Our story we published Saturday online and in our print edition about how citizen groups work together in communities where there is a Superfund site is the first in what we plan to be many with a solutions focus.
Solutions journalism is a growing practice in the media industry, and we see tremendous value in using a different lens when examining stories that have elements of success.
Solutions journalism takes the approach of reporting on known social issues where we can find credible evidence that the responses worked – or not – and why. Instead of writing a story that looks at an issue as only a problem, writing about a solution will help our community see the positive side of social change. We hope that a solutions approach will help change conversations to be productive and progressive, and show how people or ideas are making things better.
We know that there are innovative ideas and realistic approaches to social issues that affect each of us, sometimes as often as every day. It is our intent to find the opportunities to write stories that provide some insight and hope.
That’s not to say that solutions journalism is advocacy journalism or hero focused, or that we are doing this because we think the media is too negative. In journalism parlance, these will not be “fluff” stories that are superficial, feel-good and meaningless. These stories will be subject to the same journalistic rigors of accuracy, truth and evidence.
Our solutions stories will be predicated on a set of measures that show we have identified a social problem and then found potential remedies and include the voices of those involved.
David Bornstein, a co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network and New York Times columnist, wrote in the early days of the network: “Journalism is a feedback mechanism to help society self-correct. We know from behavioral science that information about a problem alone is rarely sufficient to generate corrective action. People need to know what they can do – and how.”
Durango Herald editors and reporters have spent the last six months working with SJN to ensure we understand how to identify and measure data for a solutions-oriented story. We hope to reduce the polarization of some issues facing our community by looking at successful models in other communities and by other organizations that have addressed the same. Our future solutions stories will include other social issues La Plata County is facing, in particular the suicide rate and homelessness.
We are excited to weave this kind of journalism with traditional journalism. We look forward to not focusing solely on the terrible things and instead write some of our stories with a different take to help our community make positive changes by learning from examples we write about.
If you have a suggestion for a solutions-oriented approach to a story, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for reading.