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Contents
  1. I. Introduction (30m)
  2. II. Basic Reporting (60m)
  3. III. Basic Storytelling (30m)
Resources

Basic Toolkit

Why Solutions Journalism?

Journalism’s predominant theory of change is that pointing out social problems will spur reform. Journalists act as whistleblowers and expose wrongdoing, but have little role to play beyond that.

We believe this theory of change is insufficient.

It is increasingly inadequate for journalists to simply note what’s wrong and hope for society to create better laws or provide proper oversight. The world’s problems are just too complex and fast-changing. People must learn about credible examples of responses to problems in order to become empowered, discerning actors capable of shaping a better society. In this context, journalism must augment its traditional role, spotlighting adaptive responses to entrenched social ills. Why else should you practice solutions journalism?

It’s just good journalism.

You may have noticed that our tagline reads, “The whole story.” We believe solutions journalism makes existing journalism more accurate and complete. Journalism that fails to cover responses to social problems provides an inaccurate and biased view of reality—one that can actually harm society. By regularly highlighting problems and ignoring responses to them, journalists convey a false sense that people haven’t tried to fix things, or don’t know how to do any better.

It increases reader engagement.

Solutions stories are often structured as “Howdunnits,” similar to television shows like CSI and House: someone achieved results that are newsworthy; what did they do that others did not? If done well, this approach to storytelling can grab and keep readers’ interest. Solutions stories are more likely to be shared on social media. This is partly because they can make listeners feel powerful, less likely to tune out, and less apathetic or cynical about the problem. This is supported by social science research, as well as by research we supported with the Engaging News Project.

It can have an impact.

By showing how different institutions approach problems, solutions journalism can advance the public discourse. Instead of a “he said, she said” screaming match, we’ve found in several instances that solutions- oriented journalism can lead to more constructive and less divisive conversations. People don’t change simply because you point out their problems. They need models for change—so do societies.

13 Comments

  • Peggy Peattie

    This is my favorite statement here: "Journalism that fails to cover responses to social problems provides an inaccurate and biased view of reality—one that can actually harm society. " Amen.

  • Mary Agoyi

    Personally, for a while, I tuned out of the media because the space became depressing and toxic. Later on, I realized I couldn't keep shying away from what wouldn't change, hence, I decided to venture into Solution Journalism and add a sparkle to the gloom. Going through these lessons, is really helping me to fine tune a lot of the basics I had as a Student Journalist, which I also hope to replicate as soon as possible.

  • Phebean Ibizugbe

    This resonates with me a lot, "It’s been well documented that being inundated with news can lead to “news fatigue,” or information overload, and the effect has been reported in studies of young audiences. A 2008 ethnographic study by the Associated Press found that not only were young adults fatigued by news, but that, “the negativity of news ― tragedy, crisis, war, terror ― added to the desire to tune out.” One of five key findings from a 2015 BBC survey of young online audiences was that 64 percent of under 35s wanted solutions-oriented news. The BBC is taking these findings to heart and adopting solutions journalism as part of a strategy to engage younger audiences."

  • Paloma Bellatin

    Hi! could you please offer a reference for this: "This is supported by social science research...". I would love to read the existing research and engage with other SBJ scholars.

  • Ify Yusuf

    Will this get my readers engaged? Is my write going going to be impctful? These are very critical questions to ask myself in all my write up going forward...

  • Suagat Bolakhe

    You need models to change. Pointing out a problem only doesn't work.

  • Sallu Kamuskay

    What about a situation where solutions to the problem you write about in your article are already in the law books (constitution)? and the solution you want to profer is different from what is in the constitution but if done can solve the problem how do you report such ?

  • Andrea Mendez Brandam

    Coincido con Jeremías Aspen: en ARGENTINA en “no” es la constante y eso influye no sólo en el estado de ánimo sino en la toma de decisiones

  • Andrea Mendez Brandam

    no fue fácil pero altamente satisfactorio, y estamos en un camino de expansión

  • Andrea Mendez Brandam

    el camino de construir un medio pero lo hemos logrado! Somos miembro de ADEPA, EL PRIMER medio certificado como B CORP en el mundo (2014) y parte del MEDIA COMPACT

  • Andrea Mendez Brandam

    NoticiasPositivas.org desde 2003 inspirado y apoyado por la fundadora de Positive News promueve el periodismo de soluciones.

  • Jeremías Aspen

    En Argentina, el periodismo es oficiado por los NO de este punto: ¿por qué practicar el periodismo de soluciones. Estamos cansados de las discusiones mediáticas entre periodistas "de renombre" que solo luchan por tener la razón y no por la solución. Por eso quiero, y siento como deber, ejercer el periodismo de soluciones.

  • Jeremías Aspen

    En Argentina, el periodismo es oficiado por los NO de este punto: ¿por qué practicar el periodismo de soluciones. Estamos cansados de las discusiones mediáticas entre periodistas "de renombre" que solo luchan por tener la razón y no por la solución. Por eso quiero, y siento como deber, ejercer el periodismo de soluciones.

Resources

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"Readers are clamoring for stories that aren’t just all negative, all problems. It can make them feel helpless and discouraged, as if there’s no point in participating in their community and society as a whole. Offering them stories about programs that seem to be helping and techniques that seem to be helping a problem they care about serves them the most.”

Lizgoodwin
Liz Goodwin
Yahoo! News
How do I know it's NOT Solutions Journalism?

What Kind of Impact Can Solutions Journalism Have?