A journalist leads a class in solutions journalism in Nigeria

Building training capacity and partnerships

Our interpretation of diversity translates into the journalism entrepreneurs we work with and the themes of their coverage. In 2021, SJN's Africa Initiative funded 20 newsrooms in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, and the SoJo African fellows published 100 stories, mainly in English but also in Swahili, Hausa, Efik, Luo and Yoruba.

SJN's train-the-trainer (ToT) model has already demonstrated leverage in markets where we see demand for solutions journalism. In 2021, we trained 38 trainers in Europe and Africa.

Solutions Journalism Academy

Part of the cover of Kyuwon Lee's solutions journalism book, with an orange cover and white J

Solutions Journalism Introductory Book

Kyuwon Lee, SJN's international associate, co-authored a solutions journalism introductory book with Mina Lee, a professor at Sookmyung Women's University. The publication was supported by the Korean Society for Journalism & Communication Studies' Journalism & Innovation Publication Fund

The Flipboard logo: a red square with a blocky white F in the middle.

Spreading Insights and SJ Stories

SJN piloted a partnership with Flipboard, a news aggregator site, with the curation of 50 storyboards.

News outlet equity audits

In 2021, we refined and applied an internal "equity metric" to the universe of news outlets that we have worked with and/or those that have stories in SJN's Solutions Story Tracker. The key focus of the metric is to identify the news outlets that are by and for historically and systemically excluded communities, with a goal of prioritizing these news outlets for our outreach, trainings and Story Tracker inclusion.

Multilingual Story Tracker Expansion

Journalists worldwide are producing solutions journalism that speaks to local context, challenges, cultures and mindsets. As of November 2021, SJN's new Multilingual Solutions Story Tracker (MSST) featured 285 stories in 11 different languages and from 32 different countries.

Solutions Story Trackers' growth in news outlets, journalists and countries represented

SoJo Exchange

As the world faced shared challenges during the pandemic, The Solutions Journalism Network's SoJo Exchange asked newsrooms to make solutions stories available for republication by other news outlets free. Any newsroom can run any story from the SoJo Exchange. We've since expanded the exchange to include solutions stories on any subject.

We've shared between seven and eight new stories a week and conservatively averaged one republication daily. We've been able to offer stories from nonprofits such as Civil Eats, Reasons to be Cheerful and Next City, sharing with outlets like The Current of Savannah, Georgia; the Wausau Pilot & Review in Wisconsin; The Oregonian; the StarTribune in Minneapolis, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

We hit some milestones across our communications channels

Four journalists wearing masks gathered around a large standing desk with their laptops

Network Spread: Cohorts and Collaboratives

Economic Mobility

SJN convened two cohorts of newsrooms across the United States in 2021 that covered issues relating to economic mobility. Some of the topics covered, like child care and affordable housing, are complex and appear intractable, but journalists in the cohorts uncovered promising responses in many communities. This initiative was the first that SJN engineered intentionally to encourage cohort-based learning and sharing; that model is now our organizational standard, as cohorts are reporting together on issues including advancing democracy, climate and sustainability, solutions to end homelessness and more.

Here are some of the stories that represent the diversity of coverage:

Be Your Own Boss: More Co-Op Businesses Are Returning Workers' Power
(Economic Hardship Reporting Project/Mother Jones magazine)

Business & Sustainability Initiative

In January 2021, we kicked off the Business & Sustainability Initiative, which brings together 24 newsrooms in the U.S. focused on coverage of climate solutions where businesses are a key actor in the responses. The newsroom projects range from coverage of sustainable agriculture in Montana, the re-imagining of the economy in the Hudson River region through sail freight and how Haiti's plastics problem is turning into an economic benefit. Notably, many of the newsrooms have worked closely with SJN and external partners to measure the impact of their solutions journalism on audiences.

The River, a news outlet that covers the Hudson Valley, launched its Climate Lab in conjunction with the funded project from SJN. The Lab brings together the community through online events and newsletters to highlight its work. One event, "How Do You Solve A Problem Like The Climate?" drew more than 50 people into a discussion with Lissa Harris, a staff writer.

Democracy Initiative

Since 2018, SJN has worked alongside hundreds of newsrooms to think differently about how they cover elections and democracy - highlighting the promising practices that are helping expand voter participation and access, for one, but also rethinking how the media cover politics and government. Adopting effective and proven reporting approaches can inspire greater engagement in the news, build trust within communities, focus on solutions, and address voters' urgent need for fact-based, relevant information.

In 2021, we continued this work, launching a new Advancing Democracy initiative, an invitation-only effort for 10 newsrooms led by and serving people from communities that have been historically excluded. While each has its own democracy-focused project, all 10 gather monthly to encourage, teach and learn from each other.

Local Media Project

The Local Media Project at SJN is a five-year effort, launched in 2019, to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems by catalyzing local news collaboratives reporting on a pressing issue in their communities through a solutions lens.

Our collaborative network grew from six solutions-focused local journalism collaboratives to nine in 2021. Three new collaboratives launched their two-year residencies with more than 30 news and community partners, on topics ranging from climate solutions to affordable housing. Three collaboratives also graduated from the Local Media Project in 2021. The Local Media Project team published two resource guides to spread insights across the network in 2021 -- on tracking impact in journalism collaboratives and audience engagement strategies. 

Resolve Philly

Charlotte Journalism Collaborative

Granite State News Collaborative

Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative

New York and Michigan Solutions Journalism Collaborative

Solving for Chicago

Central Pennsylvania Climate Solutions

Dallas Media Collaborative

A new collaborative focused on affordable housing in Dallas launched in 2021.

This collaborative includes seven newsrooms, three universities and a local nonprofit organization working to address childhood poverty. It is the first in the Local Media Project to include a choral ensemble.

Solving Sacramento

A new collaborative focused on solutions to affordable housing and the arts in Sacramento, California.

News and community partners contributed more than $4,000 to a fundraising campaign to support the collaborative in its first month.

Granite State News Collaborative director Melanie Plenda.

We celebrate Local Media Project partners whose work earned recognition in 2021: