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Images & Voices of Hope | December 2, 2020

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How solutions journalism can foster ‘a more productive public discourse’

How solutions journalism can foster ‘a more productive public discourse’

Journalists are good at highlighting problems in communities and society at large. But traditionally, they haven’t been as good at covering solutions.

That’s slowly changing with the help of the Solutions Journalism Network. The organization, which just received a $180,000 Knight Foundation grant, is working with journalists to help them report on solutions to social problems.

David Bornstein, founder of the Network, recently talked with the American Press Institute’s Tom Rosenstiel about what solutions journalism is and why it matters.

Here are some highlights:

  • “Our work is predicated on the idea that every problem in society produces a variety of responses. So: if journalists cover the problems, they should also cover the responses. That’s simply telling the whole story. However, the reporting should be done with the same level of rigor and discernment and hard-headedness that journalists bring to traditional coverage. If done well, solutions journalism makes our reporting stronger and more complete. It injects valuable information into the public conversation, attracts readers and engages them deeply, and helps to de-polarize the public debate.”
  • The feedback system known as journalism is based on the idea that the way to improve society is to show people where we’re going wrong. It’s like pointing out your children’s mistakes every morning and expecting that this will make them into better people. Children need examples. They need to know that different behavior is possible and wins notice. Society needs the same thing. Misdeeds often persist because people are ignorant of ways to address them more successfully.”
  • “By exposing people to what works — and demystifying the how’s and why’s — solutions journalism can alter their sense of what’s possible, fostering a more productive public discourse and catalytic citizenship. By the same token, better informed and more engaged citizens help to drive better journalism.”

The full interview is well worth the read.