The media partners of the “Support for Ukrainian Refugees through Media” project – Jurnal TV, ElitaTV, Studio-L, and TV8, as well as the Moldova 1 public TV channel, learned from the international expert Ulrik Haagerup, the founder of the Constructive Institute, Denmark, and Ana Gherciu, Moldova.org Executive Director, how to be part of the solution instead of that of the problem in the context of the Ukrainian refugee crisis.
The representatives of these media outlets took part in an instructive program organized by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) in Chisinau from November 30 to December 1, 2023. The project is a UNESCO initiative funded by the Government of Japan.
At the beginning of the instructive session, Nadine Gogu, IJC Executive Director, welcomed the participants, specifying that the session was a good opportunity to learn from the local and international experts about constructive journalism and how it could be applied to refugee stories.
The participants involved in preparing journalistic materials about and with the participation of Ukrainian refugees were discussing constructive journalism and how it could be used in covering refugee-related topics for two days. The experts, Ulrik Haagerup and Ana Gherciu, provided theoretical notions related to solutions journalism, spoke about the other countries’ experience in this field, provided possible solutions and examples of good practices of solutions journalism, and identified how it could be used in the materials about refugees.
Ulrik Haagerup mentioned that, if journalism is only focused on extreme issues, people may eventually consider them to be normal. “If we only focus on problems, dramatic episodes, or conflict situations, people will think that this is a normal path to follow. Respectively, using the example of Ukrainian refugees, we could say that if we treat this issue as a problem of the society, if we only focus on the costs generated by this situation they have found themselves in, we will fail to get an overall picture on their situation. In journalism, we should not regard things unilaterally. We need to identify the opportunities, to try to understand people, and to find solutions for their problems. Constructive journalism is also about motivation, inspiration, and good practice examples,” the expert from Denmark said.
Ana Gherciu emphasized the essential role constructive journalism can play in society. “It has a mission to see the state of things in a less stressful way. When we delve into details instead of just presenting things in a black-and-white manner, going from one extreme to the other one, the impact on those who consume this information changes compared to the classic consequences of the news – instead of feeling nervousness, anger, or maybe even hatred, the audience starts asking questions: what can I do, how can I help, how can I change the things in my community? Our audience keeps transforming step by step, and it becomes more attentive to the way comments are made, becoming more sensitive to certain aspects. We do not have to wait for any changes from the governance or other decision makers. The basic objective of constructive journalism is to inspire us to make this change by ourselves,” the journalist said, adding that, as a rule, “everyone wants to witness some changes, but nobody is eager to change.”
The instructive session participants learned that solutions journalism is fact-based, and, at the same time, nuance and context are extremely important. They also realized that journalists could initiate constructive debates in society, which, in their turn, could make the authorities identify some solutions, without contributing to polarization in society.
Angela Zaharova, producer at the Elita TV channel from Rezina Town, affirms that “people are tired of aggressive news and approaches.” “Research has shown that people would like to see solutions and perspectives to the problems society faces. After two days of this instruction, I am convinced that the Danish experience is applicable to the newsrooms in Moldova. I have been greatly impressed by the Danish experiment with the politicians who were asked to find some solutions and excluding those who attacked their opponents from the debates. People no longer want to hear the politicians speaking out loud, they need solutions. I will keep applying the elements of solutions journalism to the Elita TV content, and, when addressing the topic of our guests from Ukraine, we will show more stories of success and Ukrainians’ involvement in helping the others integrate into our communities. We should take advantage of the opportunity to employ them, to create or to be involved in producing activities together and, eventually, to supplement the public budget. This is the idea I have learned from the training session,” Angela Zaharova said.
Renata Lupacescu, editor-in-chief at Studio-L in Causeni, believes that solutions journalism plays an essential part in integration of Ukrainian citizens. “Instead of merely emphasizing the hardships and tragedies associated with the war in Ukraine, solutions journalism highlights successful initiatives and creative solutions which have a positive impact on Ukrainians’ lives. Solutions journalism sheds a light on local projects and initiatives promoting social cohesion. This is a tool of education and awareness which explains the complexity of the refugee-related issues to the public and emphasizes how people could contribute to solving such problems,” Renata Lupacescu affirms.
TV8, Elita TV, Jurnal TV, and Studio-L channels which are partners of the “Support for Ukrainian Refugees through Media” project will keep creating the content about and with the participation of refugees from Ukraine. Some of their materials are available in the Refugees in the Press group.
The “Support for Ukrainian Refugees through Media” project implemented by the IJC and funded by the Government of Japan is a UNESCO initiative developed under the Ukraine Situation Regional Refugee Response Plan coordinated by the UNHCR.