My media law professor asked students in the class if we thought journalism was ethical. Approximately 60 students were in the lecture hall. Five people raised their hand, and I wasn’t one of them. I wrestled with this for a while after the class. Although I don’t think journalism is completely unethical, I agreed with many students that said journalism focuses too much on sensationalism, ratings, and negative problems.
Samantha McCann, the editor of the Solutions Journalism Twitter and guest speaker for the Twitter chat opened the discussion with the post, “There’s not enough great stories about noteworthy responses to social problems in the world.”
Some people in the #muckedup Twitter chat were skeptical of this new reporting style. They argued that it wasn’t journalist’s job to come up solutions to social issues. It was their job to report what was going on.
Solutions journalism stories are structured differently. A solutions article introduces a problem, but it includes a “how have you done it” section. This alleviates the criticism that journalists only focus on problems and don’t include a way to fix them.
JournalismSolutions.org highlights stories from other news websites that follow this solutions structure. The New York Times published an article on low-income student‘s inability to afford elite universities. The majority of the article describes a non-profit organization called QuestBridge that gives full four-year scholarships to high-achieving low-income students. The article introduces a problem and provides a solution.
McCann tweeted at the #muckedup chat,”If we fail to cover the many ways people & institutions are trying to solve problems — successful or not–we fail to do our jobs.”
If solution journalism was more prevalent than there would be less negative bias toward journalism. People could learn about issues affecting our society and read about ideas on how to solve them.
So what do you think of this reporting style? Is it a journalist’s job is find solutions to social issues? Are you interested in covering more stories this way?