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3 questions to Lola García-Ajofrín


3 questions to Lola García-Ajofrín

Picture of Juliette Gerbais
Juliette Gerbais — Project Manager
March 26, 2024

The following Q&A session is part of the 16th edition of our monthly newsletter "Solutions, Explained". Subscribe below!

In this edition, we speak with Lola García-Ajofrín, one of our grantees’ mentors. 

Lola is a multimedia journalist from Spain with over 15 years of experience covering education, migration, and women's rights. She has travelled the world in search of successful educational initiatives, showcased in her book titled “Gigantes de la Educación. Lo que no dicen los rankings” (Fundación Telefónica, 2017). She was co-nominated for the European Press Prize in 2021 and 2022.

Copy of Portrets Kiril 2

1) Why do you find solution journalism relevant to your work? And how did you first hear about it? 

The world is fascinating and full of people trying to improve things every day. I am convinced that reporting on how communities try to fix problems can have a positive impact on both the reader and the usually stereotyped image of certain communities, but above all, I think solutions journalism is the most honest way to tell the whole story. It's difficult for me to believe that anyone would simply stand by and watch as the bathroom floods if a water tap breaks. Where there is a problem, there is always someone trying to solve it. If that part is not told, it is out of ignorance, lack of resources, or bias. And all three elements represent serious threats to journalism. With this, I don't mean that we should not cover injustice. I am terrified by how some media turn a blind eye to certain events like the massacre in Gaza. However, if we cover with the same rigour conflict resolution, and investigate how communities foster tolerance and combat violence, perhaps the next generation will do better than us.

Reflecting on my work over all these years, even when I started, I have always been interested in stories that inspire rather than caricature, because in travelling and living in various countries, I have encountered so much generosity. Additionally, I believe that I owe much of that journalistic perspective to one of my early jobs at a newspaper focused on education in Spain, "Escuela", where there was a regular section on "best practices" — although I only learned much later about the great four-pillars formula of Solutions Journalism Network through a workshop.

Now available in French and German. Solutions Journalism: an introduction for journalists and newsrooms

​2) As one of our mentors, you worked with our grantee the Evening Standard and now work with BBC Future Planet. What have you learned from working with them?

It has been a wonderful experience with both teams from which I have learned a lot, and I hope it has been beneficial for them as well. We learned together that filling out a simple outline with the four pillars (response, insights, evidence, and limitations) before reporting a story, and analysing the text again when it is finished with a focus on the four pillars, is an excellent formula for improving each solutions-oriented article. 

Furthermore, in both SJA rounds, we have discovered how solutions journalism can be applied to our own work. In the first round [with the Evening Standard], we saw the benefits of co-publishing in the languages of the community being covered.

And in the second [with BBC Future Planet], we have learned from the limitations. On the one hand, since the project focuses on local responses to climate change led by women, a requirement was that the journalist could not fly to cover the stories, which has encouraged cooperation with local journalists. And secondly, we foster the participation of female journalists. Combining both elements in some regions while prioritising safety has been a huge task for their project coordinator and made us realise that more can be done to improve inclusivity.

​3) ​Why do you think it is important to have a mentor when it comes to solutions journalism? 

I believe that having a mentor can help both journalists who are new to solutions journalism and those who are more experienced to rethink their approach to journalism. One of the common mistakes made by journalists new to solutions journalism is thinking that it's soft or naive journalism. However, it can greatly enrich various forms of journalism, from local reporting, providing a service-oriented journalism approach, to investigative journalism or data journalism, by discovering what works. A mentor can help broaden the perspective of journalists and assist them in navigating these new approaches.

Lola’s work is featured at Al Jazeera, Planeta Futuro - El País and El Confidencial. For several years, she also worked on interactive articles for Polish start-up Outriders. 


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