You have one reporting day and 500 words. Or you have three hours to put together a 1-minute broadcast. How can you integrate a solutions mindset?
Gold standard solutions journalism is long and time-intensive. Many of the tips we offer elsewhere are best suited for longer-form feature or narrative pieces. We have found several ways, though, to bring a solutions focus into pieces where you do not have the luxury of space.
- Short solutions pieces work particularly well in cases where the problem is widely known. Consider bedbugs, which a few years ago were pervasive in New York City. A reporter for AM New York — a free newspaper distributed on the subway — spent one sentence on the problem, and was able to jump directly to the better news: that bedbugs were massively on the decline, thanks largely to the city’s multi-pronged effort to eradicate them. In 576 words, the author tackled many of our “10 questions.”
- Choose a subject that has data to prove it works. Then you needn’t spend a lot of time or words making that case — you can get right to the how it works.
- Beat reporters may also do solutions stories quickly by covering local programs with good track records. Beat expertise allows you to save a lot of reporting time. We delve more into this on the following page.
- Some responses are less complex than others, making them a good fit for a short piece. For example, an Atlantic CityLab piece explored how Brazilians are increasingly hitting record on their cell phones when they witness police brutality. It’s creating more accountability in the notoriously militaristic police force there.