Let us be honest, 2020 has been a miserable year. It seems like every day we see a depressing headline or a news story that offers nothing but despair.
Constructive journalism has been considered as the antidote to this stream negativity; a way to contextualise social issues and offer solutions to readers.
Finding constructive journalism stories can sometimes feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, there is a new app that curates constructive stories in one place.
Squirrel News, a project of German-based nonprofit Constructive News e.V, is a news curation app focusing on constructive journalism stories from the likes of the Guardian, BBC, CNN, The Conversation and Euronews. The stories can also be found on its website and newsletter.
Jonathan Widder, founder of Constructive News e.V, said that after studying political science and sociology he found himself inspired by social progress. But when searching for answers to society's biggest problems in news coverage, he found himself disappointed.
He was introduced to the style of journalism after reading Ulrik Haagerup's book 'Constructive News: How to save the media and democracy with journalism of tomorrow'.
"The vehicle of social progress is social innovation, and then that has to become popular in people's minds," Widder says. "This is the part journalism has to play, it's not enough to only report on the bad sides and then nobody knows what to do."
He added that editorial and opinion pieces in news coverage offer readers some respite from the torrent of negative news but they often do not go deep enough.
"The more I read constructive journalism, the less I like these opinion pieces because they don't suggest anything concrete, precise or identify what programmes to push," he explains.
"Journalism has a huge potential of focusing and shining a much brighter light on these types of questions."
Courtesy of Constructive News e.V
Currently, Squirrel News publishes a new collection of stories every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The app is curated entirely by its team of four editors for each of the English and German edition of the app.
It does not need an authorisation from news organisations to curate their articles but it does require permission to use the exact headline and summary. In some cases, however, publishers have declined to be included. It also accepts submissions to be featured, but does not guarantee stories will be included.
The app is currently free and editors are unpaid. At the end of each issue, Squirrel News has created a donation screen for viewers to help to cover operational costs.
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This article was updated on 7 January 2020 to state that Squirrel News had introduced a donation button into the app.