The Essentials of Teaching Solutions Journalism
J-School Curriculum Builder
Solutions journalism is reporting on a response to a problem — successful, partially successful, or failed — and the associated results, usually with a narrative that seeks to reveal how the results were produced and explore what can be learned from the effort. Teaching the Four Qualities is an absolutely essential element to any module or course on solutions journalism.
Watch out for imposters misidentified as solutions journalism. This is an important section to lead with because students (and even professionals) have misconceptions about what solutions journalism is. Leading with it early in the semester (or module) can help clear up confusion sooner rather than later. These are the most frequent types of imposters, and here is a list of imposter stories for each type.
Solutions stories report on efforts to solve problems — they don’t celebrate those efforts. A solutions story will never claim a program is 100 percent successful. There’s no such thing, and no one will believe such a claim. You have more authority and credibility if you describe limitations. What makes a solutions story worth writing? There are four ways to gauge the “solutions value” of a story. Of the four, the first one is by far the most common: