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Chapter I

Introduction

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Contents
  1. I. Introduction (15m)
  2. II. Choose Your Own Adventure (30m)
  3. III. Case Studies (50m)
  4. IV. Best Practices (35m)
Resources

Engagement Toolkit

Welcome

Welcomeedlab One of many Education Lab community engagement events organized by the Seattle Times.

Newsrooms everywhere are searching for ways to meaningfully connect and build relationships with their audiences. For many, this is an existential challenge, made more complicated by a media and information ecosystem increasingly vulnerable to misinformation, distrust, and divisiveness. Fatigued by negative news, some audiences are tuning out, no longer confident in the media’s capacity to reflect either the reality of their lives or the interests of their communities.

Solutions journalism offers an opportunity to change that dynamic. Stories that better reflect the whole of a community – its problems and the responses to those problems – can create a platform for more constructive discussion, which in turn can lead to corrective action and innovation. In this way, there’s an organic and powerful interplay between solutions reporting and audience and community engagement.

Cultivating and sustaining this sort of dialogue demands effort at a time when newsroom resources are ever more scarce. The good news: We know that audiences and communities desperately crave to participate in a new sort of conversation. They want constructive stories that help them take action against seemingly intractable problems. They want the tools and fora to talk across political, racial, and cultural divides.

The Solutions Journalism Network and others have documented the strong strategic connection between solutions reporting and activities that drive constructive public discourse and productive online discussions. Through the experiences of our partners, we have seen the power of solutions journalism to build trust with communities, particularly those that feel disengaged, alienated, or left out of the media. We have also seen evidence that solutions-oriented news gives consumers greater levels of self-efficacy, energy, and connection to their community, strengthening the constructive agency of individuals and groups and catalyzing productive participation in society.

There are many resources and communities of practice emerging on a daily basis to tackle the engagement challenge. This Guide does not intend to duplicate the knowledge contained in other communities of practice, toolkits, and guides (see the “Resources” section for a curated list of these). Rather it will focus narrowly on the mutually reinforcing relationship between solutions journalism and audience engagement activities. Through the experiences of our newsroom partners, you’ll see the impact that audience and engagement strategies can have on solutions reporting and newsroom relationships. You’ll find information about designing and managing online and offline activities that amplify solutions stories and drive more constructive public discourse. We’ll share tools, tactics, insights, and best practices from newsrooms that have reimagined their coverage by better understanding and addressing the needs of their communities.

This toolkit was produced by Natalie Chang and the staff of the Solutions Journalism Network.

Resources

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Note

What is engagement?

It comes down to a focused and intentional effort to better connect audiences with journalists, leading to higher-quality news that better serves citizens. Reporting and engagement activities frequently play out in an interactive, virtuous cycle, such that the journalism informs the engagement activities, which in turn inform the reporting. When done well, solutions journalism and engagement are fully integrated, such that “engagement” is not a discrete activity but intrinsic to the journalism itself and the outlet’s value proposition.
Engagement Toolkit

Welcome
I WORK IN, TEACH, OR STUDY JOURNALISM Not a journalist, but I want to learn about solutions.
AS A MEMBER, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO:
  • Access our training curriculum or attend a training
  • Share your stories
  • Join a local community of journalists
  • Attend story workshops and events to hone your craft
  • Get funding and additional support
  • Access the full Solutions Story Tracker®
  • Save favorite stories and create collections in your user profile
  • Receive emails containing the above offerings via occasional email throughout your membership
TO JOIN, PLEASE SUBMIT THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION (*=REQUIRED)

Not a journalist? Register here instead.

Here is what you will get:
  • Unlimited access to thousands of stories from around the world
  • First look and access to new features, tools, and resources
  • Curated newsletters with top stories
  • Invitations to SolutionsU community events
  • Receive emails containing the above offerings via occasional email throughout your membership
  • And much more to come…
It’s easy and will take less than 2 minutes.

Journalist or J-School? Register here instead.

Help us grow our database of solutions stories! Please enter the following information. Our staff will review the story, and if it meets our criteria (see below), it will be added to the Solutions Story Tracker®.

If you want to get notified when your story is added, register or before submitting stories here.

Please submit a valid URL starting with 'http'
Please fill out this field

Great suggestion! So great, that we already have that story listed in the Solutions Story Tracker®. View it here.

It may take a few weeks to see your piece in the Solutions Story Tracker®, as we have a backlog of submissions longer than Ben Hur that we’re diligently working to eliminate. We appreciate your patience.

SJN'S CRITERIA FOR GOOD SOLUTIONS JOURNALISM:
  • Comes from a news outlet; has a date and a byline.
  • Focuses primarily on a response to a problem.
  • Conveys insight, so that its lessons are relevant and teachable to others.
  • Provides evidence of an approach's success or failure.
  • Addresses an approach's shortcomings or limitations.
  • Avoids advocacy, PR, and hero worship—instead focusing on credible, objective reporting.

If you want to get:

JOIN TODAY! It only takes 2 minutes and its completely free.

Please log in to continue:

Not a member yet? Click here to sign up,
and learn about our community and tools.

Get solutions stories in your inbox:

The response

THE RESPONSE FREE!

Weekly email with three solutions stories illustrating responses that work, pivoting off the latest news moments.

CLICK HERE to subscribe in your profile
WHICH COLLECTION DO YOU WANT TO ADD THIS STORYLINK TO?
+ CREATE A NEW COLLECTION
INCLUDE A NOTE ABOUT THIS STORYLINK (OPTIONAL)
Done
Add collection white

Collections are versatile, powerful and simple to create. From a customized course reader to an action-guide for an upcoming service-learning trip, collections illuminate themes, guide inquiry, and provide context for how people around the world are responding to social challenges.

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Name and describe your collection

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Add Stories

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Add external links at any time

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Add to your collection over time and share!

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Add stories to your collection from your list of Favorites below, or add stories directly to a collection from Search or Discover. Anytime you see the collection icon you can add a story. Just click the icon and follow the instructions on your screen.

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This is a powerful feature to provide context and additional information to enhance your collection. Add a link to a relevant website, and a short description about how the resource relates to your collection.

ADD STORY FROM FAVORITES
+

Add stories directly from your Favorites, or Search for stories in our database.

If you come across a story you want to add to a collection, click the Collection icon and follow the instructions on your screen.

TITLE
NEWS OUTLET & JOURNALIST
DATE & LOCATION
THERE IN THIS COLLECTION:
THERE IN THIS COLLECTION:
ADD STORY FROM FAVORITES
+

Add stories directly from your Favorites, or Search for stories in our database.

If you come across a story you want to add to a collection, click the Collection icon and follow the instructions on your screen.

TITLE
NEWS OUTLET & JOURNALIST
DATE & LOCATION
DONE

You are about to un-favorite a item. Click YES if you want to delete this item from MY FAVORITES.

Photo Credits: Almudena Toral; Gabe Hernandez/Corpus Christi Caller-Times; Cody Pope; Matt Stokes

All other photos are licensed under Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license, and are credited to the following photographers: Rowan El Shimi; Samuele Arcidiacono; Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum 2017 © DW/H. W. Lamberz

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