ABOUT THE MOVEMENT
The fast-growing ‘Solutions Journalism’ movement began as a way to counteract the negativity bias in the mainstream media, in order to restore a sense of balance and perspective in the news.
Solutions-focused news describes a way of reporting the same social issues and challenges we hear about in the mainstream news, but with a constructive approach that incorporates the ‘what’s being done?’ question into the news story itself rather than simply reporting on problems and failures before moving onto the next piece of bad news. It can be described as,
‘rigorous journalism that reports critically on tangible progress being made in order for us to understand how issues are being dealt with’.
Done well, Solutions Journalism requires more rigorous investigation than the average negative news story. Essentially, it is journalism at its best.
An important distinction: Solutions Journalism is not ‘feel good news’. It is not your random act of kindness story or fluffy kitten meme. Furthermore, reporting on solutions is not the same as denying problems; it is possible to recognise progress whilst being aware that a problem still exists.
So, at this point, it is useful to abandon the rhetoric of solutions versus problems and acknowledge the complex and interdependent relationship between these two things, recognising them to co-exist rather than compete. We need to notice achievements alongside failings in order to report on and understand the world more accurately. The aim of Solutions Journalism is to present a more holistic view of the world: a truer take on the human condition in all its completeness, both good and bad. Rather than seeing the world through the distorted lens of an excess of negativity, we should be better presented with the whole picture; this movement urges the news industry to widen their lens to include stories of strength as it does weakness, on successes as it does failures, on human excellence as it does human corruption and scandal, on solutions as it does problems, and on progress as it does recession.
The result of this balance is that our feelings of anger and injustice we experience from hearing about a problem are able to be transformed into something more constructive. By becoming aware of creative, innovative and courageous responses to society’s problems – even responses that have seen limited success – we are given a sense of hope and possibility. This can motivate us to challenge the problems facing the world rather than passively accepting them as inevitable and permanent. Essentially, by including reports on solutions it empowers readers to feel able to act on this information presented.
I would recommend that we all increase our intake of solutions journalism, not for the purpose of shielding ourselves from world’s problems, but to challenge ourselves to see what is possible in their presence. By learning from solutions, we can push past the rhetoric that the world ‘is the way that it is’ and see instead our constructive power to make a change.
Now is a great time to get involved, as more and more people are seeing the value in a fuller perspective and are seeking out Solutions Journalism where it already exists, and creating it where it doesn’t.
If you’ve come this far, don’t stop now. Be a part of the movement. Change your own media diet to include Solutions Journalism, stay informed and improve your sense of wellbeing along the way.
Not sure how?
Take a look at this Starter Kit for some ideas on how to begin.
This book should be required reading for anyone who consumes or produces news. Jackson details the many harmful, often unexamined, ‘side effects’ of our current news environment – and suggests avenues to protect ourselves and to improve journalism. An urgent call for reform
CEO & Co-founder of Solutions Journalism Network