Solutions journalism seeks to create new conversations that connect policymakers, advocates, community members, and other stakeholders about persistent social problems. These conversations are critical at all stages of coverage: from the initial stages of brainstorming story ideas, to post-publication feedback, to ongoing discussions about the issues at hand that might not necessarily inform reporting but provide an important outlet for ideas to be shared.
For example, residents in the small town of Choteau, Montana, have grown increasingly concerned with the drain of younger people from their community. The weekly Choteau Acantha reported on the issue as part of “The Montana Gap,” a collaborative project on economic development – and then hosted a public forum that reflected on its solutions stories. One resident observed: “That was one of the first times I remember people from all different groups coming together and having conversation about ‘What do we need to do in our community to make it a better place to live?’”
The most effective solutions reporting seeks to bring in new voices that haven’t previously been heard. Your newsroom could choose to design public opportunities that allow members of the community to take the spotlight and share their experiences and point of view, such as through open-mic nights, public forums, or invitations to write columns. Some of our partners have designed more intimate activities to specifically draw out the perspectives of a group that might otherwise hesitate to speak up more openly.
Relevant Case Studies:
“We thought this would be a great opportunity to really deeply re-engage with the community about a specific topic – education – like we had not done in years. We were going to do in-person engagement through listening tours and community forums; we were going to actively seek out opportunities to showcase their voices online in a much more frequent way than we could do with the print newspaper and the print opinion section.”
“As one of my editors said, ‘It makes it harder when you include other voices, but it always makes your journalism better.’”