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5 challenges in implementing Solutions Journalism in media organisations


5 challenges in implementing Solutions Journalism in media organisations

Picture of Juliette Gerbais
Juliette Gerbais — Project Manager
June 20, 2023

Behind the scenes of the second Solutions Journalism Accelerator bootcamp

Apart from receiving grant funding to implement their projects, awarded organisations also benefit from mentoring and networking opportunities. In May, together with Solutions Journalism Network, we hosted our second Bootcamp in Brussels. During this event, our first group of grantees came together to discuss their achievements and the challenges they faced while working on their projects. We have summarised the main takeaways for you.

Solutions journalism bootcamp may23
Solutions Journalism Accelerator bootcamp, May 2023 in Brussels, Belgium

To uncover the advantages of writing Solutions Journalism stories, we sought input from our ten teams of grantees. It became evident that one of the significant advantages of Solutions Journalism is the positive mindset shift it brings. It flips the lens, shifting the focus from just highlighting problems to presenting solutions. This shift in perspective has allowed our grantees to explore stories that showcase effective solutions, inspire hope and encourage constructive change. 

Furthermore, our grantees highlighted that Solutions Journalism offers an opportunity to enhance audience engagement. One straightforward approach is to allow the community to directly choose the topics for reporting, for example. By actively involving the audience in the journalistic process, Solutions Journalism has the potential to address their interests and concerns more effectively.

It was also noted that Solutions Journalism not only increases the relevance of stories but also opens avenues for fundraising and revenue generation. Legacy media organisations, particularly in the UK, have shown a keen interest in Solutions Journalism, recognising that audiences are increasingly fatigued by the constant negativity prevalent in traditional news reporting. Solutions Journalism offers a refreshing alternative by highlighting solutions, empowering the audience, and reigniting their enthusiasm for meaningful news coverage.

However, implementing Solutions Journalism within media organisations can present several challenges and requires a multi-faceted approach. Let's now take a look at the main obstacles our grantees face in adopting Solutions Journalism and see what concrete measures they believe could effectively address them.

Signposting Solutions Journalism

Effectively explaining and communicating the concept of Solutions Journalism is crucial for gaining support from both internal stakeholders and the target audience. Here's how to do so:

  • Transparency: Be transparent about the reasons for adopting Solutions Journalism, clearly conveying the value of Solutions Journalism, and highlighting its relevance and impact.
  • Trusted Ambassadors: Identify individuals within the potential audience who already trust the organisation, and empower them to act as ambassadors for Solutions Journalism, advocating its merits.
  • Newsletters: Publish newsletters that provide space for reflection and discussion on Solutions Journalism, facilitating a deeper understanding of its benefits and purpose.

Internal Buy-in within the Organisation

Traditional media organisations tend to be hesitant when introduced to new concepts such as Solutions Journalism. Overcoming this internal buy-in barrier requires a strategic approach that transforms scepticism into enthusiasm. Here are some actionable points to address this challenge:

  • Organise Workshops: Conduct workshops to educate and train employees about Solutions Journalism, showcasing it as an opportunity rather than a restriction.
  • Bring in External Experts: Invite external experts who have successfully implemented Solutions Journalism to share their experiences and insights, inspiring internal teams.
  • Foster Collaboration: Evaluate the organisational structure and create opportunities for increased team collaboration, encouraging cross-departmental engagement. 
  • Mentorship Approach: Encourage knowledge sharing by sending team members with Solutions Journalism experience to mentor others, fostering a culture of continuous learning.
  • Designate an Editor: Assign a dedicated editor responsible for overseeing Solutions Journalism projects, ensuring clarity of purpose and smooth integration within existing workflows.

Integrating Solutions Journalism in the Newsroom Workflow and Allocating Resources

For successful implementation, Solutions Journalism needs to be seamlessly integrated into the newsroom workflow and supported by appropriate resources. Here are a few actions points mentioned by our grantees: 

  • Address Audience Needs: Start with topics most pressing and relevant to the audience, actively seeking their input to identify the issues they care about.
  • Personalised Solutions Journalism guide: Create a customised Solutions Journalism guide that matches your editorial guidelines, enabling more efficient reporting.
  • Regular Solutions Journalism Meetings: Conduct regular cross-team Solutions Journalism meetings to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration.
  • Internships: Incorporate Solutions Journalism as part of internships, providing opportunities for aspiring journalists to gain firsthand experience and contribute to Solutions Journalism projects.
  • Crowdfunding Initiatives: Involve the audience by asking them to fund specific Solutions Journalism series or pieces through crowdfunding, increasing their sense of ownership and engagement.

Audience input matters: Before diving into resource-intensive Solutions Journalism projects, it's worth asking your audience about the topics they're most interested in!

Finding Evidence and High-Impact Solutions

To create compelling Solutions Journalism stories, journalists need to find evidence-based information and highlight impactful solutions. Here are the steps that can help you with that:

  • Collaborate with Experts: Facilitate conversations with academics, think tanks, and experts to tap into their knowledge and build expertise within the organisation.
  • Follow-Up Stories: Allocate more space and resources for follow-up reporting, allowing journalists to delve deeper into stories and provide comprehensive coverage.
  • Uncover Solutions Journalism Angles: Explore traditional news stories from a Solutions Journalism perspective, seeking unique angles that resonate with the audience and provide fresh insights.
  • Specialised Journalists: Encourage journalists to specialise in specific areas, fostering expertise and allowing for more in-depth reporting.

Compelling and Rigorous Narrative

A successful Solutions Journalism project requires a compelling narrative that engages readers while maintaining journalistic rigour. Our grantees suggested the following strategies: 

  • Relevance to Communities: Focus on stories already in the public debate, selecting topics that are known and relevant to your target communities.
  • Connect with Real People: Go on the ground and find compelling protagonists who can guide the narrative, ensuring human stories drive the solutions.
  • Good timing: Publish stories at the right moment to maximise impact. Sometimes, it's essential to wait for the opportune time to release it, aligning with relevant events or developments.

Through the process of clarifying the concept of Solutions Journalism, identifying impactful solutions, and collaborating with others, media organisations can overcome the main obstacles mentioned by our grantees. The insights shared during the Bootcamp serve as valuable guidance for journalists seeking to harness the power of Solutions Journalism.

If you’d like to dive more into the topic, check out the many resources of the Solutions Journalism Network.


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