Journalism is at a crossroads, no two ways about it (pun not very good, but intended). We have seen cataclysmic shifts in the way the news is reported and consumed over the past several decades. Journalism as deliberate and contextually relevant storytelling has, in some respects and for certain news outlets, been replaced by sensationalized accounts of real time events. The constant barrage of “breaking news” has desensitized us to the importance of any one individual story and many of us consume more news stories in a day than we know what to do with. Coinciding with the exponential growth of social media, traditional news outlets have been in a frenzied state trying to remain relevant and keep those advertising dollars coming in.
It was out of these circumstances that the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) was born in 2013. Founded by journalists David Bernstein, Tina Rosenberg, and Courtney Martin, SJN is committed to the notion of “solutions journalism”, to provide “rigorous reporting about how people are responding to problems”. The group works to connect and support journalists who are looking to take their writing further than the description of a problem, into a discussion about what might work as a solution. Based in New York, SJN has provided training to more than 75 news organizations on how to provide solutions-oriented reporting. The concept is rather simple: the story is incomplete if you merely identify a problem, journalists should also report on people who are trying to construct solutions. As we struggle to wrap our heads around the growing number of global problems we read about on a daily basis, solutions oriented journalism provides a refreshing opportunity to move beyond the problems and start to contemplate solutions.