Solutions-Focused Reporting: The Role of Journalism in Community Engagement

 

“This is a rich vein of stories that is underreported,” Linda Shaw remarks. “There are more than just problems in the world, and it’s easy to forget [that].”

Linda spoke at CRI’s 2018 Beyond Paper Tigers (BPT) conference about her network, Solutions Journalism. The Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) encourages journalists to add more balance to their coverage, to include how people are responding to a problem. It is not advocacy; SJN does not focus on intentions as much as the credible evidence of results. Yet it provides a level of depth that is needed, one that keeps the reader engaged, when one might otherwise feel depressed and disempowered.

SJN “examines the problems in front of our faces. It pokes at the status quo, asking ‘does it have to be this way? Is anyone doing a better job?’’ Linda has noticed how “a steady diet of bad news causes some readers to turn off. They just get tired of feeling depressed and hopeless.” It can be difficult to sustain hope, despite the fact that many of us are passionate about important issues. Reporting community response removes excuses by illuminating existing action. People become more empowered to find their own solutions, to create proactive policies. Thus Solutions Journalism is holding individuals, communities, and governments accountable to seek solutions.

And ultimately, this view of the world- comprised of both problems and solutions- is closer to reality. “We’re still journalists and we still want to show the full picture; it’s not our job to promote. But there’s room for coverage of both problems and solutions and we think together they provide the whole story,” Linda notes. Solutions-focused stories don't uncover new problems, but further journalists’ goals of providing an accurate picture of the world around us.

CRI thanks Linda Shaw and other media participants for enriching the 2018 BPT conference, by including conversation around media and community problem-solving. In line with CRI’s belief that “Community is the Solution,” CRI deeply values the way Solutions Journalism witnesses a community coming together to respond. Further, we are excited that in Walla Walla, Union Bulletin has begun to adopt a solutions-focus in their reporting. Stay tuned for more information on Walla Walla’s inclusion of Solutions Journalism.

 

 

Linda Shaw is the Western Region Manager for the Solutions Journalism Network. Learn more about SJN at https://www.solutionsjournalism.org/

Follow solutions stories using the Solutions Stories Tracker at https://storytracker.solutionsjournalism.org/

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