The Real News Network [December 2021]
A private donor contributed $20,000 to the Real News Network, inspired by its reporting on how activists are using community organizing to fight voter suppression. The network, a multimedia news outlet based in Baltimore, is one of 10 newsrooms by and for historically excluded communities that is supported by the Solutions Journalism Network's Advancing Democracy Initiative. John Duda, executive director of The Real News Network, said it would use the funding to do follow-up stories closer to the midterm elections.
Better Government Association [December 2021]
The Robert R. McCormick Foundation and the Better Government Association (BGA), a watchdog organization, together have launched the Illinois Solutions Partnership, an ambitious collaboration that aims to address the state's urgent challenges through investigative and enterprise reporting. The McCormick Foundation will provide $10 million in grants to the effort over the next five years, and BGA will devote reporters and other resources to substantially match McCormick's commitment. In announcing the new partnership, BGA and McCormick described the venture as in-depth investigative journalism combined with reporting focused on potential solutions, saying Illinois residents need both to hold their government accountable and to engage public officials and leaders to improve Illinois and Chicago.
Egab [July 2021]
Egab, an online platform that enables local journalists across the Middle East and Africa to pitch stories in any format or language to editors of regional and international media outlets, received $100,000 from the Google News Initiative's Innovation Challenge. The platform specializes in solutions journalism and emphasized this editorial approach in its application for a grant, adding that several of the news organizations that have published Egab-originated stories say their audience surveys have shown that audiences engage more with solutions-oriented content.
Montana Free Press [December 2021]
A three-part solutions-focused series on regenerative agriculture helped the Montana Free Press (MTFP) significantly increase readership and raise more than $8,000 directly from readers. The first part of the "Common Ground" series brought in 29,000 visitors, 78% of whom were new to the site. MFTP then decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign to support reporting for the series, which brought in more than three times the initial goal of $2,500. The news team also embedded a short survey with its first two stories and received 850 responses, with 61% expressing interest in a limited-newsletter series on the subject of regenerative agriculture.
The Montana Free Press began including surveys at the end of each of its SJN-funded stories to gather feedback. But it didn't stop there. The MTFP decided to see each story as a fundraising opportunity to have the community support reporting by Emily Stifler Wolfe. It set a goal of raising $2,500, but ended up with $4,606 in individual donations, which was matched by other donors for a total of $8,000 to support the series.
The New York Times [December 2021]
In an effort to explore the world's challenges through the lens of progress, The New York Times launched an initiative called Headway with a series of stories called "Hindsight" that looked at predictions of the past that did - or didn't - come true and why, examining what could be learned from them. Headway is a philanthropically funded initiative that includes a partnership with Solutions Journalism Network under which SJN will help train Headway contributors and staff. As part of Headway, The Times will also pioneer an online public square, focused on community-building, transparency, engagement and data dissemination. The goal is to support and encourage conversation, education and research around the topics Headway addresses.
Charlotte Journalism Collaborative
Solutions reporting by members of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative in North Carolina helped catalyze public conversation about the imminent risks an estimated 250,000 renters faced as a Covid-related eviction moratorium was about to end. A series of stories by collaborative members explained multiple facets of the housing crisis and provided examples of programs in Seattle, San Francisco, New York and Cleveland that were successfully helping renters with services such as free legal representation.
Isaac Sturgill, a staff attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina, urged the enactment of local and state laws to help renters, and Rep. Alma Adams called for an extension of the eviction moratorium and supplemental resources available to renters.
Northeast Ohio Solutions Collaborative
After a Cleveland public radio station aired a solutions story examining the trend of "pay-to-stay" housing legislation in February 2021, the city of Lakewood in northeast Ohio passed a similar measure, and city leaders in two other communities in northeast Ohio introduced the idea. The story, by Ideastream, examined what happened in other Ohio cities that had already implemented the measure, which allows tenants behind on rent to remain in their homes if they pay what they owe before local courts process the eviction. (Ohio is one of five states that allow landlords to file for eviction as soon as a payment is missed, without offering tenants any extra time to come up with the money.) Ideastream is part of the SJN-sponsored Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative. Housing advocates note that the widely shared story is helping educate the public and landlords.
Noted media researcher SmithGeiger studied perceptions of solutions journalism in broadcast news. The firm surveyed 638 people across six diverse U.S. metro areas, comparing their responses to solutions-focused stories against problem-focused ones.
Journalist in the Classroom
Mark Obbie, a journalist who specializes in criminal justice, investigated how ideas spread through the news by focusing on CAHOOTS, the mobile crisis intervention program. Mark surveyed reporters whose stories on CAHOOTS or similar programs were accepted into the Solutions Story Tracker and wrote his findings, "The power of asking, 'Is there a better way?'" for the Solutions Journalism blog, The Whole Story. Jennifer Rosen, democracy solutions specialist, and Alane Presswood, higher education program specialist, presented a paper at the annual conference of the American Sociological Association on the effects of solutions-oriented approaches to teaching social problems.