01 May Open acces: ‘Words that work? Practices of constructive journalism in a local Caribbean context’
‘Words that work? Practices of constructive journalism in a local Caribbean context’, Sage Journals, by Sanne Rotmeijer.
This article addresses practices of constructive journalism in the local, postcolonial context of St. Maarten, an autonomous Dutch Caribbean island. Building on extensive fieldwork at print and online news media outlets on the island and 14 in-depth interviews with reporters, editors, and news bloggers, this article shows that constructive journalism practices are widespread in St. Maarten. These are based on ideals of contributing to economic development, engagement and belonging, and social stability. The fieldwork, however, also revealed skepticism toward constructive journalism practices because of local political, economic, and socio-cultural constraints. This skepticism parallels broader critiques on active and involved forms of journalism, throwing up questions about the meaning and feasibility of a ‘constructive’ role of journalists in young, postcolonial democracies. This article argues that local constraints on St. Maarten journalism undermine the normative underpinnings of constructive journalism and calls for more disruptive journalism to serve the local community.