This playbook is for newsrooms seeking to leverage their solutions journalism to generate revenue.
The Solutions Journalism Network exists to help news organizations improve the editorial product itself — the content of news — to include solutions journalism, which is rigorous reporting that highlights credible responses to challenges and problems.
In this playbook, we show newsrooms how to use solutions journalism to generate new revenue. SJN has drawn on the experiences of the newsrooms we work with, a breadth of research and best practices observed across the field of journalism to produce this guide.
Over the past few years, some SJN partners have found that through solutions journalism they can rebuild trust with their audiences, increase engagement and loyalty, and drive impact and accountability.
We now have evidence that producing solutions journalism can help media organizations become more sustainable as well. Newsrooms participating in the Solutions Journalism Revenue Project pilot program generated nearly $1.5 million in new revenue related to solutions journalism between 2019 and 2021.
To connect solutions-driven reporting to dollars, news organizations must have an entrepreneurial mindset anchored in the belief that solutions journalism can offer ways to rethink how to tackle issues affecting communities.
There is no single pathway to financial viability. Our theory of change is that solutions journalism is a necessary component in the mix of strategies needed to reach that goal, while also improving people’s lives and centering journalism as a driver of positive outcomes.
In other words, solutions-driven coverage can and should thread together a mix of editorial, product, engagement, development and communication strategies. Aligning each of these with reporting about what works requires imagination, conviction, persistence and, crucially, capacity.
This playbook outlines strategies gleaned from newsrooms of varying sizes, audiences, business models and tax statuses. Because we are still experimenting and learning with our newsroom partners, this document is the first version of a resource that will evolve with time. In future iterations, we will add new case studies, guidelines and tools to help newsrooms anchor solutions journalism as an editorial product around which to build revenue strategies.
- Alec Saelens, SJN’s Revenue Project manager