember: Not until 2020.

 

Esben Seerup
CEO and editor in chief
TV 2/Fyn